Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The Grey

Once again Liam Neeson stood up to the January graveyard slate of movies, and once again Liam Neeson took charge. The Grey took top honors this weekend, proving that the combination of Neeson and good, adult action is the way to go when you want to make some decent coin. It wasn’t up to the standards of films like Taken ($24.7m opening weekend in 2009) and Unknown ($21.8m opening weekend in 2011). Considering the R rating, the lack of star power outside of Neeson (Dermot Mulroney isn’t what he used to be, and the wolves themselves don’t have a great agent yet), and Joe Carnahan not being the golden boy when it comes to box office returns, The Grey‘s $20m is still a respectable debut. Neeson isn’t losing clout as quickly as Katherine Heigl, whose One For the Money came in at #3 with $11.7m. That’s slightly lower than expectations, but looking at Heigl’s track record, her opening numbers seem to be whittling down further and further. Since Killers in 2010, Heigl’s opening numbers have progressively gotten smaller and smaller, dropping from $15.8m to $14.5m for Life As We Know It in 2010 and $13m for New Year’s Eve early last month. A change of pace for Heigl might be in order, or, when all else fails, the DVD/Blu-Ray and VOD market is not a bad option to take.

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It’s been a year filled with silent screen stars seeking redemption, the 1920s coming alive in Paris, a young boy searching for the first great director, sex addicts in New York City, horses going to war, maids of dishonor, and skulls getting crushed in elevators. Now it’s time to celebrate all of those things and more with the 84th annual Academy Awards. They’ve come a long way since the Hotel Roosevelt in 1929 (although sex addicts have almost always been a fixture). Get to ready to smile, ball your fists with snubbed rage, or be generally unsurprised. Here they are. The 2012 Oscar nominees:

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The Reject Report - Large

It’s a big weekend here at the Reject Report. Lots of excitement out there competing for you movie dollars. We have vampires battling werewolves, ace pilots taking on the World War II skies, and Gina Carano punching and kicking everything that moves and looking amazing doing it. Throw in the returning champs of Mark Wahlberg and 3-D Disney, and we’re sure to be seeing moneymakers all around town. The vampires have a slight edge, but there could be one or two surprises out there waiting to take the top spot. We could settle this with a flex-off between Wahlberg and Carano, but the demographics might be a bit skewed. Let’s take a look at what each of these movies has to bring to the box office instead.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr pulls out his screening schedule, which looks like a gambling addict’s racing form. He bounces from huge, mainstream releases to minor indie award contenders. Facing motion-capture CGI, tattooed bisexual investigators, cross-dressing waiters, silent film actors, and a lead star who is literally hung like a horse, Kevin tries to make sense of the seemingly countless releases this holiday week. Exhaustion from this process makes it impossible to buy a zoo or face the 3D end of the world, but his movie stocking is full, nonetheless.

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Remember those trailers for Stephen Daldry‘s adaptation of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close that we all cringed at? Well, how could you forget – they stick with you in a very off-putting way. Disappointingly, most of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close replicates that experience. Daldry’s a fine filmmaker, and with a script from Eric Roth – a writer who’s delivered his fair share of modern classics – one should expect more from their collaboration. What their combination delivered is a mostly stilted, heavy-handed, and, quite often, wrongly manipulative experience. I won’t dismiss the film as being “blatant Oscar bait,” seeing as it’s well-intentioned and earnest. Unfortunately, those intentions, in execution, feel false and empty. A real heart isn’t here to grab onto; only an artificial and cold one. The film constantly says how Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) affects all these people he meets, but it never shows it. There are little glimpses of the child interacting with people on his quest, and whatever his effect may be holds no weight. The only emotional beat that somehow works is between Horn and Jeffrey Wright, despite the scene leaving one with the thought of, “Well, how’s this going to impact Wright’s character?” Sure, he’s seeing the beauty of a child desperately trying to find an answer, but in the grand scheme of things, the effect will probably be as powerful as a nice Christmas card: makes you smile and maybe makes your day, but a few days later, you’re no different.

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When I was given the opportunity to interview French composer Alexandre Desplat, the question wasn’t what I would ask him, it was how many questions I would be able to get in. One of the busiest composers in the business, just this year alone Desplat has created the scores for The Tree of Life, A Better Life, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, The Ides of March, Carnage, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and is already on deck to compose next year’s Moonrise Kingdom. Desplat first caught my attention a few years ago when I realized he was the composer behind both the quirky score for Fantastic Mr. Fox and the epic score for Twilight Saga: New Moon – two very different films with two very different musical tones. Having won Film Composer of the Year at the World Soundtrack Awards, it is clear that the rest of the world is starting to take notice as well. As this year comes to a close, I spoke with Desplat about what inspires him, his composing process, the differences between working on American and French films, and how he balances his various projects while keeping his passion for composing fresh with each go around.

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This is it: the final month of the year, a.k.a. the month to shell out as much cash as you got at the theaters. December is always the best and worst movie-going time. There’s so many damn pictures hitting the screens, and it’s the time where everyone’s running around, trying to get things done before the New Year. It’s wonderful, annoying chaos. This December is different, though. In fact, it’s going to be about 100 times more chaotic. Folks, if you plan on seeing all of the good to the “this will be up for Oscars, kid!” movies this month, plan on forking out a lot of dough. This is unquestionably the strongest month for films this year. Without further ado, here are the ones to end the year on a great note with:

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Full disclosure: I have not read Jonathan Safran Foer‘s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I read his Everything is Illuminated and it just wasn’t my bag, so it’s fair to say that a part of me has been dreading the latest film adaptation of one of his novels. Stephen Daldry‘s take on the material seems a bit pre-packaged for the proper type of awards season buzz, what with its heavy hitter cast (Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis, and Jeffrey Wright), the vaguely stunt-y casting of its young lead (Thomas Horn, a non-actor who reportedly got the part after his win on Jeopardy!), and a Christmas Day release date. There’s also the very premise of the book. The plot centers around young Oskar Schell, a kid genius who loses his dad in the 9/11 attacks. After Oskar finds a key in his dad’s belongings, he sets out to find out the meaning behind the key. Of course, he discovers much more along the way. And while that all sounds sort of twee and innocent and sad, I had a feeling about how the material would be brought to the screen, a bad feeling that’s only aggravated by this first trailer for the film, which you can watch after the break.

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It will be interesting to see how audiences respond to a film about 9/11 being released on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. On the one hand, it feels like a great reminder and bittersweet tribute. On the other, it could be the hand that rips the bandaid off uncovering the wound again. Still, since the film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is based off the superb writing of Jonathan Safran Foer (check out Everything is Illuminated as well), and being helmed by poetic Oscar nominee Stephen Daldry, there’s little chance that it won’t be soaring and heartfelt. Now, John Goodman has joined Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks for the story of a young boy who loses his father in the 9/11 attacks and goes on a journey with a key his father gave him to find where it fits. [THR]

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Stephen Daldry is attached to see Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel about a little boy, his father, and 9/11.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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