It's a hot summer day in 1933 in South Philly, where 12-year old Gennaro lives with his widowed mom and his ailing grandpa, who sits outside holding tight to his last quarter, which he's ... See full summary »
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It's a hot summer day in 1933 in South Philly, where 12-year old Gennaro lives with his widowed mom and his ailing grandpa, who sits outside holding tight to his last quarter, which he's promised to Gennaro and which Gennaro would like to have to buy a ticket to the plush new movie theater. But grandpa's not ready to pass on the quarter or pass on to his final reward: he has some unfinished business with a woman from his past, and he enlists Gennaro to act as his emissary. Written by
Can you see my house?
The house God is building for me. Is it finished yet?
You can't really call it a house Grandpa. It's more like a palace.
Ahhh, really? Wh-What's it made of?
It's made of gold.
Nah. Made of bricks. You see when you're born... God starts building a house for you in heaven. And every time you do a good deed, he puts a brick on your house. And when you do a bad deed, he takes a brick off. So, since I did more good in my life than bad, I think maybe my house almost ...
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I tend to be a sucker for coming-of-age dramas like these, and this is one of the good ones. The premise of a boy wanting to accumulate 25 cents to go to the movies is simple but engaging and effective. Modern day viewers might look at his quest as stupid and redundant, but that's easy to say when you have enough money to go the movies every weekend. To this little boy, it's his dream to go to the new local cinema on opening day. Plus, in the days of the depression, the cinema meant much more than it does now. Nowadays, people don't respect the institution. You see people put their feet up on the chairs in front of them, throw popcorn at the screen, shamelessly talk amongst themselves and to give a thoroughly modern example, let their cell phones ring. I think it was Gene Siskel, who said the most beautiful sight is seeing a movie audience as the screen shines over them and their eyes are glued to the screen. Cinema just had that magical feeling to people. So though I was born five decades later, I was still able to put myself in the main character's shoes.
Joseph Stefano, known mostly for his screenplay for "Psycho," wrote this nice character-driven drama that took me on a journey. Of course, that's also thanks to the child actor who played the main character. He has a certain authenticity to him that not all child actors have. If a child actor can say his lines like he means them and deliver emotions without dialogue, he's doing a good-enough job. Not only that, but he holds his own opposite the brilliant Al Pacino. Like always, Pacino gives a powerful performance, and I felt the character he played was different and unique. This time he's not a gangster or a cop. Though he has a supporting role, he makes his screen time memorable. Mary Elizabeth (I'm not gonna attempt to say her last name) is great as well.
The situations our protagonist gets into are sometimes funny, sometimes sad. As trivial as his quest to get 25 cents may seem, I wanted him to accomplish it. The ending is sad, though not unexpected. Mainly, it's the richly developed characters and their interactions that make this a solid film.
My score: 8 (out of 10)
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