Monday, February 18, 2008

Avon Film Festival Continues, and Into the Wild

The Avon’s Oscar film festival was glorious. On five different days, the Avon is showing various Oscar-nominated films, two at a time. I went last Saturday. The first film at 9:30 was Sweeney Todd. It was OK, but after he cut the 15th throat, I was ready to move on to the next film.
Into the Wild is the best movie I’ve seen in a while. Despite the unbelieveably lumpy, uncomfortable seats, the entire audience was spellbound and still for over 2 hours. Warning: slight spoilers are coming up in the next paragraphs, so stop reading if you want to keep a clean slate.

The movie tells the true story of 23 year-old Christopher McCandless, played beautifully by Emile Hirsch. After college, he picks up everything, without a word to his family, and heads for Alaska. It takes him almost a year to get there. He kayaks from California to Mexico, harvests wheat in South Dakota, and lives with hippies in… Nevada?

He lives in the freezing cold of Alaska—

Ok here comes the only real spoiler. If you read Jon Krakauer’s acclaimed book on the subject, you know the kid ends up dying, but I want to give you one heartbreaking detail.

After a couple of months of surviving in Alaska, he decides to go home. And even though you know this kid ends up dead, you think he might make it. You want him to get home to his sister, whose voice-overs describe how much she misses him and how his asshole parents are changing for the better because of their grief and shock at his disappearance.

So. He packs up and starts walking. When he comes to the stream he crossed in the winter, it’s now, in the spring, a raging river. I felt the whole audience think to themselves, shit. At this point in the movie, you love him, and now you know why he’s going to die. He can’t get home. He’s going to starve, or freeze. You so badly want this kid to live.

Sean Penn directed the film. Visually it’s stunning, the actors are great, and even Vince Vaughan is passable as a wheat farmer- I know, weird. Outrageously, neither Penn or Hirsch are up for an Oscar. The only reason I didn’t immediately run out and buy Krakauer's book is because I wanted to savor the memory of the movie.

The next films are this Wednesday—film shorts—and Saturday— Lars and the Real Girl and I’m Not There, the Dylan biopic. I’m going to both. You should go, too. I thought it was 2 movies for ten bucks, but I think you’re supposed to pay for both. If you don’t leave the theatre between films, you can get away with only paying for one movie. I didn’t do that though! No way!

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