Review: ‘How To Build A Girl’ is a a coming-of-age film that rocks.

How To Build A Girl illustrates the rise and fall of cool in search of self-actualization. Authenticity is the name of the game. The social climb from nobody to somebody inevitably comes with a lot of bad decisions. Why be yourself when you can be someone completely different? Beanie Feldstein is a damn treat, as usual, in this film based on Caitlin Moran’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. Set in the early ’90s during the blossoming of an awkward, literature obsessed 16-year-old, we are treated to a glow-up of her own making. In an attempt to be seen, feel relevant, and pay the bills for her financially struggling family, she takes her first real criticism and rackets up the mean. But fame and risky behavior come with a price. What is the real price for selling your soul?

Beanie Feldstein‘s physical commitment to this role is sheer perfection. The unabashed, emotionally driven weirdness we all possessed at 16 is right there on the screen. You will fall in love with the beautiful mess she portrays. It’s the romanticism she believes in that will capture and keep your heart. If you didn’t already realize it, Beanie Feldstein is a star, ladies and gentleman. Thankfully, for fans of the original novel, the screenplay is adapted by Moran and with direction from Cory Giedroyc, the film will not only serve to a YA audience but pretty much everyone. The cameos in the film are beyond impressive. The laughs are plenty but the true undertones of the film are universal. That first taste of freedom and feigned adulthood oftentimes backfire. Who can’t relate to those themes? Some of us (most of us) are still trying to figure that all out.

Available today ON DEMAND!

 

Review: ‘Then Came You’ rises above the rom-com tropes.

THEN CAME YOU

In Theaters and On Demand on

February 1, 2019

A hypochondriac working as an airport baggage handler is forced to confront his fears when a British teenager with a terminal illness enlists him to help her carry out her eccentric bucket list.

Then Came You manages to bypass the usual rom-com tropes and fleshes out a story about kids navigating a real emotional journey. Asa Butterfield has a naturally emo kid look about him but has the sincere chops to shine in every role that’s thrown his way. He appears genuinely grounded on screen and that makes him easy to watch. If you’re not crying at the end of this film you may have no soul. There is more than meets the eye Butterfield’s backstory which makes for an honest to goodness tug at the heartstrings in the end. The shining star of the film is undoubtedly Maisie Williams. Her comic timing and natural snark own you from the very first scene. I need her to be cast in all the things from here on out. Our two leads have a wonderful chemistry that builds organically. It reminds me of the dynamic of Anna Chlumsky and Macaulay Culkin in My Girl, which is clearly a compliment. Then Came You is simply a lovely film that can be enjoyed by a wide audience.

Asa Butterfield (The Space Between Us,The House of Tomorrow), Maisie Williams(Game of Thrones), Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries), Tyler Hoechlin (Fifty Shades Freed), David Koechner (The Goldbergs), Peyton List (The Outcasts), Tituss Burgess(Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Sonya Walger (Lost), Margot Bingham (Boardwalk Empire) and Ken Jeong (Crazy Rich Asians)

Directed by: Peter Hutchings (The Outskirts, Rhymes with Banana)

Written by: Fergal Rock (Fairy City)

RT: 96 minutes
Not Rated

Review: ‘WOLVES’ depicts a young man trapped between boyhood and manhood.

Presents

Bart Freundlich’s new film WOLVES

From the famous courts of West 4th Street, to the tenements overlooking the bridges of the lower east side, Wolves paints an original, diverse, and emotional portrait of a boy becoming a man in New York City. 18-year-old, Anthony Keller is a high school basketball star. Now in his senior year he is being recruited by Cornell University, a dream come true.  Called “Saint” by everyone at his school (St. Anthony’s), he does his best to live up to his name.  He is captain of his team, a good student, has a long time girlfriend and some good friends.  But the ease with which he moves through his life is a facade. At home, Anthony struggles with his troubled Father, Lee Keller, (Michael Shannon) and his gambling addiction.  Anthony’s Mother, Jenny, (Carla Gugino) has made it her mission to keep the family afloat but has done so only with great emotional and financial sacrifice.

As Anthony approaches the end of his senior year and the city finals, he is faced with adversity from all sides, and the stakes are high.  He must find his own definition of what it means to be a man, both on and off the court, and in doing so he is confronted with the decision of a lifetime.

There is definitely more than meets the eye to this coming of age, high school basketball story. Newcomer Taylor John Smith plays “Saint”, a kid trying desperately to make everyone around him happy. He is emotionally stretched thin and like many high school students who want/need to achieve their lofty dreams, finally meets his breaking point. WOLVES is filled to the brim with fantastic performances. With a heavy hitting cast alongside Smith, there are more layers to this film, and it all comes down to perspective.

Smith’s lead performance is natural, endearing, and powerful. The abusive aspect of the film coming directly from Michael Shannon (as his father), is tough stuff for any actor. But for Smith to easily go toe to toe with a vet like Shannon, all I can say is, “Bravo.” Speaking of Shannon, he plays a real self-loathing scumbag. Unhappy and resentful professor with a gambling addiction, he not only doles out physical abuse to his son but a heavy handed dose of emotional as well. Shannon gives a performance closer to his early seasons on Boardwalk Empire, short fuse and potentially underlying sociopathic tendencies. Carla Gugino is better than ever as the mother trapped in a marriage of frustration and protection of her son and her own sanity. Grittier than her performance in Match but equally as wonderful. For me, the most noteworthy role is one of the smallest. As a momentary surrogate father figure, former pro-baller and wise truth speaking guru, John Douglas Smith is a master. Some of the most impassioned moments in the script come from the mouth of this character Socrates (aptly named). I could have watched this man wax philosophic for the entire film. He was the grounding force the script so desperately needed, as not to lead it into after-school special territory.

On the whole, you will route for WOLVES and the storyline. You can catch the film in theaters and On Demand, tomorrow March 3rd. Check out the trailer below.

In Theaters & On Demand on March 3rd

RT: 110 Minutes

Review: In ‘MY NAME IS EMILY’ Evanna Lynch leaves Hogwarts behind.

Monument Releasing

Presents

 MY NAME IS EMILY

 A Film By

Simon Fitzmaurice

Opening Theatrically In US Cities On February 17

VOD To Release On February 24

MY NAME IS EMILY, the debut-feature written and directed by the amazing Simon Fitzmaurice, is a life-enhancing story starring Evanna Lynch (Harry Potter), Michael Smiley (The Lobster, Kill List) and newcomer George Webster (City of Dreamers, Blood Moon).

After her mother dies and her visionary writer father is institutionalized, Emily is placed in a foster home and a new school where she is ostracized. On her 16th birthday, when her father’s annual card fails to arrive, Emily knows something’s wrong. Enlisting Arden, her only friend at school, she sets off on a road trip adventure across Ireland to find her missing Dad and break him out of the psych ward. They are an odd couple, this pale girl and the boy in the velvet suit, and along the way, they both come to realize important truths about the nature of relationships, both to their parents and to each other. MY NAME IS EMILY is a story of madness, sadness and love.

In  2008, director Simon Fitzmaurice was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (ALS). Now completely paralyzed, Fitzmaurice typed the script for the film, through the movement of his eyes and iris recognition software, Eye Gaze. This is also how he communicated with cast and crew during the film’s six-week shoot. Given four years to live, Simon credits writing and filmmaking with having saved his life.My Name is Emily is a stunning coming of age film. Evanna Lynch shines in this complex role of a sad and brilliant young lady. The layers of this character come from the outstanding script from writer/director Fitzmaurice. Infusing philosophy, literature, poetry, loss and teenaged angst all intertwined into a story of finding oneself through letting go and letting people in. Michael Smiley is as wonderful as he’s ever been, touching the cornerstone of every possible emotion. George Webster, in particular, is one hell of a find. His natural ability to draw you in is reminiscent of the late Anton Yelchin. He will seduce you with his awkwardness and charm the pants off you all in the same scene. The honest chemistry between Lynch and Webster makes this film what it is. Another high note (pun not intended) is the glorious soundtrack. Each song evokes a familiarity that seems to fit perfectly into the moment. With a cool mix of voiceover moments and flashbacks, My Name is Emily is a true delight.

 

New York Film Festival Review: ‘MICROBE & GASOLINE’ is a charming coming of age road movie.

NYFF 53 bannerMICROBE ET GASOIL-4So many of us did not fit in while we were in school. Maybe we wore clothes that were different, has religious parents, or just had quirky personalities that wouldn’t be appreciated until college. Director Michel Gondry tackles the coming of age genre with his new film MICROBE & GASOLINE. With credits like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep, Gondry has no problem tackling the whimsy many of us enjoy while sitting in  a dark theater to escape our everyday lives. Still brimming with that very same sense of lightness, Microbe & Gasoline takes on the subject of two young boys trying to navigate insecurities and innocence… all while alone on the road in a car they build themselves.

Available to rent and buy onTuesday, September 4th with behind-the-scenes extras on We Are Colony

MICROBE ET GASOIL-7Newcomer Ange Dargent, is a true delight on screen. His natural presence is so relatable. He plays young introvert and artist, Daniel. Nicknamed ‘Microbe’ by classmates, even though he continually points out he is not the shortest boy in the class, he is constantly picked on at school. While at home, mother Marie-Thérèse (played effortlessly by the beautiful Audrey Tautou) dotes so heavily it drives him deeper into himself. Enter new kid, Théo, rambunctious, confident and perfect foil for Daniel, he is unafraid of standing up to bullies even if he not the most popular. Young actor, in only his sophomore picture, Théophile Baquet, plays Gasoline with the perfect balance of snark and charm. Buzzing onto the scene with a souped up electric bicycle and smelling of, yep, you guessed it, gasoline, he adopts our Microbe as his new project. The two discover that with a whole lot of ingenuity they can build their own car to escape struggles at home for the summer. But why stop at a car? Why not add a house on top for camouflage and living purposes. MICROBE ET GASOIL-12

Tackling subjects like confidence, sex, loss, and just plain growing up, MICROBE & GASOLINE has enough heart to compete with Gondry’s previous adult incarnations with the same issues. The dialogue is snappy, sweet, and funny. While the plot itself is not necessarily a new idea, I still believe it to be a true success. Below you can find the trailer. While for now we only have it  available in French (sans subtitles), you still get the general idea of how wonderful this film truly us. And, not to worry, there are English subtitles during the film itself.

  • Directed By Michel Gondry
  • 2015
  • France
  • French with English subtitles
  • DCP
  • 103 minutes

The new handmade-SFX comedy from Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind) is set in an autobiographical key. Teenage misfits Microbe (Ange Dargent) and Gasoline (Théophile Baquet), one nicknamed for his size and the other for his love of all things mechanical and fuel-powered, become fast friends. Unloved in school and misunderstood at home—Microbe is overprotected, Gasoline is by turns ignored and abused—they decide to build a house on wheels (complete with a collapsible flower window box) and sputter, push, and coast their way to the camp where Gasoline went as a child, with a stop along the way to visit Microbe’s crush (Diane Besnier). Gondry’s visual imagination is prodigious, and so is his cultivation of spontaneously generated fun and off-angled lyricism, his absolute irreverence, and his emotional frankness. This is one of his freshest and loveliest films. With Audrey Tatou as Microbe’s mom.

Showtimes

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4

12:00 PM

Buy Tickets

MONDAY, OCTOBER 5

9:00 PM

Standby Only

Review: “10,000 Saints” will rock you gently.

10K Saints poster 10,000 Saints follows three screwed up young people and their equally screwed up parents in the age of CBGB’s, yuppies and the tinderbox of gentrification that exploded into the Tompkins Square Park Riots in New York’s East Village in the 1980s. This film is essentially the story of how small life connections become the ties that bind a group of estranged friends and family. It’s quite extraordinary and a brilliant translation of Eleanor Henderson‘s New York Times best-selling novel. After the loss of his best friend Teddy, Jude is sent to live his absentee father, Les. Reconnecting with Les’ girlfriend’s daughter, Eliza and straight edge punk singer and brother of Teddy, Johnny, the three embark on a path that was thrust upon them. 10K Saints Asa EthanEthan Hawke, who I am convinced is a Timelord at this point, gives a flawless performance. His loose lipped, nonchalance is the perfect foil to quietly angsty and gentle Asa Butterfield as Jude. Les’ storyline of fatherly redemption is pretty poetic. Jude’s search for his soul is much more pensive but just as stunning with Butterfield’s innate ability to live the screenplay’s emotional highs and lows. Hailee Steinfeld‘s natural performance as wild child turned guilt ridden and lost pregnant teen is one that should be noted. Emile Hirsh‘s Johnny is a beautifully zen enigma. With a truly talented cast rounded out by Juilanne Nicholson, Avan Jogia, and Emily Mortimer10,000 Saints is one hell of an ensemble film. 10K Saints Emile HaileeThis coming of age tale is deals with guilt, unrequited love, self realization, parenting and death, all in delicate yet fully  meaningful ways. The music is most defintiely its own character, with a soundtrack featuring The Replacements, The Cure, REM, Social Distortion, The Stone Roses, and Johnny’s band Army of One. Directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini are gifted storytellers and you bet I will be going out and grabbing Henderson’s novel soon. 10,000 Saints will not disappoint your eyes, ears or heart. 10,000 Saints comes to theaters, iTunes and other VOD platforms Friday, August 14th

Tribeca Film Festival review: ‘KING JACK’ astounds.

KingJack_press_1 Tribeca

Kids are cruel. No matter what socio-economic background they come from, children can be just as vindictive and creative in their torture of one another as grown adults. In Felix Thompson‘s new coming of age narrative KING JACK, we route for one boy in particular. Pushed around by school bullies and antagonized by his older brother, Jack is a typical teenager simply trying to find his place in the world like any other. When Jack’s aunt becomes ill, a cousin moves into the house, displacing any sense of privacy. Given the task of looking after his younger relative only lessens his already weak facade of coolness. Stalked by one serious older bully and his cronies, Jack must come to terms with the cycle of hereditary violence and find out what courage and manhood truly mean.

KingJack_press_2 Tribeca

Felix Thompson‘s does double duty as writer and director. Organically shot and tenderly written, Thompson brings real truth to a script that could have easily been formulaic. Moments of real fear and embarrassment come to life on screen. These are the moments that bring us back to a time that may not have been our favorite but were essential in shaping who we became as adults.

TFF15-King-JackYoung lead Charlie Plummer is a phenomenon. One would almost think this was a documentary with a performance so incredibly natural. It’s a gutsy role for an actor his age to take on, and he absolutely nails it. In fact, the entire cast is top notch. Not a single beat is missed. Again, a huge nod to Thompson’s ability to direct a cast mainly comprised of teens. Cory Nichols, as cousin Ben, gives a noteworthy performance. Cute, funny, and honest,  I hope we see much more of him in the future.

KING JACK is successful on so many levels. Though, admittedly, at moments it is hard to watch. The film will resonate with anyone who has come home crying, anyone who has been called names, anyone who has felt alone. What makes KING JACK difficult to watch is the very thing that makes it great. I highly recommend you take the entire family to see this feature. Parents: It’s a great insight into what your kids experience with the added complication of technology. Kids: You might just find that Mom and Dad can relate to your life in ways you never thought possible.

You can still catch two more screenings of KING JACK at the festival!!

7:30 PM – FRI 4/24 REGAL CINEMAS BATTERY PARK 11-9
2:30 PM – SUN 4/26 BOW TIE CINEMAS CHELSEA 8
To find out more about this film, check out the Tribeca Film Festival Guide 2015