Saturday, June 13, 2015

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Yes, this film adapted from a YA novel by Jesse Andrews (he also wrote the screenplay) is about a teen with cancer, but you'll want to see it.  Aside from its quirkiness and originality and sweetness, it's a film for cinephiles.  And it has an outstanding score by Brian Eno and Nico Muhly, as well as excellent cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung (known for his work with Chan-wook Park; e.g., Oldboy).

It's a film for cinephiles because Thomas Mann plays high school outsider Greg, who, with his "co-worker" Earl (RC Cyler), have spent years making parodies of great films (e.g., 2:48 PM Cowboy, Eyes Wide Butt-- you'll find the complete list of their 47 films here).  The titles are broad but the clips are actually funny and clever.  The duo's filmmaking is girl interrupted (sorry, couldn't resist) when Greg's mother (Connie Britton) insists he befriend and cheer up the daughter of her friend (Molly Shannon), because the teen, Rachel (Olivia Cooke) has been diagnosed with leukemia.

This is also a film about pillows, especially the significance of a particularly fuzzy one.  It's kind of the American Beauty plastic bag of this movie.

In a post-screening conversation with writer-director Edgar Wright on June 12 at the DGA, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (he's from Laredo, Texas), talked about his long road to becoming a director.   After film school he worked as a personal assistant to Scorsese, Nora Ephron, Iñárritu, and De Niro, eventually working his way up to second unit director on such films as Babel and Argo, and later moving on to direct commercials, Glee, and American Horror Story (he directed his first feature in 2014,  The Town that Dreaded Sundown, produced by AHS creator Ryan Murphy).  Gomez-Rejon talked about how Me and Earl... is filled with references to these people who influenced and helped him, and the fact that the parody films reflect all the original films he loves.  At age 42, Gomez-Rejon feels that it took him a long time to get to this point, but as Scorsese's longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker reportedly told him, she was a late bloomer and she believes that finding success late results in greater longevity (I'll drink to that; besides, look what 70-year-old George Miller gave us this year in Mad Max:  Fury Road--the best action film ever made).  

Gomez-Rejon came off as a serious, thoughtful filmmaker (he said he used to meticulously storyboard every scene, but has come around to trusting instincts in the moment, especially with the final scene in Me and Earl...).  I think he's going to make some really great films in the future.

In the meantime, don't miss this one.  All of the performances are first rate, including that of an unconventional history teacher played by Jon Bernthal, whom you'll see later in the year in the terrific Sicario.

Me and Earl... is funny; it's moving; it's occasionally over-the-top (e.g., Greg's father's outfits); maybe just a tad too long, but always delightful. The neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, where the movie was set and actually shot (including in the author's family home), add wonderful texture to the film.

Here's the trailer:

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1 comment:

  1. Now I have to see it! I sang with Nico Muhly several years ago, and really liked--at least some of -his music!