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Archives for : teens

“Summertime” Interview w/ Carlos Lopez Estrada & Kelly Marie Tran

“Summertime” is set during a hot summer day in Los Angeles. The lives of 25 young adults intertwine as they share their stories and passion through powerful spoken word. I spoke with director, Carlos Lopez Estrada (“Blindspotting” & “Raya and the Last Dragon”) and executive producer, Kelly Marie Tran (“Raya and the Last Dragon” & “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) to talk about the film.

“Summertime” opens in theaters July 16, 2021.

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Movie Review: “Voyagers” Gets Lost in Space

Neil Burger’s new sci-fi thriller, “Voyagers” fails to make any significant impact.

The start of the film explains how earth is growing hotter. Drought and disease have caused severe damage to the population. Scientists are looking for a new planet that can support human life, and they find one in 2063. They decide to send a group bioengineered teens into space in order to populate the new world that is hundreds of light years away. The trip will take them 86 years. Meaning their future grandkids will be the ones carrying out the end of the mission. The only adult on board is Richard (Colin Ferrell), who leads and counsels the kids as if they were his own. To prevent chaos and create order, the teens are given a “blue drink” that has essentially been drugging them, and inhibits them from feeling, really, anything. Two of the voyagers, Christopher (Tye Sheridan) and Zac (Fionn Whitehead), figure this out. Zac angrily stops taking the substance, then all hell breaks loose.

Suddenly, the movie turns into “Lord of the Flies” IN SPACE. It becomes so predictable and wild, that you just want to skip to the end. It’s not that the storyline is boring. In fact, at times it can be engaging; but it offers nothing new. The beginning makes you think this familiar tale will have a refreshing spin. But when it’s over, you’re left wondering if this really needed to be a movie?

Story wise, “Voyagers” is nothing special. But perhaps, the purpose was to showcase the talented, young actors. However, most of their impressive diverse cast were merely background noise. The film primarily focuses on Sheridan, Whitehead and Lily-Rose Depp, who plays Sela. Depp and Sheridan play off each other well and have great chemistry, but the film never dives too deep with its characters. We get to know everyone at a surface level, except for maybe Zac whose villain-like qualities gradually grow, the more jealous he gets of Christopher.

“Voyagers” is well shot. The cinematography by Enrique Chediak is beautiful. The music by Trevor Gureckis compliments the tone of the film, and provides the right amount of suspense.

Burger’s script is not bad, either, it just feels derivative. It’s disappointing when the premise of the film allowed for so much more. I mostly wish we explored the other world. The concept is realistic, and it would have been interesting to learn more about why they chose to create new life on this particular planet. Instead, “Voyagers” chooses to focus on the characters resenting their isolation, and their lack of “feeling”. They want to take advantage of getting to experience pain and all sorts of pleasure. This raises the question of whether or not they prefer a wild-life of “freedom”, or to go back to their routine, monotonous life that serves a greater purpose; one they won’t be alive to see come to fruition.

“Voyagers” may still be worth the watch for purely entertainment purposes. It’s plays out like a teen drama you’d watch on the CW. So if that’s your cup of tea, then this film is right up your alley. Otherwise, keep your expectations low, and be prepared for a rushed and underwhelming ending.

Rating: 2/5

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Movie Review: “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is a Powerful and Raw Character Study

It’s a tough film to swallow, but it’s an unforgettable watch.

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” follows Autumn (Sidney Flanigan), a teenage girl from Pennsylvania, who unexpectedly finds herself pregnant. We aren’t sure who knocked her up, but we are sure she does not want to go through with the pregnancy. Unable to tell her mother or her mother’s ass of a boyfriend, she confides in her best friend/ cousin, Skylar (Talia Ryder). From there, the two head to New York on what is supposed to be a mission to take care of Autumn’s situation; but ends up being a journey of discovery and a difficult life lesson.

There is a lot to admire with director/writer Eliza Hittman’s (Beach Rats) third film. For starters, the support from all the women in the movie. They are shown as comforting and caring characters. Autumn’s mom is a bit clueless; but she does love her daughter, and shows a tender side in the brief moments we see her. The female workers at both the clinics Autumn visits, are understanding, non-judgmental, and genuinely try to help the lost young lady. But it’s the bond between Autumn and Skylar that shows a true example of a selfless and giving friendship. Both actresses do a wonderful job in the film, but it’s Flanigan who shines in her debut performance by playing her character with such grace and honesty.

However, the men in this movie are not painted in the same light. They are shown as dismissive, threatening, or perverted. When the girls come across Jasper (Theodore Pellerin) on their bus ride to the city, he appears eager but harmless. Clearly interested in Skylar, she reluctantly gives him her cell number which ends up being a resourceful tool. But as you’d imagine, he’s not as innocent as he seems.

Hittman’s raw and painfully realistic dialogue is what’s so captivating. All of Autumns conversations are incredibly natural. And the emotions hit hard when she’s at her final destination in Brooklyn answering a questionnaire given by the counselor there. She must answer a series of questions relating to her sexual history with the responses of either “never, rarely, sometimes, or always.” Hittman’s screenplay is harrowing and thought-provoking.

There are some burning questions that are left up to interpretation; and the film does drag a bit in the second act, but those are my only qualms.

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is not an easy watch, especially during our current ordeal; but it is well worth your time.

Rating: 3.5/5

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is available to rent On Demand on April 3 through any of these platforms…Amazon, Apple, Comcast, DirecTV, Vudu, Google/YouTube, Charter, Verizon, Microsoft, Dish, Fandango, Sony, Cox, Altice, Vubiquity, AMC On Demand, Redbox 

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