At Gawker, Tim Grierson and Will Leitch think it’s wrong to hate Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I’ve been pretty hard on Extremely Loud, and I’m not about to stop now. Nor am I going to go see it.
From the first time the preview set me bawling in the theater, I have hated this movie. It’s one thing to cast a bunch of Oscar bait actors in a heartwarming story of a child mourning his dead father – that’s manipulative enough. To make use of the familiar images of 9/11 – the towers falling, papers falling from the sky, the bulletin boards covered in posters for lost friends and family – not only in the film but in the advertising campaign is flat-out crass. Worse, it’s flat-out lazy writing.
From the Gawker review:
Of course, that brings us to the film’s most risible potential problem: It’s a movie about 9/11. A lot of Extremely Loud‘s loudest detractors don’t just hate the movie; they object to how 9/11 is portrayed, adopting almost a territorial position concerning what’s “appropriate” or not for a film of this kind. The argument seems to be that using footage of the smoldering, collapsing towers—not to mention a few overly artsy, oblique shots of people falling from the towers—is in poor taste for a movie that wants to turn that horrible day into a sappy, quirky, manipulative Oscar candidate.
It’s an argument that’s so subjective and emotionally charged—especially if you were someone who knew any of the 9/11 victims—that it’s hard to know how to respond. All I can say is that while I understand those objections, I don’t think Extremely Loud is (for most of its running time) trying to somehow “heal” the wounds of 9/11 or offer a feel-good solution to the still-lingering pain of that day. Granted, the movie’s closing stretch is needlessly gooey with its sentimental, tearful reconciliations, and I wish it were more ambiguous in its resolution, offering a guarded sense of optimism rather than the unalloyed happy ending it dishes out. But I can’t deny that I found the movie incredibly affecting both times I’ve seen it.
That doesn’t mean I can’t see the film’s clear flaws. There is unquestionably a lot of preciousness you have to swallow. But while it’s fair to accuse Extremely Loud of capitalizing on the communal anguish of 9/11 to make its story more “significant,” I’m not sure it’s fair to ignore the film’s genuine attempt at dramatizing the intensely personal process of filling the void within.
Here’s the thing: It’s not only a question of what’s in good taste or poor taste. The fact is, playing on familiar images of 9/11 is a cheap way of stirring a visceral emotional reaction from audience members. It’s a manipulative trick used by lazy filmmakers to create a connection they haven’t earned. It’s lazy. Continue Reading
We had this librarian at school [no names – I don’t want to hurt any feelings] who was so old she seemed mummified. I developed a theory that each summer break she kidnapped two students and cocooned herself in a corner to steal their life essence.
The above is one of several versions of her “true form,” which one might encounter entering the library during those summer months.
- Darth Vader attacks Princess Leia’s ship
- Jon Arryn is murdered
- A fly falls into a typewriter, turning the letter “T” into a “B.”
Like most concepts in art, the inciting incident is the subject of various debates. One is whether the inciting incident must itself be a scene in your story. I’m of the mind that it does not – in the examples above, for instance, #2 occurs before the story itself begins. The inciting incident will often be a scene, but not always. Some, particularly in screenwriting, believe the inciting incident should always come at the end of Act I, and lead into Act II. Once again, I strongly disagree – this “setting out” by the protagonist is a reaction to the inciting incident, not the incident itself.
The second point of frequent debate is on what, exactly, constitutes THE inciting incident. Some will argue it’s the moment at which the main character can no longer turn back, but I disagree. My opinion is it’s the event on which things begin to turn, the cause to which all reaction can be traced – the fulcrum of the story, if you will. I also disagree with those who say the inciting incident must be something that happens to the main character. It can be fun, at least for those of us who find pointless intellectual exercises “fun,” to argue over what exactly the inciting incident is.
- Is it when Frodo gets the One Ring from Gandalf? Or is it when Bilbo finds the ring in Gollum’s cave? Or is it the Council of Elrond?
- Is it John Arryn’s murder? Or King Robert’s demanding that Ned Stark serve as Hand?
- Is it Vader attacking Leia’s ship? Or Luke finding the droids? Or maybe even the initial theft of the Death Star plans?
Key to identifying the inciting incident, I think, is figuring out exactly whose story you’re telling. For a writer struggling with a plot structure, this can also help to determine what your central conflict is, and where the climax will fit. Conversely, deciding on whose story you’re telling might change your inciting incident.
My mother and I started the morning in a courtroom, observing a legal challenge to Conshohocken Borough’s new law protecting LGBT residents against discrimination. There were eight of us in the audience, all supporters of the law, while the plaintiff (who was challenging the law) was left to argue alone – and, honestly, turns out to be kind of a lunatic.
I actually found myself a little bored — but I’ve got to say it’s a nice change from the days when the supporters of gay rights would have been the minority, and the guy defending discrimination would have had an army of sign-toting religious zealots supporting him.