Sunday, October 14, 2007
Into The Wild
I really liked this movie. I'm not going to say a lot about it. It's very visual and highly stylized at points, sometimes to great effect, other times to distraction. Some reviewers assert it's light on character development. I disagree. If he was going to follow some bullshit arc he would would have followed his wilderness experience with something mainstream. He would have been like the old guy book-ending Saving Private Ryan. Thank God Sean Penn is not a disciple of Spielberg.
Here's an excerpt from an article in Daily Press about Emile Hirsch's on-set experience with Spicoli: "One of the first days, Sean was absolutely relentless, having me climb up this hill," Hirsch recalls. "A crew guy tried to throw me some rope, and Sean was like, 'Don't throw him rope, you're trying to help him? Don't do that, no way!' And the rope disappeared. I went, 'Ohhhh, man.' That's when it dawned on me just how incredibly hard this was going to be. I had a conversation with a guy who had been in the Army," Hirsch continues. "I asked him about his experiences in boot camp, on the first couple of days, and he goes, 'Just look at it this way. You pushed it really far today and you're still here. Which means you can go even farther tomorrow. ... And as all the chaos is going on, keep your eye on one little thing, one little detail that you think is beautiful. ... And every so often you pick out that little thing, and that will be your peace."
Pretty good advice for even the most mundane of life's challenges. Anyway there are some very wonderful performances throughout by the supporting cast. Vince Vaughan didn't irk me for once. Katherine Keener whom I once adored and have since cringed through most of her scenes in films is adorable once more. And Hal Holbrook. Wow.
Taking nothing from the mesmerizing job Emile Hirsch accomplished, the star of the show is the open road and the wild. It really stirred the romantic in me. The things I paid attention to in the film alerted me to my own limitations now and in the past. That's all I'm going to say about that.
There was a fleeting moment in the film where all the idealistic Walden zeal got me to reject the idea of making films. Just this flash that I could not only give it up, but that it would be a good thing. So much stuff. Which was all the more on my mind as I spent a good part of yesterday going through film-related gear and papers. For better or worse, the talk in the end of needing others with whom to share our love salvaged my filmmaking career.
I'm not sure I share my love through the lens just yet or even that I'm working on it very directly. I'm open to it, that's for sure. It would be much easier to head off into the unforgiving physical wilderness than venture into the wilderness of my own heart. That's pretty much the point of Penn's film.