Archive for the ‘Coming Of Age’ Category

The South African entry for the Academy Awards of 2018 is quite a controversial movie in its home country. If focuses on the ritual tradition of the Xhosa to send their young men up to the mountains where they stay for a few weeks to be ‘initiated’ into manhood. This also means they get circumcised and need to heal. It’s a practice which still occurs these days, even though a lot of modern families send their sons to a hospital for a safe medical ‘cut’. It’s a cultural tradition and a personal affair. So, yes, this movie takes away the secrecy and brings the story to a larger (international) audience. Apart from that, the movie also focuses on three men with homosexual desires. Another controversial topic in South Africa, where being gay is legal, but doesn’t get the support from the majority of the population.

For Europeans, this is a fascinating movie. But it is voyeuristic. It’s not a movie made by and for the Xhosa people. It’s a movie made by a white director for an international crowd. Luckily, this thought only comes to mind afterwards. During the movie, you are soaked up in the story, mesmerized by the acting and in awe of the beautiful setting. The interaction between the three main actors and their characters is the best feat of the movie. The end result is quite respectful for the tradition. And the homo-erotism is very present, but not as sensational as in other movies.

Calling it the African Moonlight doesn’t do the movie justice. It’s actually sad that the latter movie won the Oscar last year, because now voters may not give this one a fair change because it’s again about black homosexuals. If the movie had been released a few years ago, it would have made a great chance of winning the Academy Award for best foreign picture.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6333070

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Kicks – *

Posted: October 7, 2017 in 2016, Coming Of Age, Drama, Gangster Movie, USA, X

A 15 year old, underprivileged kid saves up for a fancy pair of sport shoes that will get him more respect. However, soon after he’s wearing them, he gets beaten up by a bunch of nozems who steal his newly acquired kicks. But he’s not ready to just give up and goes after the thief.

Sounds like a pretty normal children’s movie if you read the synopsis like that. But it’s not. This one bathes in a world full of gun carrying, cocaine sniffing, whoring and pimping young adolescents who record beating up people and then post it online. You do not want your child to see this behavior. It’s all represented as it’s every day life in the hood. There are some interesting elements though. The references to rap songs’ verses. The magical realist astronaut visit. But that’s about it. Not even Mahershala Ali can save it.

The beauty of cinema is that you get absorbed into a world that isn’t yours. That you get confronted, mesmerized and moved. This doesn’t happen here. Good luck next time, Justin Tipping, debuting director.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4254584

This looked like it would be a fun movie to watch. The trailer promises quirky humor and some action and adventure for both kids and adults. And there is some quirky humor and some action and some adventure. But this is for kids really. Not for adults.

The soundtrack is annoying as hell. The kid is annoying as hell. Sam Neill is annoying as hell. Almost all the side characters are annoying as hell. The CGI is annoying as hell.

So, yeah, disappointing. Not sure how this can win so many awards.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4698684

 

 

This may well be the best movie of the year (so far).

Two classmates, who can’t stand each other, find themselves attracted to each other due to circumstances. They are both outcasts and loners and need to live with each other’s presence more than they want to. One is a spoiled kid whose military father is always gone and who’s general practitioner mother has an overly caring heart. The other is an adopted kid who lives with his farmer parents up in the mountains and travels every day about 3 hours to get to school and back. When during the harsh winter months, the mother of the farmer’s boy is hospitalized, the doctor invites him to stay at her place so he doesn’t have to make the journey to school and can focus on his studies. This creates even more tension between the two young adults.

The homo-eroticism is very present since the very first scenes, but it’s never really expressed. This creates a very peculiar atmosphere, which fascinates and thrills. In fact, as a viewer you assume the boys just like each other and are too afraid to admit it. But then the story continues and deals with all kinds of coming of age issues. The absence of a father, the insecurity of being loved by your adoptive parents, the desire to dream big, …

The setting of the story is brilliant and an important key to the movie’s dramatic success. The views of the French Pyrenees (in all kinds of weather conditions) take you away and suck you into this remarkable and unique story. If this would have taken place in Paris it would have been unbelievable and even boring. But somehow in the remote villages and valleys of this beautiful territory, this odd story just makes total sense.

Very impressed. By the acting as well. If Corentin Fila does not win the César for most promising actor than there’s something really wrong with the award show.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4331970

Theeb – ***

Posted: October 7, 2016 in 2014, Adventure, Coming Of Age, Drama, Jordan, Road Trip, UK, XXX

It’s not really difficult to define what makes a movie great. When you watch a story on screen that entertains/fascinates/thrills you from start to finish, then it’s a great movie. Period.

Such is the case with this gem from Jordan.

A young bedouin follows his older brother, who is assigned to escort an English army officer through the dessert. At one point he finds him self alone in the vast emptiness…

This is a very entertaining road movie/adventure film/historical piece/coming of age story with a fascinating cinematography and several suspenseful thrills. It makes you want to watch Lawrence Of Arabia again or look up flight tickets to Aqaba to go tracking in the Wadi Rum.

A must. And if you have kids who can deal with death, an excellent movie for children as well.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3170902/

This movie didn’t bore one single bit. It’s well directed and the dialogue seems real. The acting isn’t always that good, but it’s the kind of movie that needs unprofessional actors to make it more authentic. The main performer does an excellent job though and although the title refers to a gang of girls, it’s really about the journey of this one woman who needs to make her own choices in life.

Marieme lives in the projects of Paris. She takes care of her two younger sisters while her mom is working in the city. There’s no dad in the house, but an older brother who runs the household with his fists. School isn’t working out for her and becoming a cleaning lady like her mother or a subordinate wife isn’t an option. She joins a gang of girls who push her to look for new boundaries and more freedom…

The reason why this movie doesn’t bore is simple: not all is explained, a lot of scenes are self explanatory and the director allows you to draw your own conclusions. It’s also not a super dramatic story, there are quite a lot of uplifting moments too. A much praised scene was probably improvised on the spot and unscripted: the four girls sing to Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’ in a hotel room. Life is shit in the banlieue, but at least you can have friends and find love there as well. Not all is grim.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3655522

 

Robert Pattinson acts all amateur and emotionless in this period piece (1930s) about a traveling circus that is heading for a disaster. He’s the lead, but isn’t a leader at all. He looks lost. Reese Witherspoon is in it too, but plays second fiddle, and Christopher Waltz is the bad guy – again – and steals the show. Sure there are a few freaks and some exotic animals, but the circus is just a setting for a coming of age love story between a young student and a married woman.

Didn’t see the end, because the plane landed earlier than expected. But the story did intrigue me enough to feel bummed about the abrupt end. I’m not going to rent it for the last ten minutes though. Maybe it’ll catch it again on another flight.

Oh and I do think animals should get nominated for the Oscars as well. The elephant in here ‘acts’ as great as any other dog, horse or chimp. Hey, he/she acts better than Robert Pattinson.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1067583