16 posts categorized "Coming-of-Age"

September 09, 2017


Colesmithey.comThe direction, editing, pacing, and tone are so off in director Andy Muschietti’s filmic adaptation of Stephen King’s child-led psychodrama horror picture that the movie is more of a chore than a source of entertainment.

The film’s by-committee screenplay is at once overwrought and under-polished. Three screenwriters is one too many. 

Gallons of corn syrup fake blood don’t help. Here is a glorified haunted house movie that doesn’t hold a candle to “Frankenstein,” “Dracula,” “The Mummy,” or any of the other famous Universal monster movies of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Blame it on a lack of backstory for this hollow clown monster creation.

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It doesn’t help that there are no likable (read reliable or responsible) adult characters to be found in or around the small Maine town of Derry, circa 1988 and 1989 where the action takes place. Blame Steven King for this aspect I suppose. Crucial plot holes abound.


When Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher), the first of our seven shared-child protagonists, loses his little seven-year-old brother Georgie to a whacked out clown living in a gutter drain, not even the woman who witnessed the savage attack from her living room window seems to give a damn. The house cat, however is bothered. Already, our suspension of disbelief is strained over a killer clown with a many-toothed vagina dentata where his mouth should be.

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The Riverdale neighborhood of Toronto subs for Maine. Missing persons signs adorn brick walls in a picturesque small town populated with teenaged reprobates, pedophiles, and racists. Naturally, there is Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs), a token black kid bullied and victimized by Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton), the mullet-wearing son of the town cop. The subplot tips its hat to Charles Burnett’s “Killer of Sheep” by introducing Mike as a child slaughterhouse worker tasked with stunning sheep with a captive bolt pistol prior to their slaughter. Henry should know better than mess with a kid whose killer instincts are already awaken.


Gratuitously, our motley collection of nerdy boys enjoy the company of Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis), a local redhead smeared with the scarlet letter of slut. Sexual abuse victim is more like it. Beverly’s dad is the kind of bastard for whom you wish an especially hot version of hell. The kids rally together against all form of everyday and paranormal evil towards defeating the fear that invades their every waking moment. “It” is not an especially scary movie even for its intended youthful audience; for most part the film’s R rating is a ruse.


“It” just doesn’t cut it. Do yourself a favor and get a copy of Frank Darabont’s “The Mist,” based on Stephen King’s novel, and enjoy a genuinely creepy movie that will give you nightmares.

Rated R. 135 mins.

1 Star


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July 15, 2017


ENDLESS POETRYThe second installment in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s promised five picture cycle of filmic memoirs harmonizes with the theatrically heightened tone and style of “The Dance of Reality” (2013). This succession of films marks Jodorowsky’s return to filmmaking after a 23 year hiatus after his 1990 film “The Rainbow Thief,” a film he disowned due to conflicts with the film's British producers. 

“Endless Poetry” continues the narrative line of “The Dance of Reality.” A pubescent Alejandro (Jeremias Herskovits) is growing up with his parents in Santiago, Chile.


While the mother Sara (Pamela Flores) operatically sings all her lines, Alejandro’s brutish father Jaime (Brontis Jodorowsky) accuses his poetry-obsessed son of being gay when he discovers him reading aloud from Federico García Lorca’s poem “For the Love of Green.” You'd be hard pressed to find a more lovely poem. The die is cast that Alejandro must escape the clutches of his parents if he is to follow his dream of becoming a poet.

Endless Poetry - Paste

The casting seamlessly shifts to a twenty-something Alejandro (played by Jodorowsky’s younger son Adan) fearlessly taking a running start at his chosen profession of words by following his red-wigged muse Stella Diaz (also played by Pamela Flores in dual roles).


Stella insists on holding Alejandro’s crotch whenever they go out in public, but not allowing “penetrative sex” because she is awaiting an unknown mystic to descend from a mountain to part with her dubious virginity. Rejection and suffering are to be celebrated.


The episodic narrative tears a page from John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” when Alejandro and his latest poet friend go on an adventure walking across town in a straight line that takes them through people’s homes. The effect is an operatic trail of personal growth informed by visits from Jodorowsky himself where he advises his younger incarnations about the big picture of life. “I’ve sold my devil to the soul.”

"Life does not have meaning, you have to live it!”

Such is the pragmatic nature of Jodorowsky's nurturing, if poetically expressed, ideologies. Pedantic perhaps, but filled with undeniable passion. 


Alejandro Jodorowsky is the most euphoric filmmaker of our time. His transgressive artistic sensibilities form a focal point of pure artistic intentionality that the viewer can either accept or reject, embrace or shed. Either decision will lead the viewer to a personal place of artistically directed balance. You don’t get that from watching the latest “Spider-Man” movie.

Endless Poetry

Not Rated. 128 mins. 

4 Stars


Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Your generosity helps keep the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

April 11, 2016



Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Your generosity keeps the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon


Catherine Breillat announced her status as a feminist enfant terrible at the age of 17 with her sex-filled debut novel l’Homme facile (“A Man for the Asking”). The French government promptly banned the book for anyone under 18. Although it might seem tame by modern standards, "A Real Young Girl" was, and is, a brave transgressive film from a fearless woman filmmaker with a singular uncompromising vision for the coming of age story she wanted to tell.


By the time she made “A Real Young Girl” Breillat (pronounced Bray-yah) had acted in Bertolucci’s “Last Tango in Paris” and Edouard Molinaro’s “Dracula and Son” opposite Christopher Lee. Such practical experiences paved the way for a filmmaker whose furious first effort would be delayed for nearly a quarter century. “A Real Young Girl” was made in 1976, but not released until 1999 due to the “shocking” nature of the work. Criminal.


Based on her novel “Le soupirail,” this [ostensibly] autobiographical story is set in Breillat’s hometown of Niort, France. Alice Bonnard is a physically developed 14-year-old girl visiting her mom and dad while on summer vacation from boarding school. Charlotte Alexandra (“Immoral Tales”) was 20 when she played the role of Alice, but is credible and her performance is spectacular.


“A Real Young Girl” is a brave coming-of-age reverie expressed with unbridled honesty by a canny young author fascinated with every erotic detail of the substances that discharge from her body at regular intervals.


Alice is a prolific producer of runny earwax that she smears on the family tablecloth. Sexual thoughts consume her every waking minute. Young girls get horny, who knew?


Our unreliable young protagonist narrates the film with intimate reflections about her parents, her intolerance of other people, and about her budding, albeit messy, sexuality. Alice’s provincially minded folks (Rita Maiden and Bruno Balp) are as flawed versions of adults as you will find anywhere in the history of film.

Real Young Girl1

The movie has a raw sensibility in keeping with the natural savagery of wanton libidos in close proximity to one another. A scene in which Alice probes her vagina with a spoon while her oblivious father sits next to her at the dinner table is unsettling, to say the least. There is reason to suspect that Alice’s father might yet molest her if he hasn’t already.


Cinematographers Pierre Fattori and Patrick Godaert share camera duties in giving the picture its deceptively unpolished appearance. Sequences screech and roar with an unbearable lustful tension. Breillat’s jarring use of soundscape is masterful.

Real Young Girl

The rebel filmmaker’s insatiable desire for intimate truths, dips into the phantasmagoric. Graphically explicit sex-fantasy sequences are at once shocking and recognizable. During once such scene, Jim, a twentysomething stud (played by Hiram Keller) tears off pieces of an earthworm that he presses inside Alice’s wet vagina. Alice will not be tamed, but she must be sated. Finding a lover who can provide birth control pills might hold the key to Alice’s sexual liberation.  

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Alice says things like, “Disgust makes me lucid.” She enjoys vomiting on herself in bed for its sickly smell and the warmth it provides on her ample chest. She’s a country girl in touch with the everyday brutalities of such regular tasks as killing and cleaning a chicken, something she does with her mother before imagining herself crawling around on the ground (with feathers protruding from her anus) in front of Jim, who works for Alice’s father at a nearby sawmill.


While the film could be construed as pornographic in nature, the intention of the narrative function is clearly to examine the psyche and sexuality of a young girl within the political and social context of Niort, France circa 1963. A television newscast reports General de Gaulle’s dissolution of parliament. A local shopkeeper (played by Shirley Stoler) is none too pleased about Alice’s tempting ways and lets Alice’s mother know it.


Breillat’s magically real tale of sexual adventure owes a debit to Philip Roth’s “Portnoy’s Complaint” and to J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye.” The character of Alice is after all a female archetype born of the same hunger for individuality and sexual expression as the teenage male protagonists of Roth and Salinger. “A Real Young Girl” retains a fresh sense of transgressing taboos. The melodramatic flourish that Breillat uses to end the story gives a knowing wink to say that this filmmaker knows exactly what she’s doing. Bravo.


Not Rated. 90 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

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