Extremely Clumsy & Incredibly Manufactured: My take on a film I haven’t seen

As I mentioned in my last post, I just finished reading Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. It was brilliant. So now I’m finding myself unduly frustrated with people I know who have seen the movie and haven’t read the book. The reason is that the book is amazing. It might be one of the greatest works of literary art of its time. You can go through the motions on screen and show this kid knocking on a bunch of doors, but I don’t think it’s possible to capture the mood of the book or the author’s extreme delicacy and attention to detail. It’s such a moving novel, and it’s most wonderful features have been hacked out of the film. Frankly, I think making this novel into a film was a poor choice.

So I take issue with the screen adaptation. (I don’t do that with every book-to-screen adaptation, e.g. The Lord of the Rings, Cold Mountain,The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.) Another problem I have with this adaptation is that I think it’s too soon to show footage of the Towers in this fictional setting. Most of us experienced 9/11 through video footage and those images are embedded in our minds. I don’t think those scenes should be incorporated into fictional movies yet. I know there have been a few other movies about 9/11 already, but I don’t want to see them, and I’m not happy people have made money from them.

I can read a book about 9/11 and mostly because I didn’t experience that day by flipping through pages. A book is a different medium, and it’s a medium that gives the audience more control. I don’t expect to finish reading a book in one sitting, so putting it down when I can’t handle what’s happening is easy. Pausing to think about what it’s saying is natural.

In some ways, I’m coming up with reasons to defend my gut reaction, but I think anyone who’s read the book and knows some of the inconsistencies present in the movie (like Mr. Black being absent!) will agree that the movie is kind of a sham. And really, it only got 46% on Rotten Tomatoes. Something’s gone wrong.

Here’s Rotten Tomatoes’ description:

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has a story worth telling, but it deserves better than the treacly and pretentious treatment director Stephen Daldry gives it.

So maybe I haven’t given the movie a chance. That’s OK with me. The book is just so good that I don’t need to give the movie a chance. I won’t refuse to see it, but I’m not going to go out of my way to see it either.

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6 Responses to Extremely Clumsy & Incredibly Manufactured: My take on a film I haven’t seen

  1. Danny says:

    have you seen the film adaptation for Everything is Illuminated? I think thats a case where the movie is probably a little better than the book. It’s definitely not as weird. Don’t get me wrong, i liked the book. I didn’t enjoy reading about weird psycadellic mystical scenes of rape interposed with holocaust scenes and humorous dialogue.That was just a little much. the movie takes rape and mysticism (for the most part) out, and tells a more compelling story in my view.

    • K Arterburn says:

      I haven’t read it or seen it. What you’ve said about the book makes me hesitant.

      • Danny says:

        they’re both great. Don’t get me wrong. I know plenty of people who LOVE the book, and honestly, i’d put the movie as one of my favorites. But the book does get weird and uncomfortable. It’s also hilarious and moving. But it poked me a few times as well. I’m REALLY fascinated by his latest novel Tree Of Codes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsW3Y7EmTlo
        It’s a fascinating approach to story telling that I’ve actually been experimenting with myself.

        the $40 tag makes me hesitant, but I might drop by Kaneko to read it for free.

        • Sharon Thomsen says:

          Does Kaneko have a library? Like for your kindle, or does it have books with pages, too?

  2. Sharon Thomsen says:

    Katie, now that I’ve read it, I totally understand your hesitancy to see the movie. I really don’t want to see it either, now, although that was my intention, to see it after I’d read the book. I have it all pictured in my head just fine, thank you very much, and it’s there just as the author intended, Loud & Close, and I don’t want that ruined. What makes it so beautiful are the inner thoughts of all the characters… and being able to relay all of that in a movie seems impossible, unless all the thoughts are voiced over the action. Like continuously. Every single one of them.

    And this story without Mr. Black?

    The only thing that would make me want to see the movie at this point would be to see just how they had this even happen without a Mr. Black. I mean, were there ANY Mr. Blacks? Or just not a Mr Black who accompanied Oskar in search of all the other Mr. and Mrs. and Ms. Blacks out there?

    Either way, this story needs every single Black, every single word.

    I really could have spent the rest of my life reading one more chapter each night.

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