Netflix A-Z: The Spectacular Now (2013)

We’re at the S selection for Netflix! Movie reviews craze going on over here, right? I’ve been wanting to watch The Spectacular Now since this movie released back in 2013 but somehow never got around to it. It could be that last year, I took a long drama movie break. There was a few indie S selections that I wanted to watch but The Spectacular Now was one I didn’t want to wait anymore.

Let’s check it out!

The Spectacular Now (2013)

The Spectacular Now

Director: James Ponsoldt

Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brie Larson, Mary  Elizabeth Winstead

A hard-partying high school senior’s philosophy on life changes when he meets the not-so-typical “nice girl.” – IMDB

 The first thing to really catch my eye watching The Spectacular Now at this moment is the brilliant cast they have here. I haven’t really seen a ton of Miles Teller so I don’t have much to compare him to (yes, I haven’t seen Whiplash yet) and I’ve only seen Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars and I wasn’t a fan of that one. Nothing to do with her, just the story was my issue. Aside from our main characters played by Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, there is a supporting roles by Brie Larson (who went on to play her fantastic role in Room), Jennifer Jason Leigh (who I saw in The Hateful Eight) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (in  this year’s 10 Cloverfield Lane) for starters. The Spectacular Now is a coming of age story that delivers something a little different. Sutter is our main guy here and in many ways, I feel like it wasn’t even meeting Aimee that changed him but just that Aimee was the girl that gave him a different perspective on the future and growing up. The power of youth and relationships, right? In all reality, Sutter is afraid of growing up and its why he doesn’t embrace his the concept of living for the future but rather for the now moment. There’s a really honest and relatable coming of age story in between the charming romance drama going on here.

The Spectacular Now

I have a feeling a ton of people are going to be disappointed when I say this. Miles Teller is an odd choice as Sutter. Maybe its because this movie is meant to be odd but I’ve never been able to see Miles Teller as a very good actor. Maybe its the lack of movies that I’ve seen of his. It took me a while to really connect with Sutter’s character but in a rather unexpected and subtle way, he did grow on me, especially because we could see the script giving him and Aimee a very cute young love growth in a way that they influenced each other and gave each other courage to do the things they were previously afraid to face.

With that said, I liked Shailene Woodley a lot. As the nice girl, she portrayed it on point. It was believable in her most innocent ways. She truly loved Sutter and saw the good in him even when sometimes, he wasn’t all that great. The fascination of a relationship is finding the balance of having something in common but enough not to learn something new from each other and Sutter and Aimee had that. Their relationship was a highlight of this coming of age story even if I don’t believe it would be what really changed Sutter because the powerful scene with him and his mother played by Jennifer Jason Leigh was the one that stole the show.

The Spectacular Now

Other than the wonderfully sweet moments between Aimee and Sutter crafted beautifully, the drama truly comes in in a strong scene when Sutter finally meets his father again. It proves that the innocent memory he had for his father was actually very much an illusion. He starts noticing all the bad his father truly is even when he tries to brush it away and in many ways, can see the hints of him really starting to see how ignorant his father is and how he somewhat sees the disappointing similarities and how he could potentially be a lot of bad. It shows a little of the nature vs. nurture influence right there in my opinion.

The Spectacular Now

 Overall, The Spectacular Now is a really good coming of age story. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are great as Sutter and Aimee. The character development for both of the characters carry a lot more than just romance but also what growing up is about. Other than romantic themes, it also has a strong family relationship concept here. The Spectacular Now tells a great story with a compelling message. While I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the way they ended it because a ton of movies are doing that also, the journey of Sutter and his coming of age story is an intriguing one to say the least.

Have you seen The Spectacular Now? What coming of age movies do you like?

Netflix A-Z: The Fault in our Stars (2014)

We’re at F selection today.  I’m going to be honest here and say that I was not very enthusiastic about The Fault in Our Stars novel.  That book was pretty much an American version of a typical Korean TV drama.  It had all the factors needed. I kind of saw where it was going.  It is a very bittersweet story and tragic for all the reasons and pretty raw because it emphasizes the being young and sick and it just aims to punch you in the gut with all the worse feelings.  Still, it is incredibly quotable and I can get why its popular.  I just didn’t feel it as much while I was reading it. For that reason, I was a little hesitant to give this one a shot but here we are!

Let’s check it out! 🙂

The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

The Fault in Our Stars

Director: Josh Boone

Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Engort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Willem Dafoe, Lotte Verbeek

Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is a teenage girl who is surviving with an experimental drug that controls her cancer that has weakened her lungs.  Her parents and physician suspect that she has depression and sends her to a support group.  Reluctant to go at first, she ends up meeting Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), an eighteen year old boy who has been clear of cancer with the loss of a part of his leg. Augustus and Hazel start to see each other and become increasingly attracted to each other.  However, Hazel tries her best to keep her distance because she knows that her life and how long she is alive is completely out of her control.  Augustus fully understands this because he has gone through this situation as well however, their determination for finding the answers to a book and seeking out the author (Willem Dafoe) makes pulls them together as they find a way to vacation to Amsterdam.

The Fault in our stars

The Fault in our Stars is far better as a movie than it is as a novel.  I’m telling you this because as I thought about The Fault in Our Stars again before watching the movie and even a few weeks before that, I had dropped my Goodreads rating by one star. Its not that I hate the book but there was a lot of room for improvement.  The movie has something different going for it.  Its a tragic teen love story lead by a really good cast, one that other than Sam Trammell I’ve seen recently, none of them have been in any movies I’ve seen of late.  As a matter of fact, this is the first movie I’ve seen of Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, the young leads here. As for Laura Dern, who plays Hazel’s mom, I haven’t seen her since Jurassic Park 3 probably. Still, a story like this one is only good with a cast that can represent it well and they did. It even had Willem Dafoe as a supporting character who is the author they track down that was pretty significant to the story.

The Fault in Our Stars

Maybe its a little weird but I liked how they portrayed the texts instead of just a voice over or a pause on a cell phone screen, it uses these cute little message boxes that pop in and out as they talk. The typography they use makes it feel young and fun. I mean, its those little moments, right? These two teenagers are plagued with sickness and suffer at a young age never really knowing how long they will live.  They make a point that Hazel is actually quite the opposite of Augustus because she appreciates what she has now while he strives to be remembered by everyone. And its their personality that  Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort bring to Hazel and Augustus that makes this movie more colorful.  The pain feels more deep and the sweet young love resounds strongly allowing us the chance to fall in love with their characters in all their bittersweet, sarcastic, overly philosophical way.  To justify that a little, when the movie started, I kind of didn’t really like that whole smug look that Augustus had but it seemed to be effective and fit his character as we learned more about him.  That, my friends, is what I call character development and why I appreciate this movie more than the book primarily. And its also why when things wrapped up in the finale, I got a little teary.  Nothing like bawling or anything, just a few tears.

the fault in our stars

I’ve pretty much shown that I enjoyed this movie for what it is.  But then, I’ve always liked stories like this so it was surprising to me when I didn’t enjoy its source material so much. However, there is one part that I found like should have been in.  More like a quote.  Maybe the director wanted to keep it as something for the audience to understand but its the exact quote in the book that shows why this story is called The Fault in our Stars. I think its a pretty important factor.  Maybe its lame when we need to put it so in our faces but that quote was one of my faves in the book.  I added it to my book review but here it is again, just to make it feel more complete…

The Fault in Our Stars

Overall, The Fault in Our Stars touched me much more as a movie than its original source.  It is a rare occurrence and maybe some of you might disagree.  But what makes this a good movie is that I knew exactly what was going to happen and the story wasn’t anything special but these two young actors, Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in their roles as Hazel and Augustus convinced me that this story was great.  Their characters and their development and just how they were able to show all those emotions of teens burdened with cancer, uncertain with life, falling in love and all the ups and downs reached out to me and tugged on my heartstrings just a little (and some parts a little more).

Have you seen and/or read The Fault in Our Stars? What are your thoughts?

Any guesses on what G movie will be? Hint: Inspirational/Music