Childhood's End (1996) Poster

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Brilliant multilayered depiction of American society
John Bethea28 July 2001
I caught a screening of this film on the Independent Film Channel three years ago, and recorded it because I had to go to work, so I've had ample opportunity to watch this film and analyze it in more than a cursory manner. Quite simply, this is a great, uncompromising film depicting people in unconventional relationships in an extremely fair and honest fashion.

Childhood's End is structured around the development of two relationships. The first one to develop is between Greg, a whiz kid photographer, and a friend of his mother's, Evelyn, a fortyish, sexually adventurous divorcee. The core of their relationship, which initially appears to be a shallow May-December/Oedipal sexual attraction, develops quickly into a deeper attachment, much to the horror of their family and friends alike. Two of these friends are Rebecca, an anxious teenage loner, and Denise, and outed lesbian. They fall in love, and form a relationship against the background of their troubled family lives. I don't have a fancy, polished way of explaining why it is that this movie is a great one. All I can tell you is that I've never seen anything so non-judgemental, or honest in all my life. These characters are not cardboard creations. Greg is an egomaniacal overgrown teenager shagging his mom's former best friend. This is not done for a laugh, and it isn't very pleasant to watch up close. Rebecca and Denise are in love, and that's just the way it is. The scene where the make love for the first time is the most explicit sex scene ever filmed, but somehow it is the furthest thing from pornography that I've ever seen, too. This film develops in a very unconventional fashion. I was constantly surprised by the frankness of the dialogue, and the direction that the plot took near the end. I'm not doing justice to all the other characters in the film( such as Chloe the model, who ends up as a Vegas showgirl), but there really are way too many to mention in the detail they would deserve. I look forward to the second film from Jeff Lipsky, whenever it may come.
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Amateurish politically-correct drivel
tehck29 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Borrowing techniques that would have been familiar to a theater patron in 19th-Century America, Elizabethan England, or Classical-Age Athens, Childhood's End is a very dramatic movie, and I mean that in the worst possible way. It uses static, fixed-camera shots to depict totally unbelievable characters enacting a hodgepodge of contrived scenarios. Its actors often seem to be wearing tragic masks as they stand or sit in place and recite lines that could only be emanating from a script. They declaim in soliloquies and dramatic monologues that offer endless exposition but rarely propel any action. When two characters actually trade dialog with one another in a conversation, they never seem to really engage each other. Instead, all roads lead to the dead end of political correctness, the worst thing to happen to Western Art since Homer kicked it off 3000 years ago

For example, at the center of the story is the Chute family. Greg, the teenage son is a photographic prodigy who is taking early graduation from high school so he can accept a job as the art director for a prestigious magazine. His older sister, Chloe, is a competitive skater who is just breaking into the world of modeling. Mom and Dad are open-minded, non-judgmental and completely supportive of their children and of each other's needs. Dad is also a policeman. We know that because he wears a gun and we hear his wife say so. Mom suggests that Chloe should add some nude shots to her portfolio, so Chloe of course asks brother Greg to shoot them. Greg is the logical choice because, as we are told by multiple female characters, he has a strong feminine side and is very sensitive to women's emotional needs.

During the nude photo shoot, Greg demonstrates his feminine empathy by knowing exactly how to elicit the proper mood from Chloe. He describes in unending detail how he wants her to imagine that she is studying her naked body in a mirror and noticing all of her flaws and blemishes, several of which he points out (that always gets 'em in the mood when I do it). Chloe responds with mirthful compliance. Then we see that Chloe is even happier with the results of the shoot than she was while doing it as she and Greg and Mom and Dad sit together at the kitchen table and study the full-frontal shots that dutiful Greg has produced of his sister. And so the story goes on with one ridiculously unrealistic scene after another.

Greg, whom every girl in town desires, only has eyes for Evelyn, the middle-aged best friend of his mother. Greg's ultra-sensitive approach has Evelyn our of her pants in about two minutes and moving in with him in his first apartment away from home only a few days later. Since almost every character in the movie has some sort of unconventional relationship or attitude, various threads begin to conflict with one another, some even with themselves.

For example, Evelyn's daughter Denice feels neglected by her mother and is incensed when Evelyn takes up with Greg. Daughter Denice is a lesbian, and we learn during another interminable dramatic monologue how Denice discovered her sexual preference. She narrates the story of her first coed party at 15, where she witnessed a single heterosexual act that revealed to her that men express their universal hatred of women through sex. She goes on to explain that she has nothing against men but that she never intends to give one a chance to hate her for no reason. Fortunately for men, very few women fear that a surefire way to instantly earn a man's hatred is to have sex with him.

In case we might have trouble believing what these characters say and do, the movie shows us in fairly graphic detail. In fact, about the only real action in the movie occurs in its many scenes of full-frontal nudity. We see 40-something Evelyn and supposed-teenager Greg nude several times, sister Chloe posing nude for Greg as well as the naked pictures from the session, and the nude Denice and her new lover, a neurotic wallflower who blossoms under Denice's sensitive lesbian hands, but that's another story. In the end, all the characters who were driven apart by the needs and unconventional decisions of other characters come back together and accept one another because that's what happens in amateurish, politically-correct indie movies. If that's your idea of art, then this one's for you.
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a wonderful slice of life
Gone are the days when films were about human beings. Now most of them are either explosive action pieces with 5 cuts per second, Or films that make fun of the human spirit and degrade it. This film is uplifting. Don't believe the idiots who voted this a 1. There is a lesbian sex scene so I'm guessing that they were turned off by that. I'm not but even if you are you have to give this a go. Trust me its worth the price of a rental.

All in all a great work.

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Scattered and strange story
No spoilers here. Im watching it right now, streaming it on Netflix. I have different feelings about the movie because it feels like a mish mosh. The WRITING, I notice, is smart. The writer was evidently attempting to add intellect into the film. Most of the actors are terrible, which is PROBABLY why anyone watching this film would rate it as "awful" or terrible. I noticed that Sam Trammell is in it, from "True blood" and he does full frontal nudity, which is entertaining in of itself and had me laughing out loud. He has a desire to be with the next door older woman who is a friend of his mothers. He fulfills that desire. The sex is not believable and I don't see any kind of passion between them, so I liken their intensity to a hand massage at a massage parlor in Van Nuys. Trammell is baby faced and unbelievably young looking which emits another laugh from me.. and for his fans, this is an interesting movie to watch. His character though, isn't that likable.. he is portrayed by his character as a bright kid but somewhat selfish. I wonder where they got most of these actors who seem to want to drop their clothes at a moments notice (also amusing) and I wonder if any of them have been in porn films. LOLOLOL I watch a lot of movies so I am not very impressed by most of what I see. I am American and American movies tend to be very disappointing to me. Nevertheless I give everything a fair shake.

Worth the watch if you love True Blood. LOL! I don't think that the writer had a good grasp where to go with the story. The writing doesn't flow. Its EXTREMELY disjointed and staccato. Take that for what its worth, if you can understand what I mean by that.
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