Reviews written by registered user
mgphd

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12 reviews in total 
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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Priceless, 27 April 2010
10/10

This is a gem! It captures a boy's experience of erotic awakening and, thank goodness, with humor. In these dark times for boys, this is so refreshing. All the young actors can't avoid be natural. How the director managed this is a tribute to his skill. He seemed to find a representative of types of kids all over the country. I laughed out loud watching it and couldn't resist going back to watch it again--and again. It becomes more interesting with every viewing. The portrayal of angry adults overseeing the birth of sexuality in these early adolescents says a great deal about the mixed messages society sends kids about this part of their lives. The boys and the girls are equally awed by what they sense and are beginning to feel. As a psychology teacher at a liberal arts college, I bought it to use in my "Psychology of Men" class, which ends with a discussion of boyhood. Bravo!

Svyato (2005)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Discovering One's Self Through the Other, 7 July 2008

This film is a unique document of interest to psychologists and parents. Its theoretical basis is the discovery by the French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, presented in a paper first in 1936, of what he termed the mirror stage of development. His discovery and the concept was a genuine addition to Freud's theory of early development. We see the little Russian boy use a mirror for the first time. He sees the mirror image as an other being but then relates it to his own body and by that route to his self or "I". Lacan's observation established that from this point on the child first has a self and that it has been acquired by way of an other. Throughout life the self is assessed and validated by way of the other.

2 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
What Makes for Wonderful TV - BoyMen with Courage and Tenderness, 1 April 2007

BBC-America knows what people want to see -- great-looking male British actors, smart, tender, often witty script, multiple subtexts, something to learn about what is already familiar. All the elements are here in Robin Hood. The men are mostly young, lean, boyish, masculine. It's a homosocial world, where the guys care for each other. They have a mission--generosity ("Steals from the rich and gives to the poor")--they have each other and really love each other. A merry band is like a fraternity. They fight hard, cuddle each other when needed. Fortunately, they haven't heard of strict gender dimorphism. Then there are the wonderful subtexts: Holy Wars as a prelude to ongoing conflicts between Islam and the West; Robin (originally nobility) who has an admiring, loving vassal; Robin woos Marion, who isn't seductive; the Sheriff is hateful because he really likes his side-kick, Guy, who is a classic, dark handsome guy and is very ambivalent about the Sheriff's meanness and unexpressed feelings for him and the other guys. Marion and Robin are more about the same social problem (poverty) than each other, but she's going to lose out if she doesn't one day kiss Robin. The guys are fine, trained actors, not models turned TV sitcom players (the American way). They wear tight jackets and trousers, have clear, penetrating eyes, don't smile continually. Long hair, athleticism, guys caring about each other, people who need and, finally, the lady--in that order. A series about nine women stealing and giving? No. Beautiful!

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Cautionary Tale in Retrospect?, 17 February 2007

The heading of this comment makes as much sense as having produced such a movie as FACTORY GIRL. Especially given the "sober," sage postscripts by "important" figures in arts and letters of contemporary America, which sets out to "explain" the drug-based demise of a woman not yet 30, the tired idea of idealizing or lamenting presumed childhood sexual victimization and whatever melange of psychopathology that might have been attributed to the character Edie as the "cause" of her self-destructiveness, this film is redeemed only by the all too brief appearances of two beautiful actors, Hayden Christensen and Jack Huston. They, like their characters (real lives) were given little to do. But there is really no other reason to sit through this film. Guy Pearce can be commended for the range of his projects. He shows us he is not afraid as an actor. A pity, though, to see him made over into a character who says he does what he does as an "artist" "because I'm ugly." Let us hope this is not a film that revives the 70s because of its having associated art and drugs. Andrew Warhola is shown to be the complete fraud that he was as an "artist" and "filmmaker." Along with thousands of other students who studied commercial art at (the then) Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, he could draw and understood techniques of production and reproduction used in advertising. More than that? Nothing but media hype, critical ennui and the disheartening lack of courage that the "war" era (1965-1975) produced can account for what the Quinn character rightly observes about scouring pad boxes when he is "filmed" by the Andy character. In all the film is at best a commentary on the gullibility and money-driven "world" of "art" in the 20th century. But do go to see the wonderful faces of Huston and Christensen. They defy the failure of the "project" and the ugliness of everything.

Elephant (2003)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A Great Film That Should Be Seen By All Student-Teachers, Parents, and Educationists, 12 February 2007
10/10

This is a film of deep insight into the life experience of American boys. It should be an item in the curriculum of all teacher education programs, along with films such as TO BE AND TO HAVE. It should be viewed by parents when they have just had a baby boy. Gus van Sant understands boys better than anyone making films today. Behind the utterly impassive faces of two boys who feel deeply but have not way of living in the world of the adolescent daycare centers we call American public schools is what has been called (lamely) alexithymia--the inability to find words for feelings--and passions that have been funneled into one expressive outlet-- white-hot rage. They are past anger, like the isolated girl who is about to shelve non-fiction books, the three anorectic girls, the courageous Black boy who is also alone, the boy who takes pictures, the boy who has had to begin to father his own dad. They don't know what to say. Every sentence is virtual, including the word "like." Nothing is for them. That sexuality fails to contain desperate hate that the central figure bears is perhaps the most telling comment the director makes. The climax of the film is not anywhere in the gunfire but in the brief scene where one boy, who made it out of the building where so many beautiful kids were killed because he never made it "in" is when his father finally realizes that it is all right to touch his own son. This is a great piece of work. In the end, the boys' sadness trumps the sadness of the place where the action unfolds. We have to pay attention to this film.

30 out of 34 people found the following review useful:
A Film of Great Beauty, Sadness and Heart, 21 January 2007
10/10

I saw "The Italian" with a friend I have known for 40 years. He has two sons, now grown up. I could only think about how lucky they are. We and the entire audience were deeply affected by this story of the effects of poverty, abandonment, the market for children, and the inexplicable drive of boys to return to their mothers, even when they have been sent away by them. The performance of the little boy who plays the central character is astonishing, absolutely remarkable. The director is a magician. The desolation of person and of place is captured in such a way that disbelief is almost total that such things can still be ongoing in this world of great wealth, albeit selectively concentrated . All of the actors, all little boys, two young girls and a few young boys in their teens--all are so engaging that we are stunned by the loss their characters and the real little boys whose story the writer and director tell suffer. This is 2007, the film was finished in 2005 and set only three years earlier. We wonder, How can this happen to little boys, and girls? And what effects follow? We see some of those effects in the older children. Then one recalls that this sort of thing is not limited to Russia but is common here in the States and all over the world a reality--the turning of an unwanted life into dross by neglect and abandonment. Every mother and father should see this film and then go to their son and tell him how much they love him, and think about little boys languishing in orphanages. One wants to do something after seeing this film, anything to relieve such boys of their horrific fate. Their tenderness for each other is stressed by the filmmakers. This is something that bears remembering. When kids aren't taken care of, they do find ways of caring for each other. They are resourceful in face of neglect, punishments, indifference, poverty. But many fall to pieces.... That now and again one little boy MAY NOT have been destroyed utterly in this way, as suggested in this film, is the source of the film's beauty. The face of the little boy here is unforgettable. The suggestion of a life having been wasted reflects and is reflected by the setting. One can only ope that the film will be widely seen.

Mirage (2004)
22 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
The Importance of Understanding a Boy, 17 March 2006
10/10

"Mirage" focuses on the experience of a 12-year-old boy living in contemporary Macedonia. This film shows the extraordinary vulnerability of boys -- those beings who will become "our men" -- to the savagery of abuse and hypocrisy, at home and at school, and in society. All of these assaults are, like war itself, direct attacks on all children, of course, but especially on boys -- something we are just beginning to wake up to understanding. Here we see all the promise and hope and persistence that boys offer freely and without strings attached being battered, humiliated and finally overwhelmed by meanness born of resentment, cowardice where there should be tender, savvy guidance, and neglect by distracted, emotionally (and economically) impoverished parents. Macedonia, yes, -- but the setting could have been any neighborhood in the United States that is clouded by poverty. The lead is a awesome performance -- just heartbreaking -- by Marko Kovacevic. We watch this this boy, this surprise in the midst of banality and misery that every boy springs on us and which should delight us and perhaps could save us -- we watch him methodically terrorized and hurt. We see his hope and optimism annihilated. At first, sheer bewilderment at unremitting harshness forces his head to hang low -- again and again -- until, finally, it rears up after "just too much" and he looks at us, and acts. By then he is an early version of Paris (played by Nikola Djuricko), the man he will become, who was able just barely to promise Marko a way out -- but then lets him down. For starters, let this film be seen by every school teacher in the United States, then every father, and if the schools themselves can find the courage, by every kid in junior and senior high school in America.

17 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
Perhaps THE Movie of the Coming Years, 9 December 2005
10/10

This is a movie about male friendship and love, and, incidentally, male sexuality. Every guy will remember such pairs, most of whom were not as lucky as to have been able to continue their love on into the years of marriage and fatherhood. The story and film present a central theme of contemporary gender studies: the meaning of masculinity and the experience of being a man in postmodern Western culture. We must remember that there are urban cowboys, suburban cowboys, European cowboys. This is hugely moving film. It's epigraph might have been Enid Starkie's comment: "Only two members of the same sex have power to wound one another so deeply when things go wrong between them, and to wound one another where hurt is most intolerable." This film begins a new look at relationships between men. It is not a film about homosexuality. It is about love between men.

Last Days (2005)
1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A Movie About Being Male, 25 July 2005
9/10

I would give LAST DAYS 10 if only it were longer--much longer. What about the guys? That's become THE question and will be the question for the next few decades. Gus van Sant knows this and films the question just about better than anyone else. There's Blake, but there's also Luke and Scott--and Luke and Scott together--and we want to know more about them, too. Where are the guys? What are they doing? What are they feeling? How are they feeling? The guys have music, live in it--spirit and body--and that's about all they have these days. And perhaps, more and more, film. Sports and video games--no more. Girls--not enough, any more. Parents? They couldn't care less. Schools? Please! The guys only have each other--Gus van Sant knows that. Blake has neither and that's why he runs out of days, and really still a kid. Luke and Scott at least have each other. This is a brave film. Guys are in-between what they were and what they'll be. van Sant is covering the change. Sad (Blake, inconsolably), beautiful (any of them), unclear (think of Luke's glasses), unsure. But boys--they're still boys--hold the answer to understanding gender, sexuality. I wish the film had gone on and on, there's so much to see about the guys.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A Complex Young Man Portrayed Beautifully by Romain Duris, 15 July 2005
10/10

This is a film that shows a young man in his late 20s who is caught between an identification with his father (a corrupt businessman) and one with his mother (a pianist, who has died). Tom, the main character, is both. The linked characteristics of his parents in Tom are passion, energy, willingness to take risks, sublimated fierceness--everything that makes a great musician. The director studies Duris' face the way Bigas Luna did Olivier Martinez's in THE CHAMBERMAID ON THE TITANIC. The character is still a boy learning to play his life. Watch it for the pleasure of nuance in Duris' face -- it can be anything! -- and hi character's shifting moods or for the any of the many other elements of the film -- the power of music, the father-son relationship, corruption in business, a fine actor before he has been abducted by Hollywood!


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