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Reviews by diogenes

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108 reviews/ratings - 6 pages (20 reviews/ratings per page)

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50 Ways of Saying Fabulous (2005)

The character I felt the greatest sympathy for was Roy (Jay Collins) - and everyone was unremittingly horrible to him throughout the entire movie! It was hard for me to feel much sympathy for the film's protagonist Billy (Andrew Patterson), though I quite liked Arch (George Mason). A very faithful adaptation of Graeme Aitken's novel. Definitely worth a view.

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 7 / 10
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André Valente (2004)

Having viewed this utterly stunning masterpiece, a number of thoughts occur to me. First, in the totalitarian endgame of western snivilisation, Portugal is clearly not as 'advanced' as the Anglophone countries. In this film, a mother allows her young son to visit the apartment of a young man unsupervised 'for dinner' - not a scenario that you are likely to see happening in the United States or Britain, where hysteria reigns. Second, children are infinitely more patient and tolerant than adults - the reason being that they have to put up with adults. The direction of the film is amazing. The director allows moments of gentle silence where one is simply witnessing the interaction between the characters, as though they are completely unaware of being watched. The performances are astonishingly naturalistic, particularly that of Leonardo Viveiros as André - what a wonderful young actor he is! Not an 'actorly' actor - you know, the sort that proclaims with every gesture that they've been to RADA, like Asa Butterfield, say - but the opposite, a completely natural actor (which in the end just means a good actor). This film tells truths about childhood based on a real empathy with children, a lucid perception of what it feels like to be a child in a world of adults. A wonderful film with a terrific cast and great direction. Perfection!

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 10 / 10
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Archangel (1990)

The cinematic equivalent of conceptual art. It's all incredibly stylised and 'witty'. There are also some hilarious scenes (a man throttling another man with his own intestines!). This film can thus be entertaining, but only in a sort of intellectual way - one enjoys it in the same way one can enjoy a good joke. And this is the problem. Its intellectuality completely eclipses any possibility of aesthetic response, and thus it fails as a work of art. This film constantly foregrounds directorial technique in a way which obscures any 'themes' the film might otherwise have. It's as though with each scene the director is waving his arms in your face, saying 'Look at me! Aren't I CLEVER! Oh, the cleverness of me!' Having said that, I did like the scenes with the boy.

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 4 / 10
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Aventuras de Juliancito (1969)

There was a time when Julián (Juliancito) Bravo was quite a star in Mexico. He was born in Spain but moved to Mexico when still quite young. His mother then took him to a casting for a TV commercial, hoping to get 200 pesos if he got the part. The boy left with just a bag of sweets, but was able to meet Jaime Jiménez Pons, who produced many television programmes at the time. This led to a number of parts, but what really catapulted him to fame was actually "Primera comunión" ("First Communion") (1969). In the same year, the public saw "La gran aventura", which cemented his celebrity status. As he moved into adolescence, however, his appeal seems to have diminished for the public, and the parts rapidly dried up. After leaving acting, he went on to have a family (including three children) of his own.

"Los Aventuras de Juliancito" is a modestly pleasing version of 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer', and an excellent vehicle for Julián's acting talent, but devotees should definitely view "La gran aventura" (1969), which is now available on DVD with English subtitles.

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 7 / 10
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Den Bästa sommaren (2000)

Absolutely stunning. A wonderful film full of gentle humour, but with a serious, even darker, edge, as the kids fight for their right to love, to control their own lives and to live with whomever they like, against adult authority and against the state. Unmissable.

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 9 / 10
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Bedone marz (2014)

In this film, visual style seems to have been privileged over narrative content, and I'm not sure that the result is entirely successful. In the end, we know too little about the protagonist to care very much about him.

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 5 / 10
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The Believers (1987)

Some people have spoken a lot of rubbish about this movie, claiming that it constitutes a negative portrayal of the religion of Santaría. In fact, the movie distinguishes between Santaría and Brujería, and ascribes the murderous acts of the cultists to a version of the latter. There are a lot of classic, crowd-pleasing elements here: strange dances to drum music, hypnotic powers, blood sacrifices, etc. It is, in fact, an excellent follow-up to the classic "The Possession of Joel Delaney" (1972) from fifteen years previously. But the villains in this film are nearly all white yuppies. If the film is saying anything, it is saying that the rich white elites in the US and elsewhere will do anything to maintain their power and wealth, not excluding the sacrifice of their sons! I can well believe it! The acting is completely superb. Harley Cross is brilliant, a real talent. At nearly two hours it can seem quite long, but the pace and atmosphere is judged so well by the director that it never seems boring.

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 8 / 10
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Big (1988)

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 5 / 10
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Big City (2007)

A nice concept, but the writers are a little heavyhanded with the political preaching on the theme of the treatment of the negro and the Red Indian by the white man. Can't hold a candle to "Bugsy Malone", but pleasant enough, and Vincent Valladon is very photogenic and likable as 'James Wayne'.

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 6 / 10
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Blue Lagoon (1980)

The characters are too simplistic and sketchily drawn, so we never really care much about them. Also, there's very little dramatic tension. So although, for example, we learn early on that there are other people occasionally on the island, they never really come across as a threat to the two protagonists' cosy existence. The whole thing is almost like a television broadcast for schools on the changes your body is going through at puberty! Neither of the teenage actors is particularly charismatic. The scenery, however, is very beautiful.

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 5 / 10
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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.

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 10 / 10
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Boy (2011)

Decently acted and directed, but the film is too much a fragment of a film to make any real impression.

My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 6 / 10
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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: Red StarRed StarRed Star 3 / 10
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The Boy (2015)

An absolutely superb movie - in fact, something of a modern masterpiece. The pace and direction is perfectly pitched to make this wonderfully atmospheric. Jared Breeze is such a star - a remarkable young actor; I think few boys could have pulled off his role as effectively as he did. I have to confess something, though. I couldn't help having some sympathy for the boy's actions at the climax of the film, given the way the adults treated him - particularly the young adults at the end. The tagline of the movie is "Evil always begins somewhere." Indeed, but what are we to say about the actions of those around him? To me, that was where the evil 'began'. But then it is a strength of this movie that it leaves you thinking about it afterwards. The statements on IMDb and elsewhere that this is a 'horror' movie are at the very least misleading. Although atmospherically creepy, it is more of a psychological study, and all the better for that. A truly remarkable film, and a definite 'must-see'.

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 9 / 10
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Boyhood (2014)

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.

Don't Bother My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed Star 3 / 10
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Bröderna Lejonhjärta (1977)

Lars Söderdahl is a wonderful little actor and looks the right age for the younger brother, Karl, but Staffan Götestam, who was 24 when he played the elder brother, Jonathan, is far too old. In the wonderful illustrations by Ilon Wikland that accompany the OUP English translation of the novel, Jonathan was clearly only a little older than Karl - 13 or 14 at the very maximum - and this is the age that I now imagine him being. So to see a grown man playing Jonathan is initially a little offputting. Having said that, this is my only gripe concerning this magnificent film, which perfectly captures the atmosphere of Astrid Lindgrin's great novel. Highly recommended.

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 9 / 10
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Bugsy Malone (1976)

A thrilling musical masterpiece - kind of like "The Godfather", but with cream pies instead of bullets. What is there not to like? Scott Baio is terrific as Bugsy. The musical numbers are absolutely superb.

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 10 / 10
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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.

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 10 / 10
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The Butcher Boy (1997)

What a tremendous movie. The whole film is riveting from beginning to end. Eamonn Owens is brilliant as the psychotic Francie, the very personable Alan Boyle plays his best friend Joe beautifully, and I even felt quite sorry for Phillip Nugent, played by Andrew Fullerton. Highly recommended.

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 9 / 10
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Bylo nás pet (1994)

Very Tom-Sawyer-ish, and a complete and utter delight from beginning to end. The young actors are all very personable. A masterpiece of Czech television. Unmissable.

Must Watch My Movie Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star 10 / 10
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