Gay Teen Cruelly Forced Out of the Closet in Heartwarming Coming-of-Age Dramedy
Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) would tell you himself that he’s your typical teen except for the fact that he’s hiding one huge secret. He’s gay, but hasn’t told either his parents (Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner) or his friends. He’s even dated a cute, female classmate (Cassady McClincy) at Creekwood High to keep up the charade.
After all, he’s well aware of the merciless teasing waiting for anybody brave enough to come out of the closet. That was the fate of Ethan (Clark Moore), a kid who’s been bullied at the school ever since revealing his sexual orientation.
Simon maintains his sanity by anonymously visiting an LGBTQ-friendly blog where he’s bonded with another gay student from Creekwood. First, they just serve as support for each other. However, over time their friendship blossoms into love. Trouble is, they’re both using pseudonyms, and Simon has no idea who “Blue” is because the object of his affection is understandably hesitant to share his true identity.
The plot thickens the day Simon gets up from a school computer without closing out the website. The next user (Logan Miller) figures out that he’s gay, and starts threatening to out him.
Initially, Simon tries to meet the blackmailer’s demands, since he’d prefer to come out of the closet on his own terms. But that proves impossible when Martin the creep turns his world upside-down by spilling the beans to the entire student body.
That is the vulnerable protagonist’s awkward predicament in Love, Simon, the best gay-themed movie since Call Me by Your Name which just won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. This relatively-light adventure is also based on a novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.
The picture was directed by Greg Nerlanti (Life as We Know It), who handles the delicate subjective matter oh so sensitively and sensibly. If this heartwarming teen-oriented bildungsroman is any indication of how Hollywood plans to handle homosexuality in the future, the culture has truly turned a corner in terms of teaching tolerance of sexual preferences.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, underage drinking, sexuality and mature themes
Running time: 109 minutes
Production Studios: Fox 2000 Pictures / Temple Hill Entertainment / Twisted Media / New Leaf Literary & Media
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Alicia Vikander Plays Acrobatic Superhero in Reboot of Action Franchise
Times have certainly changed when you find celebrated dramatic actresses opting to play action heroes in blockbuster movies. For instance, Jennifer Lawrence had already been nominated for an Academy Award (for Winter’s Bone) when she agreed to star as Katniss Everdeen in the adaptation of The Hunger Games trilogy. And she’s since been nominated for three more Oscars, winning for Silver Linings Playbook.
Now we have Alicia Vikander taking a page out Jennifer’s “playbook” by assuming the role of Lara Croft in the reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise. After all, Vikander had not only already won an Academy Award (for The Danish Girl), but also received critical acclaim for delivering mesmerizing performances in Ex Machina and Testament of Youth.
The upshot is that Tomb Raider 2.0 is blessed with a versatile lead who is not only eye candy and kicks butt in convincing fashion but has the emotional range to induce the audience to invest in her character. What makes Vikander’s accomplishments all the more impressive is the fact that English isn’t even her native language, having been born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden.
At the picture’s point of departure, we find Lara eking out a living in East London as a bike courier, and training to be a kickboxer in her free time. She doesn’t have to be so poor, given that she’s the only heir to a massive fortune left behind by her parents, Lady and Lord Croft.
While her mother is really dead, there’s no proof of her father’s (Dominic West) passing. Lord Croft was an archaeologist/explorer who went missing seven years ago on an expedition to an uncharted spot in the ocean off the coast of Japan. He was searching for a fabled tomb rumored to contain a key to a supernatural realm.
Instead of signing daddy’s death certificate, accepting her inheritance, and living in the lap of luxury, Lara follows a set of mysterious clues he left behind leading to a an island resembling the Rock of Gibraltar. Upon arriving, she must rely on her wits and her acrobatic and archery skills to survive an epic fight to the death with a worthy adversary (Walton Goggins) and his gang of goons armed to the teeth.
Think The Da Vinci Code, except with less talk and way more action.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence and some profanity
In English and Cantonese with subtitles
Running time: 118 minutes
Production Studios: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Warner Brothers Pictures / GK Fims / Square Enix
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening March 23, 2018
BIG BUDGET FILMS
Midnight Sun (PG-13 for partying and sensuality) Bittersweet romance about a sickly teen (Bella Thorna) allergic to sunlight whose sweet soulmate (Patrick Schwarzenegger) doesn’t mind that she can’t go on a date before dark. Featuring Rob Riggle, Quinn Shephard and Ken Tremblett.
Pacific Rim Uprising (PG-13 for action, violence and some profanity) Sci-fi sequel finds Jake (John Boyega) and Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) joining forces with a new generation of Jaeger pilots to save humanity from another invasion of alien sea monsters. With Scott Eastwood, Charlie Day, Tian Jing and Adria Arjona.
Paul, Apostle of Christ (PG-13 for disturbing images and some violence) James Faulkner handles the title role in this faith -based biopic chronicling the evolution of St. Paul from a persecutor of Christians to a pious disciple of Jesus. Cast includes Jim Caviezel, Joanne Whalley and Olivier Martinez.
Sherlock Gnomes (PG for some rude and suggestive humor) Johnny Depp plays the title character in this animated sequel which finds Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) recruiting a legendary sleuth and his sidekick (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to investigate the mysterious disappearance of London’s lawn ornaments. Voice cast includes Maggie Smith, Michael Caine, Mary J. Blige and Ozzy Osbourne.
Unsane (R for profanity, violence, sexual references and disturbing behavior) Psychological thriller, directed by Steven Soderbergh, about a young businesswoman (Claire Foy) forced to confront her greatest fear after accidentally committing herself to a mental institution while trying to escape her stalker (Joshua Leonard). With Jay Pharoah, Amy Irving and Juno Temple.
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS
A Bag of Marbles (Unrated) Adaptation of Joseph Joffo’s World War II memoir, set in 1941, about a couple of Jewish brothers’ (Dorian Le Clech and Batyste Fleurial) attempt to survive during the Nazi occupation of Paris. With Kev Adams, Patrick Bruel and Elsa Zylberstein. (In French, German, Yiddish and Russian with subtitles.)
Final Portrait (R for profanity, sexual references and nudity) Buddy biopic, set in 1964, chronicling the reunion in Paris of Swiss painter Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) and his good friend, American art critic James Lord (Armie Hammer). Supporting cast includes Tony Shalhoub, James Faulkner and Clemence Poesy. (In English, French and Italian with subtitles.)
Hichki (Unrated) Bollywood coming-of-age drama about a young woman (Rani Mukerji) with Tourette syndrome who turns her weakness into a strength en route to landing a teaching position at an elite prep school. With Supriya Pilgaonkar and Ivan Rodrigues. (In Hindi with subtitles.)
Roxanne Roxanne (Unrated) Chante’ Adams plays the title character in this hip-hop drama, set in Queens in the early Eighties, about a 14-year-old girl well on her way to becoming a rap legend. Support cast includes Nia Long, Mahershala Ali and Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz.
What We Started (Unrated) The electronic music craze is the subject of this documentary featuring commentary by Ed Sheeran, Louie Vega and Usher Ray