Review: Me, Earl, & the Dying Girl

imgresI don’t know how to review this film…I don’t even know where to start, so let me just jump to the part where I tell you to watch Me, Earl, & the Dying Girl.

Based on Jesse Andrews’ best-selling novel, this film follows Greg (Thomas Mann), his “co-worker” Earl (RJ Cyler), and a dying girl, named Rachel (Olivia Cooke). The film opens with Greg’s voiceover narration about how he has survived high school; a friend to everyone, but a friend to no one. Yes, this is another film about high school seniors, with that introductory high school sequence, that we have all seen before. This is the part in the review where I tell you, you’re wrong. Director Aldonso Gomez-Rejon uses subtle camera tricks in this sequence, instead of the flashy freeze frames paired with snappy sound effects technique, that we have seen in films that came before it.  Throughout this entire movie the camera is an active mind’s eye that brings a sense of urgency to the screen.  Gomez-Rejon is able to project the scene’s emotional action through the camera’s movement, like a cinematic waltz. Me, Earl, & the Dying Girl is a small, independent film, but at times it feels larger than life.

images-1This is the part in the review where I tell you that this is a high school based romantic comedy, where the popular guy falls for the nerdy girl; but this is not that type of film. There is some romantic tension brooding beneath Greg’s “doomed from the beginning friendship,” with Rachel; but it’s more about a genuine connection than romance.  Greg and Rachel form an unlikely, quirky friendship, similar to Andrew and Sam’s connection in the movie Garden State.  During their first encounter, Greg describes to Rachel about how she can pretend to enter a sub-human state, when someone really annoying tries to talk to her.  This is reminiscent to the Garden State scene, where Sam talks about how she invents random noises when she stresses out about life.  Gomez-Rejon is able to tether these teenage character’s innocent wonder about life under the weight of maturity throughout the story. He captures the same authentic, adolescent spirit as John Hughes did in The Breakfast Club.  After watching this film, I can only expect more great films from Gomez-Rejon are in our future.

imagesAgain, this is a coming of age film about Greg grappling with the end of his adolescence during his senior year in high school.  Simultaneously Gomez-Rejon frames a poetic love letter to filmmaking. Greg and Earl spend their time making classic movie parodies, that Rachel watches as she undergoes treatment for leukemia. This is the part in the review where I tell you, that as the story unfolds it was truly “the best of times and worst of times,” for these three friends. Now go watch the winner of the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

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Fall Film Preview: One Border & Four Walls

imgresSicario
“Everyday across that border people are killed with his blessing…to find him would be like discovering a vaccine.” –Alejandro

 In Mexico “Sicario” means hitman. In America, during awards season, Sicario could mean awards for Denis Villenueve (director), Emily Blunt, and Bencio Del Toro. Kate Macer (Blunt) is a naïve FBI agent assigned to a government task force to aid in America’s war on drugs across the Mexican border. She finds herself to be a pawn in game being played between her fellow agent Alejandro (Del Toro) and Matt (Josh Brolin), her superior officer. The longer Kate Macer stays across the boarder fighting against the Mexican cartels, the more her idealism fades into a distant mirage of her homeland.

Denis Villenueve is a director on the rise. In 2013 both his film Prisoners andimages-10 Enemy were released. Both are very different films and meant to be seen by very different audiences. Sicario could be the perfect mix between Villenueve’s dark accessibility illustrated in Prisoners, and his ability to retain tension in every scene as shown in Enemy.   According to early reviews from critics such as The ConCourse’s Tom Ley, “Honestly, the film might be a horror movie.” Sicario may just be the first horror film masked as a sprawling crime drama that any of us has ever seen.

In theaters on October 2nd, 2016
To Watch the trailer click here

Room

Do you remember how Alice wasn’t always in wonderland? Well,  I imgres-1wasn’t always in room.” –Ma

Meet Ma (Brie Larson), a young woman kidnaped and then impregnated by her captor. Meet Jack (Jacob Tremblay), Ma’s son, he knows nothing of the world beyond four walls. Ma desperately wants to escape the room that she and Jack have been imprisoned in for the past seven years. But, have these four walls protected Jack’s innocence from being perturbed by the outside world? “Room”, is a small film with two emotionally complex performances, by Larson and Tremblay that are preserved by the four walls of the screen.

imgres-2Two years ago, a small independent film titled Short Term 12 was released and Brie Larson suddenly appeared on film critic’s radar as an actress to watch. Larson did nab a few smaller critic awards for her performance in Short Term 12, and was even viewed as a dark horse to receive an Oscar nomination. If Larson’s performance surpasses her work in Short Term 12, then, hopefully, she will not be overlooked a second time. Based on the trailer director Lenny Abrahamson (Frank) may also receive some recognition for his work, as he uses various camera angels to allow audiences to view the room through Jack’s perspective.

In theaters on October 16th, 2015
To watch the trailer click here

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

Fall Film Preview: Independent Films Knock at the Door

Beasts of No Nation
 “I will always protect you, because you’re my son and a son always protects a       images-2   father.” –Commandant

Emmy winner Cary Fukunaga follows up his True Detective (season one) run with this new Netflix original movie. Based Uzodinma Iweala’s 2005 novel, the story follows a young West African boy named Agu (Abraham Attah). After mercenaries kill his family, Agu finds himself under the tutelage of the African warlord, known as the Commandant, played by Idris Elba. The brutality of Agu’s circumstance mirrors Hushpuppy’s trials in the 2012 film Beasts of the Southern Wild. While Hushpuppy retained her sense of wonder about the world, viewers will observe the deterioration of Agu’s innocence.

Beasts of No Nation will certainly be making headlines even before award seasonimages begins. On October 6th, 2015 Netflix will release the film simultaneously on their streaming service and in select theaters. Hopefully, this unprecedented release schedule will not overshadow Fukunaga, Attah, or Elba’s critically acclaimed work in the film. Attah has already won the Venice Film Festival award for best young actor. Time will tell if this young actor from Ghana will be in attendance at the next Oscars ceremony.

To watch the trailer click here

The Danish Girl
There was a moment when I wasn’t just me…there was a moment when I images-6          was Lilli.” –Lili Elbe

Academy Award winning director Tom Hopper (The King’s Speech) brings to life another period piece about one of the first known recipients of gender reassignment surgery. Set in Copenhagen during the 1920s the film stars Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe, and Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) as Gerda Wegener. The film focuses on the marriage between Gerda and Einar, before, during, and after Einar transforms into Lili. Based on the trailer it appears that Hopper tells this remarkable love story through a feminine gaze lens, with a captivating transgender nuance.

images-4Critics have already screened the film at the Venice Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Many predict that Redmayne could be the first performer since Tom Hanks to win two consecutive Oscars for acting. More notably though has been the critics’ reaction to Vikander’s performance in the film. Collider’s Adam Chitwood explains, “Redmayne is excellent, but this is Vikander’s movie.” Overall the film was received at TIFF similarly to Redmayne’s previous film, The Theory of Everything, praised primarily for its actors.

In theaters on November 27th, 2015
To watch the trailer click here

Trumbo
images-8“That’s the perfect combination…the radical may fight the purity of Jesus…but the rich guy wins with the cunning of Satan.” –Trumbo

Remember, Bryan Cranston is, “the one who knocks,” and he is knocking on the Adademy’s door with his turn as blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo. The film tells the true story about how he became a ghostwriter for various movies after testifying in front of the House of Un-American Activities Committee in 1947. Dalton Trumbo would later be publicly credited for writing such films as Spartacus, Exodus, and Roman Holiday. Based on the trailer, it appears that director Jay Roach splashes comedic color across this period piece, set during the black and white era of McCarthyism. Cranston’s performance is supported by a great ensemble cast that includes Helen Mirren, Louis C.K., Elle Fanning, John Goodman, and Diane Lane.

Anyone else thinking award season déjà vu? Last year, Michael Keaton (Birdman)images-9 ran a close race against Eddie Redmayne, who ultimately walked away with the golden statue. Will Redmayne be able to beat out possible contender Bryan Cranston this year? Like I said earlier, Cranston is the “one who knocks.”

In theaters on November 6th, 2015
To watch the trailer click here

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

2.27 – Sudden Silkiness

Send your questions or comments to SceneNNerd@gmail.com or on Twitter @SceneNNerd to have them read on the show. On today’s show Pete and Casey are joined by Andy B of The Flash Podcast. First, Pete gives us the new movies out in theaters and on DVD, Casey frolics through this week’s Entertainment news (Jon Stewart, Fantastic 4 Trailer, One Direction), and Andy gives his thoughts on the next season of The Flash as well as “The Death of Superman Lives” documentary. Then on TV Talk, Pete and Casey discuss some deaths on Mr. Robot and try to talk about the Halt and Catch Fire finale. Baby, you light up my world like nobody else, it’s an all new Scene ‘N Nerd!

 

2.25 – Mr. Reboot

Email us at SceneNNerd@gmail.com to have your comments or questions featured on the show! On today’s show, Pete, Matt, and Casey are reunited. First they recap last week’s show and Comic Con, then Pete brings us the latest movies out in theaters and DVD, Casey is called an idiot while giving the weekly Entertainment news (Hulk Hogan, Jurassic World sequal, Chris Brown), the boys have a heated discussion about the ethics of remakes and reboots, and Matt tells us what he thought of Ant-Man. In the second hour for TV Talk, the boys breakdown The 100, Mr. Robot, and Halt and Catch Fire. Dem classic picks doe, it’s an all new Scene N’ Nerd!

 

2.23 – The Condensed Comic Con Classic

Talk to us at SceneNNerd@gmail.com or @SceneNNerd on Twitter to have your questions or comments read on the show! Today, Matt and Casey trudge on while Pete is at Comic Con. They give you what movies are out in theaters this week, the latest in Entertainment news, and a review of all the things that have happened so far at Comic Con 2015 and things that have made the convention so historically special. Hosted by your two favorite jokesters, it’s a short and sweet Scene ‘N Nerd!