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The main narrator of the story is a nine year old child, Oskar Schell, an intellectually curious and sensitive child of Manhattan progressives whose father died two years earlier on 9/11. He is a pacifist, a vegan, musical (he plays the tambourine), academically inclined, and above all, earnest. Oskar wanders New York, searching for the meaning of a strange key he finds inside a blue vase in his father's closet. Two additional narrators, Oskar's paternal grandparents, tell the story of their childhood, courtship, marriage, and separation before the birth of Oskar's father; much of their story is presented as a series of letters addressed to Oskar or his father.Critical responseCritical response towards Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has been generally less positive than for Foer's first novel; John Updike, writing for The New Yorker, found the second novel to be "thinner, overextended, and sentimentally watery", stating that "the book's hyperactive visual surface covers up a certain hollow monotony in its verbal drama". In a New York Times review Michiko Kakutani said, "While it contains moments of shattering emotion and stunning virtuosity that attest to Mr. Foer's myriad gifts as a writer, the novel as a whole feels simultaneously contrived and improvisatory, schematic and haphazard." Kakutani also stated the book was "cloying" and identified the unsympathetic main character as a major issue. Harry Siegel, writing in New York Press, bluntly titled his review of the book "Extremely Cloying & Incredibly False: Why the author of Everything Is Illuminated is a fraud and a hack", seeing Foer as an opportunist taking advantage of 9/11 "to make things important, to get paid" while also adding "The writers who make it get treated as symbols. Whitehead gets compared to Ellison, because they're both black; Lethem writes a book about race invisibility, but since he's a white boy, no one thinks to mention Ellison. In the same vein, Foer is supposed to be our new Philip Roth, though his fortune-cookie syllogisms and pointless illustrations and typographical tricks don't at all match up to or much resemble Roth even at his most inane. But Jews will be Jews, apparently." Anis Shivani said similarly in a Huffington Post article entitled "The 15 Most Overrated Contemporary American Writers", claiming Foer "Rode the 9/11-novel gravy train with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, giving us a nine-year-old with the brain of a twenty-eight-year-old Jonathan Safran Foer".Despite several mediocre reviews, the novel was viewed positively in the eyes of several critics. The Herald said that it was a "wonderful" book and is filled with "creative and quirky thoughts". The Spectator said that "Safran Foer is describing a suffering that spreads across continents and generations" and that the "book is a heartbreaker: tragic, funny, intensely moving". The Financial Times thought the novel was "wise, funny and incredibly sad."DevelopmentIn August 2010, it was reported that director Stephen Daldry and producer Scott Rudin had been working on a film adaptation of the novel for five years. Eric Roth was hired to write the script. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a co-production with Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros., with Warner being the "lead studio". Chris Menges served as director of photography, K. K. Barrett as production designer and Ann Roth as costume designer.CastingTom Hanks and Sandra Bullock were the first to be cast in the film. A nationwide search for child actors between the ages of 9 and 13 began in late October 2010 for the role of Oskar Schell. Thomas Horn, who had won over $30,000 at age 12 on the 2010 Jeopardy! Kids Week, was chosen for the role in December 2010. Horn had had no prior acting interest but was approached by the producers based on his quiz-show appearance. On January 3, 2011 The Hollywood Reporter announced that John Goodman joined the cast. That same month Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright were cast. Nico Muhly was credited in the film poster as the composer, but on October 21, 2011 it was reported that Alexandre Desplat will compose the score. FilmingPrincipal photography was expected to begin in January, but started in March 2011 in New York City. Filming went on hiatus in June. On May 16, 2011, scenes were shot on the streets of the Lower East Side and Chinatown. Cranes were used to shoot scenes on the corner of Orchard Street and Grand Street. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was filmed with an Arri Alexa and was the first feature film to use Arri's ArriRaw format to store the data for post-production.ReleaseDaldry had hoped to have the film released around the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. A test screening took place in New York on September 25, 2011 to a positive reaction. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close will have a limited release in the United States on December 25, 2011 with a wide release on January 20, 2012. It will be released in the United Kingdom on February 3, 2012.
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