Tag Archives: Film festival

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015 Sundance Review)

13 Apr

On paper, Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl seems like your typical teenage indie rom com. Quirky middle-class white filmmaker meets girl with cancer and they have all sorts of zany adventures with a black kid providing the film’s comic relief. Throw in a few songs from Radiohead, some stop-motion animated title sequences, and angsty talk about existentialism and you have the perfect embodiment of what a “sundance movie” should be…. on paper anyway. Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon seems to know this formula well however, and gives us enough voice and spontaneity to keep the twee, offbeat romance subgenre seem fresh again.

Based on the novel by the same name, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is told to us in chapters by Greg (Thomas Mann), our self-aware high school protagonist who narrates everything on-screen (“This is the part where I try drugs for the first time”) before we see it, Brechtian-style.  Greg spends his days recreating/parodying scenes from his favorite films with his best friend Earl (RJ Cyler). Some of their masterworks include “A Sockwork Orange”, “Senior Citizen Cane”, and “Don’t Look Now Because A Creepy Ass Dwarf Is About To Kill You Damn” (Seriously though – when was the last time you met a high schooler who had even heard of Nicholas Roeg?).  Things get complicated when Greg’s classmate and neighbor Rachel (Olivia Cooke) is diagnosed with leukemia, and the two form a tightly-knit friendship. Yep, you know exactly where this is going.  Supporting parental roles are provided by Nick Offerman, who plays a cool-dad version of himself, and Molly Shannon as Rachel’s carefree and flirtatious mom.

The film moves along at a brisk pace and is clever enough to avoid getting weighed down in it’s many pop culture references. Though it is essentially just another version of Garden State for the younger siblings of kids who actually remember how cool Garden State was, Me & Earl & the Dying Girl is a playful and entertaining film that actually was more emotionally poignant that I expected.

Bottom Line: Winning both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the film is certain to be a huge crowd-pleaser, and deserves all the critical praise it will surely get from those who thought Juno was the best film of 2007.

Rating 7/10 

Film Recipe: Garden State (2005) + 50/50 (2011) + Me, You, And Everyone We Know (2005) + The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (2012) + Criterion collecting snobs

 

Newlyweeds (2013)

20 Jan

So I just got back from seeing Newlyweeds, the first feature film by director Shaka King, at the Sundance Film Festival 2013.  The film, being tagged as “the stoner’s romantic comedy” is really anything unlike I have seen before.  Take one part feel-good comedy, one-part romantic drama, and one-part stoner/drug movie and you get something like this.  It really is just a mess of ideas, characters and events that somehow tae shape and provide an interesting conclusion when the film is done.

Newlyweeds is centered around an African-American couple named Lyle and Nina.  Nina works at a local museum, and Lyle at a appliance-rental service.  We watch as the highs and lows of their relationship culminate and crash while they puff their hard-earned cash away by constantly smoking weed.  And there is A LOT of weed-smoking in this movie.

Their relationship takes a turn when a figure named Chino comes into play and tries to get the attention of Nina.  Meanwhile, lyle is struggling with his job trying to find the balance between being a supportive boyfriend and maintaining his drug habits.

While it is a drama of sorts, there is a hefty amount of comedy that weaves its way in and out of the film (usually involving your typical jokes about marijuana), but the laughs never really take center stage like they should.  Instead the film focuses too much on building events that never really take off.  In return, this leaves the film anti-climatic and emotionless.

While the wonderful dialogue and acting give the film a truly authentic feel, there is really nothing going on in the script for me to pay close attention too. The film feels more like a collage of short episodes, rather than an over-arching narrative and the ending just feels flat and unpolished. It is worth seeing, but nothing remarkable.

 

rating 6/10 

 

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Sundance Film Festival 2012 feature films and documentaries

4 Dec

The Sundance Film Festival announced the feature films and documentaries yesterday. I’m looking forward to seeing Chan-wook Park‘s Stoker, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon’s Addiction, and Sound City, a documentary about the digital music revolution.

382092_10151193956618515_1299375032_nfor the full list of films click the link below:

 

http://www.sundance.org/festival/release/2013-sundance-film-festival-announces-films-in-premieres-and-documentary-pr/