Welcome to the House of Crouse. I like Bryce Dallas Howard. Interviewed her a few times and I know two things, she is very nice and has a great laugh. She’s down to earth and says things like, “I have a very strong body, a dense body, I’m big boned.” She’s not your typical star and today we talk about a number of things including her new film Pete’s Dragon, her dad Ron Howard and working with Robert Redford. It’s good stuff and you’ll like it. C’mon in and sit a spell with me and Bryce Dallas Howard.
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Director Jonathan Levine has made three good movies. Trouble is, he’s made four films in total.
He created a zom com with “Warm Bodies,” made a cancer comedy with “50/50” and put a cool spin on teen angst in “.” Now a gritty little horror film that has sat on the shelf since 2006 is coming back to haunt him, breaking his cinematic winning streak.
“All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” is a series of clichés strung together in an attempt to subvert the usual slasher movie tropes. It’s the “Scream” recipe of knowingly winking at the vey plot devices the story is exploiting. In this case its dead cell phones, a remote location, hormonal desires and soon to be dead teens.
At the center of it all is Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) a virginal beacon amongst the promiscuity who, for some reason, is always referred to by her full name. Perhaps it has something to do with brand recognition for this seven-year-old movie.
She is the object of desire for all the boys—both the good-looking doomed ones and the pyscho with a grudge. They say things to her like, “You have no idea how hot you are, do you?” and would literally kill to be with her.
Levine tries to turn the genre on its head with a twist, and while it does kick up the queasy quotient, it only comes after the movie has reveled in every formulaic slasher movie ritual. The sex, drugs and lame rock ‘n’ roll that get us to the surprise is so grounded in its source material that even the introduction of a late plot shocker isn’t enough to make “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” feel any less than derivative.
Cancer is no laughing matter, but a new film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young man afflicted with a rare and deadly form of the disease is both heartfelt and humorous.
50/50, based on the real life experiences of screenwriter Will Reiser, was written to show how he and his best friend Seth Rogen (who plays a character loosely based on himself in the film) dealt with the trauma of the diagnosis by trying “to find the humour in the situation [because] we were not good at talking about it at an emotional level.”
The result, which hits screens just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is touching, poignant and funny.
Here are some other inspirational films about cancer.
The Terry Fox Story, the 1983 HBO biopic of the cancer research activist and his Marathon of Hope, was shown in theatres in Canada and Britain, but was the first television film ever made for a cable network in the United States.
Starring Eric Fryer, an amputee who, like Fox, lost a leg to cancer, the movie details Fox’s goal to raise one dollar from every Canadian and create awareness of cancer issues.
Also based on real life is The Doctor, a 1991 film starring William Hurt as a physician who becomes more compassionate after he is diagnosed with throat cancer. Based on the book A Taste of My Own Medicine: When the Doctor Becomes the Patient by Dr. Ed Rosenbaum, the movie co-stars Christine Lahti, Mandy Patinkin and Adam Arkin, all of whom also played doctors on Chicago Hope.
Other films show the different ways people react to a cancer diagnosis. In My Life Without Me, Sarah Polley plays a 23-year-old mother of two diagnosed with a terminal endometrial cancer.
Choosing to keep the news to herself, she makes a secret list of all the things she wants to do before she passes. From the sublime —“Tell my daughters I love them several times” — to the ridiculous — “Get false nails. And do something with my hair.” — the items on the list give her life purpose and meaning.
In Life as a House, Kevin Kline is George Monroe, an architect’s model builder with terminal cancer. The diagnosis forces him to look at his life — “Hindsight,” he says, “it’s like foresight without a future”— and rebuild his dilapidated house as well as his tattered relationships.
50/50, as Kyle (Seth Rogen) says, is pretty good odds. “If you were a casino game you’d have the best odds!” But he’s not a casino game, he’s Kyle’s best friend Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
Twenty-seven-year-old Adam is a clean living guy. Doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, he even recycles but yet after having some back pain a routine check-up reveals he has a rare form of cancer. The main people in his life, girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), best friend (Seth Rogen) and mother (Anjelica Huston) all react in their own, distinct ways. Only two fellow chemotherapy patients (Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer) seem to understand what he is going though. A bubbly but inexperienced therapist (Anna Kendrick) provides some comfort, but may not be able to keep a professional distance.
Cancer is no laughing matter, we all know that. But “50/50” breaks taboos left and right, using Adam’s cancer as the basis for a comedy. Luckily it’s tempered with great performances, a smart script and real emotion. There’s no a false moment thanks to a script written by Will Reiser, the real life inspiration for the story. Reiser, a pal of Seth Rogen (who also produced the movie) and cancer survivor, finds just the right balance between mortality, romance and cancer jokes—one character says the more syllables the name of your tumor has, the worse it is—in a script that will have you laughing and crying at the same time.
Gordon-Levitt is the film’s centerpiece, giving a natural, authentic performance as a person facing his own mortality even though he can’t quite believe he’s in that situation.
Rogen, not surprisingly, is the comic relief. Once again, after getting sidelined by super hero movies and the like, Rogen is doing the work that reminds us why we liked him in the first place. As Adam’s skirt-chasing best friend he’s lewd and rude but he’s also brimming with warmth. His talent is his likeability.
The rest of the cast performs well. Bryce Dallas Howard, who seems to be making a career of playing villainess characters, brings her a-game. Ditto Angelica Houston who breathes life into Adam’s over dramatic mother. Kendrick also impresses as the therapist in over her head both professionally and personally.
“50/50” is a unique film. It takes a realistic approach in portraying a cancer patient’s life, but doesn’t forget to present a fully rounded view. It never pokes fun, but also doesn’t deny its darkly (and not so dark) humorous moments.