'The Half of it"

Ellie (Leah Lewis) and Aster (Alexxis Lemire) in “The Half of It.”

THE HALF OF IT

(2020)

Te critically acclaimed comedy-drama and coming-of-age film “The Half of It” was recently named the winner of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Talented writer and director Alice Wu’s modern, clever reworking of Edmond Rostand’s “Cyrano de Bergerac” takes place in the Pacific Northwest city of Squahamish.

  Whipsmart Chinese-American immigrant and outsider Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) serves as the station master and signalman at the train depot in place of her depressed widowed dad (Collin Chou). Since Ellie writes papers for her not-so-bright classmates, football player and fledgling sausage entrepreneur Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) pays her to compose love letters to the most beautiful girl in their senior class, Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire).

  In the touching and laugh-out-loud funny scenario, heroine Ellie creates charming epistles full of literary and historical references. Aster remains fascinated by the lovesick football player who poses as the writer of the lovely notes. However, when Paul and Aster actually go on a date, he seems to be tongue-tied despite Ellie’s attempts to educate him.

  Everyone seems to think that Aster is destined to end up with her parents’ favorite, the handsome and bombastic Trig Carson (Wolfgang Novogratz), who seems to be a ringer for Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast.”

  The fresh and twisted take on a classic story works well especially because of the in-depth development of these unforgettable characters.

Rated PG-13  3 & 1/2 Stars

  New – a Netflix

Original

ROCKETMAN

(2019)

Outrageous and forever flamboyant entertainer Elton John (Taron Edgerton) bursts onto the screen in a flaming-orange jewell-encrusted, winged chicken suit.

After leaving a large venue and an “Elton!”-chanting crowd, he makes his way to a group of people in a strangely sterile institutional setting. But soon, the quiet place erupts into a surreal and boisterous musical fantasy sequence.

  Fans (and probably even non-fans) will have trouble sitting still during Egerton’s performance of Elton John’s signature songs in a stunning and sometimes heartwrenching biopic that qualifies as much more than a jukebox musical.

  Because Elton John’s company produced “Rocketman,” one might expect a whitewash of the superstar’s messy life. But writer Lee Hall and director Dexter Fletcher allow the audience to witness the pre-recovery warts-and-all portrait of a drug and alcohol-fueled, sexually-conflicted, mired-in-depression, self-hating and often obnoxious rocker.

  Besides the perfectly cast Egerton, the excellent players include Jamie Bell as lyricist Bernie Taupin, Bryce Dallas Howard and Stephen Macintosh as Elton’s parents, Gemma Jones as his  grandmother Ivy and Richard Madden as his manager John Reid.

  From his Middlesex roots as shy piano prodigy Reggie Dwight, to platinum records, over-the-top performances and a midlife crash, Elton John remains “still standing.”

 Rated R  3 & 1/2 Stars

Available on DVD

and Amazon Prime

Alice Reese is a member of the Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics Association. She reviews movies, arts and  entertainment for the Herald-Banner and for KETR

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