This page contains reviews of films seen during the months of July to September 2013


“Amour”- This wonderfully acted French film raises questions about the purpose of motion pictures that occur to me whenever I see a monstrously depressing human event portrayed on film. Directed by Michael Haneke, a German director known recently for “The Piano Teacher,” “Caché,” and “The White Ribbon,” disturbing movies all, “Amour” is the story of the descent of an octogenarian couple, Georges and Anne, portrayed brilliantly by Jean-Louis Trintignant (the star in his youth of such great films as “A Man and a Woman” and “Z,” among many others) and Emmanuelle Riva (the star in her youth of the great New Wave film “Hiroshima Mon Amour”). The film opens with the ending and then takes us back to the beginning. Anne, a former music teacher, suffers a paralyzing stroke and then another and descends into physical and mental helplessness. Georges resolves to care for her despite his age. They receive visits from their daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert), who lives in London, but Georges resists her efforts to help. “Amour” painfully portrays Georges’ own descent as he struggles to care for Anne and deal with his own personal demons. At the end, Haneke’s portrayal of Georges’ activities becomes sufficiently slow and detailed to make it as agonizing as possible (a prime example being the scene in which Georges, near the end, cuts flowers at the sink). This is a great art film. It is not, however, what one would call “entertaining,” in the usual meaning of that term. In French with English subtitles. A- (9/11/13)


“Now You See Me”- I love magic and was intrigued to see just what was at the heart of the magic act portrayed in this film’s trailer. Four magicians make it appear that while performing in Las Vegas, they have teleported someone to the inside of a bank vault in Paris, robbed the bank, teleported the man and the funds back to Las Vegas, and distributed the money to their audience. Ultimately, there is an explanation of sorts, weak as it is, but the group continues to engage in similar Robin Hood-like magic extravaganzas that would be so expensive as to be almost impossible to pull off. And what’s at the heart of this act? The four magicians are brought together at the beginning of the film by a mysterious person in a hoodie but no immediate explanation is given. We’ll have to wait until the end. As these magic acts of theft go on, the magicians continually outsmart the FBI until at long last something of an explanation is provided at the end. Who was in the hoodie? Well, they had to pick someone, but it seemed to me it could have been anyone. The film stars Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco as the four magicians; Mark Ruffalo as the lead FBI agent on their trail, who is somewhat mysteriously aided by an Interpol agent, Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent). Then there is the wealthy Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) who appears to support the magicians but ultimately becomes their victim, and Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), who claims to understand exactly how the magicians are pulling off their acts and seems always one step ahead of the FBI. The film’s special effects are mildly amusing. Simply by dint of its extravagance, the magic is too much to believe. The end is lame. Ultimately, "Now You See Me" is a disappointment. C (9/ 5/13)


“The Company You Keep”-Robert Redford directs and stars in this film that is a reminder of the days of the radical anti-war SDS Weathermen of the early 1970s. When Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) is arrested by the FBI for a bank robbery murder that was committed by the Weathermen 30 years earlier, a young reporter trying to prove his worth in Albany, NY, Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf), begins an intense investigation. The first person he focuses on is Jim Grant (Redford), a local attorney who has turned down the opportunity to represent Solarz. Shepard wonders why and it doesn’t take him long to figure out that Grant is really Nick Sloan, another of the Weathermen being sought by the FBI in the same crime. Realizing that he has been exposed, Grant/Sloan gets his young daughter (played with pizzazz by singer Jackie Evancho) to safety with his brother (Chris Cooper) in New York City and then takes off. While the FBI thinks that Sloan is on the run, Shepard has other ideas, believing Sloan is actually trying to prove his innocence. “The Company You Keep” might be called a thriller, but is really a puzzler. What is Sloan up to, which of the characters are involved in the ancient crime, what are their secrets, and how in the world is Shepard so able to track down the truth? And it’s a very effective puzzler because it has a wonderful cast, is well-paced, and brings up issues about the struggles against an overbearing government that are still relevant today. But the film also has plenty of weaknesses; thankfully not enough to ruin it. Redford, in his late 70s, is a very unlikely early 1970s radical and father of an 11-year old. Sarandon, in her mid 60s, is an unlikely mother of two high school kids. LaBeouf does a fine job (one of his best) as the intrepid reporter/investigator even if his ability to track things down borders on possession of superpowers. The film appears to take place in the present but keeps referring to a 30-year old crime. The Vietnam War ended in 1974 and a 30-year old crime would place the film in the early 2000s. One glaring error occurred in an early scene in which Sarandon’s character drives into what is supposed to be an upstate New York gas station and the sign reads “Esso.” The fact is that Standard Oil and its gas stations in the US have been called “Exxon” since 1973. So it wasn’t surprising to learn that the film was made in British Columbia, Canada. The ending is also a weak point. Far too facile. That said, the film overall is a great deal of fun to watch. Excellent actors, good plot, and none of the silliness (violence, car chases, special effects) of so many political thrillers today. The first-rate cast includes Stanley Tucci, Terrence Howard, Julie Christie (looking fabulous in her early 70s), Nick Nolte, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, and Sam Elliott. Forget the weaknesses. Enjoy the strengths. B+ (8/24/13)


“Intouchables”-The story, based on true events, seems like a downer. A wealthy quadriplegic, injured in a paragliding accident, hires a seemingly wild ex-con as his assistant. But this film is just the opposite. An upper, it made me smile from beginning to end. “Intouchables” tells the tale of Phillippe (Francois Cluzet), a man confined permanently to a wheelchair who does an unusual thing. Instead of hiring one of the bland overly empathetic or self-oriented white men who apply for the job as his assistant, he chooses Driss (Omar Sy), an outwardly unsympathetic ex-con who seems interested only in getting a signature so that he can obtain his “benefits.” What proceeds is a delightful and unexpected interaction between two human beings whose backgrounds, lives and experiences are almost complete opposites. Cluzet and Sy are outstanding. In fact, Omar Sy brings a level of charisma to the screen that is something to be seen. He glows in the part of a man with seemingly no bounds who gradually begins to learn about his own humanity. Notable in the cast is Audrey Fleurot (the TV series “Spiral”) who plays Magalie, Phillippe’s very attractive red-headed assistant, with a surprise for the flirtatious Driss. This is a wonderful film. Highly recommended. In French with English subtitles. A (8/21/13)


“Little White Lies”-In 2009 Guillaume Canet made the delightful and exciting thriller, “Tell No One.” And so when I saw that he had made this film with an outstanding French cast, I expected no less than another first-rate endeavor. “Little White Lies” is a good film for about the first 90 minutes and then, unfortunately, for about the next hour becomes seriously repetitive and annoying. It concerns a group of friends who decide to go on a scheduled vacation at the beach resort home near Bordeaux of the eldest of the group, Max (Francois Cluzet), despite the fact that another member of the group, Ludo (Jean Dujardin) is lying in a hospital having just been very seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident. The group agonizes over whether they should go on the vacation, but convince themselves that they should. Meanwhile, another member of the group, Vincent (Benoit Magimel), married with a child, shocks and outrages Max by telling him of his love for him. When they arrive at Max’s resort home, it becomes painfully obvious that virtually every member of the group of friends is suffering in one way or another. For example, Marie (Marion Cotillard), is confused terribly about her love life. Eric (Gilles Lellouche) gets bad news when his girlfriend arrives at the airport. And another is extremely anxious about the texts he receives from his longtime girlfriend. So, what do we have? A group of self-centered and beautiful people who are absolutely miserable. Max is angry and distracted by Vincent’s revelations and takes it out on just about everyone. The others suffer, sometimes in silence and sometimes not and they all lie and dissemble. And all the time while the group says they care much about Ludo’s situation, one begins to wonder. Guillaume Canet, who also wrote the script, has pretty well made his point by the 90-minute mark. As the film continued, I kept seeing scenes that I thought would make appropriate endings, but the cloying theme goes on and on. When we finally reach the end and one of Max’s friends, Jean-Louis, exposes the members of the group for what they are, it’s clear that at the very least, a half hour could have been cut without any effect on the overall story and theme. In French with English subtitles. B- (8/18/13)


“Hitchcock”-It was 1959. Having just completed the very successful “North by Northwest,” Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) was wondering where his next film would come from. In this surprisingly effective biopic, Anthony Hopkins, who has a tendency to play himself in many roles, does a masterful job of transforming himself into the corpulent director of great thrillers in his appearance and especially his unique voice and accent. While having some marital strife after 33 years of marriage to Alma Reville (Helen Mirren, outstanding as usual), who was his very close collaborator as well as his wife, Hitchcock discovers the novel “Psycho” by Robert Bloch and orders his assistant, Peggy Robertson (Toni Collette), to buy up every copy so that no one will know the ending before they see his film. The remainder of this movie involves Hitchcock’s difficulties with Paramount and the Hollywood movie censors in making “Psycho,” one of the classic films of all-time, and even more so the distractions that occur when he becomes concerned over Alma’s interest in and work with screenwriter Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston) (who had been involved in the screenplays for at least two earlier Hitchcock films, including “Strangers on a Train”). I personally would have preferred more about the making of “Psycho,” than about Hitchcock’s marital problems. The film unnecessarily distracts from its good story about Hitchcock’s filmmaking with scenes about notorious serial killer Ed Gein (Michael Wincott) who was said to be the inspiration for Norman Bates. The filmmakers seem to have gone out their way to find actors resembling the originals, including James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins, and Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, but they mismatched Jessica Biel as Vera Miles. Biel bears almost no resemblance to the patrician Grace Kelly-like Miles. One last note: one would never know from this film that the Hitchcocks had a grown daughter, Patricia, who appeared in the early scenes of “Psycho.” Despite its flaws, “Hitchcock” is recommended, especially to those who love the history of the cinema and unique auteurs like Alfred Hitchcock. B+ (8/17/13)


“Killing Them Softly”-Against the unlikely sounds of news and speeches about the 2008 election and the economy coming from their car radios, Frankie (Scott McNairy in a first-rate performance), a small-time hood/junky, is talked into the idiotic job of holding up a high stakes illegal card game with the help of Russell, an even more washed-out small-time hood/junky (Ben Mendelsohn). The conspirators seem to realize that there is a significant danger of being killed if discovered, but when Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola), the “brains” behind the plan, tells them a tale about how the game’s organizer, Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta), had admitted to a previous holdup of the game, they decide to proceed. And not long after the holdup, Jackie (Brad Pitt), a smooth hitman, is brought in and finds it rather easy to discover the guilty. What follows is, for a time, a rather philosophical tale about the hiring of Jackie by the gangsters’ attorney, Driver (Richard Jenkins), and the current incompetence of another hired killer, Mickey (the late James Gandolfini), brought in because one of the targets knows Jackie. Jackie and the attorney spar over details and expenses, while Jackie and Mickey spar over Mickey’s current obsessions and alcoholism (Gandolfini, in one of his last performances, is memorable). Does this cerebral tale turn into a typically violent one? Of course, although might be some debate over whether the killings are properly classified as “soft.” But it’s clear that the filmmakers, overdoing the presentation of the real-life political speeches, were attempting a political and economic commentary of sorts. At the end, Jackie’s in a bar discussing with Driver his fees while Barack Obama is seen on TV and heard in the background discussing the economy. In frustration over differences about those fees, Jackie provides some harsh commentary, saying to Driver “This isn’t a country; it’s a business. So pay me....” B (8/15/13)


“Dead Man Down”-It must be tough being a screenwriter for thriller films of this ilk: how to avoid the cliches that make easily forgettable films like this one dull and similar to so many others! Well, as can be seen in a few limited portions of “Dead Man Down,” it’s possible but obviously not easy. Here, Colin Farrell is Viktor, a hired thug in a gang run by Alphonse (Terrence Howard). But Viktor is really a man intent on revenge for the deaths of his wife and daughter and in the process is attempting to manipulate the minds of the guilty parties. At the same time, though, Viktor meets Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), a young neighbor with a scarred face, who lives with her mother (Isabelle Huppert) and desires revenge against the driver who caused the accident that led to her disfigurement. Beatrice, who has a video of Viktor killing a man in his apartment, demands that he kill the driver. What ensues are Viktor’s efforts at revenge and his attempt to deal with Beatrice’s demands, especially as he slowly finds himself attracted to the disfigured young woman. In so many ways, “Dead Man Down” is just more of the same. Lots of gunfire and deaths with a standard ending: a gigantic shoot-out. A great deal of the movie is filmed in dark, ominous situations (I always prefer films, even dark thrillers, that let us see the light of day). The screenwriters’ dilemma is to avoid the obvious, but they can’t. For example, in one scene Viktor has a package vital to his revenge plan that needs to be mailed. Logically, considering his carefully planned out revenge, this is the kind of thing he would do himself, but instead he gives the package to Beatrice and asks her to mail it. Is he asking for trouble? Of course, because in situations like this you know, having seen so many films of this type before, that things will go wrong. Colin Farrell is well cast as Viktor. The rest of the casting is somewhat of a mystery. I like Noomi Rapace, but I got the feeling she was put into the role of Beatrice just to take advantage of her fame as Lisbeth Salender in the Swedish “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series. Terrence Howard, a little too low-key, was also a puzzling choice for the ganglord Alphonse. But most puzzling of all is the appearance of Isabelle Huppert, the great French actress, in the somewhat lame role of Beatrice’s mother whose primary job in the film appears to be, with a thick French accent, to encourage a romance between Beatrice and Viktor. C (8/13/13)


“Oblivion”-This title might be a better description of what recent sci-fi movies are doing to the genre. Tom Cruise appears as Jack, who is living with a female helper, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), on a station above Earth. The apocalypse has happened. Earth is a disaster and humans have moved to Saturn’s moon, Titan. Jack’s job, serving as something of a security guard, involves taking his ship down to Earth to tend to the drones that watch over the planet and to do whatever is necessary to protect Earth’s remaining resources. But eventually Jack discovers a group of humans who have survived the crash of a spaceflight that left prior to the apocalypse and he manages to keep the drones from killing one, a lovely and mysterious woman named Julia (Olga Kurylenko) whose face had been appearing in Jack’s dreams. At about the same time, Jack meets a group of humans living underground and led by Beech (Morgan Freeman) who let him in on a little secret about the truth of what has happened to Earth. The problem with “Oblivion,” is that like so many recent sci-fi films the rest of the script follows a pattern of cliches. A lot goes on as we learn the truth about Earth and its remaining humans, but frankly, my dear, it was a bore. Cruise provides his usual Tom Cruise performance, as does Morgan Freeman, ever the all-knowing elder. Andrea Riseborough is lovely but somewhat static as Jack’s secretary/helper. Olga Kurylenko looks like, well, Olga Kurylenko. And Melissa Leo, a very talented actress, is somewhat wasted as Victoria’s apparent link to the rest of humanity. C (8/6/13)


“Europa Report”-This documentary-like sci-fi film is said to be based on good science after consultation with NASA. The problem is not the film’s style or science (although questions could certainly be raised about some of the issues), however, but rather that it’s just one more of the same ilk of films about humans traveling to alien planets for exploration. “Europa Report” concerns a group of astronauts making the unlikely, ultra-expensive, extremely dangerous, and very time-consuming journey to Jupiter’s moon, Europa, because of the vague possibility that life exists in its ice-covered oceans. “Europa Report” contains a few obvious allusions to the great Stanley Kubrick film, “2001, A Space Odyssey,” including a brief presentation of “The Blue Danube” as the crew heads into space, and images of the astronauts in their travels engaging in their routines, until audio/visual communications are mysteriously cut off. But when the earthbound spokesman for this journey, Dr. Unger (Embeth Davidtz), begins to tell the rest of the story, it’s easy to determine that communications somehow were restored. What happens to the astronauts once they land on Europa is very similar to that which happens to other astronauts in other movies of this genre (“Prometheus” being a recent good example). The result is that “Europa Report” must earn a gigantic yawn. Without going into detail, I will admit that what happens on Europa is a little more mysterious and the causes not completely clear as in most similar cinematic visits to alien planets. But that doesn’t make it better. Sharlto Copley (“District 9”) appears as James Corrigan, one member of the crew who doesn’t quite make it to Europa. The other significant member of the cast is Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist, who played Mikael Blomkvist in Sweden’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series. Nyqvist here plays the somewhat stern and expressionless engineer Andrei Blok who is forced, first, to try to save Corrigan, and then the entire expedition. C+ (8/5/13)


“Promised Land”-Matt Damon and John Krasinski wrote the screenplay for this tale about the ethics and efforts of a natural gas company to obtain control of a lovely farm community for purposes of fracking (hydraulic fracturing). In addition, not surprisingly, Damon and Krasinski star in this film directed by Gus Van Sant (“Milk”). Damon is Steve Butler, an employee of Global, the company trying to obtain the town’s gas rights through whatever means. The cast is good, including Frances McDormand as Butler’s assistant, Sue Thomason; Rosemarie DeWitt as Alice, something of a romantic interest; and Hal Holbrook as a science teacher who tries to awaken the townspeople to the reality of the dangers of fracking. Unfortunately, McDormand, a wonderful actress, doesn’t have enough bite in her part to make her appearance worthwhile. She portrays a woman who thinks of her job as simply a job, refusing to consider the moral and scientific issues of her efforts.. John Krasinski appears as an environmentalist also raising serious questions about fracking. This film is loaded with potentially serious ethical dilemmas, including corporate greed, but sadly the script drags. There just isn’t enough drama to give the story any ummph. And a twist at the end seems appropriately cynical but unlikely. C+ (7/30/13)


“42”- I first saw Jackie Robinson play for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952, five years after he became the first African-American to play for a major league team in the 20th Century. “42” is the story of how Dodger GM Branch Rickey decided it was time for a black athlete to play major league baseball and set out to find a player who would be able to stand up to the incredible rigors and abuse of such an undertaking. Harrison Ford is outstanding as the raspy-voiced Rickey, who made history by finding Jackie Robinson, then playing for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues. Also, Chadwick Boseman is excellent as Jackie, a man who withstood tremendous hatred on the field and from the stands before being recognized as the great player and future Hall of Famer he was. “42” is rather low key for a film about such tension, but it certainly provides real insight into what led to Robinson’s debut at Ebbets Field in April 1947 versus the Boston Braves, and then what Robinson had to withstand from racists such as Phillies’ manager Ben Chapman (Alan Tudyk) who is portrayed as standing on the field while Robinson was at bat, expressing his hatred in very descriptive terms. Although there’s a lot of this story that’s left out, a two hour film cannot be expected to tell every detail. One of the things that stood out to me, someone who saw games at Ebbets Field and the Polo Grounds, was the amazing visual recreation of those ballparks in the film. Movie magic personified. And the cast provides other first-rate performances, including those of Nicole Beharie as Jackie Robinson’s very supportive wife, Rachel, and Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher. “42” should be a revelation to young people who don’t quite remember the Civil Rights era which, in a sense, began in April 1947. A- (7/2513)


“Oz the Great and Powerful”-This is one of those films that make you wonder, almost immediately, what in the world the filmmakers were thinking. It’s almost a polar opposite of the great “The Wizard of Oz” which, needless to say, was original, clever, and beautiful to watch and listen to and opened in 1939 when movies were still in their early development stage. “Oz the Great and Powerful” shows no signs that these filmmakers have learned a thing in the intervening 74 years. The film actually gets off to a half-way decent start. Trying to emulate the original to some extent, the early scenes are in black and white but for some strange reason they’re small and square. We’re introduced to Oz (James Franco), a magician in 1905 Kansas, attempting to pull off his mediocre magic act only to be chased out of town by circus bullies. In doing so, he jumps into a hot air balloon which carries him into a tornado and off to a land (now in widescreen and color with loads of awful CGI effects) that appears not in the least to resemble the Oz that we know and love. In fact, at least in the early scenes, it more closely resembles a distant planet in a bad sci-fi film. Directed by Sam Raimi, “Oz the Great and Powerful” now turns into an absolutely awful Disney film. It has mediocre animation, ridiculous and unappealing characters and situations and, I hate to say, an absolutely inane script compounded by awful acting. None of the actors, including Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, or Michelle Williams looked like they were taking their parts seriously. And who would blame them? The biggest deficiency in this film is the portrayal of the “wizard.” Whereas in the original, the “wizard” was revealed at the end to be a fake, but only after he at least attempted to fool the people of the land of Oz as well as Dorothy and her friends. But here Oz is portrayed as a complete incompetent, not even attempting to fake his way. and admitting far too easily that he was not the “wizard” that everyone was expecting and was more interested in the vast riches that he would receive if he was named wizard (what good would the riches have done him in this alien place?) I had no choice but to turn this awful movie off a little more than half way through and so I cannot say how it ended. Nor do I care. Even the first half that I was forced to sit through was too painful to endure. Avoid this film at all cost. D (7/13/13)


“Quartet”-With an excellent directorial debut by Dustin Hoffman, “Quartet” is a lovely comedy about a group of aging musicians living in an English retirement home which is in danger of being closed. The cast, made up of film stars and actual aging musicians of all sorts, touchingly portrays the primary story of Reggie Paget (Tom Courtenay), a former opera star who has settled into life at the home, only to be angered by the arrival of his former wife and co-star, Jean Horton (Maggie Smith), who clearly did something dire to him in the past. And while the story of Reggie and Jean unfolds, we also witness the efforts of the dominating diva of the home, Cedric Livingston (Michael Gambon), to arrange a gala to raise funding so that the home will remain open for its current and future residents. In pursuing these efforts, Cedric attempts to bring together Reggie, Wilf Bond (Billy Connolly), Cissy Robson (Pauline Collins), and Jean to do the quartet from “Rigoletto” at the gala. Needless to say there is some resistance among these aging stars. With delightful musical performances and an engaging background score, “Quartet” is loaded with humor and humanity. Practically stealing the film are Billy Connolly as the racy Wilf who flirts with every woman in sight, and Pauline Collins as Cissy, who occasionally, under stress, forgets exactly where she is. Also of note in the cast is Andrew Sachs of “Fawlty Towers” fame (Manuel) as the home’s musical conductor. B+ (7/5/13)


"The Impossible"-Did we really need to see this story come to life? “The Impossible” sensationally recreates the incredible tragedy of the 2004 tsunami which killed thousands in southeast Asia. The special effects are shocking and devastating as we watch a family being washed away from their beautiful beach resort in Thailand. Naomi Watts and Ewen McGregor are Maria and Henry, a well-to-do couple who have arrived in Thailand with their three young sons just before Christmas for a few days of sun and relaxation, only to have their lives changed instantly by the earthquake-caused tsunami that sweeps over the beach and the hotel. Initially, the film follows Maria and her oldest son, Lucas (Tom Holland), as they are swept by the raging wave to a point inland far from the coast. Maria is seriously injured, but Lucas stands by her until and beyond the point at which she is finally hospitalized, and then we begin to wonder, as do Maria and Lucas, what happened to Henry and the two younger sons. Although this story is based on the events that occurred to a real family, the filmmakers couldn’t resist interfering for extra dramatic effect. The result is a series of manufactured annoyances (as if the tragic circumstances aren’t bad enough). In one such scene, Lucas leaves his mother to try to help others find family members in the hospital. Will Maria be there when Lucas gets back? Of course not, and no one seems to know where she is. “The Impossible” contains other clichés of this sort that become rather irritating as the filmmakers attempt to manipulate the audience’s emotions. The film ends with an astonishing and unexplained example of the power of the wealthy, even in the middle of a disaster. The cast does as well as it can, but in the end “The Impossible” relies almost exclusively on shock value as it takes us to an extremely depressing moment in time without any real theme or point to be made. C (7/4/13)


“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”-This is the story of a high school freshman, Charlie, with a mysterious traumatic event (gradually revealed) in his past. As played well and seriously by Logan Lerman, Charlie enters high school simply wanting to avoid the usual nastiness and bullying that often happens to a freshman who is clearly not meant for the “inner circle.” But Charlie has some important character features, including good looks, intelligence, and poise that ultimately help him to connect with a group of upperclassmen, including Patrick (Ezra Miller), an effervescent young man with a secret of his own; Patrick’s stepsister, Sam (Emma Watson), about whom Charlie feels an instant attraction; and Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman) who is attracted to Charlie. But Charlie has also made a connection with his English teacher, Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd), who inspires him by loaning books and encouraging him to write. Ultimately, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a charming and intelligent look at the high school experience of a young man who is affected by events that occurred when he was much younger. The cast does a nice job and includes, in small roles, Kate Walsh and Dylan McDermott as Charlie’s parents, and Melanie Lynskey as Charlie’s Aunt Helen. The film takes place in the not so distant past, in a period before the distractions of cell phones, texting, and computers. Here, the characters make mix tapes and Charlie receives a typewriter as a gift. B (7/1/13)

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