Youth (2017)

Youth, takes a look at the lives of a group who are members of a Military Cultural Troupe in 1970’s China. Over the course of the movie friends find love, but the death of Chairman Mao throws the country into chaos. The innocence of youth is then stripped away on the battlefield, and life for these young people will never be the same again.

The director, Xiagang Feng, really captures the period well. The lives of these young men and women is shown to be an enjoyable one. Communism and politics is always there, but never becomes the focal point of the movie…well at least not for the first half.

It’s uplifting to see these young people enjoy their time together, having fun and finding love, all while the threat of civil unrest looms. To then see their lives thrown into complete disarray, and for the reality of their situation dawn on them, is heartbreaking. Heartbreaking because I felt they were essentially forced into fighting. They act or they die. This was a regime where independent thought was not welcomed at all. So to watch friends torn apart, it is sad to see.

All the time you can see each of those young men and women yearn for the past to be the present. For the ‘good old days’ to be here again. It’s never a case of nostalgia taking over, it’s just the desire for life to be simple again. I think we can all identify with that, especially with society as it is today. You want to go back to when things were easier to understand, to when life never felt so complicated. ‘Youth’ captures that feeling in a very bittersweet way. The horrors of war are never underplayed either, which makes it all the more painful to know that those men and women will never return to the way it was.



Powder (1995)


Jeremy ‘Powder’ Reed (Sean Patrick Flanery) is a very unique man. He was born an albino which has made him very sensitive to light. He lives in his grandfather’s basement and doesn’t venture out as he’s subject to ridicule because he looks different. When his grandfather passes away he is found living in the basement by Sheriff Barnum (Lance Henriksen) and a woman named Jessie Caldwell (Mary Steenburgen) who take him to a home for boys.


Jessie arranges for Powder to take tests to see how intelligent he is and he wows a teacher named Donald Ripley (Jeff Goldblum), who wants to help Powder. The townsfolk treat Powder like a freak however. The other boys in the boys home bully and tease Powder. We fear what we don’t understand, and that has never been more true in this film. Powder does meet a girl who treats him just like he should be, but it’s not long before the other people in town find out and put a stop to it.


Powder is also asked by Sheriff Barnum if he can visit the Sheriff’s wife who is dying of cancer. His wife can’t speak but is still holding on and the Sheriff wants to know why, as she’s in pain. Powder takes her hand and tells the Sheriff that his wife won’t pas on until the Sheriff makes up with his estranged son. I am not one to readily admit when a film makes me cry. Now it’s not that I’m some double hard bastard that doesn’t ever shed a tear, I just don’t like showing my emotions like that. However, that being said, this film hits me hard. It is very touching, the scene I described above is wear I completely lose my shit and just bawl like a baby. It really is heartbreaking.


This film is great though. It’s done by Victor Salva who did the Jeepers Creepers movies. Now I like his movies, it’s just a shame that he’s a wrong ‘un. I won’t go into why that is, as it’s not really the place. However should you be curious, I’m sure Wikipedia can tell you everything you need to know.




Brokeback Mountain (2005)


Often referred to as the “gay cowboy movie”, Brokeback Mountain was released in 2005 to an audience wondering how faithful Ang Lee would be to Annie Proulx’s short story. I would say Ang Lee did a fantastic job. The cast is phenomenal. The late Heath Ledger plays Ennis Del Mar, a cowboy who gets a job herding sheep in Wyoming. There he meets Jack Twist (played by Jake Gyllenhaal). The two men get a job working together herding the sheep on a mountainside. After a long day of work and a late night drinking, the two men share a tent to escape the cold, where they give in to their attraction to each other.


Afterwards Ennis wants to put the incident behind him, choosing to live in denial with his fiance Alma (played by Michelle Williams). Jack however is more accepting of his sexuality and wants to be with Ennis. Both men seperate for a number of years, moving on with their lives and both getting married,¬†Jack to a rich woman named Lureen Newsome (played by Anne Hathaway) and Ennis to Alma. Jack writes to Ennis years later and they arrange to meet again, only for tragedy and prejudice to rear it’s ugly head.


I must say that this is a fantastic movie. Both Ledger and Gyllenhaal give it everything and seeing them together, you just can’t imagine them being with anyone else. Films like this just act as a constant reminder of what a fantastic actor Ledger was, and how tragic it is that he’s gone. I am constantly recommending this movie to people because I feel they need to put the homophobia aside and discover what an awesome movie it is. Now it’s not harsh that I call it homophobia, as that’s what it I feel it is. If you’re comfortable with your sexuality then why would a movie like this bother you?


To not watch this film because it has a gay theme is sad, mainly because you are missing out on some of the finest acting I have ever seen from all concerned. I really think this is the best role of Ledger’s tragically short career, yes even better than The Dark Knight. I can’t recommend this enough, the film had a profound effect on me.




The Kings of Summer (2013)


Three friends (Joe, Patrick and the brilliantly eccentric Biaggio) leave home to go live in the woods. Joe’s dad is overbearing and opinionated and his sister who deflects some of the verbal abuse from Joe’s dad, is leaving home. Patrick’s parents are just annoying, so much so that it’s causing Patrick to break out in hives. Biaggio on the other hand just wants to tag along, and you’ll be glad he did. He is by far the best character in the movie. He brings comedy and heart to the role, he is funny and quirky and surprisingly courageous.


The three friends enjoy late nights, meals, hunting for food and other outdoor activities, all before a girl comes along and throws everything into chaos, jeopardising friendships on which the boys depend on to survive. It deals with growing up, and I found myself close to tears at times in how well it captures the complexities of friendships when girls come into things and hormones run wild.


People will compare it to ‘Stand By Me’, and I guess there are similarities, but each film is brilliant in it’s own right¬† and it’d be unfair to pick one over the other. All I will say is seek it out and watch it for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.