INTO THE WILD
As a director, Sean Penn has proven more than proficient, but he hasn't exactly demonstrated a lightness of spirit; within his The Indian Runner, The Crossing Guard, and The Pledge, you can pretty much count the number of smiles generated on one hand. I love the gravity that Penn brings to his directing/writing projects, his readiness to explore anguished and vengeful depths, but his seriousness as a filmmaker has its downside, too. Penn's works have been so dour and laden with portent that, as their narratives progress, they begin to feel oppressive and one-dimensional. Like a joke now and again would kill him?