The Perks at The Manor

Monday night has become my go-to movie day. I'm okay with it! This week, Isaac and I went to The Manor in Squirrel Hill to see The Perks of being a Wallflower. So while You, dear reader, might think you are just here to read a review of the movie, think again. The Manor is also worth quite the mention considering it's history. So let's start there and then jump into the greatest movie I've seen this year. I think that's pretty safe to say, though I cannot actually remember all of the movies I've seen in 2012.

The Manor has great curb appeal!
The Manor, which is located in Pittsburgh's East End is one of the oldest theaters in the city. This theater is now celebrating it's 90th year of showing films and is newly renovated, and gorgeous. I especially loved the little seating area next to the concession stand and new bar. Yeah, a movie theater with a classy bar. How about that? Anyway, The Manor's slogan is "where the good movies play," and from what I've seen on their marquee whenever I am heading past it on the bus, that slogan seems fairly accurate. And thankfully for me and Isaac, and those other people in the theater with us, The Perks of being a Wallflower, was one of those movies.

One more thing about The Manor that I should mention too is that they do not show previews. So while I prefer to sit through them; to give some buffer time to late-comers and to be able to see what is coming out soon, but to be really honest, I guess since I was on time and didn't really care about any other movie, I was okay with it. Anyway, Perks. To keep it simple...great movie. I read the book in like sophomore year of college, "for fun." What, who does that? I have to admit that I forgot most of what happened, so I guess I'll have to re-read it since the movie did not align with all of what I remember of the book. But what I do remember of the book and this movie are fabulous.

The Perks of being a Wallflower movie poster outside of The Manor.
The Perks of being a Wallflower, which is based on the novel by the same name, by Stephen Chbosky (who also directed the movie), is about Charlie (played by Logan Lerman), a high school freshman, who is coping with his best friend's recent suicide, his own tortured past and being an outsider in the new world of high school. It's so cute when the protagonist is an introvert! I just wanted to squeeze him up and tell him I'd be his friend. Lerman was the perfect choice to play Charlie too. He is such a seasoned actor but just looks like an innocent little boy and had such a dopey little look on his face that I think was perfect for his character, or a puppy. He had a perfect performance in this movie.

Thankfully, as the story goes, Charlie does meet some friends, Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller) who are seniors, step-siblings and very full of life. However, just because the boy meets friends, this is still high school, so of course the rest of the school year includes dances, football, hook-ups, hang-outs, secrets, presents, classes, books, break ups and make ups and a whole lot of junk and drama thrown in every time adolescents seem bored. And of course, while some have supportive parents, controlling parents, pushy or absent parents, each young character is molded by their eight hours inside the school, but apparently more so by the hours spent in between. But let's get down to the greatest part of the movie: the setting.

Pittsburgh played as the backdrop for this fast-paced, flashback-heavy drama and while I am obviously biased, I think no other city could have done any better. You can tell in some scenes where they were shot, areas of Bethel Park, Upper St. Clair (where Chbosky is from) and of course, Peters Township High School. However, the most obvious places were the West End Overlook, Hollywood Theater in Dormont and the Fort Pitt Tunnel and Bridge. Oh man Pittsburgh, you've never looked more beautiful than in the background of kids riding in the back of a pickup truck. Which is actually illegal in the state of Pennsylvania for minors, but it makes for a few great scenes.

A great moment in the movie and a fabulous shot of Pittsburgh. Photo by John Bramley.
Besides the Pittsburgh scenes being beautiful, the soundtrack and timelessness of the film were so gorgeous. Although the book and movie are technically in the setting of the 90's, the only thing that obviously gives that time away is the making of mix tapes. God, don't you just miss making those? Such time and effort was put into your music consumption back then. Bring back the cassette tape! Anyway, since fashion is always on a repeat cycle and music classics like The Smiths, The Beatles and David Bowie seem to transcend through generations, you could not really tell that this movie was set in a certain time period. Especially since most of the scenes were shot in the school, how often do you really think high schools get a modern update? Granted there were no cell phones, no mention of Facebook and Charlie does use a typewriter, these are minor things that have not real hindrance on the plot. Usually in period-setting movies where characters get into weird situations I think "just call or text someone for help!" but there was never a time like that in Perks and the typewriter is making its comeback (I hope) so it seemed more endearing or classic rather than a sign of the times.

Not many can write a timeless story and match it with a timeless film, so hats off to Chbosky. Also this cast was so impressive, pretty much comprised of all of my favorite, not-so-Hollywood actors. This movie is a must see for audiences young and old. It truly is a timeless classic about growing up, finding unforgettable friends, loss, bullying, hope and most importantly, love.

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