Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

If you’re tired of action films this summer, Me and Earl and The Dying Girl is the film to see.  Greg (Thomas Mann) is a shy/awkward high school senior who spends his time making films with his ‘co-worker’ Earl (RJ Cyler) and trying to stay invisible at school.  When Rachel (Olivia Cooke) is diagnosed with leukemia, Greg’s mom makes him spend time with her even though they are not friends.

This movie is at times very funny and at other times very sad.  This is a coming-of-age story for Greg as his and Rachel’s friendship develops and she helps him come out of  his shell, and he realizes that, while relationships have their risks, they are worth taking.

In addition to the excellent acting by the three young co stars, there is an excellent supporting cast including Nick Offerman and Connie Britton as Greg’s parents and Molly Shannon as Rachel’s mom.

This is also a funny homage to movies. The films that Greg and Earl make are their versions of films that Greg’s father has introduced them to. They are quirky/funny.

This is my favorite movie of the summer so far.

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Dope

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

Dope tells the story of Malcolm and his two nerdy friends (Jib and Diggy) as they navigate their senior year of high school.  They live in the ‘Bottoms’ in Englewood, California.  Both are good students (Malcolm is hoping to get into Harvard), are behind the times as they  love the ‘golden age ‘ of hip-hop (1988-2001), and have their own hip-hop band called Awreeoh (sound it out).  Generally they do not fit in and are bullied.

This is sort of a coming-of-age movie for Malcolm.  He and his  friends attend a party and get involved in things they usually avoid.  They then spend most of the movie trying to extricate themselves from the problems they’ve gotten into.  This is a pretty funny movie (although not all of the bits are successful).

This film isn’t for everyone due to the inner city setting, but I liked it.  If you go, stay through the credits for Malcolm’s dance routine.

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Love & Mercy

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

If you’re a fan of The Beach Boys, this is the movie for you!  It’s also good for those just looking for a good drama.  Love & Mercy tells the story of Brian Wilson, the musical genius at two critical junctures of his life.

Paul Dano plays Wilson at his creative peak and the beginning of his emotional issues in the early to mid-60s.  John Cusack plays him in the mid-80s at a low point in his life under the control of a manipulative doctor (played by Paul Giamatti) and separated from his family.

The two eras are cleverly  interwoven and the film does a good job of showing his creative process and the debilitating effects of his mental illness.

Both Dano and Cusack are excellent, as are Giamatti and also  Elizabeth Banks as the woman who tries to rescue him in the 80s.

Of course, the film has great music and packs an emotional wallop.  Today Brian Wilson is on tour (and he and his band put on a great show in Austin this week).

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The Connection

Bill C’s review – 3 out of 5

The Connection is a french thriller set in the 1970s.  A magistrate (Jean Dujardin from The Artist) devotes his life to bringing down a finch drug syndicate.  It’s a companion piece to the French Connection, only made 40+ years later and from the perspective of the  French justice system.

While not  as gritty (or as good) as the French Connection this also  has a gritty view as a cop gets totally caught up in his job and puts everything at risk.

If you don’t mind french subtitles this is an above average film.

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Jean Dujardin stars as Pierre Michel in Drafthouse Films' The Connection (2015).
Jean Dujardin stars as Pierre Michel in Drafthouse Films’ The Connection (2015).

Mad Max: Fury Road

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

Of the early summer season action movies (Avengers, Furious 7) this was by far the best.

This had very interesting, non-stop action scenes throughout.  The action is different from your typical action movie today and that made it even better.  While the plot is very basic what was there was interesting as were the characters.

Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy were both great.  Tom Hardy is definitely one of the best actors today with diverse roles in good films.  Some of his most recent have been: this, Locke, The Drop and the Dark Knight Rises.

If you haven’t seen this yet see it while it’s still in theaters.

Bill I’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

I enjoyed it as well, nonstop action, kept me interested. I loved Charlize’s character, and Tom Hardy was perfect. He’s one of the best actors, and I never recognize him for some reason. I would rate this higher if it was a genre I had more interest in.

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Furious 7

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

When you get to the 7th event in a series like this it’s pretty hard to out-do the stunts from the previous films.  Furious 7 gives it it’s best shot and you’ll either  enjoy the effort  and the absurdity of the stunts or hate the movie.  Luckily I was in the mood to go along for the ride.

This was also the farewell to Paul Walker who dies in an automobile accident before the film was finished. The film was delayed as they rewrote the movie to incorporate his departure and to use his brother to shoot his final scenes.  While the film manipulated your expectations with his farewell  they did an ok job here.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

Avengers: Age of Ultron was an ok action/sci fi film but not as good as the original.  While the action was pretty good they got a little carried away with figuring out how many different ways  and with how many of the other Avengers they could utilize Captain America’s shield.  I also found Tony Stark’s stubbornness annoying.  Despite that the movie flew by and overall was an entertaining movie.

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