Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller
Directed by Stephen Chbosky
Based on the book by Stephen Chbosky
Closeness to the book: 8/10
Rating of movie: A
Charlie is about to start his freshman year of high school with no friends. All he has is an address and a name of someone who could have slept with that person at that party that one time but didn’t. Charlie begins the school year writing to this “friend” about his life and the observations he makes.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” has slowly become a popular sensation in waves of time. As the movie premier date loomed closer in 2012, people started picking this book up to read before seeing the movie. Living on a college campus and seeing this movie at a “movies on the lawn” event, I got to hear the reactions of at least a hundred college student during the movie. There was laughter, there was gasps of shock, and at the end of the movie people picked up their blankets in the freezing night and claimed that they were either going to read the book now or for those who have read it, that the book had changed their life.
The right actors were cast to play the right roles and the author/director Stephen Chbosky got to portray the movie how he envisioned it. The important parts in the book were shown in the movie and the memorable quotes from “We accept the love we think we deserve” to “And in this moment we are infinite” were said.
Logan Lerman is a great “Charlie” and he is able to make the audience fall in love and sympathize with the character. Emma Watson stars in her second role in a movie post “Harry Potter” and while her acting as Charlie’s first love “Sam” was flawed, her overall performance is forgivable. Ezra Miller took on the flamboyant role of “Patrick”, Charlie’s best friend and Sam’s brother. Miller does everything right as Patrick should be: funny, sarcastic, sassy. Miller has the character from the book played perfect.
This movie is something that can resonate with almost anyone who has at least gone to high school. Maybe they were a “Charlie” in some ways or maybe “Sam”. Charlie see’s life in a unique way, he is a wallflower. He sits back and watches life pass him by and as his freshman year comes to a close, he learns to participate more.
The best part is at the end of the movie, you get to see Charlie grow.
Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks
Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn
Part-time Hollywood stuntman, part-time getaway driver, Ryan Gosling plays a mysterious character who’s only referred to as “Driver”. Though a man of few words, Gosling’s character has an underlying sense of power to him.
Gosling’s quiet character keeps to himself and manages to stay out of trouble until he meets the next door neighbor, Irene (Mulligan). Her car won’t start and he drives her home from the garage he works at, but after a pit stop driving down to a small stream where her son can play. Irene’s husband, Standard, gets released from jail and at first he is suspicious of the neighbor’s intention.
Standard has some debts to pay that he can’t afford and being the good guy he is, Gosling’s character lends his getaway driving skills. When a robbery goes wrong, Gosling’s character is left realizing he’s been setup. He shows no mercy when it comes to protecting Irene and her son and goes the distance to make sure they stay out of any danger.
The first scene of “Drive” sets the pace of the movie; slow but with flashes of action. The film has an eerie sense of real life to it. It’s not rushed like most action movies are today, so viewers feel time passing as slow as their own life. “Drive” is based on the novel by James Sallis, which I haven’t read so I don’t know if the book moves just as slow. The plot, meanwhile, was intriguing and what is worth watching for. Ryan Gosling’s character is flat and viewers don’t get to know much about him. He barely speaks and doesn’t show much emotion, but his motivations are clear. He will protect the ones he grows attached to.
The trailer gives the whole movie away and is misleading. It leads viewers to believe it’s fast paced and has lots of action when it’s just the opposite. It doesn’t mean that it’s a bad film because it’s worth watching once. It might be more of an acquired taste to fully enjoy it, like Refn’s previous films; the style is somewhat similar to “Bronson”, slow electro-music completes the soundtrack and a character that may be hard to like. Have caffeine at hand before sitting down to watch “Drive” and it may not be so hard to sit through.
Ben Barnes, Jessica Biel, Colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas
Directed by Stephen Elliott
When a newly married couple go to stay at the husband’s family country estate in England, the impending feud between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law is obvious from the start.
As Mrs. Whittaker (Thomas) learns that her son, John (Barnes), has abruptly married an American during his travels, she immediately finds reason to dislike her. John was promised to a neighbor’s daughter that would connect the two families into one large estate. John is young and foolishly in love, but he is blind to his wife’s discontent living in the country. Larita (Biel) is a city girl with a need for a faster paced life racing cars. Larita’s only other ally is the estranged father of John, Mr. Whittaker (Firth).
Mrs. Whittaker and Larita go head-to-head, trying to show each other who is the alpha in this country home. John’s two younger sister’s don’t help Larita’s cause when she accidentally causes embarrassment and harm to the two. John’s youngest sister contacts a relative in New York and digs up Larita’s dirty past for all to hear.
“Easy Virtue” is a surprisingly enjoyable film. The mother-in-law hates daughter-in-law was predictable but the characters helped move the story along at an easy-going pace. While Mrs. Whittaker had wished for her son to marry the neighbor’s daughter, she doesn’t force them uncomfortably together as other predictable movies do. John and the neighbor’s daughter get along fine enough but there is no blossoming romance to steal the spotlight. Being the new person in the house brings attention to Larita. She wishes that everyone will accept her since she grew up in a different lifestyle. Her fair treatment of the household staff holds her in favor over the residents themselves, who have their rules they stick to.
As a period piece, “Easy Virtue” should not scare away viewers. It’s not a depressing drama nor will it bore you with subtle history lessons. There’s humor and not an overly-sickening romance like “Pride & Prejudice” to scare the male viewers away. It’s also one of the better roles Jessica Biel has portrayed. So if you’re looking for a movie that won’t puzzle your mind with a confusing story line and are looking for something different to watch, “Easy Virtue” may be the movie you should try.
Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Cody Horn
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Despite coming out as a movie all about male strippers, “Magic Mike” has more plot to it than audiences would think. Judging from the trailer, the movie appears to be all about Mike (Tatum) and his dream of breaking out of the stripping business to having his own custom made furniture store. Instead, you get less strip scenes but enough of almost-nude moments to not be a disappointment.
The movie focuses on three central characters. Dallas (McConaughey) owns a small strip joint in Tampa, Florida where he partakes in a few of his own strip nights. Dallas dreamed of taking the business to Miami where the money would come in larger quantities and he would split the profits with Mike who’s been his partner for years. When Mike brings in Adam (Pettyfer), a 19-year-old needing money, and he joins the pack and helps Dallas pull in more money, Mike’s partnership gets downgraded.
Adam doesn’t know what to do with his life but after bumping into Mike, he gets sucked into the world of stripping and selling drugs on the side. What brings this movie into perspective is Adam’s protective older sister, Brooke (Horn), who disapproves of the party lifestyle and only wants the best for Adam. She finally gives him the boot from her apartment when she can’t stand seeing how his life has gone downhill.
What “Magic Mike” manages to do is get audiences to care about the characters, which is why by the end of the movie it’s no surprise that there could potentially be a “Magic Mike 2”. The movie manages to pack in good amounts of comedy and drama, similar to the fashion of “Bridesmaids” and “Horrible Bosses”. Before I first saw this movie, my expectations were it would be a disappointment. Instead, it proved to be worth the watch and was a personal reminder not to judge movies on their premise.
Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Time traveling, an army of 12 Monkeys, and a virus set to kill five billion people makes for a promising movie. Oh yeah, and Bruce Willis plays the lead character in this mind-twisting sci-fi thriller.
Time traveling movies may be predictable but in this one, director Terry Gilliam has viewers guessing all the way up to the last twenty minutes. It may become a bit confusing when James Cole (Willis) is sent back and forth in time to feed information to future scientists about a rebel group called the 12 Monkeys. At first Cole is sent six years earlier than his set date of 1996 and finds himself in a mental institution for beating up police officers in a post-time jump haze. Add some mumbling and an insane Brad Pitt come the next scene, viewers may be questioning why they are still watching it.
It’s not until a few time jumps later and a psychiatrist once held hostage by Cole that he starts to get help trying to prevent the destruction of mankind. It’s up to the two to find the 12 Monkey’s and grab a sample of the virus to prevent the oncoming apocalypse.
Similar to this movie is 2012’s “Looper” where events come full circle, which seems to be the pattern in time traveling movies. In both movies, Bruce Willis comes back in time to change future events and what drives him to try doing so is to get his life back. In “Twelve Monkeys” Cole is a prisoner volunteering to reduce his sentence by going on a mission to find the 12 Monkeys. It shows a serious acting skill to see Willis in a role as a man who is sane but appears to be insane. Brad Pitt is equally frightening as a mentally unstable person in this movie, who gets worked up as he goes into a spiel about life.
While it may seem slow in the beginning and a little confusing, “Twelve Monkeys” is worth sticking out to the end. Chances are if you liked “Looper”, “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”, or “Children of Men”, then “Twelve Monkeys” is the sci-fi thriller for you.
Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cottilard, Michael Sheen, Tom Hiddleston
Directed by Woody Allen
Gil (Wilson) just wants to enjoy Paris without having his soon-to-be-wife Inez (McAdams) flirting with her old professor, Paul (Sheen), the whole time. While Inez spends her days and evenings with Paul and his girlfriend, Carol, Gil takes to roaming the Parisian streets at midnight. Little did he realize it would take him back to the time he wished he could have been a part of -the 20s- where he meets F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, and a young French woman whom he falls for.
“Midnight In Paris” is an enchanting movie that captures Paris in a beautiful way. Watching this movie, you can’t help but fall in love with the city as Gil does. Woody Allen did an amazing job with this film. Gil is a character most people can relate to, or at least those that wish they had lived in a different time period. When Gil discovers he can go back to the French 1920s at midnight, at first you question whether he’s just dreaming or maybe it won’t happen one night. Each night he is transported into the time where he meets up with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Adriana, who tends to date the artists like Picasso and Hemmingway.
I was really pleased with how “Midnight In Paris” turned out. While it had its slow moments, it’s definitely a movie I’d like to buy someday. This movie may not fit everyone’s tastes but I would definitely recommend it if you are in love with life other than your own culture and exploring the past. If you’re looking for a fast-paced action movie, this is not the movie for you. If you’re looking for romance, wonder, and losing yourself in the moment of the film, this is the movie for you.
Daniel Radcliffe, Roger Allam
Directed by James Watkins
Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) is a single father trying to keep providing for his young son. Arthur is a lawyer and has to travel to a secluded village to finish up surveying an empty house after the tenants had died. His son is due to arrive in the village a few days later, accompanied by the nanny. The villagers are upset with Arthur disturbing the peace, as they believe that the house Arthur is to inspect is haunted. Whoever sees the “woman in black” brings danger to the villagers, as she causes the children of the area to die. After staying in the home to finish up work, Arthur begins to notice the woman in black and tries to find a way to help her move on before she decides to take his own son.
A fun scare, “The Woman In Black” is not a very serious horror movie. While it does give in to suspense and scenes that make you jump in your seat from fear, the movie itself is not that scary. The plot is kind of simple: villagers hate Arthur, Arthur sees the woman in black, Arthur tries to figure out why she is haunting the place. “The Woman In Black” does a good job with setting up the scenes but it lacks the necessary scare factor to make it really feel like it deserves to be called a horror film. For example, more scare scenes would have made this movie better like seeing the dead children or the woman in black more. Having toys wind up on their own and the rocking chair make noise is a good start for a creepy scene.
Radcliffe is the main star of the film. He definitely knows how to break out of the mold and shake off being forever labeled as “the guy that played Harry Potter”. His portrayal of the widowed father showed how versatile he can be. I think I would go so far as to say that Radcliffe is one of the main reasons I liked the film. He’s probably also the main reason many people went to go see it. “The Woman In Black” didn’t earn much in the box office, so hopefully Radcliffe will move on to other projects. As it is, he is currently filming another period-piece due to premier in 2013. Let’s just cross our fingers that period-pieces will not be all he will work on. (Though personally I love period-pieces, I’d like to see him try a comedy or drama, let him break out of the “Harry Potter” mold.)
I believe “The Woman In Black” is worth seeing if you’re brave enough. I think it would be a fun movie to get friends together and watch in a dark room at night. This movie is not one to take seriously so if you enjoy suspenseful movies, add this to your movie list!
Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Mallory (Carano) is not your average black ops agent. After completing a successful mission in Barcelona retrieving a kidnapped journalist Mallory is sent to Dublin, where she is supposed to go undercover with Paul (Fassbender). However, Paul has different orders and tries to kill Mallory. Mallory has to fight for her survival and find the people responsible who want her killed.
Haywire is a refreshing action thriller that Hollywood has desperately needed these past few years. This film is not a corny action movie where people can fight and escape with minimal cuts and bruises. When Mallory gets hit, she gets hit hard and it shows. When she falls down after climbing down a building, she doesn’t just get up and run like it didn’t affect her. She stumbles and the audience can obviously see that it was not easy to get up and keep moving.
Haywire isn’t the style of movie where the characters get inside the audiences head and by the end your mind is blown. It is the kind of movie though where the plot isn’t over-dramatized and characters give off a fake persona. There isn’t enough time in this film for character build up so it’s hard to feel like you can sympathize much for Kenneth or Paul. The film follows Mallory as she tells her story and how she ended up running from the police as she hunts for her former boss. The suspense builds up as Mallory gets closer to her enemy.
Carano is someone audiences should look out for in the future. Haywire is one of the first few films she’s appeared in, though it isn’t her first action fighting film. In 2009 she was played a part in Blood and Bone, an underground fighting club type of movie. Look out for her in next year’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians sequel.
While Fassbender may have a brief role in Haywire, as an actor he is busy enough. After appearing in four films in 2011, Fassbender has a few projects up his sleeve for the coming year. He’s proven to be a versatile actor, from portraying a classic Mr. Rochester in a remake of Jane Eyre, to being “mutant and proud” in X-Men: First Class, and playing a sex addict in Shame. Fassbender is an actor worth remembering to watch out for.
Back to Haywire, if you’re looking for a good action/crime thriller to see, this is definitely it. Don’t take heed to the “R” rating because honestly, there is not enough in this film to be truly “R”. Yes of course there is action, but is there an absurd overuse of cursing? No. There is no sex scenes, despite one ten-second make-out scene. Other than that, this movie should really be rated “PG-13”. Hopefully the “R” rating doesn’t hurt its chances of doing well in the theaters.
Emily Browning, Rachel Blake
Directed by Julia Leigh
Lucy (Browning) is just trying to pay her bills and go to school so she takes whatever job is offered. From cleaning up tables, to being a lab rat, Lucy finds an ad in the paper for lingerie waitresses. Clara (Blake) is the employer who tells Lucy there is always room for promotion, which the next step would be becoming a Sleeping Beauty. Clara sees that Lucy is ready for promotion and invites Lucy to her house for her next job. All Lucy has to do is drink a brew that will put Lucy to sleep for a few hours. What Lucy doesn’t know is what goes on while she is asleep. It isn’t until she becomes overwhelmed with her life that she wonders what is happening to her while she is sleeping.
My first reaction after watching Sleeping Beauty was that it was one of the most interesting movies I have seen. The film is a bit slow and it feels as if there are many holes missing because we don’t know who Birdman is in relationship with Lucy or how they met. Neither do we know why does her roommate’s boyfriend have such a problem with her? The movie focuses on Lucy’s jobs. We get a glimpse that she is desperate to make ends meet by participating in an experiment and cleaning up tables.
Playing Lucy could not be an easy role. Emily Browning’s portrayal of a young college student struggling to make ends meet is heartbreaking. She gives up her body to be able to pay the bills by letting old men gawk at her in lingerie, and then later having a few hours alone with her while she’s unconscious. Browning does an excellent job making Lucy come to life. We see how she holds it all in but after so much that has gone wrong, she lets it out with bursts of screaming at the end. It gives the audience a glimpse that everything is not all right with Lucy.
Sleeping Beauty may be a difficult film to get through for those who are not interested in the genre. I would definitely recommend it for those who like independent films like Beginners or Hunger. If you are in a courageous mood for something different, then I would think that Sleeping Beauty is worth checking out.