I watched Into the Wild last night. Sean Penn directed it. It's beautifully filmed-- I could tell great pains were taken to capture each shot. The film focuses on the true story of Chris McCandless, an upper middle class kid who decides to "reject" society and live off the land in Alaska.
I thought it was interesting that the filmmaker chose to make McCandless something of a heroic character, through the overdramatic score and numerous reverent shots. I just didn't see him that way, so it was kinda tough going through the two and a half hours. Into the Wild just reeks of earnestness, and though I suppose there's nothing wrong with that in and of itself, I just didn't take to its subject.
For a more realistic and complex portrait of a human being living in "the wild," I much prefer Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man. Grizzly Man is a documentary about Timothy Treadwell, a dude who decides to go live in Alaska with grizzly bears, who he thinks of as his trustworthy friends. It's completely bizarre and compelling. It's famous in part because it was compiled and cut together by Herzog from footage Treadwell shot himself during his time in Alaska, footage that was left behind when he was eventually and inevitably killed by his "friends." This footage is intercut with interviews with friends and family. This film takes a hands-off approach to its subject. Treadwell is presented in all his humanity and it is left to the viewer to decide if he is a complete nut or a just a well-meaning but ultimately foolish idealist.
Check out the preview for Grizzly Man here: