Friday, March 15, 2019

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

Movie Name/Year: The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
Tagline: You're only young once... is it over yet?
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Length: 104 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Gracie Films, Huayi Brothers Media, Robert Simonds Productions, STX Entertainment
Producer: Julie Ansell, Oren Aviv, James Bitonti, Amy Brooks, James L. Brooks, Pete Corral, Brendan Ferguson, Adam Fogelson, Richard Sakai, Cathy Schulman, Robert Simonds, Donald Tang, Lisa Walder, Zhongjun Wang, Zhonglei Wang, Jerry Ye
Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
Writer: Kelly Fremon Craig
Actors: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Kyra Sedgwick, Woody Harrelson, Hayden Szeto, Alexander Calvert, Eric Keenleyside, Nesta Cooper, Daniel Bacon, Lina Renna, Ava Grace Cooper, Christian Michael Cooper, Jena Skodje, Meredith Monroe, Katie Stuart

Blurb from Netflix: When Nadine’s best (and only) friend starts dating her detested older brother, the teenage cynic’s life becomes even more unbearable.

Selina’s Point of View:
I had a feeling I would really like The Edge of Seventeen and I was not disappointed.

Although the main character was painted as very difficult to like, I understood her. In fact, I saw a lot of my seventeen-year-old self in her. I was pretty difficult to like back then, too. So, I empathized. From the worst of the cringe to the biggest outburst, it all felt too real.

Nadine, as a character, made a lot of realistic choices for an emotionally compromised teenager. Note that I said ‘realistic’ decisions, not ‘smart’ ones. She had all the bad impulse control and self-centeredness you’d expect (or remember).

Darian, as her older brother, was an interesting character. He reminded me of one of my cousins.

None of my family members are really near me in age except for one cousin. I always looked up to him when I was younger – almost kind of wished he was my brother. Maybe I even put him in that slot in my mind, I grew up as an only child (so did he) so there was a ‘vacancy’, I guess. Whatever the case, that same feeling of looking up to him was also what eventually made me incredibly jealous of him.

He’s the golden boy, you know? It always just kind of felt like he naturally belonged and I didn’t. I was/am awkward, weird, and kind of loner. He’s still the golden boy. He transitioned seamlessly from high school to college, to law school; meanwhile, every step through the academic system for me was like trying to walk on the bottom of the ocean while wearing cement shoes.

Even the way our family reacts to us feels decidedly different. Thanksgiving is full of tales recounting how adorable he once was, while I don’t actually know any stories from my childhood from anyone else’s perspective. It’s not unlike the way Nadine sees her mother reacting differently to her and her brother. There’s that top layer of resentment covering a deeper, and much more resilient, wish for acceptance and love from the family member in question.

It’s probably because of that, and some other painful similarities between who I once was and the main character in the film, that I spent the majority of the movie FEELING things. It’s not really nostalgia, because I’m certainly not longing for the past – (and those conflicting emotions about my cousin are ongoing) – but it’s something like that.

I have very few complaints to make. The ones I do have, are pretty spoiler-filled. There was one big issue I had. I believed one of the conflicts was rushed to resolve and I do not believe it would have allowed the ending to play out the same way in real life. It was too neat. Situations like that are not neat. Ever. At least, in my experience.

I would definitely recommend this film, I may even watch it again.

Cat’s Point of View:
The Edge of Seventeen took me on more of a journey than I thought it would.

I’m not sure if it was that the character Nadine just rubbed me the wrong way, initially; or if it was that she reminded me of myself at her age. I made some crazy choices while ultimately seeking validation of my self-worth. That, unfortunately, is a whole other story. Needless to say – ultimately, I can relate.

As the plot progresses, it becomes clear that there’s purpose to the arc and both Nadine’s attitude and experiences. There were a few moments I really just wanted to reach through the screen and smack some sense into her. By the end of the film, I was surprised to find my eyes leaking. (It wasn’t crying. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) Layered within the comedy of the movie are some really heavy topics. I can assure you, though, that this is far from a hardcore drama.

I really enjoyed Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Ender's Game, Bumblebee) in this role. Of course, I’ll be honest – I haven’t seen her in anything yet that I haven’t appreciated her performance. 

Speaking of the cast – I was pleasantly surprised by Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, Triple 9, LBJ) here. I find that I either really like his roles or I am rolling my eyes. This time, as you might guess, I was definitely a fan. I loved the wit of his character and the banter between Nadine and her teacher, Mr. Bruner. It reminds me of the teachers that took that extra step in my life that made a difference for me.

I’m excited to see what Kelly Fremon Craig (Streak, Post Grad, The Edge of Seventeen) has to offer in the future, considering she’s relatively new to the cinematic scene. I do have to wonder, however, if she had the Stevie Nicks song in mind when the film was renamed to its released title; as its working title was ‘Besties.’ Things that make you go ‘hmm.’

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 94%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 83%
Metascore - 77/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.7/10
IMDB Score – 7.4/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Malicious (2018)

Movie Name/Year: Malicious (2018)
Tagline: Children are a gift from hell.
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: Impossible Dream Entertainment, Lost Hills Film Fund
Producer: Ele Bardha, Brett Forbes, Lonia Guha, Kevin Alexander Heard, Ali Jazayeri, Raymond Mansfield, Curtis Nichouls, Shaun Redick, Patrick Rizzotti, Phillip Rush, Patrick Stapleton, Yvette Yates, Viviana Zarragoitia
Director: Michael Winnick
Writer: Michael Winnick
Actors: Bojana Novakovic, Josh Stewart, Delroy Lindo, Melissa Bolona, Yvette Yates, Luke Edwards, Jaqueline Fleming, Ben VanderMey, Presley Richardson, Joy Kate Lawson, Bailee MyKell Cowperthwaite, Jo-Ann Robinson, Curtis Nichouls

Blurb from Netflix: After receiving a strange present, a professor and his pregnant wife are plagued by tragedy and a paranormal presence that’s determined to kill.

Selina’s Point of View:
Break out the horror movie bingo cards, they’ll be useful to you with this film.

Now, I don’t automatically hate recipe films. I judge them each on their own. It may be a little more difficult to do because it’s all been done before, but quality is always a variable. In this case, that quality was on the very low side.

The dialogue was shoddy, to start off with. There were whole conversations that I could swear I’ve already seen in other movies.

Then the characters were even more shallow than usual. In fact, there was one constant character in the film that was literally just there to take up space. Sure, extras are always a thing, but the creators had this actor traipsing around with the main characters as if he meant absolutely anything at all. (He did not.)

The creators can’t even blame the cast for this absolute flop. There was one actor that I thought was pretty bad, but everyone else was great. I’m particularly mad that they cast Delroy Lindo (The Good Fight, Domino, Gone in 60 Seconds) in such a bad role. I really love his work and I think he’s a billion times better than what this film portrayed him as.

I do not foresee myself recommending this to anyone. The only reason to watch it is for a drinking game based on that aforementioned bingo card.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’m afraid I’m a tad on the fence with Malicious. I can’t say that I loved it; but at the same time, I can’t say that I hated it, either.

What I am sure of is that the music department for this production did their jobs almost too-well. The score in the background as the narrative unfolded was quite effective at building suspense and tension. That’s, of course, the bread and butter of horror movies and thrillers. Any movie that doesn’t successfully ramp you up before a punctuated moment isn’t doing its job right, and is likely horrifically boring.

While I couldn’t tell you for sure whether or not this film employs the specific tones that research has shown impact people the most, I can express with certainty that I had a rather visceral personal reaction. I was so tense and my nerves so frazzled by the end that I simply couldn’t get comfortable until I’d had a cool shower. The story and imagery definitely weren’t to blame.

In fairness, there were a few points that rate high on my creep-factor list; but on the whole, there wasn’t too much here to make this movie stand out within its genre.

The cast was decent. I bought what they were selling for the most part. There were only a few moments where I just couldn’t follow down the rabbit hole the story and the driving eerie soundtrack were traversing.

I don’t think I would steer anyone away from this particular movie, but aside from the sound-induced reactions, the story was a bit meh for me.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 17%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.0/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating2.5/5

Movie Trailer: