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Movie Review: Me, Earl and the Dying Girl

Blogs and Columns
Posted by DougLane on 2015/6/28 19:00:00 (265 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new window
Me, Earl and the Dying Girl (June 2015)
Written by Jesse Andrews & Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Starring Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke & Ronald Cyler II
Rated: PG-13
Review: 9/10

Trailer
Open in new window By Doug Lane

Last summer, I wrote a pretty forgiving review of “The Fault in Our Stars,” claiming that its conventional (and at times, manipulative) narrative didn’t subvert, but rather wandered within its movie boundaries well. And while I still stand by such a statement, I must confess that I've become somewhat jaded with such critiques. While there's nothing wrong with being perfectly adequate, movies should take risks when dealing with tough subjects, even if they are adolescent-oriented. This is why I loved “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl” so much:, another wonderful summer film getting lost within the big-budget blockbuster scene.

Greg Gaines (played by Thomas Mann), ‘Earl’ (Ronald Cyler II) and the ‘Dying Girl’ Rachel (Olivia Cooke) may seem like indie-movie stand-ins, but the film does a great job to make sure each character actually has depth. Greg is a loner, preferring to remain aloof than participate in the high school social structure; he calls Earl his ‘co-worker’ because of their working relationship (they cleverly remake classic movies together) despite being friends since childhood. He scoffs at the idea of visiting Rachel, despite his parents (a wonderful pairing of Connie Britton and Nick Offerman) telling him of Rachel’s leukemia diagnosis.

Adapted for the screen by the book’s author Jesse Andrews and directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, the movie’s biggest upside is its frankness. Mann, Cooke and Cyler II all mesh perfectly together, with each actor playing to the other instead of themselves, even when the narrative prefers to focus on Greg. What we get is an enduring friendship between the three that’s both beautiful without the dousing of sentimentality that plagues most coming-of-age movies. For the most part, Gomez-Rejon’s style plays well with the actors, creating a Wes Anderson-esque vibe without all the emptiness that sometimes accompanies Anderson films.

However, the most striking thing about this film is the structure. From the start, Greg frames the movie through the writing of an essay (much like “The Spectacular Now," another wonderful coming-of-age film), which creates both an intriguing and, at times, infuriating framing device. Greg’s internalizing of Rachel’s death is a little off-putting upon first glance. But think back to the structure: Greg is attempting to recreate this narrative in a way that makes sense not only to him, but to an external audience. One of the first lines in the movie is Greg musing how he “doesn’t even know how to tell this story.” As he relives the experience in his mind, mediating it before putting it to screen and thus, to the audience, he’s attempting to make sense of something that, at times, doesn’t make any sense.

In this light, Greg’s internalization of Rachel’s sickness makes the third-act much more honest than the dishonest third act from “The Fault in Our Stars.” The movie doesn’t move outward, but inward, as Greg attempts to thrust all his feelings upon himself, since no other way makes sense for him. So while it might seem unfair to focus on Greg instead of Rachel, it shows how selfish one can be in the face death: instead of coming together, we turn away, preferring to trivialize rather than accept the truth.

Even after passing the precipice of grief, Greg can’t help but think upon himself until the very last scene of the film. I won’t spoil it, but it’s a definitive, powerful scene that will linger around for days to come. All the quirkiness from the first-two acts subtly blend together into a scene that encapsulates the word 'bittersweet.' It's a scene I wish was in "The Fault in Our Stars," but one that I simply conceded was too mature for such a film genre to pull off. I'm glad I've never been so wrong.




Doug Lane is a Lewisville resident, where he just graduated from the University of North Texas. Lane also graduated from Lewisville High School, where he wrote movie reviews for the Farmers Harvest
Copyright 2015, Doug Lane - Licensed to the Lewisville Texan Journal

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LHS wins One-Act Play State Title

Blogs and Columns
Posted by LewisvilleTexan on 2015/6/15 20:40:00 (397 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new windowOpen in new windowLewisville High School won its first One-Act Play state championship on May 28, placing first among eight schools that reached the University Interscholastic League Class 6A finals held in Austin on the campus of The University of Texas.

In addition to winning the overall championship as a company, Lewisville garnered four individual acting awards. Senior Joshua Wallace was named Best Actor for the third time this spring, and also received the prestigious Samuel French Award as the top overall performer in the competition. Senior Adrienne Lee was named to the All-Star Cast, and senior Julian Johnson and junior Desirae Rubio were named to the Honorable Mention All-Star Cast.

“This experience has been incredible,” said Brad Durio, in his first year as head theater director at LHS and his fifth time overall to take a team to the state competition. “These students went to Austin to tell a beautiful story and did just that. The performances were honest and true. This company will forever hold a special place in my heart.”

The LHS company advanced through five qualifying competitions since March to reach the state finals, including the Region I contest in Arlington in late April. It marked the first time Lewisville had reached the state level in One-Act Play since 1991.

UIL started holding the One-Act Play championship in 1927. During a One-Act Play competition, student theater companies have seven minutes to place technical equipment and set/props, 40 minutes to perform, and seven minutes to strike the set. Exceeding those times disqualifies the company from judging.

Lewisville’s contest entry featured scenes from “The African Company Presents Richard III” by playwright Carlyle Brown. It is a dramatic retelling of a little-known event in 1821 in New York City – 40 years before the end of slavery in the U.S. and 50 years before black Americans earned the right to vote. The first black theatrical company in the country, the African Company of New York, was putting on plays in a downtown Manhattan theater to mixed-race audiences, but faced significant obstacles and even violent opposition.

The LHS cast included (in order of appearance) Tallon Coxe (Stephen Price), Adrienne Lee (Sarah), Desirae Rubio (Ann Johnson), Joshua Wallace (James Hewlett), Julian Johnson (Papa Shakespeare), Andreon Watson (William Henry Brown), Nate Courtney (The Constable-Man), and ensemble members McKenzie Cloud, Destinee Gines, Mae Adela Reiland and Philip Robinson.

Technical crew members were Keegan Brown, Marily Gonzalez, Kalee Grimsley, Macy Kunke and Nicole Smalls. Company alternates were Nicole Renteria, Rachel Millaway and Ruby Adame.

Faculty directors are Durio, Laura McNary, Wendi Brozek and Wendy Barrett.

From a submitted report

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Food Reviews: Mill Street Diner

Blogs and Columns
Posted by Pmoulard87 on 2015/6/2 16:10:00 (767 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new windowOpen in new windowBy Philip Moulard

Mill Street Diner
727 S Mill St, Lewisville, TX 75057

Traveling around the United States, one may witness a multitude of regionally unique places, but none are as memorable as the first time dining at a southern café. Down-home southern cafes offer a rustic, comfortable, and soothing atmosphere that is unlike anything offered in the northern parts of our beloved home land. Mill Street Diner is the quintessential southern diner. Inviting local photography, retro wall décor, and calming plants, all come together to offer a unique and relaxing atmosphere to dine in.

Pulling up to Mill Street Diner, the antique wooden building fills you with a feeling of nostalgia. Walking inside the diner, the yellow walls and fish tanks bring back memories of an elderly family member’s home during Sunday dinner. A primarily elderly demographic, tell a story of an establishment with a deep history and strong relationship with its community. A lone warrior hostess serves double duty as a waitress. She sits you at a table with red and black color schemed table and chairs. She makes jokes and offers suggestions on the daily changing, extensive menu. You place your order of hamburger steak and a salad and then glance around, taking in all the down-home southern charm happening around you.

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Food Reviews: Zoës Kitchen

Blogs and Columns
Posted by Pmoulard87 on 2015/5/20 21:00:00 (828 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new windowOpen in new windowBy Philip Moulard

Zoës Kitchen
4600 SH 121, Suite 120 [Map]
214-494-6411

Fast-casual dining is a quickly growing fad in the food industry. In the past eight years, there have been a number of southern-based, fast-casual cafes that have rapidly grown and expanded all throughout the southern United States. Any type of food you can think of from Mexican to Italian has been given the fast-casual treatment; but none have been executed as well as Zoës Kitchen. By providing healthy and freshly southern-tinged Mediterranean dishes, Zoës Kitchen has taken the food industry by storm. Lewisville can now proudly say we host one of these fine establishments.

The level of excitement that I experienced when told I was reviewing the new Zoës was unmeasurable. Throughout my eight-year residence in the Dallas area, I have eaten my way through a host of regional and local chains; but of all of the places I’ve had the pleasure of dining at, none have satisfied me in the way Zoës has. Claiming to be “freshly made” is a common ploy in food marketing, however, Zoës takes pride in preparing each dish from scratch. You could visit five different Zoës Kitchen locations, order the same dish and each plate would have elements that unique to that location. It is this care to the culinary arts that has made them a force to be reckoned with.

Walking into Zoës Castle Hills, I was greeted by the inviting colors of red and yellow. The elegant post-modern decor gives Zoës a visual trait very unique to fast-casual chains. As I approached the counter, my eyes were enticed by the containers of ready-made slaw and salads. Above my head, hung an extensive menu of many Mediterranean inspired dishes ranging from kebabs to Greek salads. I made my selection of Mediterranean chicken, took my order number flag and sat down at a small window-side table, looking out to a cozy outdoor patio. Twelve minutes danced by as I sat at my little table, finishing a small tech-based conversation with a fellow patron-in-waiting. Before we could finish our goodbyes, my food had arrived.


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Food Reviews: Good Times Cajun

Blogs and Columns
Posted by LewisvilleTexan on 2015/5/10 22:10:20 (668 reads)

Open in new windowBy Philip Moulard

Good Times Cajun Cuisine

1565 W Main St #225, Lewisville, TX 75067
(469) 464-3033

Good Times Cajun Cuisine has scratched a long-standing itch I have had since my relocation to Lewisville from Louisiana eight years ago. Many a cajun establishment I have visited, most of which have been disappointing. At many, the food would be good, but the atmosphere and attitude would be all wrong. At others, the atmosphere was there, but the food was lacking. Good Times is the first time, that as soon as i stepped out of my car and looked at that swampland themed mural painted on the windows, I knew I had found a place with genuine love for the Cajun culture.

I remember the day I moved from my small town of Baker, Louisiana like it was yesterday. I was twenty years old, unemployed, and lacking any sort of motivation to set any goals in my life. Unimpressed and disconnected from the culture and food of my homeland, I could not see past the crime, the drug problems, and the overall feeling of being stuck in a poverty stricken city that didn’t pique any of my interests. Months prior to this, I had been offered an opportunity by my loving Sister to move to the Great State of Texas with her and her family. Without any second thought, I packed up my small selection of clothes and large selection of video games, and loaded them into the back of that SUV, whose make and model escapes me. I shed a few tears, hugged my parents and never looked back. Eight years have passed since that pivotal day and though I love this vast new land I have made my new home , I find myself often daydreaming of the zydeco festivals, royal colors, and french cuisine of my birthplace.

As soon as you walk into the establishment, lavish colors of purple and gold decorate the entirety of the quaint little cafe. You're quickly greeted by an impressive statue paying homage to the gators of the wetlands. Hanging from the ceiling are inflatable crawfish holding a beer in one hand and a packet of Louisiana Fish Fry in the other. The familiar sounds of Warren Storm and Wayne Toupes took me back to the many Cajun weddings i attending growing up, with all their synchronized dancing, plethora of beer, and more jambalaya than you could physically eat. My daughter and I took a booth toward the back of the restaurant, near the big purple curtain that separated the interior from the kitchen. Quickly we were approached by blonde gentleman who had sense of genuine neighborly attitude you only would from a small parish cafe back home. Doing my research before coming, I ordered up the recommended dish of catfish with a side of fried okra, and a small cup of the dirty rice. Within minutes, Brenda Brown; the owner and head chef made her way out to our cozy little booth to introduce herself and give us samples of her prized bread pudding. The little plates of the bread pudding were prepared with a sense of culinary care that is no stranger to any cafe you would frequent in New Orleans or Metairie. She also followed up the small samples with a much appreciated coloring book and crayon box for my daughter. We spent the next 12 minutes or so turning that dastardly Swiper The Fox green, and before we knew it, we were graced with a large plate of catfish, okra, and dirty rice.

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KLB Spring Cleanup

Blogs and Columns
Posted by LewisvilleTexan on 2015/5/7 21:42:23 (253 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new windowOpen in new windowOpen in new windowKeep Lewisville Beautiful celebrated its 29th annual citywide cleanup on Saturday April 25, 2015 with a special Earth Day Expo. This free event was held in conjunction with the Keep Texas Beautiful Trash Off and the Keep American Beautiful Great America Clean Up activities. 605 volunteers showed community spirit by working hard and helped remove more than 6.25 tons of litter from Lewisville streets, parks, historic cemeteries, and creeks. Volunteers contributed 2,420 volunteer hours valued at $55,829 in litter abatement services for the Lewisville community. Lunch, T-shirts, goody bags, and door prizes were provided by KLB and event donors. An environmental expo and Earth Day Celebration were also held onsite. A big thank you to all of the wonderful volunteers who worked so hard to make Lewisville a better place to work, live, and play!

Five teams were awarded trophies for their hard work: Youth group winners included the Jim Boland Family with Sam’s Club who picked up 15 bags of trash and illegal dumping from a historical cemetery site for youth small group, and Killough High School’s AVID group who picked up 31 bags of trash in the youth large group category. For the adult small group, Texas New Mexico Power Company removed 14 bags of trash plus shopping carts from the canal behind Toys R Us. The Lewisville Texan Journal team took home the adult large group trophy, and removed 66 bags of trash from Timber Creek.

Several unusual items were found, including a homemade tetherball stand, a futon frame, an American express card, illegally dumped concrete culverts and bathroom fixtures, a corked champagne bottle, a giant pink eraser, and a 1974 Who’s Who plaque from the State of Texas. Tanya Primivera won “most unusual item” trophy for bringing back the Who’s Who plaque.

Keep Lewisville Beautiful would like to thank all of the volunteers and sponsors that made this event possible. Sponsors of this event include City of Lewisville, Waste Management, Republic Waste Services (Lewisville Landfill), Texas New Mexico Power Company, DATCU, Dale Downing CPA, Keep Texas Beautiful, Keep America Beautiful, LLELA, LoneStar Storage, Dallas Zoo, Bahama Buck’s, Starbucks, Upper Trinity Regional Water District, Lewisville Lion’s Club, The Lewisville Police Department, Blue Bell Creameries, La Hacienda Ranch, The Texas Rangers Ball Club, Hyena Comedy Club, Walmart, Lewisville Lake Symphony, Taco Cabana, Spaghetti Warehouse, Joe’s Crab Shack, BJ’s Restaurants, Inc., Blue Goose Cantina, Texas Motor Speedway, Lowe’s, and Market Street.

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Food Reviews: Mama's Pizza

Blogs and Columns
Posted by LewisvilleTexan on 2015/5/5 22:10:00 (983 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new windowBy Philip Moulard

Mama's Pizza
297 W. Round Grove Rd. Lewisville, TX 75067
972.315.8483

So put yourself in this scenario: You, a tired toddler, and a sassy beautiful red-head are all sitting in the lobby of a mechanics shop whilst you all three of you are waiting to hear the news on said red-head's older-than-it-should-be means of transportation. The only thing louder than the adjoining garage is the collective grumbles of the stomachs of your party. So as any naturally born leader of his family unit, I wrangled up my small family and went out into the wilderness that is a shopping center. After passing a fitness center ironically placed and mocking me, a breakfast establishment just on the brink of finishing its morning rush, we came upon a place simply called "Mama's Pizza". Blindly we walked through the double doors and apparently stepped into a time portal.

Walking into the line for the first time at Mama's Pizza, is like stepping right back into the early 1990s. Mediocre art, color clashing tables, checker tiled floors, arcade machines, claw games— these are all just a handful of the throwback nuances you are greeted with when you walk into the pizzeria, but of all things there, the most 90s element is the giant 7 foot tall and 3 feet thick 90s style projector big screen TV that on-looks all of the tables in the restaurant. The culture shock doesn't stop there because once you make your way to the counter you are greeted by the happiest elderly Asian man you've ever seen who is accompanied by his wife. After paying, you then sit amongst the retro decor, then proceed to go get your plate from the buffet.

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Volunteers Plant Trees at Soon-to-open Copperas Branch Park East

Blogs and Columns
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2015/3/28 17:10:00 (500 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new windowOpen in new windowOpen in new windowVolunteers Saturday converged on Copperas Branch Park East to plant hundreds of trees in anticipation of its opening this Spring. The park, which is not yet open to the public, was funded by the I-35E expansion project as mitigation for taking out park land on the West side of the highway.

Volunteers from local environmental and civic organizations including Keep Lewisville Beautiful, Cross Timbers Urban Forestry Council, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas and the University of North Texas gathered at the park where they were welcomed by AGL representative Kimberly Sims, and Denton County Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell.

The park includes nearly a mile and a half of brand new walking and bicycling trails. A 20-space parking lot has been added near Tower Bay park at the trailhead. A 12 foot wide section of trail over 2,300 feet long runs from the trailhead along a newly constructed embankment just east of the DCTA tracks to the Copperas Point peninsula. There, a one-mile 10-foot-wide hike and bike trail loops around a considerable portion of the peninsula. The trees were planted on either side of the trail, and will provide shade for walkers and bicyclists once mature.

AGL’s environmental compliance manager Eric Huff explained that crews have been working on the park, removing invasive and non-native vegetation. In addition to the 250 trees planted Saturday, crews were preserving various native and established plants and shrubs, and will install more than 1,500 native or adapted plants including oak and pecan trees, native grasses, and wildflowers such as bluebonnets and black-eyed susans.

The area of the park that will open had previously been accessible to the public, but In 1988 after the completion of Ray Roberts Lake, the Corps of Engineers increased the conservation pool level of Lewisville Lake from 515 feet to 522 feet above sea level. This submerged the road leading to the peninsula, making the area basically inaccessible.

The entire park, including permanent restroom facilities, is fully accessible to the disabled. While it is not designed to be accessed by vehicles, the trails will allow park maintenance vehicles and first responders to access it by vehicle. The park will be managed by City of Lewisville Parks and Leisure Services.

We will provide an update when we learn when the park will open to the public.

For more photos, see our Facebook album...

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35Express Project Hosts Community Meetings Along the Corridor

Blogs and Columns
Posted by LewisvilleTexan on 2015/3/18 21:03:05 (478 reads)

Open in new windowCommunity members and commuters to receive update on I-35E Expansion

Commuters, residents and business owners are invited to learn more about the 35Express Project, an expansion of Interstate 35E between U.S. Highway 380 in Denton County and I-635 in Dallas County, by attending one of three community meetings. All meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. and will highlight a different segment of the 30-mile corridor.

North Segment (Cities of Corinth and Denton)
Tuesday, March 24 - 6:30 p.m.
Glory of Zion Ministries, Global Spheres Center
7801 I-35E South
Corinth, Texas 76210

South Segment Meeting (Cities of Farmers Branch and Carrollton) – NEW LOCATION
Tuesday, March 31 - 6:30 p.m.
City of Carrollton Senior Center
1720 Keller Springs
Carrollton, Texas 75006

Middle Segment (Cities of Lewisville, Highland Village, Hickory Creek, and Lake Dallas)
Thursday, April 2 - 6:30 p.m.
MCL Grand Theater
100 North Charles Street
Lewisville, Texas 75057

Those not able to attend the meeting in person can follow along on Twitter, @35Express, use #35ExpressChat to ask questions or join in on the conversation. For more information about the 35Express Project visit www.35Express.org, or call 214-483-7777.

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LPD Lieutenant Haynes Graduates Command College

Blogs and Columns
Posted by LewisvilleTexan on 2015/3/4 8:55:31 (354 reads)

Open in new windowLieutenant Scott W. Haynes of the Lewisville Police Department recently graduated from the Leadership Command College - Class 72 of the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas.

The program, taught by a consortium of universities throughout Texas, provides law enforcement administrators and executives with the skills necessary to effectively manage police agencies and deliver a high level of service to their communities. Module I, focusing on leadership, is taught at the Center for Executive Development at Texas A&M University. Module II at Texas Woman's University focuses on the political, legal, and social environment of law enforcement.

The program concluded on February 27, 2015 with training in law enforcement administration at the third module, held at Sam Houston State University.

From a submitted report

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