Review: Paper Towns

Dramatic romantic moment

Dramatic romantic moment

Director: Jake Schreier (Robot & Frank)
Writer: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, John Green (novel)
Producers: Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey
Starring: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halston Sage, Jaz Sinclair
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 109 min.


There’s a moment in the third act of Paper Towns where I felt like looking away, rolling up into a tight ball, putting my head to my knees and just rocking back and forth until the pain of the truth went away. I remember being a teenager confronted by the reality of one sided love. It took me longer than a few hours to get over the rejection and realization that there was more to the world than being turned away by long-time crush. In that moment, during that confrontation between Quentin and his best pal Ben, that memory came rushing back like it had just happened yesterday.

You may never have read a John Green novel but chances are your teenage daughter has. Green has turned into the unlikely voice of a generation or perhaps more accurately, a guy in his late 30’s who can talk to a generation of teens in a way they can both understand and relate to (or as The New Yorker put it “The Teen Whisperer”). That has translated into success at the box office and while Paper Towns doesn’t induce an emotional breakdown complete with tears and snot, it does hit home in a more poignant way. At least for adults. I’m not sure how well a movie set in today’s high school climate but which makes zero reference to social media, will play with teens.

Paper Towns feels a lot like a John Hughes movie. In familiar teen movie trope style, the kids can be boiled down to one label; the jock, the geek, the pretty one. They’re all characters we know or knew in our day and the way they come together is both ludicrous and charmingly believable. Who doesn’t want adventure in their last weeks of high school? In this case, the adventure unfolds as Quentin and his friends go on a two day road trip to New York State in search of Margo Roth Spiegelman; one of the most popular girls in school and Quentin’s long time crush, who has simply vanished. The movie takes a bit of time to get going – the set-up of Quentin and Margo’s history and their last night together spreads over the first half in a sprawling, mildly interesting way but once the crew decides on the road trip, Paper Towns really finds its groove.

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After the Credits Episode 172: July Preview

Sean Baker strikes again!

Sean Baker strikes again!

The summer is now in full swing but where are the summer blockbusters? It seems that the year’s biggest titles have pretty much come and gone but that doesn’t mean all the summer fun is gone – it just means that summer fun looks a little different; a little more mature and more of a mix of arthouse and blockbuster. Colleen, Dale (Letterboxd) and I (Letterboxd) are dig into the July bag of movies and emerge with a few notables.

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After the Credits Episode 171: June Preview

Dope looks, well, dope!

Dope looks, well, dope!

Now that Mad Max: Fury Road (review) has come and gone, it feels like someone’s taken all the air out of the summer. What’s left? To help keep us on the ball, this month Colleen, Dale (Letterboxd) and I (Letterboxd) are joined by special guest Sarah B (Twitter) to help energize the show and it works… we do manage to get a little excited about a couple of the movies. Not many, but a few.

Is it December yet?

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After the Credits Episode 170: May Preview

FINALLY!

FINALLY!

The time is finally here. After months of waiting, Mad Max: Fury Road is finally opening. But there is more than Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy kicking ass this month and Colleen, Dale (Letterboxd) and I (Letterboxd) take a look at some of the other movies opening in May, including a whole lot of what appears to be excellent counter programming.

Other stuff we talk about:

– Vancouver Co-Op Radio
– Damn Cougars Facebook page

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MSPIFF 2015 Review: Free Fall


The concept for György Pálfi Free Fall holds so much promise: a woman climbs the stairs of an apartment building and we get a glimpse of what’s going on behind the doors of an apartment on each floor. It’s a great set-up for an anthology film though here, Pálfi and collaborating directors Gergely Pohárnok and Zsófia Ruttkay take on all seven stories and the result is exactly what most other anthology films deliver: a mixed bag.

The set-up is interesting enough; the aforementioned old lady climbs the stairs of her apartment building to the roof, jumps off and lands on the road with a splat. Minutes later she stands up, brushes herself off and goes back into the building where’s she’s forced to walk up the stairs because the elevator is being serviced. There’s no explanation as to how or why she’s doing this but it does turn out to be one of the more interesting and entertaining aspects of Free Fall. As she climbs, we get a glimpse at what’s unfolding behind the doors and it ranges in everything form a Korean sitcom to a woman having a baby shoved back into her stomach.

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MSPIFF 2015 Review: Felix and Meira

 


 

A few years ago, French Canadian director Maxime Giroux appeared like a beacon of light on the radar of Canadian film. Jo for Jonathan, his second feature, a moody and sombre family drama about two brothers at odds with each other, was a standout of the year and ever since, the anticipation of the director’s follow-up has been rising. Through this expectant fog emerges Felix and Meira and though it stumbles a little, it doesn’t disappoint.

Another family drama, Felix and Meira centers on two disparate people each locked in their own familial struggles. Felix is the black sheep of the family, having run away and been disowned by his father. At the beginning of the film he is struggling with the recent passing of his estranged father – a passing that didn’t allow for Felix to make amends with his dad. Meira is a somewhat dutiful Hasidic Jewish wife and mother. Somewhat because there’s a rebellious streak to Meira: she draws, she listens to forbidden music and perhaps her most grievous offence is that she takes birth control pills. She’s unhappy but faithful to her husband until an encounter with Felix pulls her out of her shell and her quiet life.

The relationship between the two lost souls begins innocently enough. Felix gives Meira pictures he’s dawn, plays albums for her and takes her about the city. It’s a friendship that feels heavy with unspoken romance. Eventually the relationship morphs into a more typical romance but Felix and Meira is at its best when the relationship between the titular characters is budding. Hadas Yaron as Meira and Martin Dubreuil as Felix have an easy connection and the pair are wonderful together, sharing stolen moments that feel at once insignificant and like their every bit of being depends on them. Giroux captures these moments beautifully.

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Review: The Longest Ride

TheLongestRideStill1

Director: George Tillman Jr. (The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete, Faster, Notorious)
Writer: Craig Bolotin, Nicholas Sparks (novel)
Producers: Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Theresa Park, Nicholas Sparks
Starring: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Oona Chaplin, Jack Huston, Alan Alda
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 139 min.


Here’s the deal: you’ve seen this movie before. It’s not really like The Notebook but it’s as close to it as we’ve come in the adaptations of Nicholas Sparks novels since. Truth: Sparks knows how to weave a good, if predictable, romantic yarn and The Longest Ride is no different.

Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood are the lovely couple this time around. She, Sophia, is a New Jersey daughter of immigrants studying art at the local college in one of the Carolinas while he, Luke, is a good ‘ole southern boy who spends his days professionally riding bulls. The pair meet at one of his events, there’s a spark and eventually they end up together though not before each is forced to confront their personal problems and put everything on the line for love. The end. Happily ever after. And yes, it is happily ever after. Sparks and Disney are the few bastions of happy endings left. Though Sparks’ usually come at the cost of a few extra tissues.

If, like me, you missed the memo, The Longest Ride also stars Alan Alda as Ira, a crotchety old man that is befriended by Sophia. He shares the story of the hardships and happiness of his relationship with his wife, a relationship he refers to as “the longest ride” and his story prompts Sophia to give Luke another go because, as we all know, true love is hard to find and can sometimes be difficult. I’m sure you can figure out how Ira’s story ends too but seriously, if your complaint about this movie is its predictability, you really need to get out more.

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Review: The Sisterhood of Night

SisterhoodOfNightStill1

Director: Caryn Waechter
Writer: Marilyn Fu, Steven Millhauser (short story)
Producers: Elizabeth Cuthrell, Lydia Dean Pilcher
Starring: Georgie Henley, Kara Hayward, Willa Cuthrell-Tuttleman, Olivia DeJonge, Kal Penn, Laura Fraser
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 104 min.


The current crop of YA movies may be, for the most part, burning up the box office but the majority of them don’t feature regular, everyday kids dealing with regular, everyday problems. Yes, the messages are mostly positive but how likely is it that a girl will have to save the world from the grips of a power hungry leader with her bow and arrow?

The easy thing to do is chalk The Sisterhood of Night up to modern retelling of the Salem witch trials and it certainly is that but it’s also far more. Based on a short story from Pulitzer Prize winning author Steven Millhauser and adapted by Marilyn Fu, the story takes the concept of the witch trials and sets it in today’s highschool world complete with the perils of social media.

The grown-up Georgie Henley (of The Chronicles of Narnia fame) stars as Mary Warren, an artistic and largely independent teen girl who, after a couple of run ins with an attention hungry Emily Parris (Moonrise Kingdom’s Kara Hayward) decides to take a break from social media. She updates Facebook one last time and then turns her attention to real world connections. The teen soon befriends a pair of other girls and the trio begin the Sisterhood of Night, a by invitation-only club that sees girls getting together in the middle of the night in the woods and what they do there soon becomes the centre of a scandal.

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After the Credits Episode 169: April Preview

Not soon enough!

Not soon enough!

It’s starting. Though we’ve had a handful of interesting (and good) titles in the first few months of the year, it looks like we’re finally into good movie season with a couple of big titles opening in April. The summer is about to kick off big time and Colleen, Dale (Letterboxd) and I (Letterboxd) dig into the first batch of “summer” movies.

Other stuff we talk about:

– Vancouver Co-Op Radio

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