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Into the Wild West

12 January 2009 by Chad No Comment

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Summer sucks. That’s right. I said it. Not Summer Glau, the spunky actress of Firefly fame, but the actual season of Summer. It’s fucking hot. Especilly where I live, in the West San Fernando Valley, where we hit 3 digit temperatures for weeks at a time. The kids are out of school meaning that they’re, like, around a bunch when I go do stuff. There’s no new TV on. I don’t look as good in shorts as I do in jeans. There’s just a billion reasons I don’t like Summer.

Oh yeah. And there’s the Summer movies.

Every year I endeavor myself to go see all the big Summer releases. I tell my friends “Don’t let me sit home. I’m going to the theater this Summer and I’m gonna have fun if it kills me.” And, for the last few years, I have. I’ve gone and seen all the big Summer Blockbusters, the event movies, the sequels, the so-called ‘mindless’ entertainment of May, June, and July.

Good Lord am I glad that’s over.

I saw almost everything. From the disappointment of Spider-man 3, to the bloated idiocy of At World’s End, to the cultural abortion of Transformers, to the glorifed “Smallville” episode that was The Rise of the Silver Surfer.

I didn’t go see Die Hard because any movie where John McClane does not say ‘fuck’ is not a Die Hard movie. I skipped Rush Hour 3 because, well, it was Rush Hour 3. Ratatoille was good. Bourne was good. Harry Potter was good. The rest was not.

 

But now, things start anew. We’ve left the horrible Summer behind us and are rounding the bend into Fall, or Autumn, for you uppity types. This is the time of year where the good movies start pouring out, starting at the Toronto Film Festival, all in a push to win a little golden statue early last year.

 

I think David Fincher’s Zodiac was the last great film that was in theaters. 300 and Hot Fuzz were awesome, and if you haven’t seen the low-budged Irish musical Once I highly recommend that you do. But, for me, the only great film to come out all year was the serial killer movie that none of you went to see.

 

Until this past weekend.

 

 

into the wild

I first read Jon Krakauer’s wonderful book Into the Wild a few years ago. I liked it so much, me and a friend tried to look into aquiring the rights to make it as a film. But, before we got too far, we found out that the property had been optioned by Sean Penn to write and direct. Being that he was Sean Penn and that we were, well, not Sean Penn, we did not pursue it any further. Having seen the film, I’m glad.

Into the Wild is the true story of recent college graduate Christopher McClandless who one day, without telling anyone, gave his $25,000 dollars in savings to charity, burned all the cash in his wallet, and set out into America, on his own, for a two year journey of self-discovery. His goal? The mighty state of Alaska, where he plans to live out all of his Jack London fantasies and be a man of nature. Along the way, he makes many friends and touches many live. The adventure (and this doesn’t give anything away because it is known by all) does not end well.

(By the way, while I type this, I’m watching the new Law and Order: SVU. It’s got fucking Bronson Pinchot on it!!! “Elliot, do I look like a blonde with big tits and an ass that tastes like French vanilla ice-cream?”)

Sean Penn, as a filmmaker, has never, ever, ever-ever-ever, done anything close to what he does in Into the Wild. While I enjoyed his previous three directorial efforts, this film leaves them completely behind in its sure-footed wake.  He has adapted Krakauer’s book into an inspiring coming of age story and American travelogue, a deft crossbreed of Catcher in the Rye and On the Road.

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Starring in Into the Wild is Emile Hirsch, who you probably didn’t see in The Girl Next Door or in The Lords of Dogtown or in Alphadog.  I saw all those things and was honestly not all that impressed with him.  But listen here.  Emile Hirsch’s performance in this film is the greatest by an actor his age in a long time.   And it is absolutely vital in the success of this film  You have to like Christopher McCandless.  It’s a must.  You may not agree with the choices he makes, you may not understand what drives him, you may think he’s a damn dirty hippie that should just get a fucking job and stop whining.  But, thanks to Hirsch, you like him.  He is charismatic, caring, intellegent.   His youthful spouting off of wisdom, all culled from the Naturalist literaterate he’s consumed, can be a bit annoying, but that’s the point.  He’s a fucking kid.

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