Saturday, October 20, 2012

Review: The First Time

I'm not going to lie: for the longest time, I was convinced this movie was some sort of collective hallucination by the fangirls on Tumblr, since the official trailer wasn't even released until several weeks ago, despite the massive amount of .gifs that exist for it. Luckily for myself and all of my fellow Dylan O'Brien fans, this is, in fact, a real movie, and it was released in theaters yesterday...if you live in New York City, Los Angeles, or Phoenix.

I'm not sure why Phoenix and not, say, Chicago, but I strongly suspect - though it isn't really confirmed - that the movie takes place in Phoenix? At least, one of the characters mentions Scottsdale Road, and not saying there couldn't be a Scottsdale Road in other cities, but when I hear Scottsdale, I think, you know, Scottsdale. Also, I used to work in Scottsdale, and the ridiculous houses that some of these characters live in leads me to believe that that's where it's set.

The story of The First Time is simple and well-known: two high school students, Dave (O'Brien) and Aubrey (Britt Robertson), meet at a party on Friday night and have an instant connection, as so often happens in movies of this genre. The obstacles to their budding romance include his massive crush on his friend Jane (Victoria Justice) and her older boyfriend, Ronny (James Frecheville). Not to mention that they have literally only known each other for a couple of days, since the film takes place between Friday night and Monday morning.

I have read a couple of reviews that compare this film to Say Anything or a John Hughes movie like Sixteen Candles, but given the subject matter I was reminded of The Sure Thing (also starring John Cusack, I think I'm beginning to see a pattern - but it's kind of hard not to, John Cusack was in a lot of these types of movies in the 80s). All of these films have one thing in common in that they're coming of age tales about the trials and tribulations of young love. (Also, they're all awesome.)

The film relies heavily on dialogue, which makes sense - the timeline only spans a matter of days and these are high school kids, not Jason Bourne, so a lot of the movie consists of heartfelt discussions about whether or not virginity is meant to be something preciously guarded and what the characters want to do after high school. I think a lot of people will relate to it, both teenagers who are living through those awkward years right now and us older folks who fondly remember what it was like. Not that I have many fond memories of high school, but you get the idea.

Anyway, I am a massive, massive fan of Dylan O'Brien to the point where it's kind of embarrassing, considering my age, but I tried not to let that bias my opinion of The First Time. To be honest, it probably did, but I like to think that I would have enjoyed it just as much with someone else in the main role. Regardless, I think he did a fabulous job and was definitely one of the, if not the, high points of the film. He really held his own, and I think he could be this generation's John Cusack (since we were just talking about him). Because really, he's perfect in these types of roles - he's adorable, he has great comedic timing, and he's attractive but not in an unapproachable or intimidating way. Dave Hodgman is, essentially, Lloyd Dobler or Lane Meyer or Walter Gibson or...some other John Cusack role from the 80s, he had a ton of them.

Dave's best friends Simon (Craig Roberts) and Big Corporation (Lamarcus Tinker) are hilarious. Simon, biting and British, blunders through the film acting like he knows everything about women when he really knows nothing, but Big Corporation reminded me strongly of Silent Bob. Anyone who has ever seen Chasing Amy will see the similarities, especially during Big Corporation's monologue in the diner near the end of the movie.

The other high point of the film, for me at least, was the soundtrack. I have been unable to find a soundtrack listing anywhere and am seriously considering seeing the movie again just to write down the songs as they scroll up the screen during the ending credits. Seriously. The only song I know is The Naked and Famous's "Girls Like You", and that's because it was in the trailer.

If you're able (like, if you live in one of the three cities in which this movie is actually showing) and you like sweet romantic comedies that are cute and endearing, you should see this movie. If you're a fan of Dylan O'Brien and his adorable spasticness, you should definitely see this movie. No, seriously, if you live anywhere near those three cities you should make plans to go see it. If you live near NYC I can tell you that it's playing at the AMC Empire on 42nd St and the Village 7 on 3rd Ave.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Jeff Davis Wants to Fly!

Last weekend at New York Comic Con, I was able to interview Jeff Davis, writer/creator for MTV's Teen Wolf! Check it out:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tyler Posey Is a Puppy

This past weekend at New York Comic Con, I was fortunate enough to interview Tyler Posey, aka Scott McCall on MTV's Teen Wolf. He is completely adorable -- the kind of adorable that makes me want to pinch his cheeks and bake him cookies.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Kia and DC Do The Improbable - Make Me Want to Buy a Car

Last night, at the Time Warner Center in New York City, Kia Motors of America and DC Entertainment unveiled what is quite possibly the coolest car on the face of the planet, a Batman-inspired Optima designed by legendary DC Comics artist Jim Lee.

You can't see this in the picture, but the headlights are actually the Bat Signal.

This car is the first of eight superhero-themed Kias to be released over the next ten months, each one representing a different core member of the Justice League -- Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg (and one which I'm guessing features all of them). The release of each vehicle will coincide with five major events across the United States -- the first being New York Comic-Con (which starts today), SEMA in Las Vegas, North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Wonder-Con, and of course, San Diego Comic-Con.

The joint venture between Kia and DC will benefit the We Can Be Heroes campaign, which was launched in January and is dedicated to helping fight hunger in Somalia and other countries in the Horn of Africa. In order to raise both awareness and funds, each car is graced with a custom, specially-designed Jim Lee piece of art to be auctioned off at the conclusion of the program. All net proceeds will be donated to the We Can Be Heroes campaign.

"I've got to give it up to the guys at Kia," Lee said at the unveiling. "They really encouraged me to think outside the box." He was, however, determined to avoid any Knight Rider flashbacks.

Each of the eight vehicles is fully-drivable (and I would assume street legal) and will help raise awareness for the We Can Be Heroes campaign by displaying customized license plates, signage, collateral materials and in-vehicle video displays. At the unveiling, Amit Desai, DC Entertainment's Senior Vice President of Franchise Management, said that they chose the Justice League for a number of reasons: "They embody the idea of strength in numbers. They're a great example of banding together to fight for the greater good. And they're characters that everyone in this room and across the nation can relate to on some level. Let's face it: we've got a little bit of superhero in each and every one of us."

I live in New York City, so I don't particularly need or want a car, but if I had the funds, I would kill to drive around in a car with Batman all over it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: Fast Girls

Some of you may have read this entry, where I lament that one of the problems with liking a lot of British actors is that they do British movies, which tend to not play in the United States because of reasons.

Imagine my extreme excitement when I was online yesterday and discovered that Fast Girls, the very reason for the aforementioned post, is available on Netflix Watch Instantly (also on iTunes) for those of us in the States, a week before the DVD comes out in the UK.

It makes absolutely no sense to me, but I'm not about to complain.

Last night, after giggling for about five minutes at the prospect of finally getting to see this movie (which did, consequently, play in the Hicksville, NY, for exactly one week, so I was sadly unable to schlep out there to see it -- stupid job), I actually watched this movie. I will do my best to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but be warned, I may not succeed. 

In retrospect, this may be less a review and more of a general summary with some thoughts attached, but bear with me, I'm kind of new at this reviewing lark.

I found this movie to be, as I predicted in my earlier post, ridiculously awesome. I really enjoyed Bend It Like Beckham, and this film had much the same flair and energy -- a girl power movie that was mostly about girls being awesome and becoming friends, with, oh yeah, that pesky romance thing. It was fun and uplifting, and it made me want to take up running, except I can't run.

The movie is centered around Shania Andrews (Lenora Crichlow) and her struggle to make the UK national women's track team, a struggle made difficult both by her humble upbringing (she lacks for proper equipment and training grounds, and her coach is a shopkeeper) and the jealousy of her main rival, golden girl Lisa Temple (Lily James).

Side note: the Netflix description of the movie claims that Lisa and Shania have been competitors since childhood, but I saw no evidence of this. It would explain things a little better, but as it stands, Lisa apparently dislikes Shania because she beats her in the qualifying race at the beginning of the movie, which doesn't really matter because Lisa already has a spot on the team thanks to nepotism -- her father (Rupert Graves) basically runs it. On the one hand, this seems to make the character of Lisa seem extremely shallow and petty. On the other hand, I have both witnessed and experienced the kind of envy that comes from devoting your whole life to one particular pursuit to the point where it basically defines your identity, and then someone comes along seemingly out of nowhere and is better at it than you. It sucks, and it makes you want to hit things. Or people.

Throughout most of the film, Shania and Lisa cannot stand each other, and it leads to many problems when Tommy (Noel Clarke, who also wrote the screenplay) asks Shania to be a member of the 4x200m relay team. Lisa -- the anchor position -- does not agree with this at all, which is fine with Shania, because she doesn't do well with teams. She does join the team, it's kind of the point of the movie, and chaos ensues. There are moments, such as when a few of the members go out for drinks, where you can see that things might not be as bad as they seem. But whenever the team is competing -- be it at an exhibition meet in Barcelona or at the World Championships in the film's climax -- all hell breaks loose. Things of course work out nicely by the end, but I did feel that the conflict between Shania and Lisa was resolved too quickly.

The film also gave some focus to the different familial relationships, which I felt weren't developed well enough to deserve their own sideplot but nevertheless served what I believe to be their intended purpose -- to show the difference between Lisa and Shania. Lisa, daughter of a gold medalist, grew up in wealth and privilege. As I said before, she didn't need the qualifying race because she already had a spot on the team, and we can tell that she's been raised and groomed to be a track star like her father. Shania, conversely, sleeps on her aunt's couch but eventually ends up staying with her coach after her aunt kicks her out because of her sister's bad girl ways. Still, we shouldn't judge by appearances -- Lisa feels trapped by her father's win-or-else approach, while Shania's coach, Brian (Philip Davis), genuinely encourages her to do her best. The contrast helps us see that Lisa and Shania really aren't that different -- Lisa ignores her mother's quiet encouragement to concentrate on her father's all-or-nothing disapproval, and Shania can't hear her coach over her family's dismissive attitude.

And we mustn't forget the love, because what's a girl power movie without a love interest? (Answer: Brave.) Despite rules against fraternization between athletes and staff, Shania develops feelings for the team physio, Carl (Bradley James). Yet it turns out that Lisa is her rival here, as well. Bradley did well for his first film role, but like most of the sideplots, there could have been more development. Carl and Shania do have their moments, and I actually kind of appreciated that the romance was almost an afterthought -- yes, it's there and oh my god boys, but this isn't what distracts Shania, and the overall feel of the whole situation was more, "well, this would be nice, but really I just want to kick ass at the championships". It's a nice change from all of those movies which hide the idea that a woman is never truly complete without a man behind empowerment.

Overall, as I said, it was great fun. Enough comedy to balance out the angst, and even though no one is ever in real peril, I was on the edge of my seat for the final race. I like sports movies, and there aren't enough of them that are about female athletes. As much as I love Bull Durham and Miracle, I'd love it if there were more like A League of Their Own and Bend It Like Beckham. Is this one of the greatest films of all time? No. But I can almost guarantee that you'll enjoy damn near every second of it.