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Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

While I’ve still yet to give it a read, apparently “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” has roots in some excellent source material. Sure, seeing the movie before reading the book takes away the opportunity to imagine the characters as I perceive them, but the casting for this film is so pitch perfect, there’s no one I’d rather spend more time with than Logan Lerman’s Charlie, Ezra Miller’s Patrick and Emma Watson’s Sam.

Life isn’t easy for Charlie. Not only does he have a rather dark past, but he’s starting high school and doesn’t have a single friend there. However, one night at a football game, on a whim, Charlie approaches Patrick, a senior from his woodshop class with a tendency to cause trouble, as he makes no effort to restrain his big personality. Patrick introduces Charlie to his stepsister, Sam, and the two immediately take a liking to him, bringing Charlie into their circle of friends and finally making him feel accepted.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is oozing with high school clichés and has quite a bit of tacky dialogue, but, for the most part, it works in the film’s favor. The innocence of the material matches Charlie’s naivety and the combination creates this overwhelmingly sweet and seemingly harmless environment. However, then drugs, alcohol and some really disturbing scenarios juxtapose that innocence, making “Perks” much more than any other face value high school drama.

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Tribeca Review: Angels Crest

As much as going to the theater should be an enjoyable experience, there’s nothing wrong with checking out a sad piece. However, nobody goes to the movies to just wade around in a character’s problems; you need to experience the person’s emotional range in order to understand and appreciate their hardships. Unfortunately, in Angels Crest’s case, there’s no variation of sentiment in the least, just one long depressing note.

Thomas Dekker is Ethan, a young father of a 3-year-old boy named Nathan (Ameko Eks Mass Carroll). One cold morning, Nathan wakes up early and convinces his dad to hit the road and take him to the snowy mountains of Angels Crest. By the time they get there, Nathan is fast asleep, so Ethan opts to head out alone to sneak a peek at the local wildlife. Only 20 minutes later, Ethan returns to his truck and Nathan is nowhere to be found. The townsfolk come out to help Ethan and the police look for Nathan, but it isn’t until the next morning that Ethan finds his son, frozen to death, buried in the snow.

Not only is Ethan crushed by the loss, feeling guilty for his carelessness and simply missing his son, but he’s also suffering with the pressure of some of his neighbors who outwardly blame him for the accident, most notably, Nathan’s mother, Cindy (Lynn Collins). However, there are those who sympathize with Ethan’s situation like his good friend Jane (Elizabeth McGovern). As for Angie (Mira Sorvino), the woman who runs the local diner, as much as she empathizes with Ethan, as a mother herself, she can’t help but to notice the poor parenting decision. Worst of all, a local District Attorney (Jeremy Piven) plans to go after Ethan and prosecute him for his negligence.

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Tribeca Interview: Angels Crest’s Jeremy Piven

Hopefully you’re ready to see Jeremy Piven’s serious side because in one of his latest films, Angels Crest, Piven really turns on the drama tackling some rather troubling subject matter. The film stars Thomas Dekker as Ethan, a young father who opts to leave his sleeping three-year-old son in the car alone for a matter of minutes. When Ethan returns, his little boy is gone and soon found dead in the snow. Piven steps in as a local district attorney with zero sympathy for Ethan’s grief, looking to prosecute him for his negligence.

Piven says it himself; this character is about as far from Entourage’s Ari Gold as he can get. He’s soft spoken, unkempt and evidently being eaten away by his troubled past. However, oddly enough, Piven was “thrilled to play him.” Then again, it’s easy to see why Piven was elated to be part of the project. Angels Crest packs a powerful cast including Dekker, Mira Sorvino, Kate Walsh, Lynn Collins and Elizabeth McGovern as well as a talented director, Gaby Dellal.

In honor of Angels Crest’s world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, Piven sat down to tell us all about his experience making this film, what he’s working on next and a little bit about his toughest critic, his six-year-old niece, Pearl.

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Review: Legion

There’s nothing worse than a disappointing movie. The plot is intriguing and the cast top-notch, yet Legion is an epic failure. It’s swallowed up by its effort to be a movie of multiple genres ultimately failing to attain any of the target thematic denominations. In fact, the only category Legion earns a place in is comedy for it achieves an amount of unwarranted laughs of biblical proportions.

Legion opens with an angel named Michael (Paul Bettany) falling to Earth. First order of business? Clip off those pesky wings. Next on the to-do list? Assemble a serious arsenal. After a quick chat with a possessed cop it’s off to the desert to unite with a group of people holed up in a diner. The phones are down, there’s no radio and they’ve just been attacked by a nasty grandma with a thing for rare meat and climbing up walls. Luckily for them, but unluckily for us, Michael comes to the rescue and to explain what in God’s name is going on.

Even with shoddy filmmaking, Legion is still tolerable up to this point. Poor character introductions are passable as long as there’s some meat to the story thereafter. The only meat in Legion is the steak left on Grandma Gladis’ plate. It tries to be serious, it tries to be funny and it tries to be scary, but doesn’t succeed at anything except being a waste of time.

The once promising premise runs into trouble when the details are unveiled. Michael used to be a general in God’s army, but when assigned to take out the baby brewing in diner waitress Charlie’s (Adrianne Palicki) belly, he goes rogue. God decides that he can’t take humanity’s crap anymore and Charlie’s baby is the key to ensuring the species’ demise. Now, Michael finds himself on the other side of the battle trying to protect the unborn child from an army of possessed-shark-toothed people.

He’s not a one-man army, but his backup isn’t much help. Charlie is on strict “don’t be brave” orders so that leaves the diner owner Bob (Dennis Quaid), his son Jeep (Lucas Black) and employee Percy (Charles S. Dutton). Bob is perpetually confused and when Jeep isn’t moping about Charlie’s lack of affection for him, he’s too afraid to arm up and be a man. Thankfully Percy has something to offer both Michael and the audience. He’s one of the film’s more dynamic and interesting characters and Dutton provides him with a nice degree of authenticity. Tyrese Gibson’s character, on the other hand, is an absolute joke. Tough guy Kyle rolls up in his big black SUV packing heat and mouth full of stereotypical and obnoxious dialogue. There’s also Sandra (Kate Walsh) and her rebellious daughter Audrey (Willa Holland). They’re mother/daughter strife is completely unfounded, but once Sandra is pushed into the background, Audrey has some engaging moments.

Palicki is wasted as Charlie. She’s got talent and a natural ability to acquire a sense of endearment, but she’s drowned in shoddy dialogue and a silly premise. The worst part about Charlie is her relationship with Jeep. Black puts on an emotionless performance. Putting on a puppy dog sad face isn’t going to earn you any of the audience’s sympathy, it’ll only render the character completely ineffective. Palicki shares her get-out-of-jail-free card with Bettany. He isn’t given much to work with, but manages to make Michael seem somewhat human and a rather fun hero.

That being said, Legion isn’t all bad. Even with zero emotional impact, Legion can be rather suspenseful. Waiting for the next evil thing to invade the diner is a seriously anxiety inducing experience. Unfortunately, this one plus ends up adding to the film’s grand disappointment. When a concept has so much potential and fails to deliver it falls hard. Legion has so much going for it that its poor quality is almost insulting.

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