JUNE Viewing Recap + Movie of the Month

June2015Recap

I was contemplating about taking a blogging break as I’ve mentioned here that I’m hoping to start writing my first script [so yes I’ve decided that’s the format instead of a novel]. But I think I’d miss it too much so I’ll probably just blog less and will also reduce my time visiting people’s blogs.

Needless to say, I didn’t really have much time for movie watching either this month. I only went to four press screenings: SPY, Jurassic World, Me and Earl and The Dying Girl and Self/less. There were two scheduled screenings for Magic Mike XXL, but honestly I can’t be more disinterested in seeing that flick if I tried. Was planning on seeing Terminator Genisys but decided against it due to threat of severe weather. That movie just isn’t worth getting hail damage on my car. I am looking forward to seeing Southpaw [Jake Gyllenhall looks positively Oscar worthy just from the trailer alone!] and MI5: Rogue Nation. Oh I also signed up for Ant Man too, though I’m kind of meh about Marvel stuff these days.

Posts You Might’ve Missed

In a Period Drama Mood

Music Break: Jurassic Park

Thursday Movie Picks: Animated Movies

Music Break: Top 10 James Horner’s Scores

Guest Post: Gender and Hollywood Screenwriting

5 Fave Quotes from 5 Inspiring Female Characters

Reviews

I’ve been feeling burnt out lately in review writing, so there are a slew of stuff I saw I haven’t got a chance to review yet. Interestingly enough, this weekend had been quite a prolific one as I actually did finish three reviews in a matter of 48 hours! We’ll see how long that’ll last, but so long as the passion is there, I’m gonna ride it until it’s gone 😀 Here are some that’ve been posted already:

Entourage (2015)

SPY (2015)

Jurassic World (2015)

A Coffee in Berlin (2014)

P.K. (2014)

Inside Out (2015)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2014)

Rewatches

Chicken Run (2000)  |  Man of Steel (2013)  |  Roman Holiday (1953)  | Bride & Prejudice (2004)  |  Mansfield Park (1999)  |  BBC’s North & South (2004)  |  BBC’s Sense & Sensibility (2008)

June Blind Spot Pick:

New-to-me Movies (that I haven’t reviewed yet):

A Most Wanted Man (2014)

Self/less (2015)

The Words (2012)

TV Series:

ABC’s Galavant

Downton Abbey Season 3

It’s been slow going on catching up with TV series, but I hope to finish all of season 3 by end of Summer. We’ll see how it goes!

Movie of the Month

InsideOut_poster

It’s an easy pick this month. Inside Out is truly one of Pixar’s best, entertaining as well as heartwarming and insightful. Spy Me and Earl and the Dying Girl are both VERY good though, those would make my top 3 of the month.


So that’s my June recap. What’s YOUR fave movie(s) you saw this month?

FlixChatter Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

MeEarlDyingGirlBanner

There’s something so refreshingly frank about this movie right from the start. Though it deals with a difficult subject of terminal illness, the movie is both heartwarming and genuinely funny. The ‘Me’ in the title is Greg (Thomas Mann), who spends most of his free time making parodies of classic films with his friend, whom he refers to as his co-worker, Earl (RJ Cyler). One day his mom tells him that one of his high school mates has cancer and she basically pesters him to spend time with her. His constant protests prove to be futile, so Greg reluctantly visits Rachel (Olivia Cooke) and frankly tells her that he’s there because his mom told him so. He practically begs Rachel to let him hang out with her as his mom would ‘give him hell’ if he doesn’t.
MeEarlDyingGirl_pic1

I was sold on this movie right from this very scene. It reminds me of the 2011 dramedy 50/50 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt which also deals with cancer in a lighthearted-yet-profound way. But Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a smaller, more intimate film and it’s also a lot quirkier. Greg and Earl made for a rather unlikely duo but they’re a hoot to watch as they watch classic movies together and then make a whole bunch of parody movies of them in their spare time. Both of them are a bit of a social outcast and so this movie-making hobby is sort of a release for both of them to channel their frustration as well as creativity. So when one of Rachel’s friends found out that they like to make movies, they’re tasked with making a film about her.

There’s a laid-back vibe to this movie that adds to its indie charm. From the way the characters interact with each other to the seamless way things unfold, it’s a journey that’s rather easy to digest and one that doesn’t feel emotionally manipulative. That last part is tricky given the subject matter, yet director Alfonso Goméz-Rejón stays away from clichés or cloying over-sentimentality that could threaten to weigh this movie down. Also props to Jesse Andrews who wrote both the novel AND the screenplay. I love that the film doesn’t ask us to pity Rachel, and the character is adamant about that in her initial conversation with Greg. She faces her illness head on just as this movie also doesn’t sugar-coat Rachel’s illness and how she, as well as those around her, deals with it.

MeEarlDyingGirl_pic2

I like that there’s mostly unknown in the entire cast. The most famous cast member is Nick Offerman, who along with Connie Britton as Greg’s parents add a dose of eccentricities to the movie. Initially I felt that Molly Shannon as Rachel’s mom was perhaps a bit miscast here as you just kept expecting her to do something totally bonkers, but in the end it turns out to be a rather restrained performance from her. It’s also a bit odd to see Jon Bernthal here as Greg’s history teacher who let the two boys have lunch and watch movies in his office. I guess I just never saw him in this kind of role before but I like his understated performance and his character is integral to the moral of the story.

MeEarlDyingGirl_pic4The stars of the film however, is Mann, Cooke and Cyler as the three unlikely friends. The three young actors embody their roles pretty well and Cooke especially had the difficult task of convincing us that she’s indeed ill. The friendship theme run deep in this film, and it’s truly the heart of the film. The scenes ofMeEarlDyingGirl_SockworkOrange Greg and Earl talking about their parody movies are genuinely funny, so are the titles they come up with, i.e. A Sockwork Orange, Senior Citizen Kane, Rosemary Baby Carrots, The 400 Bros, etc. The movie incorporates some animated sequences which gives it a surreal vibe, but it never detracts us from the friendship storyline.

The third act proved to be the most emotional and I find myself tearing up quite a bit towards the end. I suppose you could say the ending is pretty predictable, yet the scene of Greg coming to terms with the situation hit me harder than I thought it would. There have been a lot of dialog throughout the movie up until the finale, but there’s no words necessary to convey the sentiment of the finale. I think it’s fitting that the filmmaker let the scene speak for itself, which made it feel all the more poignant.

Overall though, I like this movie but I wouldn’t say that I’m in love with it. There are some high-school moments that don’t resonate as well with me, and at times some of the supporting characters felt too cartoonish. Strangely enough, I also don’t feel as much an emotional connection with Rachel as I thought I would, but perhaps the story is more about Greg than about her. That said, I do think it’s an outstanding feature film debut from Goméz-Rejón and he’s certainly a director to watch for.

MeEarlDyingGirl_pic3

I listened to an NPR’s Fresh Air interview with Goméz-Rejón who talked about how losing his dad shaped his approach to the film. It’s apparent that this film was a personal project for him and I think his personal experience made this film feel more authentic. He also talked about working as Martin Scorsese‘s personal assistant in his early 20s so he’s definitely learned from the best. The Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize is well-deserved and I have a feeling this would stand as one of the best high school films of this generation. If this is playing near you, I hope you go out and check this one out folks, a refreshingly original story that’d make a great antidote to all the sequels/reboots of the Summer and beyond.

4Reels


Have you seen this one? Curious to hear what YOU think!

Five Movies. Five Words – Vol. 4

5Movies5Words

Seems that I dropped the ball [again] on this series! Volume 3 was back in January, ahah.

I got this Five Movies in Five Words from Josh @ The Cinematic Spectacle. So basically the idea is to come up with five movies from various genres and capture the essence of the film, or whatever that comes to mind when I think of that film, in one word. As a general *rule* I’m picking films I saw in the last few months that I haven’t had the chance to review yet.

So here we go:

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)
MeEarlDyingGirl
endearing

Felony (2013)

Felonyintricate

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

WhatWeDointheShadowsuproarious

Populaire (2012)

Populaire frothy

Paddington (2014)

Paddingtonmirthful


Have you seen any of these? How would YOU describe them in one word?

Weekend Roundup + Casting news I’m excited about

Hello everyone! I’ve been away for most of the weekend and away from my laptop so not much to report here in terms of movie watching. My mother in-law and brother in-law are visiting in town so we’ve been playing tourist around MN since Friday. I was able to finish my Jurassic World review before they arrived though, but I did not see a single thing since Thursday night when I saw Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

I don’t know when I’ll have time to reviewMeEarlDyingGirl_Pic it, but I urge you to check it out if it’s playing in a theater near you. It was a Sundance hit, winning the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, and rightly so. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll definitely appreciate life as you have it and the friendship you have in your life. Plus, if you love foreign movies, you’ll absolutely adore this movie!

Well, even though I didn’t have much time to watch movies nor blog this past few days, I did make a bit of progress on my next novel or more appropriately, my narrative endeavor. I’m not revealing any details just yet as it’s still in its infancy, but I’m happy just to be working on something new as it’s been over three years since I came up with this movie pitch! Let’s just say my crushing on Stanley Weber hasn’t been in vain as it’s mostly inspired by him, as well as my girl crush Gugu Mbatha-Raw 😉

Instagram_logoOh and I also joined the Instagram party just for the heck of it. So if you have an IG account, let’s connect there!

Ok, so here’s the casting news I’m super excited about!

Per TheWrap, Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac will star in The Promise, an epic love story that Oscar-winning filmmaker Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) will direct from a script he co-wrote with Robin Swicord (Memoirs of a Geisha).

Isaac_Bale_ThePromise

Heh, they should do something about that name eh? It’s so darn generic and wasn’t there a period piece with a similar name just released a couple of years ago with Alan Rickman & Rebecca Hall? I blogged about it here but doesn’t look like anyone (including me) saw it.

In any case, I do love the gist of this upcoming project:

Set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, “The Promise” follows a love triangle between Michael, a brilliant medical student, the beautiful and sophisticated Ana, and Chris — a renowned American journalist based in Paris. Bale will play Chris, an AP reporter in love with both a woman and the danger of being in a combat zone amidst a world that is falling apart. Isaac will play Michael, a medical student in love with the same woman but conflicted by old-world traditions and his heart.

The Ottoman Empire was dissolved in 1922 following the Armenian Genocide of 1915, which resulted in an estimated death toll of between 800,000 and 1.5 million people. The subject has been near and dear to George, who in March 2013, was a guest of the Armenian State Pedagogical University, where the Irish filmmaker compared the Armenian genocide to the Rwanda genocide that he chronicled in Hotel Rwanda.

Boy, who’s going to be the lucky lady who will be *trapped* in THIS juicy love triangle? Whoever it’ll be, I’m already sold on the two male leads who are both gorgeous AND talented. I’m glad Isaac’s career is on fire right now and he’ll get his own Oscar to go with his name very soon too I hope.

JackHustonOn the flip side, I just learned on TheWrap as well that Jack Huston is no longer attached to play The Crow in the remake. Now, I think Brandon Lee had huge shoes to fill in the role and it’s going to be tough to top that film, but I like Huston and I think he could do a fine job. Plus I’d love to see him on screen with Andrea Riseborough who’s cast to play Sgt. Albrecht.

I’ve only seen him in American Hustle and Night Train to Lisbon, but most of you who watch Boardwalk Empire would notice him as Richard Harrow. I’m not too sad about it though, Jack is a talented young actor whom I hope would go on to star in better things. I’m looking forward to seeing him as Ben-Hur as well as Mr. Wickham in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies next year!

 


So that’s my weekend & casting roundup. How about you, seen anything good?