Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Film Rec: Into the Wild 

A brief but enthusiastic shout-out for the film Into the Wild, which I just caught up with on DVD via Netflix; a beautiful, complex film about a young misfit's obsession with living off the land in Alaska, and by extension, about the ways in which people decide to lead their lives. (In this case, I had *not* read the book, by the way.) Had I seen it earlier I would have been disappointed not to see this among the films named Best Picture Oscar nominees -- certainly a more substantial and rewarding film than that too-clever bit of fluff Juno. (Though my enjoyment of Atonement was actually diminished somewhat by just having read the book, I did think the remaining three best film nominees, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, and Michael Clayton, were all very fine and deserving nominees.)

Just finished posting interview excerpts from the March issue. Isn't Charles Stross looking more and more like Gene Wolfe? And isn't that a cute cover design for Saturn's Children?
Hi Mark,

I can't comment on Into the Wild, which I haven't seen, but I do think you are being a bit too hard on Juno, which I loved. What's wrong with being too clever? Yes, the dialogue probably isn't terribly realistic, but it's great fun. It is no more artificial in its way that Michael Clayton, with its heavyhanded corporate criticism and convenient plot (really, though an enjoyable and briskly told thriller, not terribly substantial either), nor than No Country for Old Man, with the entirely artificial main character, Chigurh, who somehow does not engender a major manhunt despite his serial killings.

What I mean is, Juno is artificial in a chosen way, a way to tell its filmic story, and I think an appropriate way. It's not perfect -- the too easy resolution, with Juno breezily giving up the child to the apparently perfect new mother, is a case of lettering her have her cake and eat it too, yes -- the movie is a bit thin there. But I think it is certainly a better movie than Atonement (granted that reading the novel, which I love, surely diminished the film for me), and I would also rank it ahead of Michael Clayton, which struck me as entirely unoriginal, though well enough done.

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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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