LATEST ARTICLES

Skaterdater (1965)

skaterdaterSkaterdater is the fourth short movie in the series of short movies I am reviewing at  theskykid.com. From the stats of my blog, I see that the reviews raise some interest which, of course, encourages me to keep on with the trend even if I would have loved it if someone shared his own view in the comments section after reading my review and watching the films.

The movie itself is quite famous and has achieved a status of a classic. However, not only does Skaterdater pay homage to the 1960s skateboard craze, but it also has another significant importance… it is the first film for director Carroll Ballard (he was second unit cinematographer on Skaterdater, and the shooting style can be seen in his later films), and a UCLA Film School classmate of Francis Ford Coppola.

Carroll Ballard has been the director of several great films with young people: The Black Stallion (Francis Ford Coppola, Executive Producer), Fly Away Home, and Duma. I liked the music (Davie Allan and the Arrows) even though I am not that familiar with surf guitar – but it reminded me of the vibes of the Beach Boys. However, I did not like the ending. Or, rather, how the story developed. I felt like screaming “Keep on Skating,” … but you will see what I mean.

Skaterdater is quite a cool short movie with a Coming of Age theme. And, even though there are no spoken words, the story is easy to follow. While it tells a story without using any dialogue, the scenes, camera angles, and final cut speak for themselves. The film reminded me of my own childhood, when all my friends were irritated by me as I preferred to spend time with my girlfriend instead of playing soccer with them.

Skaterdater won nine international film awards and is often thought of as a visual essay on growing up.

“….. a group of 1965 barefooted skateboarders with their single-striped windbreakers hanging 10 on their clay-wheeled pinner board.”

Chicken Boy (2019)

0

Chicken boy posterChicken Boy, pitched as a “dark coming-of-age story”, opens in a disturbing, yet promising manner. But the story’s effectiveness is subsequently brought down by abrupt editing and a somewhat puzzling narrative structure.

The film’s young protagonist, Jacob (Charlie Koehnen), is subjected to bullying in school and neglect at home – the metaphors utilized in the film to symbolize his struggle to deal with the psychological turmoil he’s experiencing are not grasped easily by the viewer.

This is partly offset by the facial expressions of Charlie Koehnen – for whom Chicken Boy is only the second film he’s made in his young life. In an interview for New York No Limits, Chicken Boy‘s director, Kayla Arend, summarized the film’s theme as “ … a creative exploration of toxic masculinity, the lack of gun control and mental health support within the United States”. But while the director’s stated goals for the film are ambitious, most viewers will not be able to pinpoint those motifs within the narrative.

Chicken Boy (2019)
In short
Chicken Boy, described as a "dark coming-of-age story", has great acting but suffers from a weak narrative.
Character/Acting
Score/Soundtrack
Cinematography
Storyline/Screenplay
Production
Direction
Reader Rating0 Votes
2.3
Our rating

Padrenostro (2020)

0

Based on real events, the 2020 Italian film Padrenostro tells the story of 10 year old Valerio (Mattia Garaci), whose life is is turned upside down when he witnesses the attack on his father (Pierfrancesco Favino) by a group of terrorists.

Padrenostro offers much more than mere escapist entertainment.

It may take more than one viewing to grasp the story’s nuances, but the beautiful aesthetics and exemplary cinematography more than compensate for the time invested.

Beautiful aesthetics and exemplary cinematography

Mattia Garaci
Mattia Garaci as Valerio in PadreNostro

The deliberately slow pacing of the film allows the viewer to invest in the world of the film’s protagonist. As with most Coming-of-Age narratives, it’s essential to grasp the development of his character and the motivations behind his actions to fully appreciate the development of his character arc.

Cinematographically the film is a real masterpiece.
Cinematographically the film is a real masterpiece.

Cinematographically, the film is a real masterpiece. The cinematic techniques help fill in details about the life of the young Valerio , such as a scene of the boy as he is made to stand in front of his class. At the same time, his father is proclaimed a hero by their teacher, with a highly stylized zoom out transmiting a sense of isolation or selective focus That technique is used in other scenes to achieve the same effect.

Friendship unbound

Before meeting Christian (Francesco Gheghi), Valerio thinks of his father as his only friend in the world, which explains why he is so shaken after the terrorist attempt against him.  If anything were to happen to his father, Valerio would be in danger of being alone in the world.

The character of Christian is intriguing – an older friend whose presence and influence reflects on the ten year old Valerio in a liberating manner. However, due to his sudden appearance in the younger boy’s life, and his persistence to remain part of it, the viewer may never shed a suspicion about Christian’s motives for befriending him.

Valerio (Mattia Garaci) looking for answers – an eye-level shot implying a connection between the viewers and the young boy
Valerio (Mattia Garaci) looking for answers – an eye-level shot implying a connection between the viewers and the young boy

Acting Performance

Many of the scenes are felt poignantly as the camera points directly at the young actor’s face. In one scene, we feel as if we can peer into his eyes. In others, we read his emotions directly– no words needed. This speaks volumes about the talent of Mattia Garaci and that of the director who has managed to extract such an emotive performance from the young actor. Fortunately enough that’s the case, as Mattia is present in almost every scene of the film – a fact that devotees of Coming-of-Age cinema will greatly appreciate.

No words needed to feel the character`s emotions
No words needed to feel the character`s emotions

Whereas it is doubtful that many viewers will be able to identify with the film’s protagonist due to the specifics of his family situation, and the time period in which the action is set, identifying with his experience of finding a real friend is plausible. I could not help but notice a few of Charles Dickens’s influences on the narrative of Padrenostro as the streetwiseness of Christian and the naïve/good-natured Valerio reminds one of the Artful Dodger and Oliver Twist. Friendship turns into a central theme of the film. And, while some viewers may miss the significance of the opening scene in that regard, it is easily graspable upon repeated viewing.

Valerio (Mattia Garaci) and Christian (Francesco Gheghi)
Valerio (Mattia Garaci) and Christian (Francesco Gheghi)

The Musical Score

The musical score predominately comprises a mixture between classical pieces and Italian songs– either subtle or rousing as the scene requires. More frequently than not, the sound is used to create suspense, raising the tension toward an expected major event, an event that never really materializes. But despite the fact that nothing that dramatic happens, the fact that one expects for it to happen makes one more attentive to the story. The end result is a better understanding of the characters by better gauging their emotions as the result of that increased attention.

Francesco Gheghi
Francesco Gheghi

Padrenostro lacks the dynamics of other recent Italian Coming-of-Age dramas such as Stolen Days (Original title: Il ladro di giorni), but the viscous fluidity of the action more than compensates for that.  Essentially the film is about childhood, with organized crime (a theme ever-present in some of the best Italian narratives) assuming a background position.

The production design, cinematography, camerawork, musical score, and acting – all of the cinematic elements combined – result in a powerful portrayal of growing up in a tense environment and overcoming the trials and tribulations of life. Padrenostro is an excellent Coming-of-Age drama whose only flaw is the unnecessarily long screen time.

Trailer 

 

Padrenostro (2020)
In short
The production design, cinematography, camerawork, musical score, and acting of Padrenostro – all of the cinematic elements combined – result in a powerful portrayal of growing up in a tense environment.
Character/Acting
Score/Soundtrack
Cinematography
Storyline/Screenplay
Production
Direction
Reader Rating3 Votes
4.8
Our rating

The Quarry (2010)

0

the-quarry-2010Do you remember that girl, your first love – her smile, the butterflies in your stomach? You probably do, but in case you’ve forgotten (how could you??) Ryan Hanson‘s 2005 short film The Quarry will revive those magical moments for you.

The story is simple enough. Charlie (Ruben de Baat), a boy of twelve, creates the most personal gift for his friend’s best friend, Natalie (Meagan Brodie). It’s a mixtape containing songs with words expressing his feelings to her, and it’s a farewell present  –for Natalie’s family is moving away…

Wait a minute!! … cassette tape, hand-drawn covers, art, record players – it all sounds so retro now, yet the props and stylistic of the film display the right tone to the people who have grown up with those things. They help turn the story of Charlie and Natalie into a nostalgic window into one’s past.

The film’s cinematography and editing reinforce that feel too. Jump cuts in an MTV stylistic are utilized to portray what goes on in a young boy’s mind (‘cuz frankly, things can get pretty messy up there), while slow-motion captures moments as sweet as syrup, meant to be savored.

Ruben de Baat as Charlie in The Quarry (2010)
Ruben de Baat as Charlie in The Quarry (2010)

There is an added dynamic introduced by other characters in the movie: the curious parents, eager friends, and mean older kids. And then there’s the beautiful musical score (the film is set to the mixtape Charlie made for Natalie). Admittedly, The Quarry is not the thought-provoking, epic short film some may hope for, and the young actors are not convincing in every scene, but it’s a story that’s sweet and tender – beautiful in its simplicity.

The Quarry (2010)

13 min|Short, Drama|N/A
6.7Rating: 6.7 / 10 from 30 usersMetascore: N/A
Set in the 1990's, The Quarry takes place over the course of one day, following the main character, Charlie. 12-year-old Charlie's best friend Natalie is moving away, and as he confronts …

The Quarry (2010)

0

the-quarry-2010Do you remember that girl, your first love – her smile, the butterflies in your stomach? You probably do, but in case you’ve forgotten (how could you??) Ryan Hanson‘s 2005 short film The Quarry will revive those magical moments for you.

The story is simple enough. Charlie (Ruben de Baat), a boy of twelve, creates the most personal gift for his friend’s best friend, Natalie (Meagan Brodie). It’s a mixtape containing songs with words expressing his feelings to her, and it’s a farewell present  –for Natalie’s family is moving away…

Wait a minute!! … cassette tape, hand-drawn covers, art, record players – it all sounds so retro now, yet the props and stylistic of the film display the right tone to the people who have grown up with those things. They help turn the story of Charlie and Natalie into a nostalgic window into one’s past.

The film’s cinematography and editing reinforce that feel too. Jump cuts in an MTV stylistic are utilized to portray what goes on in a young boy’s mind (‘cuz frankly, things can get pretty messy up there), while slow-motion captures moments as sweet as syrup, meant to be savored.

Ruben de Baat as Charlie in The Quarry (2010)
Ruben de Baat as Charlie in The Quarry (2010)

There is an added dynamic introduced by other characters in the movie: the curious parents, eager friends, and mean older kids. And then there’s the beautiful musical score (the film is set to the mixtape Charlie made for Natalie). Admittedly, The Quarry is not the thought-provoking, epic short film some may hope for, and the young actors are not convincing in every scene, but it’s a story that’s sweet and tender – beautiful in its simplicity.

https://

The Quarry (2010)

13 min|Short, Drama|N/A
6.7Rating: 6.7 / 10 from 30 usersMetascore: N/A
Set in the 1990's, The Quarry takes place over the course of one day, following the main character, Charlie. 12-year-old Charlie's best friend Natalie is moving away, and as he confronts …

Thomas (2013)

0

A captivating Coming-of-Age short film, Thomas is an example of a short that manages to be more impactful than a variety of full feature movies one may stumble upon at one time or another. Its main protagonist, twelve year old Thomas (Ian MacRae), is having a hard time meeting the expectations of his authoritarian father, who is on a quest to “man up” the boy. Taking his son on hunting trips and teaching him about weapons is one of the methods he uses.

Seeing a gun in the hands of a boy, one could not help but recall the famous saying by Anton Chekhov: “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise, don’t put it there.” With that in mind, it does not surprise when the usage of the gun results in an unexpected circumstance forcing the young protagonist to shed his innocence in a shocking and turmoiled manner.

Ian MacRae in Thomas ( 2013)
Ian MacRae in Thomas ( 2013)

The film’s best feature is the cohesive manner in which the story is told, although it does not offer surprising plot twists. Special attention was paid to the film’s soundtrack and sound effects. The result is an enhanced mood — set either by a music track (alongside fitting lyrics) or the crackling of firewood in a scene devoted to other sounds.

Ian MacRae’s expressive reactions and facial impressions further boost the story’s credibility and its impact on the film’s audience.

An excellent moody Coming-of-Age thriller, Thomas gets my highest recommendation.

 

Thomas (2013)
18 min|Short, Drama, Family|N/A
Rating: Metascore: N/A
Thomas is a story about a 12 year-old boy who accidentally shoots and kills a man in the woods with his father's rifle.

Chance (2020)

0

Sometimes a plotline and cover art can invoke high expectations, which unfortunately are more than likely to remain unrealized. That’s the case with the 2020 American drama Chance. With a plot description stating: “A true story of a teenage love triangle leading to one of the two boys’ tragic death – told through the lens of elite youth baseball.” –  one is looking for a heart wrenching Coming-of-Age drama.

Still, while the narrative barely manages to build some tension after the one-hour time mark, one never gets engrossed in the story or develops a relationship with the on screen characters.

My disappointment with the film lies with the narrative, which is character-based, but lacks uniformity and a solid cause-and-effect relationship. You could take out the movie’s first hour, which follows the film protagonist from the tender age of six to his late teenage years in a linear and rather dull manner.

Jake Hertzman as the 12 year old Chance
Jake Hertzman as the 12-year-old Chance

Doing that would not affect the overall theme of the film in that first part. In that first hour, the story is perceived through a “Little League/youth baseball lens”, but only enough to establish a general atmosphere. It’s a cliched representation of an American childhood complete with country fairs and flags, prayers (even at the baseball field), etc. The cheesy soundtrack cheapens the film’s overall feel as well — a dead giveaway of a rushed production. 

16-Year-Old Chance (Blake Cooper)
16-Year-Old Chance (Blake Cooper)

Things improve in the second half of the film, with even the score improving slightly to bring tension to the narrative, so that an intrigue is now present. But it’s too little, too late and an hour of screen time is lost in vain. Some Coming-of-Age narratives may use the linear approach to develop the main character, but while we see him at various ages, the scenes themselves never really interconnected progressively.

The camerawork is principally OK, surprisingly more so in the first part of the film with scenes portraying Little League baseball games with excellent focal points and close-ups. Most of the cast manages to pull off good performances (even the kind of performances one would expect from a sitcom or a Hallmark special). Yet, the issues with the script and the mediocre direction ruin the experience. 

Chance – Trailer 

Chance (2020)
109 min|Drama, Family|16 Sep 2020
6.6Rating: 6.6 / 10 from 72 usersMetascore: N/A
A talented young baseball player's bright future is undone by the silent pressures of teen romance.
Chance (2020)
In short
A disappointing film that attempts to portray the life of a boy, Chance, from the age of six to 16.
Character/Acting
Score/Soundtrack
Cinematography
Storyline/Screenplay
Production
Direction
Reader Rating0 Votes
1.5
Our rating
Watch now

First Strike (2017)

0

“On an empty country road in the ’80s Romania, a little boy’s imagination runs faster than death.”

Beautifully shot, the Romanian short film First Strike (original title: Prima Lovitura) offers a puzzling and enigmatic narrative. The action takes place on a lazy Sunday afternoon in the middle of the summer, opening with a ten-year-old lad (Oskar Kerek) daydreaming on the backseat of a family car during a road trip.

High up on a tree, another boy observes the passing car. His appearance, surprisingly similar to the boy inside the vehicle, changes the audience’s perception. From this moment on, the focus gets shifted to this new character and his dangerous ventures. Wearing face paint and wielding a stick shaped like a spear, this new character looks like a tribal warrior on the warpath. And, for a moment there, one gets the feeling that the filmmaker’s primary goal is to showcase that intertwine between imagination and the reality of childhood.

Oskar Kerek
Oskar Kerek in First Strike

Yet, as is often the case in a short film narrative, there is a deeper meaning infused into the story, which is revealed in the final scene. The film’s director relies primarily on visual storytelling. There is no dialogue, and the musical score (predominately comprised of piano pieces) is minimal.

First Strike Trailer 

The enigmatic nature of the narrative is the best feature of the film. Complete with skillful camerawork (you will note intriguing high vantage shots) and a moody atmosphere, it’s a suitable choice for anyone appreciating the short form in the Coming-of-Age cinema.

Making of Gallery

Official website

First Strike (2017)
15 min|Short|31 Aug 2017
Rating: Metascore: N/A
On a lazy summer afternoon family road trip, a 10- year-old boy lays on the backseat of the car and drifts away in a daydream. He envisions a rivalry with a gang of feral kids, a fight for ...

Wild America (1997)

0

In William Dear‘s Wild America, a  trio of brothers in the 1960’s set out across America to film endangered wildlife.

The film is narrated in the first person by its youngest protagonist, Marshall (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), with internal monologues offering direct access to the inner world of his thoughts.

This approach introduces a nostalgic vibe to the story (almost like reading an excellent Coming-of-Age novel). Yet, it doesn’t diminish the fun and adventurous spirit of the narrative.

Undoubtedly, much of the film’s appeal is owed to the acting talent and charming appearance of the young Jonathan Taylor Thomas (thus the many close-ups on his face reacting to various happenings and sayings). For many of his fans (past and present), JTT’s name would be enough of an enticement to give the film a chance.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas in Wild America
Jonathan Taylor Thomas in Wild America

The adventures are in abundance. After all, in how many films would you witness a young boy thrown into all kinds of bizarre situations — close to bears, crocodiles, and highly angered moose. Most of the film’s happenings are most unlikely ever to happen in real life, yet one has to cut some slack for a movie whose primary goal is to entertain, be it with silly, yet thrilling ventures.

The film’s plot is inspired by the documentation of Mark Stouffer‘s real-life experiences and those of his two younger brothers. Therefore it is also possible that my envy for the boys’ adventures hinders my judgment of the implausible possibility that such adventures (singing a lullaby to the bears, feeding a crocodile with a flashlight, riding on the horns of an angered moose) ever happened.

For a film released back in 1998, many of the scenes are relevant to present-day youth – with daredevil stunts and risky, adventurous challenges in the search for that killing video clip destined to become viral. So, in a way, the film’s fast-paced scenes will appeal especially to preteen audiences who may forgive the lack of consistency of the narrative or the incredible clichéd finale.

I didn’t take much from this film and did not consider it to be a fine example of the Coming-of-Age cinema, but neither was I bored while it played. While I can’t extend a wholehearted recommendation, the film would make a perfect choice for a relaxed Sunday afternoon.

Trailer

Wild America (1997)
106 min|Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family|02 Jul 1997
6.4Rating: 6.4 / 10 from 6,950 usersMetascore: N/A
Three brothers who are obsessed with animals are given permission from their parents to travel around America with a camera documenting wildlife.

 

Wild America (1997)
In short
A trio of brothers in the 1960's set out across America to film endangered wildlife, narrated in the first person by its youngest protagonist played by Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
2.3
Our rating
Watch now for free

Ballerino (2018)

0

Ballerino (2018)Stephen Daldry‘s masterpiece Billy Elliot long ago received a classic status in world cinema, which is why when I first glanced at the poster of 2018’s short film, Ballerino, I assumed that the film would probably be a refresh of the classic story (some of our readers had not even been born when Billy Elliot was released). Yet the film itself turned out to be an upside–down representation of the world portrayed in Daldry’s classic film – in which, instead of a boy passionate about dancing, we have a boy who dances, but is passionate about soccer.

While society has undergone many changes and developments since the year 2000 when Billy Elliot was released, Ballerino‘s story still doesn’t ring true.

This is not the first example of an alternative universe approach in cinema. That approach has been utilized in many short films, such as Kim Rocco Shields‘s, Love Is All You Need?.

Still, the plot overall feels a bit soulless without a touch of humour, in some of the touching scenes, that would make the audience sympathize with the young protagonist.

Coming-of-Age motifs are present in the narrative, but the film could benefit from a bit of cinematic glitter in terms of how the camerawork and cinematography are handled.

Ballerino (2018)
14 min|Short, Comedy, Drama|01 Mar 2018
Rating: Metascore: N/A
Set in a Northern town in a topsy-turvy world where football is only for girls and ballet is the manliest pursuit there is, one working class boy defies society and his father's wishes in ...
Ballerino (2018)
In short
Unlike Billy Elliot, Ballerino is a short film about a boy who dances, but is passionate about soccer.
1.6
Our rating

The Fire That Burns (1997)

1

The Fire That Burns (1997 TV Movie)“God grants us the grace…to love someone.”

No one makes as poignant and as powerful a movie about adolescent love better than the French directors. Jean Delannoy`s 1964 classic This Special Friendship (Les amitiés particulières) is a prime example supporting that argument.

This is a review of a similarly themed film:  Christophe Malavoy`s The Fire That Burns (original title: La ville dont le prince est un enfant).

Adapted from the 1969 three-act play (later to become a novel) The Boys, by the French author Henry de Montherlant, the film relates the story of the passionate romantic relationship between two young pupils of a Catholic boarding school in France and the jealousy of a teacher (the Abbé de Pradts).

The narrative of the film is so close to that of This Special Friendship that it must be noted that the author of the play found inspiration in his own life as a student in a Catholic boarding school. That, and his friendship with Roger Peyrefitte (the author of This Special Friendship), could explain why the two novels’ stories (and their screen adaptations) share so many common traits.

Scene from The Fire That Burns (1997)
Friends Forever:  A scene from The Fire That Burns

Sixteen-year-old Sevrais (Naël Marandin) and 11-year-old Souplier (Clément van den Bergh) share a special friendship. They meet in secret and exchange small tokens of friendship, little gifts and romantic words in letters — always marked with “to be burned“ – aware that, while their relationship is not uncommon, it’s frowned upon and forbidden by the strict school authorities. To make matters worse, one of the teachers, the Abbe de Pradts, sees the young Souplier as his protégé (and fixation) and doesn’t want his own influence on the affectionate youth to be being interfered with.

Sevrais (Naël Marandin) being observed
Sevrais (Naël Marandin) being observed

When Abbe de Pradts discovers the relationship between his pupils, his jealousy is awakened, and he starts plotting a cruel plan to stop it.

Initially screened on French TV back in 1997, The Fire That Burns was then released as a DVD in 2003. The film’s cinematographic and aesthetic qualities are so high that they generate a desire for a repeat viewing of the entire film or scenes from it.

A choir performance, and acceptance of Sacramental bread, the flight of a paper plane or an intimate moment and passionate kiss – regardless of the nature of the scene the director chooses to focus on — they are filmed in such a professional manner that it makes the story feel more true to life than ever.

Sevrais and Souplier
Sevrais and Souplier

When it comes to cinematography, the attention to detail makes the difference.  Small props and imaginative use of lighting, shades, and reflections create a sense of depth or intimacy that intensifies the essential natures of the young actors’ character development throughout the story.

Regarding an evaluation of the actors’ performances, the fact is that the story manages to capture — not only the attention of but also the mind of — the viewer of the movie. It inspires strong emotions of sympathy (or anger or antipathy) for the film’s protagonists.

Clément van den Bergh, who plays young Souplier (fans of the Coming-of-Age genre may recall his lead role in Class Trip), delivers an authentic performance. Thanks to his emotive facial expressions, one is truly able to recognize the mischievous nature of his character as well as provide him with the playfulness, innocence and vulnerability for which children of his age are known.

The same comment is also valid for Naël Marandin (with whose character I have more reason to identify) – whose friendliness, love, anger and agony are easily recognized and felt by the moviegoer.

The film’s director, Christophe Malavoy, undertakes the film’s third main character – Abbe de Pradts. His character acts as an antagonist to the young pupils in love but observing his actions as right or wrong, the viewer attains a moral lesson – of what God and love really are.

Loving affection
Loving Affection

The Fire That Burns portrays young love, characterized by intensity, exclusivity, and intimacy that few other films offer. Although there are no inappropriate scenes in the entire film, some people (sadly) would find its story controversial.

When Sevrais and Souplier ardently gaze at each other, such a gaze is rare in today’s cinema. Modern films follow strict guidelines of what is and what is not acceptable to portray (which often results in fear, bullying and stigmatization).

DVD Trailer

Friendship, love, rivalry, obsession are among the issues addressed in The Fire That Burns. Both Sevrais and Abbe de Pradts want to be seen as role models for the young Souplier to positively influence his growth and development. Despite the best intentions, the disastrous consequences seem inevitable (then and even more so nowadays).

A must-see film by all means!! I was not able to identify a single flaw in the storytelling – cinematographically or otherwise.  That is why I highly recommend the film to audiences of all ages.

Production photos of the 1971 theatrical play are available at ASP@sia

The Fire That Burns (1997)
In short
Friendship, love, rivality, obsession are among the issues addressed in The Fire That Burns. A "must see" film!!
Character/Acting
Score/Soundtrack
Cinematography
Storyline/Screenplay
Production
Direction
Reader Rating0 Votes
5
OUR RATING
Where to get

Maicol Jecson (2014)

2

Maicol Jecson posterToday’s Italian cinema has shifted its focus from harsh melodramas and mafia themed crime films to crowd-pleasers such as intelligent yet entertaining comedy flicks. In 2014, a year after the release of Gennaro Nunziante‘s comedy Sole a Catinelle (Sun in Buckets), a new film with an equally witty title graced the screens: Maicol Jecson.

This time the story is narrated by its edgy young protagonist Andrea (Niccolo Gentili), a 16-year-old teenager with raging hormones and one purpose in mind — losing his virginity to his girlfriend, Eva.  The small hurdles on the way are being addressed one by one – parents depart on vacation, and Andreas comes up with a plan to skip the summer camp he and his younger brother Tommaso (Tommaso Neri, already seen in the 2012 short film I KILLER ) are to attend.

Yet, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” — so things don’t go as smoothly as expected. The little brother decides to stay home, and there is no way to get rid of him.  Tommaso is an adorable kid with one huge obsession – Michael Jackson. His admiration of Michael is so immense that he wears a colourful mask just like Michael’s kids, and he’s constantly singing and dancing.

Fun and original plot
Fun and original plot

After all of Andrea’s friends refuse to babysit Tomasso, he invents a game of “Granddads”:  leaving the little kid with the elderly inhabitants of a nearby retirement home. But this plan goes to hell as well, and Tommaso comes home with Cesare (Remo Girone), an elderly gentleman (with dementia) who genuinely believes himself the grandfather of the boys. The adventure has just begun …

The film’s most remarkable feature is its excellent, bizarre and original story in which stereotypes are used only for comic relief. The film brilliantly intertwines road movies and comedies elements without sacrificing the motifs we are used to seeing in Coming-of-Age narratives, such as the focus on love, friendship, and discovering what really matters in life.

Maicol Jecson scene

The Michael Jackson character and music serve as a leitmotif (from which the film gets its title) — making the story feel innovative and remarkably refreshing. Most of the film’s characterizations rely on appearance rather than dialogue, but with such adorable and funky characters. That’s a winning strategy by the film’s two directors: Enrico Audenino and Francesco Calabrese.

Freeze frames and voice-overs are the techniques most frequently utilized during the film`s duration, and they both fit in the overall theme of the film, which is undoubtedly Coming-of-Age but with a funky twist. It’s not just growing up experiences; the intergenerational friendship (explored in other Rite-of-Passage comedies such as Theodore Melfi’s 2014 film, St. Vincent or the 2008 film Is Anybody There?) is also essential for the film`s narrative, making it much more enjoyable than American Pie (to name a potential American counterpart).

Tommaso ( Tommaso Neri) and his brother Andrea (Vittorio Gianotti)
Tommaso ( Tommaso Neri) and his brother Andrea (Vittorio Gianotti)

The film’s protagonists are quite eccentric and, although Andrea narrates the story, it’s the little Michael Jackson fanatic, Tommaso, who is always in the middle of the action. Tommaso Neri does a great job attaining the sympathy of the viewers in his role.

One of the best Indie flicks I have seen of late, Maicol Jecson exceeded my expectations and earned a high recommendation to the readers of theskykid.com.

Official trailer

Maicol Jecson (2014)
In short
A Coming-of-Age wonderful, bizarre and original story that is one of the best Indie flicks I have seen/reviewed of late. Highly recommended!
Character/Acting
Score/Soundtrack
Cinematography
Storyline/Screenplay
Production
Direction
Reader Rating0 Votes
4.5
Our rating
Get the DVD