When you're in high school it feels like the whole world is against you. In writer/director Stephen Chbosky's high school-set The Perks of Being a Wallflower the whole world may actually be against Charlie (Logan Lerman) whose freshman year of high school should be listed in the dictionary under "Murphy's Law." Plagued by memories of two significant deaths as well as general social anxiety Charlie takes a passive approach to ninth grade. A few days of general bullying later he falls into a friendship with two misfit seniors Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson) who teach him how to live life without fear. Perks starts off with a disadvantage: introverts aren't terribly engaging but Chbosky surrounds Charlie with a vivid cast of characters who help him blossom and inject the coming-of-age tale with a necessary energy.
Set in a timeless version of the '90s Charlie's world is full of handwritten journals mixtapes and a just-tolerable amount of tweed. He writes letters to a nameless recipient as a way of venting a preventative measure to keep the teen from repeating a vague incident that previously left him hospitalized. The drab background of Pittsburgh fits perfectly with Charlie's blank existence. And when he finally comes to life as part of Patrick and Sam's off-beat clique so does the city. Like the archaic vinyl records Sam lusters over (The Smiths of course!) Chbosky visualizes Charlie's journey through the underbelly of suburban Pennsylvania with a raw emotion blooming lights and film grit at every turn. Michael Brook's score and an adeptly curated soundtrack accompanies the episodic affair which centers on Charlie's search for a song he hears during the most important moment of his life.
The charm that keeps The Perks of Being a Wallflower from collapsing under its own super seriousness come from Chbosky's perfectly cast ensemble. Lerman has a thankless job playing Charlie; often constrained to a half-smile and shy shrug Lerman is never allowed to grapple with Charlie's greatest fears and problems until (too) late in the film. Watson nails the spunky object-of-everyone's-affection but she's outshined by Mae Whitman as Mary Elizabeth another rebellious friend in the pack who takes a liking to Charlie. The real star turn is Miller riding high from We Need to Talk About Kevin and taking a complete 180 with Patrick a rambunctious wiseass who struggles to have an openly gay relationship with the football captain but covers his pain with humor. A scene of confrontation — at where else the cafeteria — is one of the best scenes of the year.
Chbosky adapted Perks of Being a Wallflower from his own book and the movie feels stifled by a looming structure. But it nails the emotional beats — there is no obvious path to surviving high school. It's messy shocking and occasionally beautiful. That about sums up Perks.
Bryan Adams has written songs for the film's soundtrack and they will be unveiled at the world's biggest comic book convention.
Michele will play Dorothy in the film, which also features Hugh Dancy, Sir Patrick Stewart, Martin Short and Adams.
Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Kelsey Grammer will voice the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz spin-off.
Claire Danes will be a first-time bride in less than three months — she's planning to marry fiance Hugh Dancy in France this September.
The couple attended a private dinner at New York's Montauk Yacht Club for a reading of author Jay McInerney's new book How It Ended — where they each took to the floor to read an excerpt.
But the 150 dinner guests, including celebrity photographer Patrick McMullan and designer Cynthia Rowley, were stunned when the pair used the opportunity to divulge details of their upcoming wedding, including plans to return to France for the nuptials — where Dancy proposed during a romantic holiday last December.
The Romeo + Juliet star, 30, has been dating 33-year-old Dancy since meeting him on the set of their 2007 movie Evening.
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As she lies on what is clearly going to be her deathbed ailing elderly Ann Grant (Vanessa Redgrave) is consumed by memories of a pivotal weekend during her youth. While visiting Newport for her best friend Lila's (Mamie Gummer) lavish wedding aspiring singer Ann (Claire Danes) is torn between the faithful affection of Lila's ne'er-do-well brother Buddy (Hugh Dancy) and the powerful magnetism of Lila and Buddy's childhood friend Harris (Patrick Wilson). Meanwhile in the present Ann's daughters--domestically inclined Connie (Natasha Richardson Redgrave's real-life daughter) and bohemian Nina (Toni Collette)--wrestle with their own issues and prepare to bid their mother goodbye. As past and present mingle secrets are revealed rifts are mended and Ann finally comes to terms with the painful memories she's been living with for 50 years. Evening boasts Hollywood's largest collection of powerhouse actresses since The Hours--which not coincidentally was adapted from a novel by Evening co-screenwriter Michael Cunningham. Stars Danes and Redgrave are both excellent conveying the passionate agony of youth and the melancholy nostalgia of age as effortlessly as you'd expect from A-listers like them. Richardson and Collette also do strong work as do Wilson and Dancy in the two key male roles (Dancy in particular is a stand out; his Buddy is tragically charming). But the film's most pleasant surprise may be Gummer (Meryl Streep's daughter) in her highest-profile role to date. With her mix of touching vulnerability and WASPy steeliness she proves that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree: When her famous mom puts in a third-act appearance it's her daughter's performance she has to live up to. But somehow despite the film's literary pedigree (Minot's novel won wide acclaim) and all of the cast's good work Evening doesn't pack the emotional punch it's clearly designed to evoke. Perhaps that's because Ann and Harris' romance is given such relatively meager screen time that it feels more like a hook up than the kind of grand passion you'd cherish for a lifetime. Or because it's hard not to think that the stars' main motivation might be to acquire some new statues for their mantlepieces (let's put it this way--when Glenn Close is playing a bit part you know you're in Oscar-hunting territory). It's great to see talented actresses getting such good roles but when a movie that's clearly meant to be a three-hanky mother-daughter weeper doesn't even inspire a full sniffle something's missing.