Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflowers Still

Director: Stephen Chbosky
Screenplay: Stephen Chbosky
Producers: Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Russell Smith
Starring: Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, Emma Watson, Paul Rudd
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 103 min.

Life has sucky moments. It’s just the nature of the beast. Good things happen and then bad things happen but when you’re in high school, it seems like the bad things are world shattering. It probably has something to do with science and hormones and growing up but there’s something inexplicably emotional about most high school movies, be they stoner comedies or hard hitting dramas, that always seem to dredge up some ounce of emotional reaction and if they don’t, and there are a few exceptions, they’re worthless garbage because let’s face it, regardless of whether you were one of the popular kids or one of the library nerds, we all experienced moments of happiness or sadness that have stuck with us over the year.

Stephen Chbosky’s novel-turned-movie The Perks of Being A Wallflower is only the latest entry into the dramedy subgenre of high school movies and it has some good DNA. Chbosky’s novel was much celebrated when it was released in the late 90s and it was adopted by a generation as their book, the book that told their story. In reality, it’s a timeless book, one that ignores dates but somewhat dates itself with music and the now-dead art of the mixed tape.

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Trailer: Detachment

The most screechingly melodramatic trailer you’re going to see today. I promise. Adrien Brody throws desks. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I’m just sayin’. Though if you’re a fan of Adrien Brody, Marcia Gay Harden, Brian Cranston, Lucy Liu, Christina Hendricks, Tim Blake Nelson, Blythe Danner, William Peterson or James Caan, then you’ve got something to look forward to here. So this also probably the trailer with the most stacked cast you’re going to see as well.

I gotta be honest here, I’m not super excited for this. But it’s got a couple things going for it. One, it can’t be any worse than Brody’s last headlining effort, Wrecked. Two, and more importantly, this is director Tony Kaye of Lake of Fire and American History X fame. So he’s got two very extraordinary titles already under his belt so I’m more than willing to give this film, Detachment a spin around the block. Sort of looks like a louder version of Half Nelson, but I suppose that remains to be seen. Take a look at the trailer below and tell me what you think.



Cinecast Episode 236 – Ocular Coitus

While our friend Matt Gamble is still on the mend (not from a boating accident), Kurt and Andrew grew a bit tired of executing these shows together all alone and reached towards the heavens above for this episodes guest host: Aaron Hartung (aka the dude who lives upstairs). Aaron also happens to work for the best cinema chain in town, Landmark Theaters; not only does he seem to know his movie stuff, he’s got a voice for radio to boot.

We missed last week’s episode due to other obligations and illness, there is a LOT to get to this week. From Lars von Trier’s visually rich disaster/depression epic to the long awaited new Alexander Payne film (it has indeed been six years) we cover your auteur cinema-making-guys. But wait, there’s more: Fifties sex icons, furry-little-singing-nostalgia-engines(tm) and a whole lot of early cinema history enshrined in a Martin Scorsese ‘kids film.’ Enjoy this double-digest episode of the show: It’s time to start the music, it’s time to light the lights, it’s time to talk death, depression and the urgent need for knowing our history on the Cinecast tonight.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!



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Extended Thoughts: Another Year



Mike Leigh’s tenth Feature film, assembled in the usual fashion of character and screenwriting collaboration with his actors, is very much his typical take on the various work-a-day folk in Britain. But then again, glancing at his C.V. you will see that his films which consist of mainly people talking and talking and talking have won pretty much every major world cinema prize imaginable, BAFTA, Oscar, Palm D’Or, Golden Lion, you name it, so the run-of-the-mill Mike Leigh film is pretty fucking excellent. Of the nearly 50 features I caught at this years edition of the Toronto International Film Festival, Another Year comes out on top. I laughed, I cried, I begged for more drinking, smoking and gardening with these regular folks, some of whom have found out the secret of partaking of life’s joys, and others on the rock-bottom pit of despair. But mostly, the ritual of social behavior, how the tone and the attitude of the conversation is equally telling, perhaps moreso, than the content. People love to talk, but when they actually ‘communicate’ that is when the warm and fuzzy thing we call intimacy is achieved.

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DVD Review: Helen

Helen Movie Poster

Director: Sandra Nettelbeck
Writer: Sandra Nettelbeck
Producers: Christine Haebler, Judy Tossell
Starring: Ashley Judd, Goran Visnjic, Lauren Lee Smith, David Hewlett
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 120 min.

Ashely Judd continuously surprises me. She’s an actress who I tend to associate with romantic films but looking at her roles over the last few years, she’s not one to appear in forgettable romantic fodder. She does, however, have a track record of mediocre thrillers that regardless of how bland the films are, she’s always fun to watch. Part of it is her charm and good looks but she also has screen presence which is difficult if not nearly impossible to ignore.

Helen Movie StillIn 2006, she surprised many of us with a powerful turn in William Friedkin’s Bug, a film in which she managed to hold her own against the force that is Michael Shannon. It took her a few years, but she followed up her performance with another extreme but this time, rather than dealing with an invisible infestation, she’s dealing with depression.

Sandra Nettelbeck’s third feature length film Helen, her first in English, stars Judd as the titular Helen, a pianist and professor. The film opens with Helen’s birthday and from the moment she appears on screen, there’s a sense that this woman is fragile. There’s a slouch in her shoulders and a look of almost fear as she walks into a room full of friends and family there to celebrate her important day and as the evening turns into night and into morning, it becomes apparent that all is not well with Helen. What follows is a series of crisis, each more shocking than the last that eventually land Helen in the hospital as the film changes from woman again the world to woman against herself.

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Galifianakis & Roberts On Board for It’s Kind of a Funny Story

ZachGalifianakisNews of Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s Sugar (our review) follow up It’s Kind of a Funny Story have already excited my little heart but this recent news out of Toronto is sure to catch the attention of a few others.

A story of teen romance set against the backdrop of depression, drugs and a mental institution, the film has cast a few roles and though no lead has been announced, news today is that funny man of the moment Zach Galifianakis has been cast in one of the main adult roles while Emma Roberts, a young up-and-comer who made an impression with her great performance in the under-seen coming-of-age tale Lymelife (this one’s worth a look for the The Ice Storm fans in the audience), will play the romantic lead of Noelle.

Curious that we’ve yet to see an announcement on the lead role of Craig but I expect this will be made clear in the next announcement.

Kate Winslet on TV? Yes Please!

Kate WinsletI have yet to read James M. Cain’s 1941 novel “Mildred Pierce” and sadder still, I haven’t seen the film for which Joan Crawford won an Oscar but with these news, I’m ready to delve head first into both the book and the film.

Variety is reporting that Kate Winslet is attached to star in a miniseries adaptation of the story set in 1930’s Los Angeles of a middle-class, single mother’s attempt to maintain her and her family’s social position during the Great Depression. If the news that Winslet has signed on for the production aren’t enough to get the glands salivating, perhaps news that Todd Haynes is set to adapt and direct the project will do the job. I wonder if there’s a role somewhere in there for Julianne Moore? This has multiple Emmy wins written all over it.

Though this new incarnation of “Mildred Pierce” has yet to find a home, there is speculation that this will find space at HBO and I’m sure that if they pass it up (though I find that highly doubtful), Showtime will step into the action. Either way, I’m ready to see it.

Fleck and Boden Adapting Teen Dramedy

Ryan Fleck and Anna BodenRyan Fleck and Anna Boden are indie film sweethearts. Half Nelson was a minor triumph and while Sugar (our review) didn’t seem to have quite the same amount of love, it was a film worthy of a little attention. The duo are now ready to take on their next challenge and their pick sounds nothing short of fantastic.

First Showing has news that Fleck and Boden are adapting Ned Vizzini’s young adult novel “It’s Kind of a Funny Story”. It’s the story of a 15 year old boy named Craig who is having a hard time coping with life. When illegal drugs, his family, his shrink and Zoloft don’t make him feel better, he checks himself into the hospital where the only space available is in the adult psychiatric wing. There he meets a whole lot of people with problems bigger than his own but he also meets Noelle, a girl his own age. I’m going to assume that somewhere in there he manages to get over his depression and maybe even falls in love.

I’m not familiar with Vizzini’s novel, thought it’s something I’ve now added to my reading list, but if anyone can translate this onto the big screen with limited quirk and lots of heart, Fleck and Boden are certainly two people to do it.

DVD Review: Two Lovers

Two Lovers DVD Cover

Director: James Gray (We Own the Night, The Yards, Little Odessa)
Screenplay: James Gray, Ric Menello
Producers: James Gray, Donna Gigliotti, Anthony Katagas
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw, Isabella Rossellini, Elias Koteas, Moni Moshonov
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 110 min.

Irecall walking away from James Gray’s We Own the Night thinking that I’d just seen the beginning of something special. Though the film was overlooked by critics and the general public there was something about it that sat with me long after the credits rolled. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as Bobby Green was understated but powerful and Gray’s direction was demure and beautiful.

Two Lovers Movie StillI instantly paid a little more attention when a new Phoenix/Gray collaboration was announced and when the trailer for Two Lovers premiered, I knew it was a film I had to see even if the trailer was misleading (as I assumed it was). The trailer does this film very little justice.

Phoenix plays Leonard Kraditor, a man who moved back with his parents after his ex-fiance’s family canceled their wedding. He took the breakup badly, retreating into a world of self abuse and attempted suicides eventually returning home to start rebuilding his life. But months have passed and though he appears to be getting better, his parents are visibly worried and they want him to move on with his life. They devise a plan to set him up with Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), the daughter of a local business owner. Things start off well and the two seem to hit it off but things aren’t as perfect as they appear. Immediately after meeting Sandra, Leonard meets Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow), his new upstairs neighbor and becomes instantly smitten by both her looks and her personality. In an instant Leonard goes from meek and shy to juggling two very different women in two very different relationships.

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