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Brainstorming - what are you missing?

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Jared Bass
Jared Bass

Rent Boys (2011) [720p] [BluRay] [YTS.MX]

My Own Private Idaho is a bittersweet tale of two rent boys in the Pacific coast are and the contrasts between them. With the help of the greatest writer in the English language ever, William Shakespeare, Gus Van Sant draws two great characterizations in the characters realized by River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves.You couldn't find two more opposite types in the world. River is a street kid through and through. Even the circumstances of his birth are a tragedy that I won't reveal. His mother leaves him as a youngster and he can't get over it and go on. He was raised by an older brother in the sparsely populated 'potato state' as he calls Idaho and the and the family dynamic was strained. He's a gay kid in an area where that could be deadly so he takes off for the fleshpots of Seattle and Portland where his youth and beauty will bring him some cash. He has no skills or education to support himself any other way. Sad, but the only hope this kid has of a decent life is to get taken up by some older sugar daddy who might just treat him to an education of some kind. That is if he can decide to just get over a bad home life and lack of a normal family. I've known gay kids who came from as lousy a background as River Phoenix and who never could get over it. River has developed an interesting defense mechanism and a psychologist would have field day with him if he got him on the coach. When the stress gets too much for him he just has a seizure like an epileptic, but in fact all he does is fall asleep. It's called narcilepsy, but he's vulnerable in that state as the film shows as well. River just tunes out the world. Keanu comes from a different world, his father is the Mayor of Portland, but he's dying and hopes to have his son take over the family political dynasty. But Tom Troupe is bitterly disappointed in his 'effeminate' son who like Prince Hal likes to hang out with lowlifes and street trash. Keanu's Falstaff is William Richert, a gay older man of a Falstaffian bloated belly who likes the young stuff and in his world probably treats them well. Gus Van Sant was quite imaginative in seeing the gay subtext that could be drawn from Prince Hal and Falstaff. Indeed Keanu says that Richert is closer to him than his real father. But he also says that he's planning to work a change in him when he comes into his own. And he says it in dialog taken from Shakespeare's Henry IV Parts one and two.The most touching scene is with River and Keanu out in the country at a fire where River basically confesses his love for him. It's love to be sure, but River also sees in Keanu a figure who has confidence and self assurance and those are the qualities that draws him to Reeves. What Phoenix misreads is that self confidence is really a safety net that he knows he has and at the appropriate time uses. Although he's gay for pay as he states, he still allows River to have sex with him. I suspect that Gus Van Sant from his own background knows full well that gay for pay is not always 100% absolute.Reeves goes on to his destiny for which if you know your Shakespeare know what that is. Phoenix's destiny is less clear, more than likely an oblivion that a lot of those kids go to. As a fantasy I'd like to think that as Reeves denies himself, closets himself as he moves on in life, that an older River comes back to remind him of his roots.We all know of the tragedy of River Phoenix who died way too young just like a lot of street kids do ironically. There is a second tragedy in the My Own Private Idaho. Rodney Harvey who played one of River and Keanu's street peers also died way too young in similar circumstances to Phoenix. Not only does Van Sant give us an excellent two person character study, but his other character with less dialog than the leads also are fully formed characters which is the mark that many including me say indicates a great film. My Own Private Idaho is a troubling picture, but a realistic one of the underside of gay life that we cannot ignore.

Rent Boys (2011) [720p] [BluRay] [YTS.MX]

The Giants is an enjoyable but dark and moody coming of age tale from Belgian actor turned director Bouli Lanners (Nothing To Declare, etc). Cowritten by Lanners and Elise Ancion, the film is reminiscent of Mark Twain's The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn and the classic Stand By Me, and it captures that awkwardness of burgeoning adolescence. Teenage brothers - 16 year old Seth (Martin Nissen) and 13 year old Zak (Zacharie Chasseriaud) are left by their absent mother to fend for themselves over the summer. Zac continually hopes that their mother will return, which adds a poignant note to their journey throughout the film. They spend time in their late grandfather's house near the lake, and their misadventures run the gamut from the comic to the more frightening. When they begin to run out of money they try to find ways to earn some extra cash. But when they hook up with Dany (Paul Bartel) they find themselves caught up in some adventures that are both scary and comical. They rent out their grandfather's house to the untrustworthy, cocaine snorting, marijuana growing Boeuf (Didier Toupy) and his minion Angel (who just happens to be Dany's older brother). The adults here add a sense of menace to proceedings although they are largely underused and clichéd characters. The three boys also find a sympathetic woman (played by Marthe Keller) who temporarily provides them with shelter and a safe haven. And there are some evocative shots of the tranquil Belgian landscape from cinematographer Jean-Paul de Zaetijd (returning to work with Lanners after 2008's festival-hit, Eldorado) that enrich the film. This is the third feature film from Lanners, following El Dorado and Ultranova, and he maintains a leisurely pace throughout as he evokes the freedoms and simple pleasures of childhood. But the film also has a darker edge as it explores some hard-hitting modern realities, such as poverty, drugs, abandonment and homelessness. The performances from the three boys are wonderfully natural and unforced and they develop a wonderful chemistry. Of the three young stars though it is Chasseriaud who stands out as Zac. He provides a natural, winning performance and is utterly compelling to watch. Karim Leklou in particular brings energy and menace to his role as the psychotically violent Angel, Dany's unhinged older brother.The melancholy score from Belgian folk musician The Bony King Of Nowhere is also evocative and adds to the mood of the film.

I came across this indie gem one day at my local Blockbuster. I looked at it and it seemed like it would be an o.k. way to kill two hours. There was really nothing else in the videostore, so I decided to rent it. Boy, am I glad I did. I really appreciated the movie and related to it, after all I do go to a Catholic High School. 'The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys' is actually a great coming-of-age tale set in the Catholic school setting of the 1970s. Just by reading the title I thought it was about pedophile Catholic priests or something, but it's really about two friends who are the altar boys at their church/school and their adventures as they discover what's life is all about... or their interpretation of it.The two boys in 'The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys' are Francis Doyle (Emile Hirsch - The Girl Next Door, The Emperor's Club) and Michael Sullivan (Kieran Culkin - Igby Goes Down, Home Alone). They are two fifteen year old rebels that have a passion for comics and writing and illustrating their own. They despise their tough-as-nails and strict one-legged Catholic nun school teacher, Sister Assumpta (played by Two Time Academy Award Winner Jodie Foster - The Accused, The Silence of the Lambs). The two boys make themselves their own creative superheroes in their comic and have Sister Assumpta be the evil motorcycle peddling nun from hell that the two superheroes battle, along with the boys' other two friends who provide superheroes for their comic too. The film switches from real-life to the creative comic book setting during conflicts in the story, and I think that it's done very stylish and neat. The two boys rebel against their teacher and misbehave in front of her constantly, especially Michael (Culkin) who drives her absolutely nuts. The boys rebel by doing other things that the nun doesn't know about like, drink, smoke pot and steal and damage church property. The film contains some funny moments, and as the story unfolds Francis (Hirsch) becomes interested in the girl who lives next door to him Margie (Jena Malone - Saved!, Cold Mountain), a cool, nice, beautiful and independent girl with a deep and dark secret that challenges Francis. I won't give it away though.There are many great aspects to this film. Most notably is the acting. Emile Hirsch is nothing short of incredible as the genuine misfit Francis and Jena Malone is equally as good as the sweet yet complex Margie. Jodie Foster is hysterical and always a pleasure to watch as the uptight Catholic school nun and 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent's' Vincent D'Onofrio has a somewhat small role as an interesting Catholic school priest who smokes like a chimney. The stand-out of the film however is Kieran Culkin. He is definitely the most talented performer in his family, and he gives an astounding performance as Michael Sullivan that puts him on the top of the list of the best child actors working in Hollywood currently. Culkin gave an equally amazing performance in Burr Steer's neurotic and darkly hilarious film debut 'Igby Goes Down' which was released the same year as 'The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys'. Peter Care does a fabulous job with this, his feature film debut, and the valley's Todd MacFarlane (creator of Spawn) provides the comic book illustration for the animated scenes. All in all this is a great coming-of-age movie, with a lot of heart and intelligence. It has some flaws like dragging a little towards the beginning, being a little unclear towards the end and having some freaky and unnecessary ghost sequence towards the middle of the film. I'd recommend this to anyone who attends Catholic High School because it is a great movie but it's also something you could relate to. Next time you are at the videostore and can't find anything to watch, maybe pick up 'The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys'. Chances are you won't regret it. Grade: B+MADE MY TOP 300 LIST AT #245 041b061a72


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