Movie Review: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

Image copyrighted by Lionsgate

I’m sure you guys were dying to hear my thoughts on this movie, and I appreciate your patience! I was out of town for a business trip, but it sure feels good to blog. I’ve almost reached 20,000 overall views, so I’m psyched to meet that milestone!

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” was released in limited theaters September 21, but more theaters have added the film to their line-up over time. Fortunately, it was directed, produced, and written by author Stephen Chbosky, so even if the movie’s not your cup of tea, at least Chbosky was in control of the creative process.

I was originally interested in the story because I was curious to see Emma Watson play someone other than Hermione Granger. She acted excellently as Sam, a misfit high school senior who suffers from a scandalous reputation. The film’s star Charlie (played by Logan Lerman) falls in love with Sam as he struggles with the deaths of his aunt and best friend. For a more complete summary of the novel, read my review here.

Moviegoers will recognize familiar faces, such as Paul Rudd, who plays Charlie’s supportive English teacher Mr. Anderson (known as Bill in the book). Kate Walsh, Dylan McDermott, and Melanie Lynskey play Charlie’s mother, father, and aunt, respectively.

But the real star, in my opinion, was Ezra Miller, who plays Sam’s step-brother Patrick. This role puts this relatively unknown 20-year-old actor in the spotlight, as his character faces hate and heartbreak after falling in love with the school’s quarterback. On the surface, he’s a witty wisecrack performing in Rocky Horror, but underneath he emotes the pain of a boy who just wants to be accepted for who he is. Miller has been open about his own queer identity with the press, and it’s nice to see this conversation about equality both on and off-screen.

My complaints about Charlie’s grating personality in the novel aren’t present in the film; because you’re not stuck in his head 24-7, you can better appreciate his emotional journey. I felt that the distance which usually creates a disconnect between mediums actually made the film more enjoyable than the book.

Granted, it is an “indie” character-driven story, full of teen angst and controversial social issues, so if you’d rather watch an action-packed thriller, I highly recommend “Looper” with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. But if you want to witness some great acting from Hollywood’s rising stars and sink into the nostalgia of your youth, “Perks” has just enough–you guessed it, perks–to keep you entertained.

Book News!

It’s been an eventful week, not only for me, since I was a bridesmaid in one of my closest friends’ wedding last weekend, but also for book news! Here’s the recap:

Today would’ve been T.S. Eliot’s 124th birthday! My favorite Eliot moment was when we were reading “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” at UC Santa Cruz, and some hippie chick thought the protagonist was strong and brave, despite the entire class politely explaining that he was a weak, pathetic character. She couldn’t deal with the fact that there are wrong answers in poetry, and stormed out of class crying. Interpretation is key to literary scholars, but I think we know that T.S. Eliot was not a rainbows-and-puppies kind of writer.

Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby gets a North American release date of May 10, 2013. Coming Soon commented that this may not be a good choice, since the second week of May has opened quite a few duds. You mean, you couldn’t tell by the modern soundtrack?

Similar to Miley Cyrus flipping Disney the bird with her scandalous antics, J.K. Rowling is proving she can’t be tamed with her first post-Potter novel, Casual Vacancy. The New Yorker published an extensive profile on the author, who discusses the book’s adult themes and her unwillingness to write for critics. Reviews might be negative, but with the money she’s made with Potter, I say that she can write whatever she damn well pleases.

Speaking of flipping the bird, in a complete act of disrespect, Billy Connolly, who’s playing dwarf Dain Ironfoot in “The Hobbit,” called Tolkien “unreadable” and insulted devoted fans of the author. It’s a shame Peter Jackson can’t donate your salary to charity, because with that kind of attitude, you don’t deserve such an amazing career opportunity anyway.

The world of TV is working on its latest facepalm, this time a modern drama based on Wuthering Heights. Tentatively titled “Napa,” the story has swapped Victorian England for California wine country. I love a good soap opera, but leave Bronte out of it, will you, screenwriters? That’s a tale that needs no improving!

Lastly, my blog has been gaining traffic due to the release of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Unfortunately, it’s only in limited theaters (none of which are close to me), so it looks like I’ll be catching it when it comes out on DVD. But feel free to re-read my book review here!

So there you have it! What other book news has sparked your interest?

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Image via Wikipedia

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

I’m finally back from Tokyo! I had such a great time with my little brother and one of my very best friends–we visited temples, played in arcades, tried traditional dishes, drank with the locals, and so much more! It was so fun exploring the cities and meeting people, but I am glad to be home with my family.

Even though I’m still suffering from jet lag and a slight cold, I couldn’t leave you guys hanging any longer! Between the super-long flights and all the time spent commuting on the trains, I was able to finish three books during my vacation. I even found an English bookstore in Gotanda, Japan, and bought two more for 800 yen (about $10).

The first novel I read was The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, which was published by MTV in 1999. Chbosky is also known for writing the screenplay for “Rent” and the TV show “Jericho.” I’ll admit that the only reason why I picked up this book was because I was intrigued by the film adaptation starring Emma Watson, but I’m glad I saw what all the fuss was about.

Perks is written in the forms of letters by a high school freshman who goes by the alias Charlie. He writes these letters to a person he doesn’t know, but was told by a friend that he/she was a good listener. The lack of physical descriptions of Charlie and many other characters creates a relatable atmosphere.

Taking place in Pittsburgh in the early ’90s, Charlie befriends two step-siblings: Patrick, who has a secret romance with the high school quarterback, and Sam, who instantly becomes Charlie’s love interest. As high school seniors, the siblings show Charlie the world of drugs and rock & roll, all while he struggles with much deeper issues.

I won’t reveal the reason behind Charlie’s introversion, but I found his character simultaneously interesting and annoying. His juvenile writing style and general naivete make him seem much more than simply shy, to the point of mentally challenged. However, he’s also extremely clever, voraciously reading classic novels given to him by his endearing English teacher Bill. I wouldn’t even be surprised if Charlie was an autistic savant.

Regardless, I appreciate the author’s decision to leave the question of Charlie’s condition open-ended. I’ll only say that his constant choppy sentences and simple vocabulary became tiring and grating at times. But at least the book shows the reader why it’s difficult for Charlie to make and keep friends, and I applaud Sam and Patrick for showing such compassion.

My only other major complaint is that Chbosky, in an attempt to address teen social issues, piles on so much melodrama that you can’t help but roll your eyes sometimes. I mean, in the first 50 pages, you witness depression, suicide, domestic violence, drug abuse, and homophobia.

I’m not saying that one person can’t experience all these horrific things, but I felt that Chbosky was laying it on a bit thick. It was as if he was just checking them off a list rather than truly addressing their impact. And from what I hear, he suffered from the same problem in “Rent.”

All in all, I imagine that the movie will definitely be indie, and since stories with so much “reality” in them aren’t really my cup of tea (I like my happy endings, thank you very much), I’ll just have to watch it with an open mind. Who knows? Maybe I’ll like Charlie and friends better on the big screen.