Chew's Reviews - The End Of The tour

By Gary Chew | August 21, 2015 Opens today With the recent upward poll surge of Donald S. Trump, maybe Johnny Gentle, a former ...

By Gary Chew | August 21, 2015

Opens today

With the recent upward poll surge of Donald S. Trump, maybe Johnny Gentle, a former singer and now President of the United States, as David Foster Wallace has that character in his voluminous novel “Infinite Jest,” might not have been the writer poking dark fun at America's penchant for shallowness. The late author could merely have been trying to offer his readers a prediction.

Let's hope I'm wrong about that. Or if Wallace was wanting to make a call on the future, he was wrong.

Fans of Mr. Wallace and anyone who loves to lose him or herself in a good book will take to the new film The End Of The Tour like Jay Gatsby and Joe Gillis did to swimming pools. It's really unfortunate that those two characters of fiction met with an abrupt and rather early end, and that David Foster Wallace --- a real person played in the movie by Jason Segel --- did as well. At his own hand.

The End Of The Tour takes you on a tour with Wallace and a Rolling Stone reporter --- another real person named David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg). Wallace is about to complete his Infinite Jest book tour as Lipsky tags along to gather material, as well as research and get to know Dave Wallace.

Segel plays Wallace brilliantly and having a considerably higher vantage point on life, but not distance from Jeff Bridges' irrepressible The Dude in that “Lebowski” movie we all know and love. Lipsky is a more typical writer, one that's struggling; but “Hey,” he does have a gig at Rolling Stone, and is now on with this profile piece about one of America's hottest writers who taught for a time at Illinois State University in Bloomington. It just might be that Lipsky wants to be Dave Wallace.

Director James Ponsoldt provides a genuine talkie film. No, not that it also has, besides being a moving picture, dialogue and music on a soundtrack ... but an overwhelming amount of conversation between Wallace and Lipsky; some of it approaching rather riveting … and funny. Let me just say that since I've long been a fan of Orwell, this movie, with a script written by Donald Marguiles (from Lipsky's book), doesn't give anyone the lowdown on Doublethink … but a lot of insight into Overthink. If Wallace hadn't had Foster for a middle name, it might have been, more appropriately, “Overthink.”

As I've been associated with more than one NPR radio affiliate in my day, it should be pointed out that The End Of The Tour is soooooo NPREven Robert Siegel of All Things Considered fame got to lay down a track of narration for the outset of Tour. I thought maybe I'd hear an underwriter message just before the story began to unfold on the celebrated Wallace and Rolling Stone's Lipsky.

A subtle treat for me and other NPR listeners, I'm sure, is the neat, sweet condescension laced into the story. With help from cast member Joan Cusack, the bit about Mary Tyler Moore's statue in downtown Minneapolis (in the film) is a gentle example of a good natured joke with Mid Westerners as its butt. You'll think you might be in the Fitzgerald Theater chuckling to Garrison Keillor who, by the way, doesn't appear in the film.

There are some really good “dog scenes” in Tour though, but remembering the title of Wallace's book --- Infinite Jest --- clues one to its sense of the absurd. Depression is in the mix.

I couldn't keep from thinking about Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams as I watched a movie about another deep and supremely talented artist by the name of David Foster Wallace.

Copyright © 2015 by Gary Chew. All rights reserved.


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