Monday, June 7, 2010

"Alla Alskar Alice" (Everybody Loves Alice)

"Alla Alskar Alice" (Everybody Loves Alice) is a poignant film that delves into the touchy subject of divorce stemming from marital infidelity and its effects on the children involved. Natalie Bjork plays the protaganist Alice in the film, pulling off the role of the hopeful, yet distraught preteen brilliantly.

Alice lives with her parents and younger brother Pontus (Bisse Unger) in a small town in Sweden. Alice is an avid soccer player whose most enjoyable past time is practicing the game with her father. He is, however, spending more and more time at work, which takes away from his time with his daughter. Alice, although often disappointed at her father's lack of time spent with her, is nonetheless ever hopeful that she will eventually become more important than work to her father.

As the film progresses the viewer eventually begins to discover that it isn't work that is distracting him from his duties at home, but rather a co-worker. To complicate the matter even more is the fact that the woman is the mother of one of Alice's classmates, Patrik (Anastasios Soulis), who lives just down the street.

Although Alice's mother is hurt and angry, she still appears to want to try to hold the family together and work things out, but Alice's father has made up his mind. He will be moving in with the woman and her son, and Alice and Pontus will visit him every other weekend.

As strong as Alice seems to be, the fact of her parents' separation and impending divorce is more than she can handle, and even after the whole town seemingly knows, she continues to deny the fact saying that her father is away on business. This causes more conflict when her best friend decides the truth needs to be told and begins to tell everybody. Alice has one teacher who can empathize with her and lends her a shoulder to lean and cry on.

There is a minor subplot involving Alice and a boy, Anton (Marcus Ardai-Blomberg), whom she has a crush on. "Everybody Loves Alice" is a superb film that deals with a tricky subject in a way that doesn't make it seem sappy or redundant.

Viewer discretion: there is one brief nude scene when Alice and her friends spy on the boys in the shower.

View screen caps here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Broken Noses" A Boy Boxer Documentary

"Broken Noses" is a documentary about a boxer, Andy Minsker, who was never able to make it big, but who never lost his love for boxing. Andy was the son of a boxer who also never made it to the top, but through his skills and dedication, instilled a passion for boxing in his son. In order to pursue his desire of boxing, Andy takes young boys under his wings and teaches them the intricacies of pugilism.
Throughout the documentary the viewer is led inside the private life of Andy from his childhood to the present. Interviews with both sets of parents (his parents are divorced and both have remarried), gives some insight into how Andy was raised, how he developed his personal philosophies, and how he came to be a boxer.
Throughout the film Andy seems to pour out his passion for boxing, and even though he didn't make it to a full professional level, there is no doubt that this young man had and even now has a passion that won't die. This can be seen in his interaction with the young boxers he is mentoring.
Several of the boys give personal interviews describing how they have benefited from training under Andy Minsker. He never lets them get too cocky, chiding them when they have won a fight but are rubbing it in to the loser of the fight.
In one poignant scene we see Andy lying on the ground with a group of boys huddled around him. Even as they joke and play, you can see that they have a great love and respect for their teacher. His love of teaching the boys is just as strong as his love for boxing.
Although the film may drag in some areas, the overall effect is overwhelmingly beautiful in its portrayal of a boxer who is in love with his sport and who has a knack for passing that passion onto the next generation. One may get the sense from watching this documentary that Andy is more in love with himself than boxing or mentoring, but that impression isn't a fair assessment of this film. This is a great boxing film that sheds a light on the inner workings of a boxer. A must see for any fan of boxing.

View more screen caps here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

"Un Bon Petit Diable" Starring Paul Courtios

"Un Bon Petit Diable" (A Good Little Devil) stars Paul Courtois as the effervescent Charles, a boy growing up in the mid 1800s in France. His life is anything but pleasant. Hunger, beatings, ridicule, and endless work are the norm. Charles, like most children, is able to weather the storm of life, and is always able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

His parents have died and he has gone to live with his elderly cousin. The old matron seems to have a hatred not only for children, but for Charles in particular. Every little infraction is met with either a beating or a stay in the cellar. On one particular night, after he has angered the old woman, she grabs him by the collar and drags him outside where she makes him spend the night in the pigsty. Charles' one ray of hope at home is the similarly abused maid, Betty.

The two hatch a plan to get the vulnerable Charles out of the clutches of his evil aunt. Fortunately, for the two, the elder cousin is extremely superstitious, which makes their plans easier to fulfill. Since Charles seems to always get spanked on his bare bum, Betty decides that would be the best place to put the devil's marks on him. So using a concoction of walnut oil, spider webs, and duck droppings she makes an oily black substance with which she places two black hand prints on his bottom. When his cousin goes to spank him again, the black hand prints are a sure sign that the devil has afflicted her younger cousin, and thus he must go.

She sens him, along with Betty, off to a boarding school where he will learn to behave and be out of her hair. It turns out that the school isn't much more than a prison, and even here Charles is subjected to repeated spankings. Charles has his trusted Betty with him, and they have proven again and again that they can get through anything.

Although this is a light-hearted comedy that tackles a touchy subject, it in no way makes light of child abuse. It does, rather, focus on a child's resilience and ingenuity in times of strife. There are a couple of subplots that seem to be nothing more than filler, but otherwise this is a great coming-of-age film that is a fun one to watch.

More info about this film here.

View screen caps here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Where Eskimos Live" Starring Sergiusz Zymelka

Where Eskimos Live” is a story about the dark side of war. Not that which involves the fighting between nations and soldiers, but rather the darker side that effects the innocent civilians, both young and old, who have no control over their newfound circumstances.

Vlado Petric (magnificently played by the 11 year old Sergiusz Zymelka) is a war orphan who, along with a vagabond group of orphans, has learned to survive on the streets of his war torn country. Life is hard, and each day they are still alive is considered another gift.

Vlado eventually meets Sharkey (Bob Hoskins), a UNICEF worker, who is actively smuggling orphans from Bosnia into Poland with promises of a better life. Sharkey reluctantly agrees to take Vlado with him after the boy’s persistence wears him down.

In addition to the natural hardships endured while trekking across the countryside of a foreign country, the pair are soon plagued by the continual presence of Colonel Vuko (Krzysztof Maichrzak) who is convinced that Sharkey is responsible for the death of his daughter. Unbeknownst to both men is that the roadside bomb, which killed the Colonel’s daughter, was set by the gang that Vlado was a part of in their attempt to steal food and supplies needed for their survival.

It is soon learned that Sharkey isn’t really a UNICEF employee, and his real intentions for smuggling children across the boarder are less than admirable. It is a long trip though, and the more time he spends with the precocious and loveable Vlado, the softer his heart gets.

The burning question though becomes what will the end of the line present the naïve and innocent Vlado: will he find a life of love, joy, and peace, or will it be the worst nightmare of his young life?

Viewer discretion: this film contains violence and strong language.

View screen caps here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Robby" - Warren Raum and Ryp Siani

"Robby" is a low-budget Robinson Crusoe like film from 1968. It stars two relatively unknown actors: Warren Raum and Ryp Siani. Raum plays the 10 year old "Robby", a boy who has been stranded on an island. As he roams the island in search of food and shelter, and hopefully his parents, he comes across a naked native boy whom he names "Friday".

More info here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Can You Whistle, Johanna?" Starring Tobias Sward and Jimmy Sandin

"Kan du Vissla, Johanna?" (Can You Whistle, Johanna? or Wanted: Grandfather) is a classic tell of innocence, childhood, and friendship. It involves two boys, Berra (Tobias Sward) and Ulf (Jimmy Sandin), two friends who have a problem they must remedy: Berra doesn't have a grandfather.

Read more about "Can You Wistle, Johanna?" here.

See more screen caps here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Don't Tell Papa

Don't Tell Papa is a somewhat endearing film about an 8 year old boy, Cho-woo (played superbly by Seung-ho Yu), who lives with his single father. His dad works for meager wages at a nightclub as an MC. His boss keeps him employed because he is cheap.

Read movie review here.