Duma (2005)


Duma film review

Duma (2005)


Duma reminded me of one of my favourite books “Rules of the Bone ‘. It is a movie about a friendship between a boy living in South Africa and a cheetah named Duma. At first, the storyline may seem a bit simple, but you will notice all the serious issues Duma deals with. Alexander Michaeletos play the young Xan’s role – he has a charming English accent, which made me seek some more information about him. I found out that he is living on a farm in South Africa like the character he plays so well in the movie – real you can almost sense his feelings and fears. Duma is also a fine example of a coming out of age movie – I would like to quote some of the dialogue:

Change, yeah. That’s what happens—all the time.

The little boy who left home is not the little boy with me now, eh?

See? Change.

Duma is a movie you would enjoy watching with your younger friends and relatives – they will like it and learn many things from it.

The cinematography is brilliants –you will enjoy the beautiful nature scenes or the animal scenes – I almost felt like I was watching a documentary about animals at times – so believable were those scenes.

Close to Leo (2003)


This movie was for a while in my collection, but it wasn’t before a friend of mine reminded me about it – until I decided that I should watch it. I did not know much about Close to Leo – just that it was supposed to be an excellent coming of age movie, and it deals with a sombre topic – Aids.

Although the person who has aids – is Leo – the scenario wraps around how Marcel (the youngest brother of Leo) copes with his relative’s sickness. At first, everyone is trying to hide the truth from Marcel – he is believed to be too young to understand his brother’s sickness – the fact that Leo is also a homosexual contributes to the unwillingness of the parents to discuss the matter with the young Marcel. I know from experience that on many occasions, most older people do not want to accept the fact that sometimes even when someone is young, this does not automatically means that he will not be able to accept reality and act sufficiently than even themselves.

Except for the fact that the family tried to conceal the truth from Marcel, they have left quite an impression for me – the way they supported their son – even after discovering the truth about his sexuality and his sickness. The fact that they allowed the young Marcel to travel along with Leo to Paris to meet his ex-boyfriend was quite a gesture from them– most families I know will be reluctant to do that.

There is a lot of warmth in the scenes in which the brothers spend some time together – you can see them being real friends, concern about each other.

Can you spare a ciggie? It’s my first ever. You’ll always remember me. Yeah.

Close to Leo is an excellent drama, which I strongly recommend.

End of the spear ( 2005)


Chase Ellison – just that name is enough for you to know that the movie you will watch will be a good one. And he is not the only star that shines amongst the actors in that production – Chad Allen, who plays the role of a missioner (Chase plays his son), acts amazingly, and I truly enjoyed the father- son relationship they portrayed at the begging scenes. Here is a quote from the movie illustrating that relationship:

Nate Saint: Do you know how far away the sun is?

Young Steve Saint: 93 million miles.

Nate Saint: Do you know that that’s just a fraction of how much I love you?

The cinematography of the movie is really nice – there are many beautiful nature scenes, most of which are very vivid. Most scenes have powerful messages hidden in the – messages about love, forgiveness and complete dedication.

Chase Ellison Official Web Site

Our Lady of the Assassins


Our Lady of the AssassinsI have watched two movies today – both weren’t very good. Our Lady of the Assassins was one of them. Although I did not like it much, there were a few scenes and dialogues that proved interesting. The main character is a middle-aged writer who returns to the city he grew up to spend the rest of his time there – he meets Alexis, a 16 years old gang member, and they become friends and lovers. From that moment one – the viewer is exposed to Medellin’s brutal reality (the city in Columbia in which the action takes place) – I do not remember seeing another movie in which the killings happen so often, and almost none cares of them. One of the scenes in which the main characters discover a dog with broken legs even makes you wonder if the human life is considered less important than the one of the animal.

The acting was not very good, which doesn’t like a surprise – once when you know that most of the actors are not professional actors. At the same time, from what I have read on few message boards seems that filming that movie was a challenge in itself – as it had to be filmed fast due to the dangerous environment in which the action took place.

At the end of this short review, I just want to show you a quote I found elsewhere :

“Our Lady of the Assassins” is like a random gang shooting — it leaves a big impression but makes no sense.

Twelve and Holding (2005)


“12 and holding” is another great movie directed by Michael Cuesta, who recently became my favourite movie director. If you are looking for a fine Coming out of Age story – the chances are that you will find it all in “12 and holding”. It is a simple story – without any special effects or famous actors playing – but the way the story is shown will make you remember what you’ve seen. One could say that the movie was disturbing – as it showed things most people would never want to happen to them or their kids – at the same time, everything seems too real. One couldn’t miss the exceptional performance of the young Conor Donovan who plays two roles – and does it so well that I have to admit that I haven’t noticed that the same actor plays both boys.

The soundtrack is compelling – especially the melancholic music in some scenes. The theme song from it is called “Reckless burning,” and Jesse Sykes performs it – most of the other songs from the soundtrack are performed by Elysian Fields. I did not notice any flaws and felt quite related to the actors. I think that all viewers would sense something similar to what they felt when they were growing up – that sense of anger, desire for revenge …or the will to protect your relatives and friends.


Despite what some other reviewers wrote – I did not find the movie tough to watch – yes, it deals with violence, even death, but it does it in quite a unique way—12 and holding an independent movie that conveys powerful messages.

Jesus Camp


Watching this movie made me really, really sick – it is like a horrible fairy tale or even worse than that – because what the movie showed is actually happening – in the US and other countries. I am watching how the kids are being manipulated and wonder why there is not anyone there with some brain in his mind – to stop all that madness. How can these people do that – religion – playing with the people’s feelings, with their beliefs?

Organizing weird shows – getting the politic involved with the religion and vice versa. Honestly, I am glad that this is not happening near me – but it will soon – just a few months ago, there was an American organization advertising a movie about Jesus for kids – and after seeing this movie, I feel really scared that someone is trying to plan those filthy weeds. There are normal churches, and normal people who are Christians or not – have believed and live by them but do not manipulate other people – especially kids – this is so sick.

What do you think of extreme Christianity?  Would you worry if your kid was involved?




Svolochi – a masterpiece of the Russian coming of age cinema

Recently I have noticed that the Russians began to make perfect movies – and Svolochi is for sure one of them. The action is really moving – while the viewer has a choice – to sympathize with the young criminals who seemed doomed to die or look at them from a different perspective. Some of the boys were caught committing crimes such as murders, and they were given a chance between death and training in the military, preparing them for risky missions behind the enemy lines. The movie does not do very well on the realistic scale but seeing it is worth it as it has some quite emotional moments, and the acting was pretty decent.  When cinema portrays the realities of war – the use of a child as a point of view, as an image is often utilized to drive home the destruction and desperation. The Russian cinema includes some of the best coming of age stories through which the legacy of war and genocide is explored – films such as Svolochi, Tarkovski`s Ivan`s Childhood (1962) and the 1985 masterpiece of Elem Klimov Come and See draw painfully, but also realistically the image of ” the child as a victim of war – traumatized participant in adult hostilities.” (1)  The music in the movie is really nice – I have been listening to the theme song over and over again – you can listen to it at the YouTube video posted below :

 “neither love, nor melancholy, nor pity” (Ни любви, ни тоски, ни жалости)

1. Childhood and Cinema-  Lebeau, Vicky 1963 page 141-2

Coming of age movies: Growing up on the screen


Mysterious Skin


I have to admit that if I first didn’t stumble on that movie on IMDb, I would not have even known about it. It is almost 2 am and I just took the DVD out of my computer. Have to admit that this is one of the most brilliant films I have ever watched.
The movie shows the growth of two boys – in parallel – they both were abused as kids by their Baseball coach and are striving to find a way to cope with the past. Whatever happened back then seems to be shaping their personality – but in a different way. When I think about it – it is only natural that people are different and, being so, they perceive different events and situations in their own unique way.
Mysterious skin – you may wonder why they picked such a name for that movie, but I am sure that you will have some idea by the time the last credits roll. What would be the life of the boys if things happened differently? That is the question you have to answer for yourself.
There are quite a few sex scenes, which I didn’t like much – probably because the lust was overwhelming, and the money played their role. I guess it is just me, being romantic as usual – but these scenes didn’t seem right. Then again – without them, the movie wouldn’t be the same.
The acting in this movie was terrific; I almost felt like I could sense the actors’ feelings. Watch this movie and remember that what happened in the past may leave its traces for many years to come…

I wrote this review back in 2005, but since yesterday I watched the movie again – decided to post it now

Check out my review of End of the Spear – starring Chase Ellison

Amitiés particulières, Les (This Special Friendship)


“A masterpiece…shocking in the word’s best sense” (L.A. Times).

At first, I did not think that the movie would be interesting. But I soon changed my opinion. The film is in black and white, making it even more appealing than in color. The action takes place in a boarding school located in France. The scenes from the dining room reminded me of the movie for Harry Potter.

The main characters are Georges de Sarre – 16 years old student, and the young Alexandre (age 12), a student at the same school. Their friendship is wonderful – and heart-touching. It sure brought some old memories too.
amities-particulieres-lesThere is a lot of poetry in this movie – it seems that I am getting hocked to poetry- again! A few years ago, a girl was sending me sonnets of Shakespeare. I even tried to write some poems myself.

I have finished watching the movie, and its ending made me sad and disgusted. Disgust that such people refuse to accept that a true, special friendship can exist and interfere – to hurt everyone but their pity selves. And do I know of such people – because they are not only shown in the movies, you know – lurk amongst us – trying to make the rest believe and think what they do – such people disgust me….

Les amitiés particulières is based on 1943 novel by French writer Roger Peyrefitte.The novel is largely autobiographical. While on the film set, Peyrefitte met the 12-year-old aristocrat Alain-Philippe Malagnac d’Argens de Villèle, who had been cast as a choir boy and was a big fan of the book.

Song for a Raggy Boy (2003)


I watched this movie with tears in my eyes. No other movie up to my writing this review made me feel such pain – almost physical pain — just from watching the story that unfolds on the screen. I must note that this was probably the hardest movie to watch from all I have seen until the present at the risk of repeating myself.

I made a few notes when it started – they were about the interesting characters, the song by Libera I noticed – but now I can not really write about that. Shocking, painful, cruel, realistic to the core – I can go on like this for a long time. The fact that Song for a Raggy Boy is based on a true story contributes to the powerful effect on its viewers.

The acting is excellent as well – so good in fact that I felt like I knew some of the Song for a Raggy Boy (2003)characters in person. The young actors were compelling, and I felt Patrick Delaney (played by Chris Newman) and Liam Mercier (John Travers) were almost like my friends.

But let me tell you a bit more about the movie…

It is set in a reformatory school in Ireland run by the Catholic church. As often happened, the boys sent there didn’t find anything remotely resembling help and support. Instead, they were beaten and abused mentally and physically (some even sexually) by the religious staff there. One of them, Brother John (Iain Glen), the prefect of discipline at the school, is most aptly described by a line with which he tells the new teacher, William Franklin (Aidan Quinn – with a performance that superbly leads the adult cast) about the kind of job he is expected to do:

“The creatures you are going to teach are not to be confused with intelligent human beings.”

Just that line itself was enough for me to imagine the horrible manner in which the boys were treated. The new teacher attempts to change all that and, as the story unfolds, I began to really like him. He was strict but, at the same time, obviously caring for the boys he taught. Brother John becomes his enemy almost from the very beginning. After failing to persuade the institution’s superior to dismiss the new teacher, he directs his anger to the school pupils. You will have to watch the movie to find out how it all ends …

This movie gets 10 out of 10 for me – since it is surely one of the best ones I have ever watched.

Similar movies: Sleepers, Dead Poets Society

Watch the trailer below: