CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.
Film Review: Edge Ebbs & Flows in ‘The Edge of Seventeen’
CHICAGO – “The Edge of Seventeen” does attempt to do some different things with the growing-up-too-soon teenager soap opera – it throws in a authentic parent, contemporary sex issues and truthful awkwardness. But it can’t help being too heroic, and too “everything’s all right.”
Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) has grown into the title 16 year-old called Nadine, and interprets the material with a decent strength of character. It would be easy to dismiss her performance as “Juno-Lite” (as I did when asked for an instant reaction), but she has a depth of field that goes underneath that surface, even though the screenplay – by writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig – kept feeding her the Juno-type lines. The story also has a juicy bit of desperation, since Nadine’s family is still reeling from the accidental death of their father five years before. The film didn’t need the Woody Harrelson “cool teacher” role, nor did it need some of the strange touches like Nadine’s penchant for seducing boys, then pulling the rug out once some action was attempted. Sure, it was a necessary reminder that ‘no means no,” but it is so crassly exposed that is was uncomfortable – which probably was the point.
Nadine (Steinfeld) and her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) are living the adolescent edge-of-seventeen life. Five years after the death of Nadine’s father, her mother Mona (Kyra Sedgwick) is trying to keep the family together – which includes Nadine’s brother Darian (Blake Jenner) – while still trying to make a relationship connection on her own.
When Mona decides to take a weekend with a new beau, Darian and Nadine throw a big party, and Nadine ends up blackout drunk. This allows Darian and Krista to hook up, and throws a wrench into Nadine’s barely-in-control life. It turns out she has no friends besides Krista, so she now prefers to confide in her teacher Mr. Brunner (Woody Harrelson), and allows her life to fall off a cliff.
Nadine and Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson) on ‘The Edge of Seventeen’
Photo credit: STX Entertainment