Two recent films about the lives of young people -- Millions and The Chorus -- are worth your trip to the local movie rental store or to the movies themselves.
Millions is the latest work from British director, Danny Boyle, who is best known for high energy, grown-up films like Trainspotting and Shallow Grave -- hardly for movies for children and families. But Millions,which was released earlier this spring, breaks the mold of typecasting for Boyle. It still has his signature, kinetic rush of dynamic, fantastical storytelling, but this time he takes up the tale of two boys who just happen to become the recipients of a large duffle bag full of money. The younger boy, Damian, played by Alex Etel, is an "old soul,"who thinks that the money has come from God, and he wants to use it to help the poor -- like the saints he has been reading about. His older brother, Anthony, played by Lewis McGibbon, wants to spend it all on the latest electronics and in gaining power and prestige at the new school that both the boys are now attending, since they've moved to a new neighborhood with their father after the illness and death of their mother. But the money hasn't exactly fallen from heaven -- it's part of the loot from a robbery, and one of the gang comes looking for it. And that's where the saints, and the magic of the film really come alive.
The Chorus,which was nomiated for an Oscar as best foreign film last year, is set in a hard-scrapple school for boys in rural France, just a few years after World War II. The school is made up of kids who can't be reached. It's right there in the school's name, which translates as "the bottom of the pond." But their new teacher, Mr. Mathieu (played by Gerard Jugnot) finds a way to reach the boys in his class -- through the music he composes and teaches them to sing. In the end, they learn to sing superbly, especially one of the boys who has a natural gift for music. Jean-Baptiste Maunier, the boy who plays this gifted but troubled kid, is, in reality, an extremely talented singer, and has become a star in France.
Alas, both of these films are rated PG-13, but both are well worth your screening to see if they're appropriate for your youngsters. In the process, be prepared to have your heartstrings tugged on -- in all the right directions.
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Copyright 2005© John Cech
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Tuesday, 28-Jun-2005 12:54:11 EDT