It’s Emile Hirsch’s B’day today. The 13th of March, 2013.                                         13.03.13


I first heard of Emile Hirsch, when I was residing in Portsmouth, England, way back in 2004, when he came in a movie called The Girl Next Door (2004). A silly chick flick that didn’t interest me at all, and still have no desire to see it , and I just assumed Hirsch was just some pretty face, and only reason that name stuck to my mind was  ’cause we were constantly getting bombarded with the trailers of The Girl Next Door, on the small and big screens, that was running in the theatres/Cinemas back then. Then I forgot all about it . In 2007, as I was finishing my course in Sydney (Down Under – Australia), Into the Wild (2007) came out. I had seen great reviews about this new flick, and was keen on watching this movie. Added to this I wondered why the name of the lead actor sounded so familiar. Then I found out. Wow!!, I though, some chick flick actor in a good movie, I have to see this. As soon as I finished my course (M.A. in Painting from UNSW), and after my graduation exhibition (i.e. COFA Annual Art Exhibition) was done in December 2007, my friends and I decided this was the movie we should catch that month. And we watched Into the Wild, and we loved this tragic bio-pic. We walked all the way back to Uni discussing this movie and sympathising with Christopher McCandless, the main character played by Hirsch. Now, that’s the kind of movie I love to watch, one that we can analyse at length with like minded people; Boy, I miss those days.  And since then I’ve been a great fan of Emile Hirsch, although I don’t agree with all his film choices, atleast I know how good an actor he is. And if; Daniel Day Lewis’ (who won the Oscar the following year, as he did this year, as well) superb role in There Will Be Blood (2007) and Johnny Depp’s (who was nominated) role in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007); didn’t exist, Hirsch should have won. Sadly, he wasn’t even nominated, and nor was Sean Penn, who had done a wonderful job directing this great adventure of self discovery into wilderness.

Then, two years later came Gus Van Sant’s Milk (2008). Another bio-pic, this time Hirsch (playing Cleve Jones) starred opposite Sean Penn, who played the lead charcter Harvey Milk. This time Sean Penn bagged the Best Actor Oscar. Hirsch again was superb, playing a real life gay activist. I watched this movie twice within the same year, 2009, and the second time was on the big screen in Paris.

Then, still in 2009, Taking Woodstock (2009), came to Cannes Film Festival, May 2009, while I was residing in Paris. Since then there were so many interesting articles about the actual Woodstock of 1969, in the Herald tribune (Paris’ English language Newspaper) alone, and in magazines like TIME, Newsweek, Frontline et al, that I was really keen of watching Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock, added to which it had Hirsch in it. Normally being a person who collects good articles sometimes, if I really like them, this time I didn’t have a single cutting, neither on the real Woodstock of 69′ nor on the celluloid version of Woodstock of 09′ . Why? Well, there were so many, and I liked each and every article I read on Woodstock, from May to September 2009, that it was extremely difficult for me to choose. So I did not take a single one I read, now I kind of regret that. None the less, I was waiting for it’s release on the Paris Big Screen. Unfortunately it was being released on the day I was leaving Paris, 9th September 2009 (09.09.09). Thus I just missed it. Then in Lanka, I was looking for it’s pirated version at all the video libraries in Colombo and around. Although I hate pirated copies, that’s the only way one can catch a good movie in SL, that too rarely. Most movies you find here are crap. I could not find it anywhere. Then, November 2010, I went on a trip to New Delhi, India, after a gap of nine and half years. Last time I was in Delhi, before that, was in May 2001. Now in New Delhi, in all the good shops (and ordinary shops), what you get is the original DVD’s, not pirated. In fact to find pirated copies, you literary have to go underground, or some other shady place. But the 0riginal DVD’s you get happen to be Indian Copyrights, thus censored versions. None the less, I was happy to have finally located Taking Woodstock (2009). Watched it, twice, with all the nudity cut off, still loved it. Although, being a film buff, am totally against censorship, I prefer to buy a censored Original DVD, than an uncensored bad pirated one. And am glad to have such a good movie added to my collection. It’s a near excellent movie by acclaimed film director Ang Lee, who won an Oscar this year for Life of Pi (2012).

Now, living in a narrow minded, hypocritical, tasteless, aesthetically depressive country that I never belonged in; it’s impossible to find a good movie, or to enjoy the company of people that appreciate and have an understanding for the arts, here. Thanks to foreign cable channels (Star World, Star Movies & Fox Crime), we get some good television shows, and few good enough movies. On Sunday afternoon, I actually ended up watching a movie called Enchanted (2007) on Star World, it was an ok childrens movie, but the thing is, it’s not my cup of tea, normally I would never sit through such a film, no matter how good the cast. The most recent Emile Hirsch venture I caught was The Darkest Hour (2011), a couple of months ago or so, on Star Movies. What crap was that????? I knew it wasn’t going to be a good flick, but I didn’t expect it to be the among the worst movies ever made. It was soooooooooooooo bad. But just because Hirsch has made some bad choices in his career, doesn’t mean he is a bad actor. Am really keen on watching some of his more recent work in movies like Killer Joe (2011) with Matthew McConaughey, the Spanish flick Venuto al mondo (2012) with Penélope Cruz, The Motel Life (2012) with Dakota Fanning, the comedy Prince Avalanche (2013) with Paul Rudd, and the new take on the lives of Bonnie and Clyde in the  television mini-series Bonnie and Clyde: Dead and Alive (2013) with Holliday Grainger. When? I’ll get a chance to do so, I don’t know? But, someday I would, hopefully sooner than later. And I would like to watch some of his earlier films as well, the likes of The Emperor’s Club (2002), The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002) and The Mudge Boy (2003), to name a few. I don’t know how any of these flicks would be, but at least they have the capability of being good films. So far my Hirsch films experience is limited to the four flicks I’ve spoken of. Out of which; two are excellent, i.e. Into the Wild and Milk; one was close to excellence, Taking Woodstock; and one crappier than crap, the waste of an hour and a half, The Darkest Hour.

Wishing Emile Hirsch a Happy 28th Birthday, may he come in some great timeless movies, that he’ll be remembered forever. Wishing him all the best for a great career ahead.  

Nuwan Sen

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense