REVIEW: “HOW IT ENDS” (2021) SXSW Online Film Festival

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Shot entirely during the pandemic, “HOW IT ENDS” takes on a delightfully quirky look of a one young woman’s journey of her last day on earth. While it was a bit chilling to note was how the streets of LA were essentially a ghost town, it definitely ended up playing in the movie’s favour. Being that the movie was very minimalistic due to pandemic restrictions, directors Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein use this to their advantage as it aptly adds to the general aesthetic of the idea that it’s all about to end.  

With the jist of the story being that an armageddon-type meteor is speeding towards a collision course with Earth and will extinguish all life as we know it. Liza (Zoe Lister-Jones), and her younger metaphysical version of herself (Cailee Spaeny), charmingly referred to as “YS,” take to the streets of Los Angeles on a journey to find one last party and instead find themselves on a journey of self-discovery as well. Initially, Liza has no interest whatsoever in attending this party and just wants to hang out by herself and get stoned, eat a pile of pancakes, drink some wine and let it all go. Liza’s only problem is well, Young Liza, who pressures her(self) to attend the Apocalypse Party being thrown by Mandy (Whitney Cummings).

How It Ends’ is an interesting and hilarious concept. Some of what makes this film so charming is the realization that until she set out on this journey, no one could see or knew about her ‘YS’, or so she thought. Running into an eclectic cast of characters along the way is all part of the fun and delight here. From a reconciliation with her mom (Helen Hunt), or realizing she wants to tell her ex-boyfriend Nate (Logan Marshall Green), that she really does love him — to hashing out a long overdue grudge with her friend Ali (Olivia Wilde), or stopping by her dad’s (Bradley Whitford), it’s all in a days work when it’s the last day on earth. By using characters and having a metaphysical younger version of themselves works hugely in the film stories favour as it turns out they meet others with the same along the way, only adds to the delight.

While Lister-Jones might be doing triple duty here as a writer/director and lead of the film, its truly Cailee Spaeny that carries us up and off, elevating the entire movie and delivering an impressive performance that I just couldn’t take my eyes off. Truly they are brilliant together, forming an aura of pure enjoyment and putting a smile on every viewers’ face. Keep an eye out for the standout cameos as well as so you don’t miss the appearances by: Finn Wolfhard, Logan Marshall-Green, Fred Armisen, Bradley Whitford, Sharon Van Etten, Olivia Wilde, Lamorne Morris, Helen Hunt, and Colin Hanks.

Honestly, if it ever comes down to the time where all life is about to end, and earth itself is about to cease to exist… you realize you’re left with nothing but yourself, and all the unfinished business you’ll need to deal with so you can die in peace. Doing something that you might regret later is an inevitability of life, but making amends with it shouldn’t be left to an extreme chance or to the very last moment when everything is about to end… and this is a message I can get behind.

Grade: B

@pegsatthemovies

Review screening : Courtesy of 42 West PR and SXSW Film Festival

REVIEW: “THE GOLDFINCH” (2019) Warner Bros.

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Having been a huge fan of the book  “THE GOLDFINCH”, I was excited to see what they could do with the film as how does one adapt an almost 800 page Pulitzer Prize winning novel.
The short story is they don’t..and while I will acknowledge the effort made..they just don’t get it right.

We start with the beginning as a young Theo (Oakes Fegley) , is recovering in the art museum in the aftermath of the bombing that kills his mom. We are suddenly flipped to adult Theo (Ansel Elgort) in a hotel in Amsterdam, scrubbing blood out of his clothes.

And so continues the story of Theo and the magical painting of The Goldfinch that he took after being told by a dying old man Welty (Robert Joy)  and his young granddaughter Pippa played by (Aimee Lawrence) as a child, and (Ashleigh Cummings) as an adult, in the museum. He followed her into this room because of a fleeting crush moment, that will change his life forever.

And on we go, back n forth between adult Theo’s life and young Theo’s life..following what happens to him and the painting along the way. He is taken in by the Barbour family who don’t really know him or what to do with him. Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Barbour, is good later in the film when she ages..In between we meet his dad Larry (Luke Wilson) a compulsive gambler and drunk, and his girlfriend Xandra (Sarah Paulson) and his new best friend Boris, a Russian kid (Finn Wolfhard) is young Boris,  (Aneurin Barnard) is older Boris) who is seemingly his only friend after his dad drags him to Vegas.

The films is disjointed and all over the place. The book was a page-turner that kept you in suspense every step of the way. The film completely misses the mark on this. It’s blah, boring and terribly mis-cast in almost every role but young Theo. The accents they try to pull off are horrible and draw attention to the bad acting done by the two actors portraying Boris.  And while it is visually beautiful to look at, it’s mish-mash of story never comes together or makes sense enough for you to truly figure out what & why this is all happening.  The elements were all there as again, as the book keeps you on the edge of suspense to where you don’t want to put it down, whereas I just wanted this film to end as it was exceedingly long.

In the end, the film just could not deliver what the book could and did.

Grade: C-

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies and Instagram: peggyatthemovies

 

Media review screening: Tuesday, September 10, 2019 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros.

‘THE GOLDFINCH” IS OUT IN THEATERS NATIONWIDE THIS FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2019 // WORLDWIDE RELEASE FOLLOWING.