Friday, September 4, 2015
I've never understood the need to be challenged. Particularly when it comes to challenging yourself physically. That old saying about anything worth having is worth doing, or some such nonsense, holds no water for me. I like things easy. I enjoy not just creature comforts, but any comforts. I try never to be too hot, God forbid I be too cold. I need to be in surroundings with lots of natural light on a daily basis, yet protected from too much sun and bugs. I could go on, but you get the picture. So you can imagine the idea of walking the Appalachian Trail (2,185 miles) for 4 months sounds absolutely ludicrous to me, at any age, let alone 70! But that's the premise of this Ken Kwapis directed movie A WALK IN THE WOODS based on the nonfiction novel, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson.
T&T Quick Synopsis: Robert Redford plays Bill Bryson, a very successful travel writer, who seems also to have earned accolades in other civic matters and academic pursuits. He's been married to the same woman since undergrad, played by Emma Thompson. The movie starts out with him enduring a rather pointless and borderline insulting interview on a morning TV program. He comes home a little disgruntled, takes a walk, and sees the signs pointing to the Appalachian Trail, and that's it, light bulb goes off! He's gonna walk the entire trail. Of course his wife hates the idea, but when she can't persuade him away from it, she insists he take a friend along for the adventure, for safety's sake. Only, all of his past and present associations have more sense than to want to take such a fool hardy trek, and turn him down. Then he gets a call from a real blast from the past, Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte) a guy he traveled around Europe with 40 years ago, and didn't really like. But Katz is eager to go, so Bill accepts his companionship.
Bottom Line: "A Walk in the Woods" is nothing like Reese Witherspoon's raw, lonely, penance walk in "Wild". This movie is mainly a buddy comedy, with a toned down comic edge. It's never boring like Redford's lonely sea voyage "All is Lost" (click for T&T post). Thankfully, these guys do get off the trail sometimes and stay in a hotel or go to a diner, which gave me relief watching them come up out of the rain, snow, and threats of bears. There's a place in the movie where Katz wants to give up and drive the rest of the way, and Bryson responds - do that if you want to, I'm still walking. Katz then admits he's only out there because he wanted to spend time with Bryson. I can imagine the same scenario in real-life - this probably isn't a movie Nolte would have done, if asked by anyone other than Robert Redford.
Were you friends with Redford before you started making this movie?
Nolte: I wasn’t a friend of Bob’s before. Of course, we have the same lawyers, so, in a roundabout way, we knew of each other. He called me and asked me to come and meet with him and talk about a few things. It was primarily “Walk in the Woods,” which I had read. … He presented “Walk in the Woods” and gave me a script. That was about six years ago. It took five years to get it done.
How much of the filming was done on the real Appalachian Trail?
Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn’t. We tried to use as many trails as we could that were reachable that we could get up to. We had camels, horses and four-wheel-drive vehicles... READ MORE Michael Calia The Wallstreet Journal
T &T's LAMB Score: 3 outta 5
Side note: By the way, screened "A Walk in the Woods" at Bryn Mawr Film Institute out on the Main Line. It's rare that this theater is the venue for preview screenings. In part, it's why I decided to see this movie. The theater has a rich history going back to 1926, and an amazing 8000 members who keep the theater current and running with state-of-the-art screening equipment. I just wished they had a scholarship program for their film classes, I'm always dying to attend, but I can't swing the cost of the courses.
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