Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: My Thoughts

Here is the situation. When I was in Europe between my junior and senior of college I began to read Everything Is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer. I loved it so much, that when I noticed that he had as second novel, I picked it up and devoured it immediately. It is no understatament to say that this book changed my life. It didn’t change my life in the way a self help book does, or a book that brings to light social travesties … it changed the way that I interacted with literature. It gave me a favorite book. It gave me a present to give to people who I care about. It gave me a passion.

So that is back story…

Now you know that the book has become a movie. The critics and viewers are not loving this at all. I went to see it this weekend, even though it has a 49% rating on RT and 6.2 stars on IMDB.

The most common complaints I see are that Oskar is annoying, that they did a terrible job making a 9/11 movie. Most reviews are negative. However, reading them all, it’s clear to me that there should be two categories of reviews: people who read the book, and people who didn’t.

Here are my thoughts, mind you, these are the thoughts of someone who has read the book around 9 times and cried when she found out Tom Hanks was going to be playing Thomas Schell.

Thomas Horn was an excellent choice for Oskar. 
Oskar is a weird kid. He is an extremely odd and intelligent boy who is ultimately 9 years old. Choosing a child, who is a boy genius was one of the best casting decisions I have seen. Here is a kid who is so smart that he teaches himself how to act. He is so believable as Oskar. I do wish he would have said some of my favorite phrases such as “Jose!”

I am so happy that it wasn’t a Tom Hanks show.
This story is about Oskar, not Thomas Schell. Some critics have complained that Tom Hanks was not in the movie enough. He wasn’t supposed to be. The story is not about him, it includes him.

I was confused by what was left out. 
There were multiple times throughout the film when I thought to myself Hmm, that’s missing. It’s inevitable, yes. I know that not everything in an entire novel can be included. There were parts in the book that were so monumental, that I don’t really understand how they could have been left out.

In the end, I need to see the movie again. Everyone I saw it with cried many times. I wasn’t moved to tears because I was doing too much analyzing. Part of me is mournful that I have now lost the “I wish they would make this a movie” feeling. I am also sad to no longer have the anticipation. The truth is I am happy. I will still recommend the book to everyone that I meet and I will always love everything by Mr. Safran Foer. I invite you to watch the movie and judge it for yourself.


So I Watch a lot of Netflix…

Like most of the people that I know, we have decided that we no longer need tv. As a teenager and little beyond, I would probably have been considered a tvholic. In college, my roommate and I were the only people that we knew of that actually paid for cable. But my new outlook on life helped me to finally reach a decision to cut the cable. But now there seems to be a bump in that road: hulu and netflix… and there doesn’t seem to be an end to the library at my fingertips.

Now this isn’t just a post about how much I love to be lazy and watch movies, it’s an opportunity for me to share what has captivated me lately. I like to recommend movies to friends, and this will be an easy way to share with a wider audience. As I was drafting a list, I realized all are really documentaries, or tv documentaries…so hopefully you are into those.

Recent Documentaries I Enjoyed:

Unmistaken Child (2008)
I have seen this film twice, and have recommended it countless times. It follows a Buddhist Monk named Tenzin Zopa who is searching for the reincarnation of his master, Lama Konchog. He follows the advice, and signs from fellow monks and travels to the country lands of Nepal & Tibet, and more specifically to his hometown. He is only given a few clues as to who this child could be (location, what letter the father’s name begins with, possible age) but is determined to find a child that could be no one other than his master. The scenery is beautiful, the spiritual nature is inspiring, and the story is just captivating. I recommend this to anyone who wants to be swept away by a great story.

Unmistaken Child

Praying with Lior (2007)
I should preface this by saying that I cried so much watching this documentary. Mostly happy tears, but sometimes I was just overcome with emotion. It follows a jewish boy with down syndrome, Lior, who is getting ready for his bar mitzvah. He is the light in his family, school and synagogue and is loved by everyone. He says some really profound things, as do those who are close to him. A very heart warming story that I think anyone can enjoy.

Lior with His Friend Shawn

A State of Mind (2004)
This documentary follows two young gymnasts and their families as they prepare for the national Mass Games of North Korea. The Mass Games are put on for a number of special occasions in the country, and involve thousands of performers. Before watching this film, I knew nothing about North Korea. Watching this will give you great insight into their daily lives and their unique history. There is also amazing visuals involving these talented young ladies.

Mass Games

Documentary TV Shows We Caught Up On:

Dogs Decoded Nova Special (2010)
The moment after watching this special, I sent a link to all the dog lovers that I know. Nova specials are always so interesting, and the great thing about Netflix is that they post new ones pretty regularly. This one is all about dogs and their connection with humans. It was completely fascinating, and further confirmed my beliefs that dogs can truly understand us. You won’t look at dogs the same way again, I promise.

My Dog

Buster (My Dog)

30 Days (3 Seasons)
I just began watching these yesterday, and already we watched about 8 of them. This show was created by Morgan Spurlock, the man who made Supersize Me. It places someone in a foreign situation for 30 Days to experience what life could be like. It reminds me of Wifeswap in a way because it tends to place someone who holds a certain belief in a situation where they are confronted directly (minuteman living with illegals, right-winged Christian living in Gay San Francisco). But what I respect is that they take people who are educated and willing to learn. It is a really well made show and covers really interesting topics.

Hunter Spending 30 Days as an Animal Rights Activist

Out of The Wild (1 Season)
For those who love wilderness specials, this is perfect for you. It follows 9 people who love the outdoors, but don’t have much experience and places them in the Alaskan wilderness with a mission to find civilization. They are out in the wilderness for a month and have to do almost everything by themselves. They are pushed to their limits, and overcome so much.

Out of The Wild Cast


I feel like there are many more that I could recommend, many that I have watched throughout the last 2 years, but I think this is a good list for people to start with if they are looking for some recommendations. Maybe later I will recommend some more.