Tag Archives: indie movie

Me and Earl and the dying girl

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


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


Filed under Seen at the cinema

Short Term 12

Director: Destin Cretton, Main Cast: Brie LarsonJohn Gallagher Jr.Rami MalekLakeith Lee StanfieldAlex CallowayKevin HernandezKaitlyn Dever;


Intriguing and insightful story about a seldom visited topic: foster care facilities for at-risk kids (in the US). The audience discovers this world through Grace’s eyes (Larson) and her co-workers. She is a young counselor who has been working for a few years at one of these facilities, she is capable, understanding and very dedicated to her job. Her boyfriend Mason (Gallagher) also works at the same center with equal dedication and kindness, and he does his best both at work and home, being caring and thoughtful with Grace, who seems to be going through a tough time. The audience gets acquainted with the center’s inhabitants along with a new counselor named Nate (Malek), Grace and Mason introduce some of the kids to him: there’s Marcus (Stanfield), who’s about to turn 18 and, therefore, will be leaving the facility soon, Sammy (Calloway), who’s going through a deep psychological trauma, and Luis (Hernandez), who’s easygoing but enjoys bullying Marcus. A new arrival, Jayden (Dever), is clearly quite traumatised and Grace takes particular care of her.  She, however, ends up relating and deeply empathising (maybe too much) with Jayden, due to the particular conjuncture of events in her personal life. Grace will go to extremes to protect Jayden and face her inner demons in the process. Destin Cretton, in this debut feature, skillfully directs a talented young cast without falling into the trap of looks-before-substance, that sometimes dooms a indie film.The hand-held camera work and close-ups of the characters make for good storytelling, enhanced by a lovely photography. The story arc of Grace is very compelling thanks to Larson’s intense, convincing acting, helped along by strong performances of the rest of the cast, Gallagher and Dever especially. I particularly enjoyed the nice touch of Mason sharing a story with Nate at the beginning and at the end of the movie as encouragement and hope for the future. This film turns out to be a little gem, everything an indie movie should be and more.Uplifting and unconventional 8/10


Filed under Seen at home

Consuming Spirits

Director:  Chris Sullivan, Main Cast (voices): Nancy AndrewsChris SullivanJudith RafaelRobert Levy;


Forget Pixar, Dreamworks or Japanese anime, this is something very different. Chris Sullivan spent 15 years making this feature animation, using various techniques and obtaining a rather unique and surprising result. It tells the story of Gentian (Jenny) Violet, Victor Blue and Earl Gray, who live and work in Magguson, a small town of the Rust Belt. Jenny and Victor appear to be in their late thirties, they are friends and co-workers at the local newspaper, The Daily Suggester, while Earl is an older man, hosting a program about gardening at the local radio. Their lives seems rather ordinary and a tad lonely but an accident on a fateful night (due to alcohol inebriation) set off a chain of events that will lead us to discover secrets about the past of the characters and their deep connection. This is not a family movie, it is a rather dark tale about ghosts from days gone by and how they haunt us, a story of love and jealousy, of chasing after things that are lost without never really catching them. I’ve interpreted the title as referring to both the imbibing of alcohol and the spirits of the id, and I find it very appropriate. The view of this film requires not only a staunch heart but also patience, since the chronicles of Jenny, Victor and Earl move with a slow pace, still, you should stick with it to know all the details and understand them better. Unusual and disconcerting —7/10

Leave a comment

Filed under Animation, Seen at the cinema

Oldies but goldies: Clerks (1994)

Director: Kevin Smith, Main Cast: Brian O’HalloranJeff AndersonMarilyn GhigliottiJason MewesKevin Smith;


Kevin Smith’s first effort is brilliantly written and it is the platonic ideal of an indie film. For Dante (O’Halloran), a clerk at a convenience store, his day off will turn out to be a day to forget, to regret and to remember.  The banter and discussions between Dante and Randal (Anderson), Dante’s best friend who works at the adjacent video store, are just priceless! My personal favorite is the one about the independent contractors working on the second Death Star in the Return of the Jedi. The film has a nice pace and never a dull moment. It also introduces two of the most memorable characters in the history of indie movies: Jay and Silent Bob (Mewes and Smith). They provide random comic relief (additional, I might say) in between scenes with Jay’s uncouth outbursts and Bob’s single pearl of wisdom. All considered, the film is a rare treat! —8.5/10

Leave a comment

Filed under Oldies but goldies, Seen at home