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Realistic and moving - may contain spoilers!!!!!!
My original intention to see this screenplay because it was about a boy my age in Suffolk County, NY, near where I live. After seeing L.I.E. for the first time, I had to see it again because I was amazed.
Brian Cox, Paul Franklin Dano and Billy Kay produce incredible performances. I was simply amazed by the plot and themes in the film. The conclusion of the film was incredible and not predictable.
This film is not a sappy teenage drama which I am tired of seeing. The themes of this film are original and thought provoking. The characters are real! Gary and Howie are not the best-looking boys out there, nor they have the material possessions that many Long Islanders have, nor a happy home. That's why they are realistic.
Howie (Dano) does not have the best of situations. However, the most unfortunate events involves with what happened to his mother, his father, his best friend (and crush), and most importantly, himself. They seem to pile on top of each other and linger with him like a black cloud. However, this is not a "woe is me" film. Dano seems to rise against the obstacles and help himself with the assistance of Big John (Cox). Howie does not cry and shrivel up in the spotlight. This is one of the rites of passage that he undergoes.
If you don't want to know the plot or the themes of the film already, DO NOT CONTINUE TO READ!!!!!:
I do admire the speculation of Howie's sexuality. This is about a 15 yo boy, so sexual tension and questioning definitely have to be a part of the film to be realistic. Most films stay away from this topic, but the screenplay is not afraid of the questions Howie raises, especially in the bedroom. The film is not afraid of Howie's true desires, especially after he observes in Big John's house.
The subplot of Howie admiring Gary sexually is original in the sense that he likes Gary for physical reasons but because he is attracted to him because he is another male. Cuesta handles the situation perfectly especially after Gary leaves.
The last quarter of the film raises a lot of questions, however within the context of the film, it does not leave the viewer confused. The scene where Howie and Big John are shaving, a rite of passage for Howie because this is a sign that he is changing from a boy to a young man.
Because this rite of passage occurs, another one is speculated. Even though the film does not explicitly state it, the film implies that Big John does not molest Howie. The rite of passage here is that Big John does not take advantage of a young boy for the first time in his life. He is not the pedophile that the film sometimes speculates.
The film can open speculation with what happens between the two because it is not direct and viewers want to say that Big John did molest Howie just for the sake of it. But, if the viewer reads the feelings the two have after the scene that some speculate "did it", the viewer can see that sexual contact did not occur.
Another theme is I-495. The highway is a metaphor of Howie's life. 1) It has two separate directions: east and west, like the two possibilities of consequences that Howie can make. 2) The speed of the traffic is the speed that Howie grows up in the film into a young man. 3) The balancing act Howie performs on the overpass of I-495 is the delicate balance of life, one little thing can cause one to tumble. What happens to Big John during the finale is the tumble.
Even though this film is not mainstream and does not have a $200 million mega-budget or all-star cast, it is much better than 90% of the films made in the last 4 years. Well done for all, especially Dano. Wish there were more films like this than the trash Hollywood gives its audience.
The Cell (2000)
Amazing performances, especially by Jake Thomas
Even though the film is directed towards J-Lo's body, the film will be noted as a terrific thriller. The plot keeps the audience interested while the pace does not skip the details.
Vince Vaghun does not overdramatize the most graphic parts of the film and is seen as a hero during the conclusion.
The most amazing attribute of the film is Jake Thomas; the boy version of Carl. Thomas doesn't earn any accolades for his performance even though he is the key character to unlock the predicament. He does not phase into this serial killer; he remains as a hurt and innocent child, fearing for his father.
The ending is very dramatic and does need to be viewed two times to understand the entire scheme.
This film does have a few blunders, but its still a 3 1/2+ star film out of 5. It's much better than what most reviewers gave.
Great little film, perfect launching pad for Hall
A terrific little action-packed film for children, young teens and adventurists.
I remember watching this film occasionally until I was in 7th grade. I just watched it this spring because I remember my imagination opening up for this adventure; that attribute makes this the best Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer screenplay.
This blows "Tom and Huck" out of the water with its much better storyline, subplots and innocence that many children's films lack today. The boys do fight over the carnie's daughter. However, it's more to show the innocence that children once had at 14 and does not get in the way with the plot like "Tom and Huck" did.
The movie shows it's time because of the special effects, the choreography and the adolescent Anthony Michael Hall with his mop of blond hair. (Who would have thought he would be Johnny Smith in "The Dead Zone" one day?) Hall definitely deserves credit for it being his first film he stars in. Patrick Creadon is also in this film, but I'm not as familiar with the boy.
The best part of the film is when the boys are in the woods running away from con-artist Scree. They work together escaping from their bondage from Scree. If one boy is in trouble, the other bails him out. The screenplay unfolds the boys' friendship for each other, which I didn't notice until I saw it this year.
Definitely recommend it for children and viewers who love adventure and living like a kid again.
Domestic Disturbance (2001)
When I first heard about "Domestic Disturbance", I thought it would be great to see. However, there were many mediocre reviews, but a few good reviews. After viewing the film, it's significantly better than most give credit.
Matthew O'Leary plays Danny Morrison, a 12 year boy who lives in a broken home. Danny is notorious for lying and becoming involved with the police.
Danny's mother Susan, remarries Rick Barnes, a Ralph Lauren type business executive who just moved into Southpot, Maryland where Susan and Danny live. Danny's father, Frank Morrison, notices something is not right with Rick and investigates him.
One rainy night in October, Danny espionages and watches his malevolent step-dad murder Ray Coleman, an old friend who was part of a money laundering scheme in the midwest.
Now Danny tells the cops that he saw Rick murder someone. Frank believes him, but Rick, Susan, and the police do not. As the clues start to unravel though, everyone catches up that Danny finally told the truth. Can Danny and Susan escape residing in the same house with a con-artist?
This movie has been criticized for its cliches, short-length, and predictability. Now this movie is not perfect, but it is a 3 to 3 1/2 star film.
I did not see the predictability, I was surprised with what happened as the movie progressed. I was holding onto my blanket hoping that Rick doesn't victimize poor Danny. There were so many ideas running in my head of what would happen next.
The cliches in it are not numerous, every movie has a few. The ones involve a broken home and the love between a father and son. The film shows the love and appreciation that Frank has for Danny and Danny's love for Frank.
The film has a running time of 92 minutes, which is fairly short to have any depth for the characters. However, the director Harold Becker intentionally made it short for its suspense and hold up the quick tempo, not having it drag. I don't think running a movie that is too short is as having one that is too long.
Matthew O'Leary surprises me again. He portrays a strong young man who overcomes his evil stepdad. Also, he is not the stereotypical fourteen year-old actor. He can actually act and I have to give him credit where credit is due by saying he is good looking. Trovolta is great as always, the realistic heroism that he displays in this movie is terrific. Vince Vaughn dramatic swings from a nice family man to evil con-artist is outstanding.
Domestic Disturbance is one of the better ones I have seen lately because it does not show you the typical crap that you now have for films.
Grade: B+, 7.5/10, and 3 1/2 stars out of 4