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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Owen Campbell

Blame (2018)

High school will never change.

Abigail (Quinn Shephard) returns to high school after a nervous breakdown and hopes to get everything back to normal. Of course, with this being high school, no one ever forgets about her and her crazy tactics, which is why, on the very first day, rumors are already swirling about her. One of the leaders in bringing up the rumors is Melissa (Nadia Alexander), a type of mean-girl who has some issues of her own, but uses her anger and rage to hide it all. But both of their lives change when a substitute teacher (Chris Messina) fills in for the semester and wakes both of them up. Abigail is awoken because she sees something of a tortured soul within him, whereas Melissa doesn’t like the attention that Abigail is getting and decides that it’s up to her to take matters into her own hands.

Damn cheerleaders and their cliques!

Blame, for all of its missteps and flaws, is still an impressive work because of its 22-year-old director/co-writer/editor/producer/star Quinn Shephard, who takes something that could have easily been a dumb, conventional after-school special, and turn into something raw, gritty, mean, and a little sad. It still feels like the work of someone incredibly young, who is just starting out and getting used to the game of making movies, but for the most part, it’s a solid debut and is a sure sign of things to come.

That said, the movie’s got some problems, and it mostly comes through in its plot. Mostly, Shephard likes to have a little bit too much going on; there’s Abigail’s story, there’s Melissa’s story, there’s the subsitiute teacher’s story, there’s a few other girls stories, there’s the Crucible, and oh yeah, there’s the various romantic subplots that come up every once and awhile. While all are interesting in their own rights, mashed-up in a 100 minute movie, it just doesn’t totally work, with some parts feeling much better than others.

Move on, girls. It gets better.

That said, there’s a realism to this that I appreciated, mostly because Shephard seems to know and understand how rough and grueling high school can be, especially when you’re a little different. Some of it may have to do with the fact that she’s young enough to remember high school like it was literally yesterday, but there’s no nostalgia or sunshine here – it’s just mean teenagers, treating each and everyone of each other awfully. Shephard doesn’t shy away from this, nor does she ever seem to be trying to get across some tacky message about bullying and why it’s all wrong.

Basically, she’s just showing us that high school is a pretty rough time and for some, she’s not wrong.

What helps this all out, too, is that the ensemble is all pretty good. Shephard herself is an interesting and compelling presence on the screen, who can get away with a lot, without saying much of anything at all; Alexander is rough, raw, and a little unlikable, until you realize that there’s possibly more behind her evil and possibly cruel intentions; and Messina, while playing a bit of a loser-like character, gains sympathy by showing us that he’s just as sad, confused, and depressed as the students he’s teaching and doing his best to put up with. The whole love-angle feels like it could have been more fully fleshed-out, but believe it or not, Shephard and Messina have a nice chemistry to where you see the attraction and possibly, love, but you also don’t want to buy into it, either.

So conflicting. Yet, so beautiful. High school, in a nut shell.

Consensus: As a debut, Blame serves as a promising, if also messy high-school drama that digs in deep and doesn’t shy away from the rougher aspects of adolescence.

6 / 10

Yes! But also, no! I don’t know! Ugh!

Photos Courtesy of: Samuel Goldwyn Films

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Oh, high-school. Those were the freakin’ piss-poor days of teenage angst.

This adaptation stars Logan Lerman as Charlie, an introverted and unpopular teenager who has to come to terms with the suicide of his best friend, falls in with a crowd of outsiders (Ezra Miller and Emma Watson), and is now falling in love for the first time. You know, the usual kids stuff.

High-school. Everybody knows what it’s all about and everybody has memories of it, whether they be good ones or bad ones. For me, being fresh out of high-school, I feel the same exact way where there were days that I loved, and others I just wanted to be over with and move on. High-school is not the only thing you can relate that to, but it’s definitely one of the first times in life where we actually start to feel this, understand this, and eventually, use this tool in our lives to move on and be bigger, possibly more mature adults. Thankfully, this movie made me never, ever want to grow-up.

The trailers, advertisements, and even poster for this film have made it out to be one of your ordinary, run-of-the-mill teenage dramas where we look at how kids eventually grow-up and live their lives. Yawn! Seen it all before and that’s why this film didn’t really intrigue me at first, no matter how much hype was surrounding the book. The one element to this film that did intrigue me a bit was how the actual writer of that book, Stephen Chbosky, not only wrote the screenplay for this adaptation, but also directed it as well. This is a very rare occurrence to hear about in Hollywood since those high-class executives don’t really feel comfortable giving off a big-budget flick to a director they have never worked with before, nor a director that has ever directed anything else before this. However, I don’t think anybody else could have ever directed this. I seriously don’t.

The reason I say this is because Chbosky not only knows everything about this story that he created, but he also feels everything that these characters feel. Every scene here has been done in plenty of other high-school movies before. For instance, the first couple days of high-school where a kid sits all by himself at lunch and can’t connect with anyone; meeting your first friend; going to your first party; getting high for the first time; getting drunk for the first time; and even falling in love for the first-time. All of this, and plenty more conventions of the high-school drama that we usually see, are shown here, but they feel different this time, and by different I mean in a very understandable and powerful way.

Chbosky feels what these characters feel when they get hurt, they get happy, and when they get confused, and every single scene he shows this, never feels tacked-on, manipulative, or cheesy. It all feels real and done with pure and rich emotion to the point of where you can actually relate to these characters a lot on so many topics that get very, very dark at times. But when it does get dark at times, it never loses you because you feel invested in these characters and all of their surroundings and you almost feel like you’re a part of the Wallflowers, more than Charlie is. It can get depressing, but not in a bad way because when it does have fun with itself, it really does have fun and it’s almost like you’re taking a road down memory lane and remembering all of the fun and dumb stuff you did back when you were in high-school. I remember all of the stuff that I did, and I thank this film for letting me actually smile about it all again.

The whole 90’s setting is done well because it uses all of the popular and hip music of that time, but still never exactly tells us when the story takes place giving it that idea that no matter what generation you’re from, or where you grew-up in, teenage angst has always been around and been the same case for all of the people that have had to go through it. That’s one of the main points of the story, but it’s not the only one. The film mainly touches on the feeling of being accepted and actually feeling like you belong somewhere. In this world, sometimes, you can get very, very lonely and almost feel as if you don’t really have much to go about in life anymore and are just going to be stuck in this on-going world of sameness and monotony. To be honest, I feel like that a lot at times and it hits me hard but even in my deepest and darkest times, I still feel accepted by the people around and me and have this idea that I do matter in the world. This film really does hammer that idea down to it’s core and in all honesty, had me in tears by the end of it all once I realized that this wasn’t just one kids story that not a single person could relate to, this is everyone’s story and it’s one story that I think will be beneficial for all of those younglings out there in the world who need to feel accepted and that they do matter in life.

Now that I’ve gone on a huge rant about high-school and the feelings it makes you feel, let me go back to the movie and tell you exactly why this story is as emotionally-involving as any other one I have seen this year: the cast. When I first saw that Logan Lerman was going to be the lead in this, my expectations pretty much plummeted since the kid seems to annoy me in almost everything he does and playing an awkward teen wasn’t going to do much for me, either. However, I stand corrected and say that it’s one of the finest, young performances I have seen this year and in quite some time. The reason I state this is because Lerman has a lot to do. The kid has to be a bit awkward, a bit nerdy, a bit weird, a bit horny, a bit angsty, and above all, a bit of a likable character. Thankfully, the kid nails every single one of those emotions and makes this Charlie character, such a lovely person to stand behind and feel for, especially when we get behind his back-story. Charlie is a nerd, but he’s a lovable nerd that has this type of innocence to him that is easy to root for and only hope for the best, and the trip he takes us through his freshman year of high-school is one of the best class-trips I have ever taken, and that’s all because of Lerman. He’s come a long, long way since being dumb-ass Percy Jackson.

The other one in that cast that everybody has been wondering about was Emma Watson and whether or not she was going to be able to get rid of the whole Hermione Granger act that she has come to be worldly-known for by now. Thankfully, just like Lerman, she does a great job with this character and makes us realize just why there is so much to love about her in the first-place. My only complaint with this film would probably have to be her and that American-accent that seems to come-in and out sometimes, but she’s so damn charming here that it’s very easy to get by and just love her character as much as our little friend Charlie does. I look forward to seeing more from this gal in the future and hopefully seeing her go-on and do bigger stuff than Rupert Grint or Daniel Radcliffe may do. Sorry guys, you just don’t got it like Emma.

And last, but certainly not least, Ezra Miller plays the crazy, fun, and gay kid that Charlie first befriends, Patrick. After seeing Miller play a pretty effed-up kid in We Need to Talk About Kevin, I was so happy to see him absolutely steal each and every single scene he was in because of that delivery he has. I don’t know what it is about his delivery or what, but whenever he’s given a line that’s either funny or sarcastic, he just owns it and totally comes off as the funniest guy in the room. But it’s not all fun and games with his character, he’s actually got a very dark-element to him that really makes you feel for him and understand just why he feels the way he does in life, despite being a gay young teen. Miller finally shows us the emotional side to his acting ability that we’ve all been waiting to see for so long and makes me feel like this kid is going to be a huge break-out star after this and probably the most successful out of three young stars in this movie. Sorry Logan and Emma, you two are great, but Ezra kicks ass.

Since this is mainly a movie about kids and everything they go through, it seems a bit unneeded for adult characters but each one does a great job with the limited material they’re given. Some stars show-up for only a minute, while others show-up for 6 minutes, but regardless of how much they actually show-up, they all do what they’re needed and that’s to give good performances. Much of this love goes out to Paul Rudd as Bill, Charlie’s ridiculously cool English teacher that made me really jealous that I never had him in my high-school life. And I mean Paul Rudd, not the actual cool teacher himself. God, that would be so damn cool.

Consensus: In case you haven’t been able to tell from my highly-detailed review, I loved almost everything about The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s emotionally heartfelt, poignant, entertaining, funny, dark, insightful, sad, well-acted, great to listen to, and always had me watching and loving these characters for what they were, and not for what they needed to be. Definitely see it, especially if you’re just another little guy starting out in high-school. This one here, may change your life.

9/10=Full Price!!