The Perks of Being a Wallflower is opening in limited release this week, with Logan Lerman playing a teen who finds acceptance among a group of friends, including Sam, played by Emma Watson. This adaptation of a popular book should appeal to more than just readers, so to find out if the film is worth heading to the theater for, just watch our review.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower succeeds on a multitude of levels: it's a coming-of-age story that accurately reflects the agony and ecstasy of getting older, it's a showcase of some fantastic young talent, and it's a satisfying big-screen translation of a beloved book. Directed and adapted by the novel's author, Stephen Chbosky, the movie is the story of Charlie (Logan Lerman), a teen who begins high school with trepidation and a troubling past. When he encounters Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller), seniors and stepsiblings, they welcome him into their group of friends, and Charlie begins a journey of acceptance, friendship, and first love. It's a ride that's both joyful and painful.
The book on which the movie is based has a fairly bare-bones structure (it's a series of letters written by Charlie to an unknown recipient), but Chbosky colors in the details and visuals in an impressive, fitting way. The ensemble cast members (including Paul Rudd, Nina Dobrev, and Mae Whitman) commit themselves fully to their roles for performances that are great for different reasons, ranging from commanding to understated. To find out what else I liked about The Perks of Being a Wallflower, keep reading.
Clint Eastwood hasn't been in a movie since 2008's Gran Torino, and he hasn't been in a movie directed by anyone other than himself since '93. So is Eastwood in capable hands with first-time director Robert Lorenz in Trouble With the Curve? Not quite. Eastwood takes center stage as Gus, an old-school baseball scout whose career is threatened by the fact that he's going blind. Though he's far too stubborn to admit it, Gus needs his daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), more than ever, but their relationship has been broken since the death of his wife when Mickey was just a child. When Mickey learns of her father's condition, she tags along with Gus on what could be his last scouting trip to observe high school ball players. With an excellent cast (that also includes John Goodman and Justin Timberlake), Trouble With the Curve should be a home run, but it strikes out one too many times. Here's why:
- It tries to go in too many directions. Trouble With the Curve is a drama about the damaged relationship between Gus and Mickey. Oh, wait. It's a romantic comedy about a young scout named Johnny (Justin Timberlake) who is trying to win Mickey's heart by loosening her up. No, I'm sorry, it's a comedy about a crotchety scout who is losing his eyesight and therefore may be forced into retirement, letting his cartoonish, villainous colleague (Matthew Lillard) take over. Timberlake is charming, and Eastwood and Adams have palpable tension that makes their relationship feel real, but all these elements aren't knitted together closely enough to make the story compelling as a whole.
- It's boring. You'd think with all those plot lines, there'd be precious little time left over for sluggish baseball scenes, but you'd be wrong. And I love a good baseball movie! Unfortunately, the inevitable "heartwarming sports showdown" shows up way too late, and the buildup is incredibly dull. The film is overstuffed with scenes of scouts making small talk at high school ball games, which makes the payoff only moderately satisfying.
- It's all kinds of cheesy. Timberlake gets away with being a total goofball in this movie (he even dances!), but Eastwood falls victim to the sappier moments of the film. Eastwood delivers his grouchy one-liners to laughter-inducing perfection, but those moments are few and far between. Even though we've seen him play the cranky old man before, it's much easier to swallow Gus taking cheap shots than it is to see him crooning "You Are My Sunshine" to a tombstone (yes, that actually happens).
It's only September, but I already know what's going to be at the top of my wish list this Christmas: the new Les Misérables movie. So far, we've only seen a teaser for the star-studded adaptation (which includes the likes of Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Russell Crowe), but this new behind-the-scenes featurette has me more excited than ever. The video focuses on the unorthodox methods that director Tom Hooper (of The King's Speech) used to shoot the movie; instead of having the actors lip-synch to prerecorded tracks, they sang live during every take. Not only is it interesting to hear the actors weigh in on the process, but we also get to hear Amanda Seyfried and Jackman in action for the first time.
I can tell you right now that I'll probably be crying through most of this movie, but check out the video for yourself when you read more
Daniel Day-Lewis is a masterful, always-impressive actor, and after watching the first trailer for Lincoln, it looks as though he may top himself. In Steven Spielberg's historical drama, Day-Lewis portrays Abraham Lincoln in the final months of his life as president prior to his assassination. Supporting him in the film are Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as his son Robert Todd, Tommy Lee Jones, and more. The trailer starts off by showing Lincoln interacting with other politicians and the kind of pressure he was under, and even though we don't even hear Day-Lewis speak in character until almost a minute in, the actor's emotions and expressions are enough to give you goosebumps.
There have been many portrayals of Lincoln on screen, but I don't think we've seen a film with such an impressive team. Aside from Day-Lewis's performance, having Spielberg at the helm has me sure that this movie is going to be fantastic — and an award-generator. Lincoln will be released on Nov. 16, but you can watch the trailer now after the break.
It seems like just yesterday Elle Fanning was but a wee girl, but now she's running around London protesting nuclear war. Where does the time go? Elle is Ginger in Ginger & Rosa, half of a tight twosome growing up in London in the early '60s. Though they're intent on staying best friends forever, the tumultuous times pull them apart as Ginger grows increasingly concerned about the world's political climate and Rosa fails to show the same interest. Christina Hendricks stars as Ginger's mother, who is struggling with her daughter's resistance to hold onto her youth.
I'll be curious to see Hendricks outside of her Mad Men character, Joan, though it appears she just can't wriggle away from '60s couture. To me, this already feels like An Education meets Across the Universe (minus the Beatles tunes, of course). Ginger & Rosa doesn't yet have a release date, but you can watch the trailer when you read more.
Director Sergio Castellitto proves you don't need dialogue to create a powerful snapshot of a film in the trailer for Twice Born, an Italian movie premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival. The movie stars Penelope Cruz as a single mother traveling back to Sarajevo with her adolescent son. It's the setting where the boy's father (Emile Hirsch), an American photographer, was killed during the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s. The mostly wordless trailer shows the film will be set both in the time when Cruz and Hirsch's characters are together and years later when their son is grown.
I'm constantly surprised to see where Emile Hirsch pops up on the silver screen, and given the dual time lines, I'll be interested to see whether the film will follow a chronological format or bounce back and forth through the decades. Either way, this is sure to be an emotional ride. Check out the trailer for Twice Born after the jump.
Marion Cotillard stars as a killer-whale trainer in Rust & Bone, a dramatic love story from French director Jacques Audiard. Admittedly, that setup doesn't quite sound like Oscar bait, but the story takes a twist when Cotillard's character, Stéphanie, loses her legs in an accident on the job. As she's struggling with this life-changing occurrence, the tragedy serves to bring her closer to a former lover, Alain (Matthias Schoenaerts).
Though there are no words, the trailer is a gripping preview of what could be a visually — and emotionally — arresting film. The images of the shattered tank and Stéphanie sobbing in the hospital are enough to pull at my heartstrings, and Cotillard is already garnering award buzz for her performance. The movie opens on Nov. 16, but you can watch the trailer after the jump.
If you didn't catch Michael Shannon's intensely psychotic role in Premium Rush, you should definitely take a gander at the trailer for The Iceman. Shannon stars in the movie based on the true story of the now-notorious Iceman, contract killer Richard Kuklinski. (The Iceman claims to have killed over 100 people in the 1980s). Chris Evans plays his right-hand man, a dirty ice cream truck vendor who helps hack up the bodies once Richard has made the hit.
I find Shannon to be absolutely gripping as the man hiding his dangerous career from his innocent wife (Winona Ryder) and kids. I'm also really happy to see Ray Liotta, one of my favorite movie mobsters, as the Iceman's boss. And just when you think it's over — looky, looky, it's James Franco! Check out the chilling trailer (no pun intended) for The Iceman after the jump.
Shia LaBeouf is a determined reporter in the hunt for a story in the thriller The Company You Keep, which also stars Robert Redford as the subject of his unwelcome attention. Jim (Redford) is a former student activist, who has lived in peace for decades hiding from the government. His world is rocked when he sees that one of his demonstration colleagues (Susan Sarandon) has been arrested for murder by the FBI. As Jim flees, Ben (LaBeouf) takes on the case of tracking him down and uncovering the secrets he's buried for years.
Admittedly, this isn't a new concept and I can think of a handful of movies it resembles, but I'm excited to see the genre through Redford's directorial lens. I can totally see LaBeouf as a scrappy reporter, and I'm excited about the bank of supporting actors like Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, and Anna Kendrick. The Company You Keep is premiering next week at the Venice Film Festival (then showing a couple days after that at the Toronto International Film Festival), but there is no official US release date yet. Check out the trailer after the jump.