Monday, April 27, 2009

Into The Wild

I thought I could write a long review, but the night shift's been bad and I'm bogged down by various administrative tasks, so this might turn out to be much shorter than I'd prefer.

Whenever I prepare to watch something, be it a film / TV show / play / concert, I always have expectations of some sort. My mood and general degree of wakefulness also contribute to the overall enjoyment, and the whole mix can result in me either loving the entire experience, or hating it to the core of my being.

Maybe I should post these criteria in all my future reviews:

Expectations - low / medium / high
Mood - delirious vs pissed off
Energy level - near comatose or bouncing off the walls

For Into The Wild, the background info I had was a little patchy. I knew Emile Hirsch was in it, that it was directed by Sean Penn, and that it had garnered rave reviews ( though not in terms of an Oscar sweep ).

I caught the 10pm telecast on cable Saturday night, following what I can only describe as a SUPER-CRAPPY FUBAR morning shift in the ER which gave me a tension headache, nausea and bad myalgia in both lower limbs. As such:

Expectations - medium
Mood - extremely grouchy
Energy level - half-dead but unable to sleep at that early hour so let's watch some TV first

Within the first 15 minutes, I was hooked.
Perhaps my lack of in-depth knowledge about the plot helped me stick through the whole 2.5 hours. I thought it would be a straightforward prolonged trek through the wilderness, man vs nature type of epic - like Cast Away, only set in Alaska.

You can read the storyline to your heart's content on the Net, but this exquisite piece of film-making is almost flawless in its execution, from the breath-taking cinematography to the excellent cast. Of course, it helps to have a good book as a guide ( it's based on a novel by Jon Krakauer ), and although I haven't read it, I'm certain many of the most lyrical lines were lifted word for word by Penn ( who wrote the screenplay ). The narratives by the lead character's younger sister are the most poignant, and while I can't quote them offhand at this time, I can tell you that they reduced me to tears time and time again.

Emile Hirsch is now #3 on my list of Rising Young Actors, after James McAvoy and Shia LaBeouf, which says a lot about the impression he made. I was riveted from the word go, and held spellbound by his adventures, whether mundane or exhilarating. He spars admirably with veterans William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden, demonstrates wonderful chemistry with co-stars both male and female ( Twilight's Kristen Stewart turns in a lovely, understated performance ), but excels the most in solo scenes - in particular, those set in the Alaskan mountains, where his character spent the last 3 months of his life in complete isolation.

Since I highly recommend all my readers to watch this movie, I won't post too many spoilers here. As long as you're patient and open yourself to everything it has to offer, it will be nothing less than unforgettable and life-changing.

My mom dozed through the film - not her cup of tea - and scoffed when I related the plot to her the next day. But she sees it from a mother's perspective, the same way protagonist Chris McCandless' parents couldn't come to terms with his actions even after 2 long years.
I, on the other hand, see it from McCandless' point of view, and thus comprehend his unbridled wanderlust, since I harbour my own from time to time ( usually when I get my migraines ). Not that I have the choice of packing up and leaving home without suffering any consequences! I've learned not to test my mom beyond her limits. :)

I guess the best thing about Into The Wild is what I've taken away from the experience - a greater appreciation for the human condition, a better understanding of family dynamics, and being blown away by the beauty of the written and spoken word ( doesn't happen often! ).

Dead Poets Society still has the #1 Favourite Movie Of All Time spot, but Into The Wild has sidled into #2.

Make sure you see it.

Oscar Winner Ethan Coen's On Twitter

And we're having a nice chat. :)

Check out his Twitter page. He's been incredibly accomodating in answering readers' questions, and has already said the Coen brothers will work with Nicolas Cage again sometime in the future ( he acted in Raising Arizona eons ago - one of his best roles ever ), that he admires Denzel Washington and Daniel Day-Lewis, as well as Leo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx.

Any of you Coen brothers fans out there? They're the guys who won the Oscar for No Country For Old Men last year, though I personally think Fargo was their crowning achievement.

He's got only about 200 followers so far ( unlike Kevin Spacey's crazy 130,000 ), so chances are high if you tweet him. Chance of a lifetime!

American Idol's Top 5

I'm very happy about the remaining contestants - saving Matt Giraud turned out to be a good move on the judges' part, and I'm glad he's made it this far despite the odds.

Still rooting hard for Adam Lambert though. He's way ahead of the pack, and if I can see him on-stage when I'm back in the U.S. next year, I will do whatever I can to catch his show.

Go Adam! :)

Leave Options

Will start a week of annual leave today. About time, since I can literally feel all the cells in my body dying one by one these days. ( You think it's a joke? It isn't! )

Tried to extend a stay overseas so I can hop over to London to see Spring Awakening, but something about my plane ticket didn't work out so I can't switch flights. ARGH, this Krisflyer redemption booking system wrecked my plan!

Another time then, I suppose. I'm just not meant to see this musical...

Next Pandemic Around The Corner?

Last but not least, a prayer for those affected by the swine flu outbreak.

Protective measures have already been implemented in our department. Had forgotten just how much I detest the N95 masks until I had to wear one tonight. Add the impermeable gowns and you have a bunch of people drenched in sweat working the ER. Yes, even with the air-conditioning blasting. I'm quite okay with the temperature - endured an open-air C class ward for 2 months back in 2003, so this is nothing - but the mask is still pretty awful.

Hope it blows over by the time I return to work next week.

Till next time, take care, and stay healthy.

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