Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Film Review of The Perks of Being A Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a dramedy film adaptation of the novel of the same name. It stars Logan Lerman (from Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief) Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame), and Ezra Miller. The film was directed by the novel’s author, Stephen Chbosky.

Wallflower was one of the films that I highly anticipated seeing this year, and it delivered on every level. It provided everything we look for in entertainment, which shockingly isn’t easy to come by these days. The film follows a freshman named Charlie who is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world. Although the story may seem basic at first glance, it may be the most believable and relatable of its genre.

One of the coolest things about this film adaptation is that the author of the book is the director! I mean, it doesn’t get better for fans of the book than that, right?. Book fans will appreciate the way its been wonderfully translated to film.  The cast in this film is superb as well. You will recognize a lot of the actors portraying the supporting characters, but the primary trio of actors is what really brings this film to the next level. They all deliver outstanding performances with my girl Emma is leading the pack. In her first major role after the Potter series, you totally forget that she even played Hermione Granger! She is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the film world. She portrays a perfect flirtatious teenage girl, but also an insecure free spirit (and she even has an American accent in this one!). Ezra Miller is such a great character as well, and his character really makes the story come full circle on an emotional level. I hope we see him in more films to come. Last, but not least, Logan Lerman is great as the main protagonist, Charlie (pretty awesome name, isn’t it?) As the central character of the story, you really take the journey with him through high school. You feel for him, especially as his story unravels through all of its ups and downs and twists and turns. It’s extremely nostalgic for not only my generation, but many others as well. Finally, Chbosky’s direction is also top-notch, and he really looks like a pro with what he’s done with his source material. Throw in the PERFECT soundtrack and AMAZING dialogue….and I can’t praise this film anymore than that!

YOU NEED TO SEE THIS FILM. Everything about it is brilliant, and it’s definitely on my list of top films of 2012! Better yet, if you haven’t already, read the BOOK as well!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012)
Summit Entertainment
PG-13,102 Minutes

Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Film Review of The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is a science fiction action drama film directed by Gary Ross and based on the WORLDWIDE PHENOMENON novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins. It stars Jennifer Lawrence (LOVE HER) Josh Hutcherson (Finally is a household name), Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth (Thor’s lil bro and future father of Miley Cyrus’s kids), and Woody Harrelson. So yea, the cast is pretty awesome. Some fans at first were a little skeptical of some of the producer’s picks, especially Jennifer Lawrence as the beloved Katniss, but no one is complaining anymore.

Some people say the plot is unoriginal, and it’s been done, but I still think it’s awesome and original in its own right. The basics of the plot are that it’s set in a post-apocalyptic/future where people are distinguished by district and every year the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve different districts to fight to the death on live television for everyone to see.  The games are to set an example to remind the people who’s in charge. The story’s main protagonist, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her younger sister’s place when she is selected to participate in the Hunger Games on her first year of availability.

There was no doubt in my mind that this movie was going to break records, and give the likes of Twilight and Harry Potter a run for their money. This is the first HUGE book series to come to the big screen after them, and it has major appeal. You all know I am a huge Potter fan, but the Hunger Games is a force to be reckoned with, and I feel has the broadest appeal out of them all.. When the film was released, it set records for opening day ($67.3 million) and opening weekend for a non-sequel. At the time of its release, the film’s opening weekend gross ($152.5 million) was the third largest of any movie in North America but now is fourth behind The Avengers, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and The Dark Knight. I have a feeling the Dark Knight Rises is going to bump it down to fifth. It is also the first film since Avatar to remain in first place at the North American box office for four consecutive weekends.

For all you die-hard readers who aren’t always too keen on these types of adaptations, this is as faithful as they come. I may be going out on a limb saying this, but I think this is even better than the book. This series appeals to everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, which is why it has been so successful. The demand for the second film in the series, Catching Fire, is ENORMOUS, and is only growing bigger by the day. This is a MUST SEE in my eyes, not only because it is just great, but it also is one of the more gorgeous films cinematography wise that I have seen recently.  It’s a little upsetting that Gary Ross will not be returning for the next installment, but Francis Lawrence, director of I Am Legend and Water For Elephants is on-board this time, so I think we are in good hands.

So one last time: make sure you check out The Hunger Games film, and jump on the AWESOME bandwagon. Stay tuned for the Blu-ray release on August 18 and for Catching Fire’s release on November 22, 2013.  You can bet I’ll be at the midnight showing.

MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR…

5 out of 5 Stars

The Hunger Games (2012)
Lionsgate
PG-13,142 Minutes

Charlie’s Review of Meridienne Drake: Secrets of the Truth (Meridienne Drake #1) by Jessica Dragon Cheramie

For those of you who have been following my reviews, you know that I am a HUGE fan of the fantasy genre.  When I was offered the chance to read Meridienne Drake by Jessica Dragon Cheramie, I welcomed it with open arms.  I’m going to tell you right off the bat that this is a good book with an interesting storyline that is only going to get better as the series goes on.  However, I feel as it is written more for fans of  Twilight rather than fantasy fans as a whole.  I am someone who can easily get immersed in anything so it didn’t deter me from reading, but I think that people of the female persuasion will enjoy this more than the male.  Summary from Goodreads:

When trying to find out who you are, you may just get more than you bargained.

Meridienne Drake thought she had it all figured out, but her parents had other plans for her. Thrown on a plane to Portland, Oregon to spend the summer with family she never knew existed, Meridienne realizes she didn’t know the people who raised her at all. More than that, strange things are beginning to happen to her.

Meridienne wants to be anything other than strange especially when her summer begins to take a turn for the better because of Will, the mysterious new boy. But the strange and unusual just keep occurring until she discovers an even bigger secret. Magic. Her fourteenth birthday reveals secrets and realities that Meridienne had only dreamed about, literally. Will Meridienne accept this secret life and face what comes with that? Or, is all this heat too much for her?

The story at its core is all about a teenage girl in search of herself and her mysterious family. Even though I am a 25-year-old male, I have plenty of experience with the female persuasion.  (I have a younger sister)  Cheramie gets it exactly right when it comes to her depiction of teenage girls. Our main protagonist, Meridienne (Meri for short), has everything you would expect for a girl in this particular time of her life.

Meri’s journey takes us to her grandfather and uncle’s during the summer, both of whom she never knew existed since her parents kept that part of their lives a secret from her. Little does she know that this is only the beginning of all the secrets, lies, and hidden truths that her family has kept from her over the past 13 years. How Meri handles all of these twists and turns in her life is going to hopefully shape her into the person she is meant to be.

With all that being said, Cheramie has constructed an exciting new series in the world of fantasy. It is well written, detailed, and has great character development.  It’s obvious that she has a great plan in place for the rest of the series. She makes readers want to know what is going to happen next. While I do think this is intended for an audience  younger than myself, I still found if enjoyable.  When have adults ever been deterred from reading a young adult novel I ask?  If you recall Harry Potter was found in the children’s section, while The Hunger Games was in the teen section. While Meridienne Drake is by no means the next Harry Potter (which we are still desperately in search of)  it’s my hope that this series can generate a nice little fan base.  I think there is potentially one out there, and with good word of mouth you never know (look at the Fifty Shades of Grey series).  All in all, I think we have something good here. The verdict is still out on whether or not I’ll  read the next part in the series, but that is only because I don’t feel I am the intended audience.  But if you fall into that category (I am talking to you girls) please check this out and spread the word.

3 out of 5 Stars

Meridienne Drake by Jessica Dragon Cheramie
Dragon’s Dream Publishing (2011)
Paperback: 366 pages
ISBN: 9780983634706

Special thanks to Jessica Dragon Cheramie for sending me my review copy!

Blood Sword (Lost Princess Series: Book 1) by L. J. Maisen

From the publisher:
His Oath…
My loyalty and sword to Rhaetia are true.
I lend my wit and might in fealty to you.
Neither through words, nor actions and deeds, will I dishonor thee.

His Quest…
One by one, the heirs to the Rhaetian throne have fallen, and now the future of the kingdom rests on the champion of the realm—the Blood Sword—finding the missing daughter of the king—the Lost Princess.

Blood Sword (Lost Princess Series Book 1)…
On the island nation of Xa’aia, the Blood Sword is enslaved as a gladiator and forced to fight to entertain the masses. However, to continue the search for the Lost Princess, he will do anything to gain his freedom.

Seeing a chance for escape, Zelayra, whore to Prince Calyl of Xa’aia, purchases the barbarian gladiator—so unlike the usual J’Haran prisoners and her Xa’aian captors in looks. But there is no time to ponder her similarity to the stranger and no time to explore the distant memories and unusual feelings his presence inspires, for she’s not the only one who’s been scheming in the island kingdom.

For those of you who don’t know, I am a huge fantasy/sci-fi fan. So, reading Blood Sword by L.J. Maisen was a no brainer for me, and I must say, it has promise. As you have already read above, it tells the story of a fierce princess heroine and a sword fighting hero. One thing that I loved about this short story was that it gives you two very strong characters to help immerse you in the story.  The fact that one is a female and the other male is something that is not very common in fantasy stories, which will make this appealing to a wide range of readers.

Blood Sword was a quick read, and I am still trying to figure out how I feel about that. It’s good because it allows you to read it rather quickly and enjoy the story  At the same time when I started reading, the length had me worried that there wouldn’t be much substance to it, which in my mind is the most important part of a fantasy story. The world that an author creates is one of the biggest aspects and key ingredients in making it successful. Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, just to name a few, are perfect examples of this. They bring you to a place that you never imagined and do so in such distinct detail. While this isn’t in the same league as either of those, I must say I was still satisfied. There was just enough detail for everything to come together and leave you wanting more.

With all that being said, my opinion on the book as a whole was easily swayed from when I first began reading. As a matter of fact, I think L.J. Maisen may be on to something. Rather than bombarding readers with too much detail, which is sometimes a lot to handle, she has introduced us to a world that unfolds slowly and yet still leaves us satisfied. I love the fact that this is a new short story series. I know fantasy isn’t the easiest of genres to create, and it often lacks new material, so this new work is definitely welcome. While I am not ready to call the Lost Princess series the next big thing in the fantasy world, I am intrigued at the small form factor of this series, as it provides us with something unique and different in a world that can at times lack originality. Ultimately, the verdict is still out, as to how well I’ll like the series.  I’ll definitely be reading the second story before I give it my final judgment.

3 out of 5 Stars

Blood Sword by L.J. Maisen
Twenty or Less Press (2012)
eBook: 70 pages
ISBN: 2940033136636

Special thanks to Twenty or Less Press for my review copy!

Charlie’s Review of This Haunted World #2 by Mark Powers, Rahmat Handoko, and Chris Lie

From the publisher: In This Haunted World readers see a world awash in conflict and suffering.  Some believe the Biblical End Times have arrived; others believe a civilization too often driven by greed has simply begun the inevitable process of devouring itself.  Amid the fear and chaos walks a shadow.  He is in the war-torn hills of Afghanistan, in the tragedy wracked hills of Hiroshima.  He is called by many names in many places – and where he walks, he brings death.  Two men – one whose ivory tower has been shattered by scandal, the other sprawled on life’s rock bottom – unknowingly hold mankind’s only hope for survival.  For a war unlike any other is about to be declared – one in which 10,000 years worth of sins and pain come back to haunt us…

The second issue of This Haunted World picks up sort of where we left off in issue one.  (My review of issue one is here)  Its main focus is on Daniel and his wealthy “friend” Tom, who obviously have some issues with each other.  In reading a flashback sequence, we learn that they were both part of a study group during their school days which researched “the other side”.  Unfortunately, as happens too often in life, they went their separate ways and grew apart.  They are now embarking on a new journey together which will hopefully bring them back to together.

Besides the continuous character development of Daniel we are also introduced to a new character, Samantha.  She just so happens to be part of the same group as Daniel and Tom.  Things don’t look too bright for her however, as on a normal day at work (she works in a bookstore) disaster hits, which the group initially thinks is a tornado hitting their area.  I however think it is something more supernatural if you get my drift!  She is later hunted down by a CIA agent, who says her presence is being requested by the nation’s capital.

Meanwhile, Daniel and Tom are on their way to Hiroshima to investigate the destruction that took place in the first issue of This Haunted World.  Daniel’s past, particularly his parent’s passing, is why I believe he is so invested in this.  There is continuous destruction going on when they get there, and they aren’t looked too kindly upon by the local military.  Although Daniel and Tom don’t seem to be welcomed, they insist on searching for what they came for.  The action definitely increases as they come under attack from ghosts and creatures from the sky.  Will they escape with their lives?

There are a few other minor things that went down in this issue, but for the most part that is the gist of the main plot/sub plots.  Something big is obviously being set up in this series, as it seems like it is one big massive story that is being slowly revealed.  Unlike the first issue, which I felt was crammed, this issue progressed really slow.  It was way too broad as well as jumbled at the same time.  A lot of what I really enjoyed about the first issue seemed to be missing the second time around.  Additionally, I also felt the illustrations, while drawn well, didn’t catch my eye as much as they did before.  I still hope that in the upcoming issues they try to incorporate sexual themes into the story, but I am not sure if that is on the horizon.  Maybe with the introduction of Samantha we will get something, but who knows?  Like I have said earlier, sex always makes a story better, especially in the horror genre.

All in all, this issue didn’t really give me enough information to be curious about what is going to happen next.  The premise no longer gives me that hook feeling that I once had.  I feel like this graphic novel is struggling with its identity.  Hopefully they find the proper pace in the upcoming issues that allow the reader to get emotionally invested in the characters and story.

2 out of 5 Stars

Special thanks to Sea Lion Books for sending me my review copy!

Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Film Review of This Means War

This Means War is a romantic comedy/action film directed by McG, best known for directing the Charlie’s Angels film series. The film stars Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, and Chelsea Handler (who I NORMALLY DESPISE, but found she was tolerable in this movie). It also features Abigail Spencer, who I LOVE, especially in her role in Mad Men.

This film hasn’t gotten good reviews, but as far as romantic comedies go it was one of the most enjoyable that I have seen in years. It was very funny, and even delivered in the action department. Some people may initially think this is a chick flick, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes it has those elements at times, but trust me guys, if you want to have a night out at the movies with your “lady friend” this will not disappoint. You will be killing two birds with one stone.

The film has a very basic plot, but I feel that the spy aspect included in the film adds some originality. FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are not only lifelong best friends but they also work together as CIA agents. We are also introduced to Lauren (Reese Witherspoon), who is a working professional that hasn’t had much time or luck in getting back into the dating world after a very nasty breakup. On top of that, she is constantly pressured by her best friend (Chelsea Handler) to do so. To make a long story short, with a little help from the world of online dating, Tuck (the single dad looking for love) starts dating Lauren. FDR, the playboy, picks up Lauren in a movie store and after being denied at first wants her even more. The best friends realize they are dating the same girl and decide to proceed in a way that will not affect their friendship. Even so, there is an unspoken understanding that the best man will win. While Lauren is struggling with whom to choose, both FDR and Tuck are battling it out with the help of their CIA training to win her over. I will let you all watch it to find out the rest…

I could be being biased because I love Chris Pine (aka Captain Kirk) and Tom Hardy (of Inception fame, and soon to be Bane in The Dark Knight Rises),  but without them in the cast, I will be the first to admit I probably wouldn’t have been as interested in this movie, and would have probably just checked this out on blu-ray. However, since their combined star power was enough to make me see this film in theaters, I felt that they were the perfect combination (at least in my book) for these roles. Interestingly enough, Sam Worthington and Bradley Cooper were attached to star in this originally, but dropped out. This is a perfect example of why Pine and Hardy made the film for me because if it had starred Worthington and Cooper instead there would have been no chance that I would have seen this film. Seth Rogen also turned down the role (you can bet your bottom dollar though that I would have been in a seat if he was in this movie).  As for Reese Witherspoon, while I think she is an awesome actress, I would have liked to have seen a less talented, hotter actress in this role. Maybe Blake Lively?

With all that being said I highly suggest you check this film out. If you are looking for a fun and entertaining night at the movies, then this film will give that to you. If you’re looking for a masterpiece, skip this and go see The Artist.

3 out of 5 Stars

This Means War (2012)
20th Century Fox
R, 97 Minutes

Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Review of The Artist

The Artist is a 2011 French romantic drama directed by Michel Hazanavicius, starring Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. The film was nominated for six Golden Globes (the most of any 2011 film), and won three: Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Original Score, and Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Dujardin. It’s currently nominated for ten Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Hazanavicius, Best Actor for Dujardin, and Best Supporting Actress for Bejo. It has also been nominated for/won a slew of other awards, but there are just too many to name.

Many “casual moviegoers” are going to be (or already are) skeptical of this film. Why, you ask? It’s a silent black-and-white film, making it a love letter to the olden days of Hollywood. Taking place in Hollywood between 1927 and 1932, it focuses on silent film star George Valentin who was at the top of his career, but then fades into near oblivion as silent film falls out of the limelight and is replaced by talkies, which are emerging in popularity. Valentin is unable  to make the transition due to his stubbornness, which opens up Hollywood to new and fresh young talent, particularly for Peppy Miller, who idolized Valentin. Interestingly, it was Valentin who helped her get her big break. The Artist is a good ol’ rise and fall story, and is beautifully shown through the relationship between the two.

The performances in this film are OUTSTANDING. Jean Dujardin is a shoo-in to win the Oscar come Feb 26th. His ability to portray every kind of emotion humanly possible without saying a single word is AWESOME. It really makes you think about how much acting has changed over the years due to technology. Bérénice Bejo, who (fun fact) happens to be married to the director, Michel Hazanavicius (lucky!!), gives an amazing performance as well, and I will definitely be rooting for her at the Oscars. Did I mention she is stunningly beautiful? There are also many other great members of the cast who you will recognize, as the leads are the only relatively unknown actors in the film. Additionally as a side note, Uggie the dog is AMAZING as well!

As I mentioned earlier, this film may not sound appealing to the masses because not only is it in black-and-white, but it’s silent as well. Don’t let that fool you. This is a special piece of cinema that EVERYONE can enjoy. The beautiful music, dance numbers, and heartfelt performances will make you feel moved and keep your eyes glued to the screen. You will forget that there is no dialogue. As a major film fan, as much as I wanted to see this film I was afraid that it was going to be over-hyped, but boy was I wrong.

With all that being said I highly suggest you check this film out and see what it is all about. You have been warned though: the film is shot in black-and-white and it is silent. Some people have demanded refunds because they didn’t know this. (Are they living under a rock?) I am happy Michel Hazanavicius followed his dream to make this film. It is a true homage to old Hollywood, and I hope it inspires other storytellers to do the same thing. I know this is a bold statement, but this is one of my favorite movies of all time. Maybe because it’s something different, something original, and from an era I’ve never known, but everything about it spoke to me. I am by no means saying that I only want to see silent films from here on out (as you won’t find a bigger fan of big budget franchise films than me), but boy did I love this piece of film making. The title for this film truly is perfect, as this is “art” at its finest. Nothing will get in this film’s way from bringing home the little gold man!

6 out of 5 Stars

The Artist (2011)
La Petite Reine
PG-13, 100 Minutes

Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Film Review of The Woman In Black

The Woman in Black is a horror-thriller directed by James Watkins and written by Jane Goldman.  It’s based on Susan Hill’s novel, which is something I definitely need to get my hands on.  The film stars Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Sophie Stuckey, and Liz White, who are all mainly British actors, some obviously more famous than others.  As a fun little fact (and nod to all the Potter fans out there), Ciarán Hinds starred in the last two Potter films as Aberforth Dumbledore.

This was a film that I’ve been highly anticipating for quite some time.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am a HARDCORE Potter fan.  (This obviously means I love Daniel Radcliffe)  This is Radcliffe’s first major studio film since the Potter series concluded this past summer.  I am so happy for the world to see that he is a force to be reckoned with, and will not be known solely as “the boy who lived”.  I just recently saw him on Broadway as the starring role in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which was not only AWESOME but really sold me on his rare talent. It’s your turn to see his talent now!

The thing I loved about this film was that it was old-school British horror.  It is bringing the genre back to what it should be, providing genuine scares, not just the blood and guts showing of the current American horror film.  While this was enjoyable, I am not going to sit here and tell you that this is a horror masterpiece.  A lot of the scares were reliant on loud noise and camera angles, but at the same time there were a lot of great scenes that kept me immersed in this original story.

Speaking of the story, it revolves around a young lawyer named Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), who is struggling in many aspects of life after having lost his wife four years back during childbirth.  He has been left to raise his son and pay for a nanny, and finds it difficult to find time for his son while he tries to provide for them at work.  In the midst of money troubles and not wanting to lose his job, he accepts a case to settle the legal affairs of the recently deceased Alice Drablow while leaving his son behind in London.  When he arrives to the “Eel Marsh” estate, it is obvious by its inhabitants that he is not welcome and they want him to return home to London.  Of course he does nothing of the sort, and begins to discover that there have been numerous unforeseen accidents/suicides taking the lives of the children in the town.  This leads the parents of the village to barricade their children indoors.  Arthur continues to go to the estate all alone to continue his work.  He starts to hear screams, sees “the children”, and finally discovers “The Woman in Black.”  According to local legend, whenever someone lays eyes on “The Woman in Black” another child dies.  It is her way to extract vengeance since her beloved son Nathaniel was taken from her many years ago in a carriage accident.  Without giving any more away, let’s just say Arthur’s son is coming to visit him at the end of the week.

As I stated earlier I love Daniel’s performance in this film, and it really shows he is here to stay!  My only problem with the casting is that I feel he is a little too young to be believed as someone who is a widow with a four-year-old son.  As he is the major draw for the film though, it seems to work well enough.  The other great performance is given by Ciarán Hinds, who plays a character that Arthur befriends on the way to the estate, and who assists him in getting to the bottom of everything.  He has been in some of my favorite films of all time including Road to Perdition, Munich, and There Will Be Blood, just to name a few.  He is also in one of my most anticipated movies of this year, John Carter, which will be hitting theaters in March. (He was even in a film version of one of Kim’s favorite novels, Jane Eyre, back on A&E in 1997, so he is kind of a big deal).

With all that being said, I highly suggest you check this film out if you are a “true” horror fan. It even offers up some good scares for you non-horror fans, and it is a film that can appeal to the masses in the genre.  I loved the legend of “The Woman in Black” within the story too.  I thought it was very original, and even though I feel that they could have played off of this plot point a little more, I was satisfied with the final product.  The cinematography was awesome, and it made me really want to go back to the Edwardian era especially because of the awesome clothes they wore back then.  I will leave you with this: the ending is one of the best parts of the film.  I had heard it was crazy before going into the film, so that had my mind racing leading up to the end to try and figure out what was up.  When the film finally ended, I am not going to say I saw it coming completely (I had additional different ideas in my mind), but what actually happened was something that I had considered.  So, when you all go see this movie be sure to leave comments as I would like to know what your thoughts are!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Woman in Black (2011)
Hammer Film Productions
PG-13, 95 Minutes

Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Film Review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a dramatic film adaptation of the  New York Times bestselling novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer (Foer is also the author of Everything Is Illuminated).  The film is directed by three-time Academy Award nominee Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours, The Reader), and written by Academy Award winner Eric Roth (Best Adapted Screenplay for Forrest Gump).  It stars Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis (nominated this year for her performance in The Help), John Goodman, Jeffrey Wright, and Zoe Caldwell.

For those who don’t know, the film revolves around the events of September 11th.  It amazes me that it has already been 10 years since that horrific day, and that kids are now learning about it in history class along with the Civil War, WWII, etc.  The subject matter may be rough for some, but that is something I will get into later on.  In describing the plot, Warner Brothers writes:

The film is the story of a young boy named Oskar (Thomas Horn) who is convinced that his father (Tom Hanks), who died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, has left a final message for him hidden somewhere in the city.  Feeling disconnected from his grieving mother (Sandra Bullock) and driven by a relentlessly active mind that refuses to believe in things that can’t be observed, Oskar begins searching New York City for the lock that fits a mysterious key he found in his father’s closet.  His journey through the five boroughs takes him beyond his own loss to a greater understanding of the observable world around him.

The original plan for the film was to release it around the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but it didn’t quite happen.  The film had a limited release beginning on Christmas, and a month later it went into wide release.  Despite  some mixed reviews from critics, which I will get into later as well, the film has been nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Max von Sydow.  I think these were two of the biggest shocks on the morning of nominations.

This all-star cast does an amazing job in bringing the pages of the novel to life.  The real stand outs however are Thomas Horn and Max von Sydow.  This was Horn’s first acting job, as he was discovered by the film’s producer when he won on Jeopardy during Kids Week.  He was subsequently offered an audition for the role of Oskar Schell, which he obviously won.  The subject matter he is given and they way he is able to deliver on that emotion is splendid.  In my eyes he delivered one of the best child performances I have seen in a long time, and I was very moved.  He allowed those close to the material to really feel as though they were in his shoes, and I felt a connection.  His scenes with Tom Hanks were so great and they reminded me of the relationship I have with my dad.  The game that they play together (WHICH IS AWESOME) is the reason for the name of the film’s AMAZING title.  (I’m going to hold out on what the game is in the hopes that it will be another reason for you to see the film).  As for Max von Sydow, he delivers a great performance, but it’s one that  I don’t want to give away any spoilers about.  I found the “mystery” to be quite obvious, but maybe that is because I am a screenwriting genius!  His character has taken a vow of silence due to traumatic experiences he has suffered during his childhood so he strictly acts through body language and emotion, which seems to be something the Academy is digging this year.

As I stated earlier, this film has been getting mixed reviews, and I really just don’t know why.  I will go as far as saying it is one of my favorite films of 2011 and 2012 so far.  Maybe some people are turned off by the subject matter or think that the subject matter is just something that is simply easy for them to get emotional about.  Personally, I think that is crazy.   I am from New Jersey, so this event holds a very special place in my heart.  I remember exactly where I was when it happened, as I had just recently started my first year of high school.  I was in shock when I heard what happened as I watched the news that was instantly put on the televisions in our classrooms.  I was then called out of class that day and was taken home by a friend’s mother.  I was in tears as my father worked in the city at the time and was in a meeting right by the attacks.  I remember thinking that if anything happened to my Dad, I wouldn’t know how life would go on, just as Oskar did.  Thankfully he was unharmed and made it home safely by the end of the night.  Unfortunately I know many people who were not as lucky and I don’t like to think about it too often.  There are so many stories where people I personally knew were supposed to be in the World Trade Center that day but weren’t because their meeting got cancelled or they were running late.  All I have to say to that is thank you God.

With all that being said, I will leave you with this: I highly suggest you check this film out.  I loved it so much that I will definitely be reading the book (and I don’t say this too often).  As I stated earlier, the film’s material can be very intense, and it portrays some of the more realistic emotional scenes I have seen in quite some time, so consider yourself warned.  I am not afraid to admit it, I HAVE NEVER cried so hard in a film in my whole life.  I was crying numerous times throughout the film.  While they were mostly tears of sadness and some of joy at times, I did leave the theater all choked up and my eyes may have even been swollen.  The ending left me with such promise and in such a great mood even though I was riding an emotional rollercoaster throughout.  I may be biased, but everything about this film I fell in love with and I can’t wait to watch it again!

5 out of 5 Stars

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)
Paramount Pictures
PG-13, 129 Minutes

 I would like to dedicate this review to all of those who lost a loved one during the 9/11 attacks.

Check This Out – Cagney Cried

As you all know, I am a HUGE film fan.  I eat, sleep, and breathe films.  I love all genres, most especially indie’s as they are some of the best films out there.  Unfortunately as they typically have limited budgets not everyone ends up hearing about them, leaving some great works unseen.  My reason for bringing all this up is because I have a great little film that I want to get on your radar, Cagney Cried.

It is an independent film about a New York City schlub that moves to L.A to pursue his dream of becoming an actor but winds up in jail.  It’s written by and stars Steven Randazzo.  What makes this project so intriguing to me, and probably other film fans, is the fact that it’s about an actor who wants to get a role playing a modern-day James Cagney.  For those unfamiliar with Cagney, he is one of America’s all time most influential actors.  One of Cagney’s most iconic films, The Public Enemy, is considered one of the most significant gangster movies of the black and white film era.  In essence he was the all-time gangster badass of black and white films, and was kind of a big deal.  Even though the core issues of the film are dealing with people wanting to become stars and following their dreams, it is also a great homage to Cagney.   Anyway enough of my blabbing, go check out the link below to see the Kickstarter page for this film, you won’t be disappointed!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/57431933/cagney-cried?ref=live