Tag Archives: coming of age

Me and Earl and the dying girl

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon; Main Cast: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia CookeNick OffermanConnie BrittonJon Bernthal;

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Greg (Mann) has successfully navigated the treacherous waters of high school until his senior year by being a chameleon. He cleverly adapted to the social mores of each clique thus remaining virtually invisible and unscathed. His best and only friend since childhood, Earl (Cyler), is laid-back and unfazed by the high school life; they share a passion for movies, in particular classics, instilled by Greg’s father (Offerman), an eccentric professor of sociology. Their favorite pastime is to remake them or “swede” them (you should watch Be Kind Rewind, to understand this) with, of course, poor man’s methods and interesting results. Greg’s quiet life is forever changed when his mother (Britton) guilt-trips him into befriending Rachel (Cooke), a girl who attends his school and has been recently diagnosed with leukemia.  What follows is a very authentic and captivating tale of friendship (no soppy, tear-jerker love story a la The Fault In Our Stars), that is, in turns, charming, funny, awkward and raw. Greg is forced out of his protective shell by hanging out with Rachel at school, learning to be part of its micro-society and experiencing the (most of the time) traumatic consequences of being noticed. Rachel, on the other hand, becomes part of Greg and Earl’s private world and enjoys watching their masterpieces while she has to endure cancer treatments.  This film is a well-written, perfectly-casted coming-of-age story with a nice dose of sarcasm and humour that balances its darker and more gut-ranching moments. I haven’t seen a film about teenagers so insightful and charming in a while. The three young leads give very convincing performance and carry the film on their shoulders from start to finish. Among the adult cast special kudos should go to Nick Offerman as Greg’s oddball father, a joy to watch! Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s second time in the director’s chair is a success and well-worth your time. Beguiling —8/10

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Let Me In

Director:  Matt Reeves, Main Cast: Kodi Smit-McPheeChloë Grace MoretzRichard Jenkins;

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This film is an American remake of a Swedish movie (Let The Right One In, which, in turn, is based on a Swedish novel) and it is an edulcorated version, although still belonging to the horror genre. The director/screenwriter used the core, one might say, classical horror elements of the story but left out the true creepy ones that makes it far more macabre. The premise is very simple: Owen (Smit-McPhee), a lonely, neglected 12-year-old, befriends Abby (Moretz), a girl who lives next door, and his life gets better. Oh, yes… nothing is more uplifting than young love, except…well, the girl shows up only at night, doesn’t feel cold (walking bare foot in the snow it’s naught to her) and has a predilection for human blood, possibly fresh from the vein. As usual the audience finds out sooner than Owen about Abby’s true nature, through gruesome serial-killer type attacks carried on by her “father” (Jenkins) and by witnessing Abby’s smooth hunting technique (but rather messy eating manners). Matters will spin out of control, carnage will ensue and the body count will increase (no kidding!). What will survive is the sweet bond between the children… aww, so sweet. Chloe Grace Moretz can channel innocence and vulnerability well enough but I agree with Craig (Craig’s Movie Report ) about her being miscast, she is neither eerie nor scary enough for a horror. I found Kodi Smit-McPhee far more creepier (as children in horror movies should be, remember The Shining? that’s the idea), and he was supposed to be the “good guy”. Anyway the dark, cold atmosphere and the slow but ominous pace of the story still make this film sinister enough that you’ll want to avert your eyes or hug a pillow, which, in my book, qualifies as a job well done for a horror flick. Spooky —6.5/10 

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The Way, Way Back

Directors: Nat FaxonJim Rash, Main Cast: Liam JamesSam RockwellSteve CarellToni ColletteAllison Janney

14-year-old Duncan (James) goes on vacation with his mother Pam (Collette), her boyfriend Trent (Carell) and his daughter. They are staying in Trent’s summer house in a small town on the coast of New England, in a well-to-do neighbourhood. Duncan is rather introverted with low self-esteem and matters are made worse by Trent’s overbearing and unkind attitude. His mother is not particularly helpful, being submissive and too involved in a “spring break for adults” with Trent and his friends. Duncan finds some solace in his lonely bike rides, during which he meets and befriends Owen (Rockwell), the manager of the local water park, who is an easy-going guy with a great sense of humor and a kind streak. Owen gives Duncan a job at the park and helps him to come out of his shell and build his self-confidence. This film might seem a rather typical coming-of-age story but the balance between drama and humor is so well calibrated, the cast, starting with young James, is just brilliant that is much more than that. Faxon and Rash are great at both writing and directing, I’m curious to see what they will come up with next. A nice surprise and heartwarming treat. —8.5/10

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Lore

Director: Cate Shortland, Main Cast:  Saskia RosendahlKai-Peter MalinaNele Trebs

Hitler is dead and the Third Reich has collapsed, 15-year-old Lore and her younger siblings (including 7 months old Peter) has been left to fend for themselves by their parents: an SS officer directly involved in the Holocaust and his proud wife. They embark in a long trip on foot through the different sectors of Germany, controlled by the Allies, to reach their grandmother’s house in Hamburg. Along the way they meet Thomas, a young man who is trying as well to survive the aftermath of the war. He helps them and care for them but this will force Lore to come to terms with all the Nazi propaganda she has been fed since childhood. It is a story about the loss of innocence from a rather unusual and interesting point of view, films that tell stories about WWII from the “losing” side perspective, either German, Italian or Japanese, are quite rare. The two young leads are very convincing and Cate Shortland uses very skillfully images and an almost complete absence of a musical score to convey the feeling of loss and abandonment. If you like her style you should watch “Somersault“.   —7.5/10

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