Sunday, September 30, 2012

Quick Reviews: Perks of Being a Wallflower & Won't Back Down

Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the better teen flicks of recent times.  While I wasn't familiar with male leads (Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller), they could match wits against the excellent Emma Watson in a movie about early '90s teenage angst.  Set in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, novelist/screenwriter/director Stephen Chbosky did a fine job with his first book/script/movie.

One highlight of the movie is that most of the characters are fairly well-developed.  Even without knowing everything about him, Sam (Watson) and Patrick (Miller) can tell our hero Charlie (Lerman) is another "misfit toy," just as they are.  All of the kids have had trouble in the past or in the present, and they're generally dealing with it.  But Charlie, especially, has difficulties. Chbosky shows how Charlie's past problems can't always be hidden, and emerge in some unexpected ways.

The movie makes good use of its Pittsburgh location, particularly with some memorable trips over the Fort Pitt bridge.  Any movie that can both cast Tom Savini and give Eide's a plug is good in my book!  I'd give it a 9 on the IMDB scale, and think it might be a movie like American Graffiti in the future - a movie with an awful lot of young talent in one place at one time.

Won't Back Down is less a movie about living, breathing characters (with one exception) and more a political polemic about bad schools and bad unions.  Viola Davis manages, as usual, to rise above surprisingly simplistic material and give a fine performance.  But most of the characters were reduced to giving talking points, and some usually good actors gave surprisingly bad performances as a result.

This movie also made pretty good use of its Pittsburgh location, particularly nice use of the the incline.  Points for the many sports-related T-shirts and the Giant Eagle bread.  And, it was fun to see many people I've gotten to know from extra work playing teachers. just wasn't a good movie, and I can't give it more than a 5 on the IMDB scale.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Trailer Season - Perks/Won't Back Down/Promised Land/Jack Reacher

Over the next three months, four major movies made in Pittsburgh within the last 18 months will be released:
The first three trailers feature some great photography of Pittsburgh.  Promised Land was filmed northeast of Pittsburgh in the Apollo area, so you're treated to many shots of the countryside and small towns.

Perks is basically a teen flick, about growing up in suburban Pittsburgh in the early '90s.  The highlight for me will be watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show re-enactment, with many characters in full costume.  The son of a longtime friend is one of the re-enactors.

Won't Back Down is about a pair of mothers (one, a teacher) taking on a failing school.  It was mostly filmed just up the hill from the old Civic Arena, which has since been torn down.

Jack Reacher - One Shot seems to be very dark and gritty.  It was filmed last fall and it was cold and rainy much of the time.  Many shots of the Strip District, some of the South Side and a few quick trips across the 10th Street Bridge.

Promised Land pretty much follows the flow of the movie, and features some lovely shots of Armstrong county from the air.