The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Tuesday, 27 November, 2012

4 stars

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (trailer) is the second feature of US film director Stephen Chbosky (“The Four Corners of Nowhere”), and is based on his own book of the same name, published in 1999. Set in the early 1990s, the story traces fifteen year old Charlie’s (Logan Lerman) difficult first year at a Pittsburgh high school.

Still reeling from the suicide of a close friend the year before, Charlie dreads the first day at a new school, mainly because the only person he knows there is his sister Candace (Nina Dobrev). And while the first couple of weeks are tough, he remains determined to put his troubles behind him and make a fresh start.

By chance he meets a flamboyant senior, Patrick (Ezra Miller), at a football match, who introduces him to his step-sister Sam (Emma Watson). Patrick and Sam invite him to join their circle of friends, who take pride in considering themselves to be outcasts, and commence familiarising Charlie the more enjoyable aspects of high school life.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower still

Charlie soon discovers that his friends aren’t as happy as they appear to be though. Patrick is seeing someone who wants their relationship kept secret, while Sam, who has a liking for Charlie, continues dating Craig (Reece Thompson), even though she knows something is not quite right. Charlie meantime is increasingly troubled by the death of an aunt years earlier.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” stares straight through the veneer of high school bravado and facades of self assurance, and reveals those in its spotlight for the insecure and frightened people they more often are, as they confront a range of issues including sexual abuse, their sexuality, drug use, lack of confidence, and mental illness.

Well acted and incisive, “Wallflower” is a bittersweet return to the old school yard, and one that casts so-called outliers, those who sat in silence witnessing the trumped up antics of their peers, in a light few chose to see them in at the time. If not perceptive, then certainly true to themselves, but either way something the cool kids took years to become.

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Our Idiot Brother

Monday, 31 October, 2011

3 and a half stars

The premise

Our Idiot Brother (trailer), a comedy drama, is the latest feature of Jesse Peretz, a US filmmaker and musician, and is the story of a well intentioned though naive and bumbling market gardener, Ned (Paul Rudd), who has the grating propensity to speak out of turn, often causing inconvenience or embarrassment to those around him.

Following a stint in jail, after selling marijuana to a uniformed police officer, Ned finds his girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn) has moved on, and taken up with the slow-witted though affable Billy (T.J. Miller), leaving Ned homeless, and having to rely on the hospitality of his three reluctant sisters so as to keep roof over his head.

The play

While Ned is disappointed at being turned away by Janet, he is especially distraught when she refuses to hand over his dog, named Willie Nelson, to him, even though it is clear the dog prefers Ned’s company. With no where else to stay he calls upon eldest sister Liz (Emily Mortimer), who is married to a documentary maker, Dylan (Steve Coogan).

Dylan gives Ned work as a production assistant, but after Ned uncovers something Dylan has been keeping from Liz, he is sent packing. He then goes to stay with Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), an ambitious magazine journalist, but Ned embarrasses her in front of a neighbour, Jeremy (Adam Scott), who she has feelings for.

Youngest sister Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) offers Ned a spot in her garage, sleeping in a rubber dinghy, but he soon causes a rift between commitment shy Natalie and her girlfriend, Cindy (Rashida Jones), with his ill-timed banter. Ned is subsequently left with no choice but to move back to his mother’s (Shirley Knight) place.

The wrap

Much of the comedy in “Our Idiot Brother” lies in Ned choosing to share what he knows at inopportune moments. While his revelations are unwelcome, they have a way of forcing those he encounters, particularly his sisters – who are in various states of denial in regards to professional or personal matters – to confront their shortcomings.

While well scripted and entertaining, “Our Idiot Brother” is a little thin on the character development of its supporting cast, especially Ned’s sisters, who we don’t get to know all that well. Otherwise Rudd puts in a stand-out performance with his portrayal of the socially immature, Peter Pan like, Ned.

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I Love You Man

Friday, 19 June, 2009

4 stars

We arrived late at the local movie house the other night and I Love You Man was the only film that hadn’t started screening, that we hadn’t already seen, so I Love You Man it was, and that’s my story – and jokes about looking ticket office girls straight in the eye and saying “I love you man” aside – I’m sticking to it.

I was pleasantly surprised though, amid some telling insights into male friendship, and the difficulties of making new friends once we leave uni or college, no matter how adept we are socially, proceedings ticked over at the rate of a laugh a minute, and the (physical) gross out humour that I’d expected was almost non-existent.

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