Couldn’t get into Into the Wild the other night

You know what? If this will keep me out of being in the upper echelons of film critics so be it, but I have a nasty habit: I usually won’t watch a film just because it’s important, or because i should see it or because I’ll only be in a position to comment on the Oscar race if i watch it, and it’s tempting to watch that film just so i can participate in Oscar discussions and have respectable opinions, if a film doesn’t appeal to me, it jsut doesn’t appeal to me, and that’s 2 hours and 11 dollars wasted in an otherwise busy life. That’s why i haven’t seen Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Brokeback Mountain, History of Violence, The Hours, Into the Bedroom, The Pianist, The Quiet American, Cinderella Man, or Frida.

Currently, there are a lot of films that I have yet to see and the other night at my hotel I had an opportunity to watch something at the hotel through pay-per-view. I sized up the choices: Into the Wild, Ocean’s 13, Mr. Brooks, Waitress, Ratatouille, and 3:10 to Yuma again (because it’s so great). I really felt an obligation to watch Into the Wild: a film about a guy about my age who comes to a revelation that he shouldn’t be living a materialistic life so he donates all his money to charity, hitchhikes to Canada, and dies shortly thereafter.

I really felt like watching Mr. Brooks or Ocean’s 13, but the film critic conscience inside me told me it was wrong to watch these films that had no chance of being nominated and therefore couldn’t have possibly entered the national pop culture discussion in the upcoming weeks and therefore I should watch Into the Wild, but i just couldn’t bring myself to watch Into the Wild even though it was my duty as someone commenting on the best films of the year to know what I’m talking about.

So for a while, I didn’t watch anything because i couldn’t bring myself to select either. Ultimately, Dreamgirls came on HBO, one of the few big films from last year I hadn’t seen, and I decided I’d watch that instead. It was a great film, and I’ve now revised my top 10 list of 2006 to: 1. Little Miss Sunshine, Dayton & Harris 2. Flags of Our Fathers, Clint Eastwood 3. Departed, Martin Scorsesee 4. Babel, Alejandro Inarritu Gonzalu 5. Blood Diamond, Ed Zwick 6. Prairie Home Companion, Rob Altman 7. Hollywoodland, Allan Coulter 8. Dreamgirls, Bill Condon 9. Bobby, Emilio Estevez 10. Cars, John Lasseter

I did have one other thought, however: I think the problem with Into the Wild is that it’s marketed as a movie about a guy who goes off and dies. Why don’t they just market it as a movie about a guy who goes off and does incredible things and donates his money to charity. The advantages:
1. It would sound less depressing
2. It wouldn’t give away any spoilers
3. The film is made by Sean Penn which makes reason #1 even more relevant when you consider that Penn (despite playing fun-loving surferboy Jeff Spicoli in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”) is known for his extreme seriousness at all times and lack of humor, so it’s not far-fetched to think that his artistic sensibilities have nothing to do with entertainment, and they might draw him to a depressing film about a guy who goes off and dies instead.

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