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I saw this trailer for The Impossible play before The Master yesterday. I heard some good things about this come out of TIFF, especially about the performances of Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. Directed by Juan Antonia Bayona, who gave us the remarkably strong horror entry The Orphanage. On a big screen, the wave is a tremendous spectacle, and I've read that the chaos and relentlessness of this scene is on par with the Normandy landing in Saving Private Ryan I only wish the trailer didn't give as much away as it appears to. Can somebody with a better ear than me tell me if this is Bono singing a different version of One, or someone else covering it. I'd like to find it somewhere.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LST7Y39WBac&feature=fvwrel

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
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something about it made me think of Empire of the Sun...I think it will be pretty good.

Good call, I thought the same thing yesterday.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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But 'One' is about a break-up, right? (I recall reading recently that The Edge was surprised by how many people had told him that they'd played the song at their weddings. Sting once said something similar about 'Every Breath You Take', too; it's a song about a stalker, not a song about true love, etc.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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But 'One' is about a break-up, right? (I recall reading recently that The Edge was surprised by how many people had told him that they'd played the song at their weddings. Sting once said something similar about 'Every Breath You Take', too; it's a song about a stalker, not a song about true love, etc.)

Yeah, I always wondered about the wedding angle. And it is about a breakup. But the original version seems to be about a break up of two selfish people, and what's interesting about the approach in this version of the song is Damien Rice's choice to focus the cause of the break up on himself by changing some key pronouns throughout the song. Makes me wonder if the happy, idyllic family we see in the trailer is something more than the photo album snapshots they appear to be.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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  • 2 months later...

I watched it over the weekend and have to say I was much more emotionally moved by the film (manipulated, yes, although some of the emotion was genuine and heatfelt) than I'd anticipated. And I'm not talking about sentimentality, although the film has that, too. I mean moved as in utterly horrified, hands-over-my-face at times. Then, some gut-wrenching stuff later in the film. I'll probably have more to say after I've seen it a second time and have absorbed it with a bit more distance.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I do want to see this despite knowing that it may be sentimental to the extreme.

I have spent two vacations on the beaches of Khao Lak where the events of this film occurred. My in laws were there in the months immediately following the tsunami. The scars still exist. Every person you meet who lives there has stories. The pool man at our hotel only survived by climbing at tree and had to watch his wife and child get swept away.

I think I can understand Christian's reaction without even seeing the film.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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For the record, although Naomi Watts is getting an awards push, I was somewhat stunned by the performance of the young boy in this film. My critics group introducted a Best Youth Performance category this year, with the girl from Beasts of the Southern Wild as a clear favorite. She's pretty great, and she won. But after seeing The Impossible, I voted for the young actor in it instead.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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  • 2 weeks later...

For the record, although Naomi Watts is getting an awards push, I was somewhat stunned by the performance of the young boy in this film. My critics group introducted a Best Youth Performance category this year, with the girl from Beasts of the Southern Wild as a clear favorite. She's pretty great, and she won. But after seeing The Impossible, I voted for the young actor in it instead.

Agreed -- good vote. I haven't seen Beasts of the Southern Wild, but the boy here was great. I found myself wondering whether he might get a Supporting Actor nom. He'd be pretty young for that...

I'm still trying to figure my reaction to this. I will say, however, that in that first half hour, I have never seen anything like that in cinema, and on the big screen it was absolutely incredible.

It's just that after that, it's kinda like watching a movie made for Lifetime.

(Or, at least, what I would imagine a movie made for Lifetime might be like, since I've probably seen like, one, and can't even remember its title.)

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Persona wrote:

: I found myself wondering whether he might get a Supporting Actor nom. He'd be pretty young for that...

It does seem that *girls* are more likely to be nominated for (and win) Oscars for acting than *boys*. Recall how Tatum O'Neal and Anna Paquin actually won awards for Best Supporting Actress (in 1973 and 1993 respectively), while Haley Joel Osment had to settle for being nominated (in 1999; he lost to Michael Caine, who received his second Oscar that year).

Hmmm, seems Wikipedia has a list of oldest and youngest nominees and winners in the acting and directing categories:

-- Best Actor: The only minor to ever be *nominated* in this category is Jackie Cooper, who was 9 when he was nominated for Skippy in 1931. After that, Mickey Rooney scored a couple of nominations during World War II, the first of which happened when he was 19, but since then, the youngest Best Actor nominee since World War II has been 24-year-old John Travolta, for Saturday Night Fever. The youngest *winner* was Adrien Brody, who was 29 when he won for The Pianist. (Note: the 10th-youngest nominee was 27, and the 10th-youngest winner was 34.)

-- Best Actress: The only minor to ever be *nominated* in this category is Keisha Castle-Hughes, who was 13 when she was nominated for Whale Rider. All the other nominees were at least in their 20s, and the youngest *winner* was Marlee Matlin, who was 21 when she won for Children of a Lesser God. (Note: the 10th-youngest nominee was 22, and the 10th-youngest winner was 26.)

-- Best Supporting Actor: The youngest nominee in any category ever was Justin Henry, who was 8 when he was nominated for Kramer vs. Kramer. After that you've got The Sixth Sense's Haley Joel Osment and Shane's Brandon deWilde, both of whom were 11, and Oliver!'s Jack Wilde, who was 16, and Rebel without a Cause's Sal Mineo, who was 17, and Running on Empty's River Phoenix, who was 18, and What's Eating Gilbert Grape's Leonardo DiCaprio, who was 19, and then all the nominees are in their 20s or up -- including Timothy Hutton, who was the youngest *winner* in this category at the age of 20, for Ordinary People. (Note: the 10th-youngest nominee was 22, and the 10th-youngest winner was 35.)

-- Best Supporting Actress: The 10th-youngest nominee was 14 years and 83 days old at the time of her nomination, which means the other nine were all even *younger* -- and two of them won (the aforementioned O'Neal and Paquin, who were 10 and 11, respectively). Patty Duke was 16 when she won for The Miracle Worker. All the other winners were in their 20s at least; the 10th-youngest winner was 27.

For whatever that's worth.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Love this, from O'Hehir:

I don’t want to give away too much about the extraordinary special-effects scenes Bayona uses to depict the arrival of the tsunami, its immediate aftermath, and the family’s struggle to survive. Then again, I probably can’t, because this is the kind of holy-cow, hell-for-leather, how’d-they-do-that? cinema that cannot be rendered in words. From the moment the tropical-drinks blender at the poolside bar quits working, and a strange wind off the seafront sucks random objects against the fence, we’re thrust into a paradigm-shifting apocalypse that feels entirely too real. Then the tsunami hits – we hear it and feel it, more than see it – and Óscar Faura’s camera goes careening along with Maria in a series of remarkable extended stunt shots across the transformed and inundated landscape. This movie cost around $45 million to make (an immense sum for the European industry) but as a work of craft and technique it outdoes many Hollywood movies that cost triple or quadruple that amount.

Maybe I'll watch The Impossible again this weekend.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Just finished watching the TV documentary Tsunami: Caught on Camera, which might be of interest to some here as a general background research kind of thing. You can see part one here:

Meanwhile, Alex von Tunzelmann @ Guardian gives the film a B- for entertainment and a B+ for history:

The Bennett family – Henry (
), Maria (Naomi Watts), and their three sons – travel to Thailand for a Christmas holiday. The real family on whose experiences the film is based is Spanish. Maria Bennett's real-life counterpart, María Belón, has a story credit on this production. Her husband Enrique Alvárez and their children have appeared at the film's premieres. Director J A Bayona has said that he changed their nationality because it was easier to secure a substantial budget with international stars McGregor and Watts on board. "International" means English-speaking. Historians do like primary sources, though, so even with that change the film gets points for following Belón's first-hand account. . . .

The Impossible is an accomplished and effective movie, and accurate in the story it chooses to tell – but it is ungenerous in portraying a disaster which mainly affected south and south-east Asians from a totally European perspective.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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John Drew is all over our Oscar-nomination threads, expressing surprise that the film wasn't nominated for Holland's performance (agreed, but I'm not too bothered by the oversight), production design (have never been sure what that category entails, but wouldn't have minded seeing this film in it) and visual effects. That last category would seem to be a no-brainer, and now that John's pointed out the omission, I join him in his outrage.

I watched this film again last night with my wife, and it played well. I had an eye on whether the film, after its devastating first half hour, descends into Lifetime-movie territory, as some of its critics have charged. The subject matter may not be too far removed from such TV movies, but the treatment of the them is much more cinematic here. Lots of lovely touches during the "recovery" portion of the film, and never visually dull like TV movies can be. Just my two cents.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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John Drew is all over our Oscar-nomination threads, expressing surprise that the film wasn't nominated for Holland's performance (agreed, but I'm not too bothered by the oversight), production design (have never been sure what that category entails, but wouldn't have minded seeing this film in it) and visual effects. That last category would seem to be a no-brainer, and now that John's pointed out the omission, I join him in his outrage.

I haven't been able to catch all the nominations, but this should be the clear winner. Now I need to look and see what nominated special-effects films I've seen. Wow, huge oversight.

I watched this film again last night with my wife, and it played well. I had an eye on whether the film, after its devastating first half hour, descends into Lifetime-movie territory, as some of its critics have charged. The subject matter may not be too far removed from such TV movies, but the treatment of the them is much more cinematic here. Lots of lovely touches during the "recovery" portion of the film, and never visually dull like TV movies can be. Just my two cents.

I agree, a bit. But it definitely feels a little cheesy at times.

And I'm certain that the fact that this family is white makes it worse.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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  • 3 months later...

Okay this came out on DVD/BluRay yesterday, so I went down to my local Redbox and got it on BluRay. When I stuck this in my player, I was ready to like this movie.

I didn't realize just what I was in for.

Persona had mentioned the effects they used for the tsunami, and I was excited to see that. I was not quite ready to be on the edge of my seat, just a bit horrified. This is in part to Watt's performance which is the most visceral of her career. It is also because of the sounds, the utter chaos that surrounds the scenes. I cannot get them out of my head.

But I was also impressed with the naturalism, the realism, and the fact that the directors and writers hold no punches in the story. From the many countless wounds on Watt's body, to the little boy who somehow finds time to seek out families for other people while worrying about his own? Wow.

That is what most impressed me about this movie, not the effects, or the acting, but the hope...the fact that everyone, from little child to old Thai man, were rising to the occasion to help one another. Heroism is rampant in this movie almost as a second thought, a natural order of things. I was watching tragedy bring out the best in people, not the worst. In other disaster movies you will see some people being evil, but in this one the only evil were the elements themselves and human error, but not the heart.

I don't think I've cried so much either.

Gosh I'm really debating if this is my favorite movie of 2012, even over Moonrise Kingdom. There is just so much great about it, so much beauty...and yet I wonder if it does suffer from sentimentality in a way that Moonrise Kingdom doesn't. Or is that just the old cynic in me, not quite willing to accept what is honestly the most humanistic disaster movie ever made.

"The truth is you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin Ringo, I'm tryin real hard to be the shepherd." Pulp Fiction

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  • 1 month later...

Finally saw this last week (my review) and immediately thought, "Naomi Watts was nominated for an Oscar...but why not Tom Holland?!" Then I came here today and read the responses, and felt affirmed. At least I'm not alone in thinking his performance as the son was phenomenal and affecting, particularly when it's essentially a debut film performance.

While the film could be considered sentimental at times, especially in the latter half, it never becomes saccharine. It's a deeply emotional and raw film. It's also filled with hope, as Justin pointed out, showing some of the best sides of humanity in stark contrast to a horrific disaster. I openly wept at many points in the film, partly from the hope and love displayed between people who have been found and reunited, and partly from the grief of realizing that so many others had been lost. I wonder of the parable of the prodigal son, and if this is the sort of raw emotion that parable should elicit in us.

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