Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Strawberry Rating

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close touches the viewer to the very core. In the way that Titanic and The Sweet Hereafter depicted tragedy by pulling back at the pivotal moment, only increasing the heartache portrayed, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close shows the massive losses experienced in New York on September 11, 2001, through the lens of one young boy. Thomas Horn plays Oskar, a boy devoted to his dad (played by Tom Hanks, in flashbacks), who is lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center. The devastation of that day shudders through Oskar’s family, including his mother, Linda (Sandra Bullock, in a subdued and affecting turn). Young Oskar is lost in the broken new world, but suddenly finds a purpose: a key left by his father. As Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close progresses, Oskar focuses on the key as a way to connect to his lost father–but finds, instead, connections in the unlikeliest of places. Horn is a wonder in his leading role, and commands attention even as his emotions are scattered. Hanks and Bullock are excellent, as always, though they are more incidental to the film than the viewer might have hoped. Standing out in the cast is Max von Sydow, a mysterious mute whom Oskar meets on the New York subway, and who becomes the most unlikely of guardian angels. Based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s best-selling novel, which was able to depict a bit more wry humor to leaven the heartbreak and history lessons, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close nonetheless faces human tragedy straight on, and shows how a broken family can be rebuilt, one small key, one subway ride, one awkward hug at a time. —A.T. Hurley

I have very little to say about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

I went to the movie theater with the intention of going to another movie, only to find out that I was a little late for the showing.  Whoops!  I didn’t want to waste my trip to the movies so I chose another Oscar-nominee off the list.

That is how I ended up sitting in this movie without being fully prepared- no tissue box, no candy to distract myself with.

Like most tragedies, one thing that links all of us is that we remember exactly where we were when we heard the news.  I was only in ninth grade when 9/11 happened, but I remember standing in my first period concert choir, numbly watching my conductor try to explain to us what was happening.  After that, I have very little memory of what I actually did for the rest of the day.

I was lucky.  I did not have family members or friends who were in the buildings that day.

Oskar was not so lucky, and he spends the rest of the movie trying to find a way to cope with his father’s death.

Some critics say that this movie uses these terrible events to play on our emotions, and that it crassly uses a tragedy to heighten those emotions.  Perhaps that is true.  I am not sure.  I think that the movie is terribly sad, but it also shows the possibility of hope for the future.  It shows how people can come together to help each other.

That promise of hope and growth was the only thing that saved this movie for me.  The title is quite fitting because, just as it denotes extreme discomfort, I was very distressed and uncomfortable for the entire movie.  I left the theater with red-brimmed, moist eyes, and the desire to go home and huddle in the dark.  And maybe that was the movie’s intention?

The Grade

Visuals: 4.5/5

Plot: 4/5

Acting: 5/5

All right Academy Award nominees, bring it on!  It is my goal to see, review, and invent a treat for every single one of you by Oscar Night.  I’ve already seen Moneyball, Hugo, and The Help.  Now on to the rest!

Oh, and don’t forget to try out this treat.  It will help wash away your tears…

Read on for the recipe!

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Room by Emma Donoghue

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
-Back of the Book

This summer, I decided to make a drastic lifestyle change. In an attempt to save my bookcase, and my wallet, I have been acquiring my books through the library and loans from fellow readers. Of course, this pains me. Some of the books that I have read in the past few months, I have wanted for my very own.

Other books, I have yearned for, but are reserved at the library for months.  I, unfortunately, am not the only person who wants to read them.

One such book was Room by Emma Donoghue.  I read about it on other blogs, saw it skyrocketing in the NYT Bestseller Lists, and saw the beautiful cover at my local bookstore.  Yes, I still go to the bookstore in the same way that a recovering drug addict likes to mimic his old habits.  I pick up books, gaze longingly at their back covers, smell the new book smell, and even sit down in a chair to peruse them.  Then, I put them back and trudge sadly outside, making a mental list of books I WANT.

I went to the library in search of Room and my librarian told me that if I get on the list to reserve it, I should probably get it around October.

And as if this struggle weren’t enough, then Borders decided to put on a giant sale (sob) and I could get the book for half off.  My resistance could last no longer.

I read this book in less than 24 hours.  As in, I began it as soon as I broke down and bought it and went to sleep hours after my normal bedtime because I wanted to know what happened.  Eventually, my eyes insisted on sleep, but my brain kept thinking about it.  My dream that night consisted of me, living in my bedroom, with a book case that was overflowing with books.  In fact, the books started multiplying, threatening to overtake all of my living space.

While I do not have room for an infinite number of books, I am fortunate to have more space than Jack and his mother do.

Imagine being Jack, growing up with your only concept of the world an 11 X 11 room and a TV.  Meanwhile, Ma knew what the world is like and was locked into a room and raped.  Now, she is trying to raise Jack the best way she can.

The book is divided into two halves.  The first half is cramped into the tiny space known to Jack as Room, culminating in a daring escape attempt.  The second half is in Outside, and focuses on how Jack and Ma manage being Outside of Room after 7 years (for Ma) and his entire life (for Jack).

This story, told completely from Jack’s point of view, is phenomenal.  It is a coming-of-age story, a thriller, a commentary of our world, and a tale about how strong the relationship can be between a mother and her child.  I would read it at the beach, with a classroom of students, or late at night with a flashlight.

If I Could Change One Thing…  I would like to see a meeting between Ma and Jack and their captor (Old Nick) after they are Outside.  The only flaw in the second half of the book is that while it remains incredibly interesting, it cannot match the narrative tension of the first half.  Meeting Old Nick again would have certainly raised my blood pressure.

Other Reviews

Jack’s Macaroni and Cheese

One of Jack’s favorite meals while he is imprisoned in Room is Kraft macaroni and cheese.  Yes, the kind with the yellow cheese powder.  I decided to make the same style of macaroni and cheese, but with real cheese.  I am quite pleased with the result.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of cooked short pasta (I chose spirals because that is the best kind, obviously)
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Procedure

  • While the pasta is cooking, mix the flour, salt, and pepper in a medium saucepan.  Add in 1/2 cup of milk and whisk to get the lumps out of the flour.  Add in the rest of the milk.
  • Heat the mixture over medium heat until it reaches a simmer.  Make sure you are stirring frequently.
  • Add in the cream cheese and stir until it melts.
  • Lower the heat and add the garlic, mustard, and shredded cheese.  Once the cheese melts, you can pour it over the cooked noodles.  Stir and eat.

It is the same style as Kraft, but wow, a little effort can go a long way.  It is tastier and healthier than the original and I think that Jack would approve (once he got over the change in color).