Don’t Miss ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’

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Olivia Cooke stars in "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl."

Credit: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

(WOMENSENEWS)–"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl," opening June 12, is about finding the light in life, and taking every opportunity to enjoy it, before it slips away. It’s not a tear jerker, but do bring tissues. Based on Jesse Andrews’ eponymous novel, it features three dorky high school kids– two boys and a girl — whose unconventional friendship sustains them through the awkwardness and insecurities and crises of teenage-ness. Rachel, "the dying girl" of the title so exquisitely portrayed by Olivia Cooke, is being treated for leukemia. Gregg, or the titular "me" (Thomas Mann), is a semi-loner neighbor whose mom has ordered him to be kind and attentive to her. Neither of them welcomes the forced friendship, but things move forward from there. Don’t miss it.

"The Wolfpack" is a coming-of-age documentary about the Angulo children, home-schooled siblings who were raised in a Lower East Side apartment in New York City, from which they could never leave. Yes, their parents kept them captive in a completely controlled environment, isolated from the outer world. Much of what they knew of life came from movies – which they regularly reenacted, donning homemade costumes to play Batman and other heroes or villains. First-time director Crystal Moselle follows the kids, now grown, as they trip down memory lane, rediscovering their past and figuring out how it has defined their present. Fascinating.

"The Yes Men Are Revolting" is the third film in the nonfiction franchise that follows the activist antics of Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, who stage dramatic, attention-getting pranks to raise awareness about corporate and government malfeasance in the environmental arena. This edition, co-directed by Laura Nix, who served as producer on the other two films, spends more time behind the scenes than on the front, showing how the "Yes Men" develop their projects and sustain each other. But there’s also plenty of footage of them setting up Shell and other environmental evil-doers for lampooning. The antics are still engaging.

"Vendetta," this week’s femme-helmed horror thriller, is the latest release from the Jen and Sylvia Soska, whose Twisted Twins production company has developed a loyal following. A revenge story set inside prison, the film is filled with the sort of disturbing and violent images that are prevalent in the Soskas’ previous features, such as "Dead Hooker in a Trunk" and "American Mary." Both of those films were, however, femme-centric and written by the Soskas, who also acted in them. "Vendetta," by contrast, comes from the pen of Justin Shady, journalist and graphic novelist, and most of the violence is man-to-man. Over-the-top physical brutality pushes things into the realm of violent camp. Frankly, I don’t feel comfortable pitching my tent in that arena. If you do, the film will give you plenty of ground.

"," screening in both 3-D and 2-D, is proof positive that the "dinosaur live" franchise – the series of movies that capitalize on human fascination with extinct prehistoric species — is unsustainable. In this movie, set in a dinosaur theme park, flying dinos snatch human tourists off the ground in their huge talons and play catch with the terrified victims. Giant reptiles and fish bite people in half or swallow them whole. Bryce Dallas Howard charges through the jungle, outrunning carnivores who’d make a meal of her, in . . . high heels. It’s painful to see the vast amount of resources that clearly went into the film not being put to better use.

Stay tuned for more June openers next week.

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