Reviews by diogenes
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51 reviews/ratings - 3 pages (20 reviews/ratings per page)
50 Ways of Saying Fabulous (2005)
The character I liked best was Roy (Jay Collins) - and everyone was unremittingly horrible to him throughout the entire movie! A very faithful adaptation of Graeme Aitken's novel.My Movie Rating: 7 / 10
The Box of Delights (1984)
Based on the 1935 novel by John Masefield, this is perhaps the finest ever adaptation of a children's novel for a children's TV series on British television. A thoroughly boy-centred, thoroughly English story: suspicious foreigners, kidnapped choirboys, "the wolves are running", servants who know how to make a posset, Master Kay bonding with Herne the Hunter in a primordial English forest, a strange fusion of the Pagan and the Christian, the police presented as a bunch of incompetent fools who are good for nothing, and a Box of such delights....
Patrick Troughton (surely one of England's finest ever actors) adds gravitas to the proceedings, and Robert Stephens (another fine actor) hams it up beautifully as the evil Abner Brown. Kay Harker is wonderfully played by Devin Stanfield. Stanfield has a charm that is hard to describe, a sort of slight hesitancy in his gestures - perhaps something to do with his being on the cusp of puberty. Troughton was later to say of the young Devin that he believed that he was the boy John Masefield himself would have chosen to play the role of Kay. I think he was right.My Movie Rating: 10 / 10
Boy Slaves (1939)
RKO's hilariously inept attempt to come up with their own version of the Dead End Kids (one of the cast even looks like a rattier version of Bobby Jordan). The messy plot incorporates a great deal of moral earnestness, and the maudlin sentiment is laid on with a trowel. The boys attempt to reproduce the banter of the Dead End Kids, but it just comes across as weird. They meet Julian Clary driving a cart (no, really). The only thing to be said in favour of this film is that it really is so bad that it's frequently quite entertaining in its sheer maladroitness. Enjoy!My Movie Rating: 3 / 10
There is no doubt that this film gets pretty dull. The problem is that the narrative revolves not so much around Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as around the adults - Mason's somewhat hippyish parents and particularly his mother's terrible choices of partner. Indeed, what is surprising is how little we learn in the first half of the film about Mason himself - what makes him tick, how he sees the world. The film samples events in his life - such as his getting a severe haircut at the hands of his mother's latest beau - but these pieces are too fragmentary to add up to a portrait. There is therefore no psychological development, just a series of events in his external life involving his parents and (later on) his sometime girlfriends, in what appears a somewhat privileged, if disordered, upbringing. He seems to go from lacklustre child to boring young adult via uncommunicative emo, and at no point do we actually care about him in the slightest.
I will admit that on the technical side the film is very good. It is put together remarkably well and Mason's (and his sister's) growing up is almost seamless. And the adult actors are all superb. But since this film is not really about its nominal protagonist but about the people around him, it isn't in fact about 'boyhood' at all. A disappointment.My Movie Rating: 3 / 10
Burning Secret (1988)
Well, just to add my voice to the chorus of praise... This movie is essentially about a boy (Edmund, played by David Eberts) whose heart is broken by a man. All the actors (Klaus Maria Brandauer, Faye Dunaway, Ian Richardson) are completely wonderful, but David Eberts' performance is particularly outstanding. Add to this a gorgeous soundtrack, and an equally gorgeous setting and mise-en-scène, and you have the definitive version of Stefan Zweig's short story.
There was a German film (Brennendes Geheimnis, 1933) made of Zweig's story a very long time ago - and it was very good, and well worth watching. However, Andrew Birkin's film is so unutterably PERFECT in every respect that it is really impossible to imagine it ever being bettered. A masterpiece.My Movie Rating: 10 / 10
Cesta z mesta (2000)
A very charming comedy (sort of), with some great characters (I loved the character of the granny!), and a lot of father-son bonding, as both father and son learn the virtues of a less frenetic pace of life in the country. The film also shows in an early skinny dipping scene that, in 2000, Czech film-making (and, presumably, the Czech cinema-going public) had yet to be infected with modern prudery. Michal Vorel is delightful as Honzík. Highly recommended.My Movie Rating: 8 / 10
Cider With Rosie (2015)
Very poor indeed. The original novel has been totally occluded by modern ideology and modern puritanism. Archie Cox is far too old for the elder Laurie anyway - all the schoolkids look far too old to still be at school, especially as the school-leaving age was much lower a century ago than it is now. The scene where Laurie plays 'doctors and nurses' with a local girl has been replaced by a scene where the older Laurie plays the same game with a woman rather than a girl - and even then the woman keeps some of her clothes on. The whole thing is risible in its prudery. This film is nothing more than a sad testament to the decline of civilisation over the last 50 years. The 1998 version was fine, but the 1971 version is really the definitive version - absolutely perfect. No need to bother with this steaming pile of feminist crap.My Movie Rating: 1 / 10
An utterly brilliant satire on Soviet bureaucracy, produced during the period of 'the Thaw' (roughly 1954-66) in the USSR. In the opening scene kids at a Summer camp are allowed to swim - but only in an area the size of a postage stamp and surrounded by netting, in order to avoid association with the local boys, who are alleged to harbour diseases. For breaking the rule of not associating with the local boys, Kostya (Vitya Kosykh) is expelled from the camp, but in fact remains on the grounds, with the other kids conspiring to keep his presence a secret.
Of course, kids in the west are now subject to far greater rules and strictures 'for their own safety' than was ever the case in the old USSR; making this satire as fresh and relevant as ever. A masterpiece of Soviet cinema. Very highly recommended.My Movie Rating: 9 / 10
Dva Lidi v Zoo (1989)
A fine comedy concerning the mischievous antics of identical twins. The cast are superb, the boys are completely natural actors, and the whole movie - and the boys - are an utter delight. Highly recommended.My Movie Rating: 8 / 10
The Escape Artist (1982)
Audiences were baffled by its choppy editing, but this is actually a stunning multi-layered poetic masterpiece, ultimately about the burning love of a boy for his dead father. Griffin O'Neal was just 15 when he played Danny Masters in this movie (though the film wasn't released for another couple of years), in a performance which John Holmstrom ("The Moving Picture Boy", p. 351) called "one of the screen's greatest boy performances". Watch out for former boy star Jackie Coogan as the owner of the Magic Shop, as well as performances from former 'Dead End Kids' Huntz Hall and Gabriel Dell. Unmissable!My Movie Rating: 10 / 10
Eu Me Lembro (2005)
An extraordinary multi-award-winning masterpiece about the childhood, youth and young manhood of young Guiga growing up in Salvador in Brazil. Delivered with a kind of total candour and lucidity, to create a vivid portrait of the protagonist and his world, as he grows into an adult strongly influenced by the countercultural currents of the 1970s. One of the finest ever films in the coming-of-age genre. [Content Advisory: The movie includes the most extraordinarily frank (prepubescent) masturbation scene I have ever seen in film. This could certainly pose a problem for those who believe the modern mythology that children are all asexual beings.]My Movie Rating: 10 / 10
A Feast at Midnight (1994)
A rather slight affair, a little overlong, with rather thin characters and a stereotyped view of boarding school society. The sort of film one watches once and then will never bother viewing again. Perhaps I'm being too harsh. It has some good moments of wry humour, and Freddie Findlay is a superb actor.My Movie Rating: 5 / 10
Free Willy (1993)
A totally formulaic string of the most hackneyed clichés in boy-movies, as Jason James Richter struggles to save an animatronic whale from evil people who are trying to kill him for the insurance money. Not even Richter can prevent this movie becoming a bucket of steaming tripe. Entertaining only in that it is sometimes unintentionally risible (as in the film's climax). Maybe I'm just an old cynic...My Movie Rating: 4 / 10
With its right-on message that every child can excel at something, it is not surprising that this movie won a Unicef Award; though in truth the characters in this movie are rather too simplistic and stereotyped to be credible. What is fascinating about this film now is what it reveals about the cultural chasm separating 1981 from the present day. When Ivan's parents discover that their son's closest friend is a middle-aged man who operates cranes, and that he regularly visits this man out of school hours, they are merely bemused and a little surprised, but not hostile or suspicious, still less hysterical, as they would be now. The film thus stands as a sad testament to a more civilised and less febrile era. Alex Svanbjerg gives a highly creditable performance as Ivan.My Movie Rating: 6 / 10
Invaders from Mars (1953)
A haunting, atmospheric movie, as though one is stuck in a nightmare from which one is unable to wake up. And yet at the same time this is fused with a slightly camp quality. The result is an absolutely unique film, whose mood would be impossible to replicate in any other era. Essential viewing.My Movie Rating: 9 / 10
It Came from the Sky (1999)
Kevin Zegers gives a creditable performance as Andy, in this somewhat earnest, feelgood movie about Andy's parents battling with their guilt and grief over the brain-damage caused to their son by a swimming pool accident. If movies about shouty adults working through 'relationship issues' is your thing, then this film might be for you!My Movie Rating: 5 / 10
A riveting tale of jealousy, hatred and unspoken desire between two boys thrown together by their parents' courtship. What is interesting is that, in comparison with the novel on which this story is based, the relationship between the two boys is imbued with much more of a homoerotic or 'homo-affective' subtext. The acting of the two boys is outstanding, and the film is without doubt a masterpiece.My Movie Rating: 9 / 10
Junges licht (2016)
This movie is based on the novel by Ralf Rothmann, which it follows very closely (the novel has been translated into English as "Young Light"). The cinematography in this movie is stunning. Somehow, even industrial pollution is made to look beautiful! Oscar Brose, a leggy lad, spends practically the whole film in lederhosen. He plays the boy Julian, who lives with his younger sister, an emotionally unstable mother who regularly beats him, and a father whom he loves deeply and idolizes. This is in many ways a classic 'coming-of-age' movie, showing the trajectory of the protagonist as he slowly begins to perceive the hypocrisies and weaknesses of the adults around him, and finally learms to assert himself against the adult world. There is a character in the film - Gorny, the landlord - who is portrayed (albeit in a subtle and rather inconclusive manner) as having an erotic interest in Julian. He makes what might be interpreted as very clumsy advances to the boy that unsettle the latter (naturally, given how reticent and nervous a boy Julian is). However, Gorny is not demonised in this film. And this surely marks a significant difference to Anglophone cinema, where he undoubtedly would be demonised. He is a somewhat unsympathetic character, but only because he is clumsy in the expression of his desires, makes no attempt to truly relate to Julian, and just ends up unsettling him. The adult character who is presented in the least sympathetic light is in fact Julian's mother - she is actually violent towards him (though even she is not demonised). The characters in this story are thus ordinary, credible, morally compromised human beings. I should perhaps remark that Oscar Brose is absolutely brilliant as Julian, a remarkably sensitive performer. All in all, I think this is one of the few occasions where the film is actually better than the novel. At the time of writing, the movie doesn't have any English subtitles on either the DVD or the blu-ray, so your German will have to be up to scratch in order to properly appreciate it.My Movie Rating: 8 / 10
Just Pals (1920)
A sentimental tale of two hobos - one a man, the other a young boy - who become inseparable. The adult hobo, Bim (Buck Jones), repeatedly insists on doing the right thing, but discovers each time that no good deed ever goes unpunished by the 'virtuous' townsfolk. Of course, eventually the townsfolk see the error of their ways, but not before nearly lynching poor Bim. The relation between Bim and Bill (Georgie Stone) is very nicely portrayed.My Movie Rating: 7 / 10
Just William (1994)
What really makes this production is Oliver Rokison, who turns out an astonishingly fine performance as William. Highly recommended.My Movie Rating: 8 / 10
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