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Film Review Of 'The End of the Tour'

 August 6, 2015 at 7:21 AM PDT

ANCHOR INTRO: David Foster Wallace won accolades for his 1000-page novel “Infinite Jest” in 1996 but just over a decade later he would commit suicide. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando spoke with actor Jason Segel David Foster Wallace’s novel “Infinite Jest” garnered wide acclaim back in 1996 when it was first published. It also won over actor Jason Segel. JASON SEGEL: It’s a challenge, I mean it’s a thousand plus pages and it’s hard, and sometimes you want to throw that book against the wall if you’re perfectly honest but getting through it makes you feel smart, it makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something and that’s part of his intent is to remind you that you’re capable of this. Segel now plays Wallace in “The End of the Tour.” The film is based on the book by Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky and it chronicles the five-day road trip the two men shared in 1996. CLIP When I think of this trip I see David and me in the front seat of the car, he wants something better than he has, I want precisely what he has already… If you are unfamiliar with Wallace’s dense, challenging work then the film may come off as a portrait of two self-absorbed guys. But there are scenes that capture Wallace’s humor, compassion, and genius, and provide insights into why the author chose to leave this world at 46. JASON SEGEL: He talks really beautifully about depression and this is a man that was willing to go to places that we try to suppress. “The End of the Tour” serves up Wallace as a complex and troubled man, and if you haven’t read one of his books, you should do so now. Beth Accomando, KPBS News. about playing the writer in the new film “The End of the Tour.” TAG: “End of the Tour” opens Friday in select San Diego Theaters. Subscribe to the new KPBS Cinema Junkie podcast on iTunes to hear the full interview.

12_Jason_Segal_-_The_End_of_the_Tour_swifhz.jpg
"The End of the Tour" reviewed by Cinema Junkie Beth Accomando.
Review: 'The End of the Tour'
KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews "The End of the Tour."

ANCHOR INTRO: David Foster Wallace won accolades for his 1000-page novel “Infinite Jest” in 1996 but just over a decade later he would commit suicide. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando spoke with actor Jason Segel about playing the writer in the new film “The End of the Tour.” OPTIONAL TAG: “End of the Tour” opens Friday in select San Diego Theaters. Subscribe to the new KPBS Cinema Junkie podcast on iTunes to hear the full interview. David Foster Wallace’s novel “Infinite Jest” garnered wide acclaim back in 1996 when it was first published. It also won over actor Jason Segel. JASON SEGEL: It’s a challenge, I mean it’s a thousand plus pages and it’s hard, and sometimes you want to throw that book against the wall if you’re perfectly honest but getting through it makes you feel smart, it makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something and that’s part of his intent is to remind you that you’re capable of this. Segel now plays Wallace in “The End of the Tour.” The film is based on the book by Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky and it chronicles the five-day road trip the two men shared in 1996. CLIP When I think of this trip I see David and me in the front seat of the car, he wants something better than he has, I want precisely what he has already… If you are unfamiliar with Wallace’s dense, challenging work then the film may come off as a portrait of two self-absorbed guys. But there are scenes that capture Wallace’s humor, compassion, and genius, and provide insights into why the author chose to leave this world at 46. JASON SEGEL: He talks really beautifully about depression and this is a man that was willing to go to places that we try to suppress. “The End of the Tour” serves up Wallace as a complex and troubled man, and if you haven’t read one of his books, you should do so now. Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

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David Foster Wallace won accolades for his 1,000-page tome “Infinite Jest” in 1996. Then he saddened fans by committing suicide just over a decade later. Actor Jason Segel talks about playing the late writer in the new film “The End of the Tour" (opening Aug. 7 in select San Diego theaters).

David Foster Wallace’s novel “Infinite Jest” garnered wide acclaim in 1996 when it was first published. It also consumed actor Jason Segel.

"It’s a challenge," Segel said of Wallace's best-known novel. "I mean it’s a 1,000-plus pages and it’s hard. Sometimes you want to throw that book against the wall if you’re perfectly honest. But getting through it makes you feel smart. It makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something and that’s part of his intent is to remind you that you’re capable of this."

Segel now plays Wallace in the new film "The End of the Tour." The film is based on the book by Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky who spent five days interviewing the author during a book tour for "Infinite Jest."

Segel prepared for the role in part by listening to Lipsky's interview tapes.

"That was really helpful," Segel said. "What struck me most from listening to the tapes was, for as weighty as some of the moments were and some of the discussions, there are also five-minute mundane conversations about what’s on the radio. That was really important taking into the movie because you need to want to be in the back of the car on this road trip with these two guys. And if it’s just two people talking smart for four days that’s not a trip I want to be on and luckily in listening to the tapes, it was the most interesting road trip I’ve ever taken part in."

Jason Segel Talks About Playing Author David Foster Wallace in ‘The End of the Tour'

In the film, Wallace and Lipsky take time sizing each other up.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Lipsky and says in the film, "When I think of this trip, I see David and me in the front seat of the car. He wants something better than he has. I want precisely what he has already."

Segel describes both Eisenberg and himself as writers. Eisenberg writes plays and articles for The New Yorker, while Segel has penned screenplays and children's books.

"One of the things that I think is interesting about writing is that it’s so much time alone," Segel said. "It’s so much time saying, 'No I can’t meet you for dinner.' To write something like 'Infinite Jest' is years and years of saying 'no, I can’t meet you for dinner.' It’s something that I think is probably pretty easily lost in the sort of romantic idea of writing a novel. It’s a very particular type of person who has that sort of dedication, has that sort of discipline, can tolerate the loneliness and can also hold onto this idea that what I am writing is worth it.

"That people are going to want to read this and they are going to want to devote their attention to it. It’s a very particular personality type. And so I tried to bring some of that into it because I’ve experienced it. I think any artist is operating under the idea that what they are trying to express is worthy of people focusing their attention on and listening to it," Segel said.

But can someone who has never read any of Wallace’s books appreciate the film?

"I think if you know who David Foster Wallace is, and if you know David Lipsky, it adds to the fun of the movie because you are sort of familiar with the themes but what I think the movie is really about has nothing to do with David Foster Wallace or David Lipsky," Segel said. "I think what the movie is about is this terrifying moment when things go as well as they can possibly go and you realize you still feel the same. And I think that’s a very universal moment. I think people arrive at it in their mid-30s. Because in your 20s you are really working toward something, if I just get there, I am going to feel a certain way and you’re able to sort of work under the illusion that maybe I feel this way because I’m not there yet. And then finally in your mid-30s you realize, 'oh maybe there’s no there.' And that’s the moment this movie is about."

"The End of the Tour" serves up Wallace as a complex and troubled man, and it offers insights into why he chose to leave this world at the age of 46 with a novel unfinished.

You can listen to the full interview starting Friday morning on the new KPBS Cinema Junkie podcast available on iTunes.

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