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All right I admit, I really loved those so-called "cheesy" after School specials that ABC made back in the late 70's and the early 80's. That should give you an idea of both how old I am and how out of whack I am. But there are a few of these specials that stick out in my mind. One was The Drug Knot, the one that David Toma was in, and the other was this one where young River Phoenix made one of his first appearances. I remember thinking to myself that this kid sure has a funny name. But I remember it particularly because he did such a dynamite acting job! I couldn't believe that a thirteen year old could act the way he did. I remember one scene in particular where the boy breaks down and cries in frustration because he can't read. It really tore my heart. River Phoenix was an amazing young actor who unfortunately became another Hollywood case of too much and too soon. Everyone was saying that he would become the next James Dean, but sadly, like the Elton John song says, "your candle burned out long before your legend ever did". Its a shame because he was so gifted and talented and you had to only wonder what might have been.
This TV special had good intentions but it was stifled by the usual
superficiality of this type of thing. Even the relaxed and relatively
natural acting of River and his little bro Joaquin couldn't save
The film pretty much acts as if the kid's dyslexia problem developed overnight. He must've had the most clueless mom and teachers in the world if they never noticed anything seriously wrong before he reached junior high! You would think that the fact that his dad was dyslexic would've made the parents more savvy about the problem...but I guess not. The only things I learned from this TV movie were that dyslexic people have a poor sense of balance and they can't run in a straight line. Interesting.
Another major problem I encountered was that the kids and the teachers virtually never talked like their counterparts here in the "real world" would. It detracted from the message that was trying to be told.
Only recommended to those who are interested in seeing River and "Leaf" early in their careers. 3/10
Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia is a powerful film with a powerful
message. As an elementary school teacher I have often turned to River
Phoenix as the dyslexic Brian Ellsworth to help soothe troubled parents.
is a touching and tender film that treats a serious issue with great
What I love best about this movie is that I sometimes find myself laughing and crying at the same time. The interaction between Stephanie Evans as Kim Stone and Brian Ellsworth is after school comedy at its best. My students roared with delight when Stephanie aptly described the school lunch menu. "Some choice! Stew, glue, or garbage!" A classic after school line that will be remembered for ages.
This is also a fabulous film for fans of the Phoenix boys. To see them at this young age is quite a treat. Their prowess as actors was evident despite their youthful appearances. It is also the first in a long line of shining appearances for actress Stephanie Evans. Most will remember her for her work as a model in weekly print ads. My personal favorite is her work selling the "Big Button Phone." To conclude I would highly recommend this film to anyone who loves high drama mixed with deep belly laughs. A must have for all educators and for fans of River and Leaf Phoenix.
I saw this TV-movie when I was in New York a few weeks ago. When I was
looking for the Museum of Modern Art, I stumbled upon the Museum of TV and
Radio. This museum is just south of MoMA on West 52nd Street and it is
checking out. It is actually more a library than a museum and you can dig
here in there huge archive. After you buy your ticket, you can select up to
4 titles on the computer and you will have 2 hours to watch your selection
in their viewing rooms. They have stuff like Battlestar Galactica and
but these old TV-movies as well.
Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia (length approx. 60 minutes) is a movie out of the ABC After School Specials series. It is the first performance as far as I know of River Phoenix. In the movie he plays together with his younger brother Joaquin (Leaf) Phoenix. The movie is, as you can guess, meant for children and has been made for educational purposes. The story is about a kid (River) who puzzles his teachers, because in a way he seems to be brilliant, but on the other hand he makes this stupid mistakes when he has to read, write and make tests. He tries to hide his learning problems by acting like a clown in classroom and is almost kicked out of school. It takes a while before his teachers and parents understand the reason for his behaviour: he is dyslexic. Not much of a movie, but this early performance of River Phoenix makes it worth seeing. The part he is playing suits him well and bears the seeds of his later performances in Stand by Me and Running on Empty.
sum1 said about how his parents would have had to be stupid not to
notice it but with dyslexia your often good at one thing nd worse at
if he was very good or average at a few things his dyslexia would have gone unnoticed.
A lot of people assume dyslexia is for people who cant read and write very well or at all, but its a lot more than that.
Its hard on the kid and the parent i suppose. imagine being told hey your wrong your kid isn't lazy.
well thats my story its hard either way isn't it.
When I was a kid my brothers and sister loved to watch the After School
Specials. Often watching a show was liked to a homework assignment. You
would watch the show and then report back on the lesson you learned.
My assignment was to watch "Backwards The Riddle of Dyslexia". The irony was that I was in the process of learning to deal with my own recently diagnosed Dyslexia. I remember watching the movie and being drawn to Stephanie Evans, who played Kim Stone (River's classmate) in the show. The way the show handled the topic was great...and I thought Stephanie was beautiful.
After that I would see her in ads for the "Big Button Phone" and "Cinnamon Toast Crunch" to name a few. But it was in a bar in NYC where I saw her 2 years ago and said, "Are you Kim Stone?" and she said yes. We are getting married in October 2006. But we are not serving, "stew, glue or garbage."
I am a student of West Montana College and ran across this TV-movie at the
library. I consider myself a huge river phoenix fan and was shocked there
was a part of his filmography that I had not seen.
Although, just an after-school special, his talent was obvious at even that tender age. The performances by all the young stars in the film were impressive. Leaf (Joaquin) was easily convincing as his brother (ha ha) and the performance by Stephanie Evans as his tutor, Kim Stoner, was terrific as well. The dynamic between Stephanie and River was central to the serious message conveyed by this "masterpiece." Does anyone know what happened to this young actress? She's probably on tour with Nsync somewhere!!
Anyway, this piece is a must-have for any River, Leaf or Stephanie fan.
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