COLLIDER – “Live in the moment” is a nice platitude and a crappy life philosophy. Vivacity is all well and good. We should appreciate the present, but we can’t live only for the present. We have to think about tomorrow because we’re probably going to be there. In his wonderful new film The Spectacular Now, director James Ponsoldt explore the live-for-the-moment mentality with an authentic and earnest look at high school emotions, anxiety about the future, and first love. Led by extraordinary performances from stars Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now is a thoroughly charming and surprisingly powerful coming-of-age story about the fear of looking ahead and the seductive safety of living in the present.
Sutter Keely (Teller) is the life of the party. He knows everyone’s name and always has access to booze. After breaking up with his girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson), Sutter drunkenly drives home only to awake on the front lawn of classmate Aimee Finicky (Woodley). Aimee is pretty, but shy and removed from the popular crowd. Sutter’s attempts at a rebound quickly turn into genuine feelings towards Aimee. Their relationship blossoms as they become drinking buddies, he gets her to come out of her shell, and she nudges him towards the introspection he’s thoroughly avoided.
Woodley wowed audiences in 2011’s The Descendants, and her work in The Spectacular Now is even better. No offense to her co-star, but it’s a bit more difficult to convince us that a girl as pretty as Aimee would be unpopular, but Ponsoldt doesn’t try to pull a She’s All That by saying that she’d be beautiful if only her hair wasn’t pulled back in a ponytail. He’s not trying to give Aimee a physical makeover because Woodley shows us that the character is beautiful on the inside. When she talks about her dream marriage at the dinner party of Sutter’s sister Holly (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), we can’t help but fall in love with Aimee.
Woodley is fantastic, but the breakthrough turn comes from Teller. If The Spectacular Now becomes a hit, Teller becomes a star. He is funny, charismatic, and completely believable as a guy who is happy to pretend he’s one-dimensional because he doesn’t want to look beyond his narrow self-definition. When Sutter’s world starts being upended by honest emotions that force him to reevaluate his personality and his relationship with his estranged father (Kyle Chandler), Teller plays the drama with just as much power and passion as the comedy. Credit must once again be shared with Ponsoldt who skillfully transitions the movie from a big, bold comic first half to a thoughtful, heartfelt dramatic conclusion.
By investing in his characters and giving the actors room to flesh out their characters, Ponsoldt stops his movie from being a cautionary tale. Obviously, “living like there’s no tomorrow” isn’t a good life strategy, but it’s an understandable escape. It’s undoubtedly entertaining to watch Sutter flee from his responsibilities and neglect plans for life beyond high school. But The Spectacular Now never lets its protagonist off the hook. The movie doesn’t lecture and it doesn’t scold; it simply lets the present play out to an uncertain and ultimately more rewarding future.
MTV – We’ve hardly heard a peep from “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” star Shailene Woodley since she was cast as heroine Beatrice “Tris” Prior in the big-screen adaptation of dystopian thriller “Divergent.” Well, not anymore, seeing as we caught up with the star today at the Sundance Film Festival, where she was promoting her movie “The Spectacular Now.”
So, first things first: What inspired Shailene to sign on for the role of the Dauntless factioner? We guarantee her answer is nothing you’d expect.
“I read the book, and I thought it was really—my whole thing, to be honest, is I never wanted to do big films,” she explained. “I’ve been acting for 16 years, and it was never something that I wanted to do, to be in a big blockbuster film, especially one that was similar to ‘Hunger Games’ or ‘Twilight.’ You know, one that had a huge pre-existing fan base and one that would carry on for multiple years.”
But that all changed once she cracked the spine on Veronica Roth’s young-adult novel.
“After I read the book, I was really profoundly moved, and it’s really metaphorical for things that are going on today, specifically things that I’m passionate about and things that I want to make public and things that I want to educate people on,” Shailene said. “So I think it’s a really great platform, not only artistically but also from a human level just to expose these kind of messy, nasty things that are going on in our country.”
What types of things, specifically?
“In ‘Divergent,’ people are injected with this serum and then controlled by it, and I think that it’s really funny that right now we’re starting to chip our dogs and chip our babies,” she said. “That’s just a small example. I could go on for hours. There’s also mind control that kind of gets dealt with in ‘Divergent.’ That’s going on today and nobody knows about that.”
“Divergent” is slated to hit theaters March 21, 2014.
I’ve uploaded some newly released photos of Shailene with The Spectacular Now co-stars Miles Teller, Brie Larson and director James Ponsoldt in portrait sessions to promote the film ahead of its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
I’ve uploaded some new images from The Spectacular Now to the gallery. Two brand new stills from the film were released earlier today and I will hopefully be able to update them with larger versions very soon. Additional on set images have also been added. Be sure to take a look!
MTV – Gwen Stacy is going to have some competition for Peter Parker’s heart in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” when Shailene Woodley enters the scene as the new Mary Jane Watson.
But first, let’s check in with the old Mary Jane, shall we?
During the recent press junket for “On the Road,” Kirsten Dunst spoke to MTV News about Woodley’s casting as Peter’s fiery-haired love interest. In short: she very much approves of the choice.
“I really like her too, a lot,” Dunst said about Woodley getting the role, going on to detail the encounters they’ve had in the past. “I’ve met her a few times and we’ve talked about health foods, we know some of the same people, she’s really into finding springs and natural water and she’ll go get her water and things like that. I’ve done that before, and we’ve talked about that. I think she’s a sweetheart and such a good actress.”
“I’m happy,” is Dunst’s ultimate position on the casting. “If I had to pick someone, I’m happy she’s following in my shoes.”
I’ve added a large version of the first production still from The Spectacular Now to the gallery. Hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of the movie in the lead up to its premiere at Sundance Film Festival in January. I can’t wait!