The Perks of Being a Wallflower (USA, 2012)
Directed by Stephen Chbosky
Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Mae Whitman
IMDb Top 250: #250 (11/8/13)
In my review of Westworld two years ago, I spoke about the perils of novelists turning their hand to filmmaking. I argued that since "novelists are so attentive to verbal content... they neglect the visual characteristics of great cinema." Cinema is both a visual and a narrative medium, and the best offerings in any given genre are a delicate balance of the two.
Beverly Hills Cop about how Hollywood is increasingly stuck in the 1980s, in terms of their filmmaking approaches and the kinds of stories they choose to tell. For all the bile and vitriol directed at Michael Bay (nearly all of which he deserves), we are still essentially living in the aftermath of Simpson and Bruckheimer. Current executives who grew up with The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles want to relive those supposedly halcyon days, and it's only a matter of time before the remake engine turns in their direction.
Heathers both work because they have a clear idea about their relationship to Hughes' conventions: one applauds and embraces them, the other rips them to shreds. Perks can't entirely decide which side it's on, alternating between earnest and arch in a way that can often be distracting.
Heathers Winona Ryder's outsider status was clearly defined, and her loneliness became a springboard to explore deeper ideas of temptation, lust and independence that ultimately shaped her identity. Even though Heathers is intentionally heightened and exaggerated, being an extremely dark comedy, its characters often feel more rounded and believable than the characters in Perks.
Come On Eileen' by Dexy's Midnight Runners, the discussions about 'Asleep' by The Smiths, and the now-famous tunnel sequence involving 'Heroes' by David Bowie. In each case the music is so much of its period that the choice seems smugly obvious, but on a purely emotional level, it works.
Animal House levels of depravity to deal with, or any real consequences of the drugs that are occasionally ingested. This is all fine, but it has the effect of making the final revelations surrounding Charlie feel completely out of place and tacked on. These later scenes about mental illness and child abuse require a very steady hand, and Chbosky doesn't entirely earn the right to cover them in this way.
The Rocky Horror Show, which is played for the same campy laughs as the play and film that spawned them.
We Need To Talk About Kevin, but he's still a compelling screen presence and he brings a lot of sly confidence to Patrick.
The Madness of King George; he brings a lot of crisp colours to the proceedings, and the snowy scenes are particularly well done. Chbosky's compositions and shot choices aren't particularly ground-breaking, but his editing is slick and polished. For all the debates the musical choices may produce, the film does utilise its score very well in moving the action forward, and the film as a whole is very efficient.
NEXT REVIEW: Tarzan (1999)