+ THE END OF THE TOUR (James Ponsoldt, 2012)
This most empathetic biopic catches the legendarily brilliant writer David Foster Wallace (Segal, endearing/hammy) on the precipice of fame as he hashes it out with a smitten-yet-envious journalist David Lipsky (Eisenberg, squirrely/perfunctory) penning a story for Rolling Stone in 1996. At the heart of this adaptation of Lipsky's own memoir lay two literary dudes having a workweek-long sleepover, cushioned by yeti-sized black labs and junk food and French noirs; trips to the mall and Alanis Morisette singalongs; trying to get warm in cars and trying to get laid; and through it all having what tops up as the Best Conversation I've Ever Had for at least one of them. Lipsky's words, verbatim, not mine.
A few spikes in the adulatory roses of film reception. That such a public depiction of DFW should even exist, for some, including those closest to him, besmirches Wallace's sacrosanct privacy, crashing against what would have been the man's vehement protestation of such a glaring spotlight and saintly illumination. Undoubtedly he would have shuddered to the bone and sweated off his bandana at the sight of Segel's oafish teddybear.
None of this dents the film’s nostalgia factor, ratcheted up to a toasty 70 degrees like the inside of a car on a cold winter night, your fingers frozen from idling outside smoking cigarettes in strip mall parking lot. This is approximately the mood of The End of the Tour, throwing you back, to 16, 18, or 21 sitting on your hands in the passenger's seat and having a laugh while you drive to the home of a friend, the one who had better snacks and absent parents. This, DFW would have appreciated.
Unintentionally, a food movie. Burgers flapping in their paper McDonald’s bag with their tell-all crumple; sodas guzzled and m&ms palmed; ends of cigarettes and crusts of deep-dish pizzas in perfect symmetry atop the perfect counter, Formica in its ugly florescence. DFW bristles wildly when Lipsky pokes around the subject of image and authenticity, his real-life Midwestern-guyness. While the novelist admits to prizing it, he remains adamant about its genuineness, which the film continually visually reaffirms through his eating habits, uniquely American, as if there were any question.
+ EAT: A trash candy utilizing recipe found on Pinterest, or on the Instagram of the frighteningly-much-younger-than-you doyenne of dye-streaked desserts and other horrendous violations of culinary taste.
Or: On a whim drive to your alma mater campus. Saunter knowingly into the corner convenience store or big-box drug store, the one you sought out for salty and tin-foiled wrapped excess. Let each footstep land intentionally onto the dirty-carpeted floor while you peruse the aisle, scanning over diligently with tired eyes until they alight on the prized bounty indubitably predetermined by you before you waltzed through those doors. Shovel thoughtfully, not rapidly, into your mouth before you switch gears.