Posted by: markfender | February 2, 2016

The End of the Tour

Occasionally, Hollywood makes a movie for English nerds. This is one of those movies.

endoftourDavid Lipsky’s book about his interview with David Foster Wallace doesn’t quite translate into cinema. After all, it is mostly just two people talking, and one of those people wrote the longest, ramblingest sentences in the English language. So, be prepared for a lot of literary speeches.

But when one of those people making the speeches is DFW, I’m inclined to listen. Because his general attitude towards the world matches my own – questioning of basic human foibles, a preternatural awareness for the artifice of modern life, and a general awkwardness that translates into overly analyzing the most minute of human experiences.

DFW, of course, was a weird character. Jason Segal does a good job portraying him. I only know Segal as that big, schlubby guy who really likes the Muppets, so it could seem like an odd casting decision. But, he did a great job, taking on DFW’s vocal mannerisms as well as the more obvious costuming (He’s a big bigger than the real DFW, so there were occasions when he seemed more looming than he probably should have been). Eisenberg was good, too, but I guess you sort of expect that from him at this point. Eisenberg had an annoying verbal tic of laughing at almost everything DFW said. But, since the entire script was based on some recorded interviews, I’m assuming Eisenberg was doing his research and laughing every time Lipsky did in the original tapes. So, I’m actually going to blame Lipsky for that.

As a fan of postmodernism, DFW is one of my literary idols. Not everything he wrote was brilliant (In fact, I tend to dislike his fiction), but his observations about modern life were always spot-on. I expected to get the howling fantods about a movie based on his life, but was pleasantly surprised. There’s not much plot – just long speeches from some genuinely interesting thinkers. But, you know, thinking’s good for you.

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