Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Conrad Boys|
Actors: Justin Lo, BooBoo Stewart, Nick Bartzen, Barry Shay, Nancy Hancock
Director: Justin Lo
Genres: Drama, Gay & Lesbian
Following the death of his mother, 19-year-old Charlie sets aside his college plans to raise his 9-year-old brother Ben. Charlie accepts his responsibility yet yearns for the freedom and romance associated with youth. Char... more »
The price of finding love and reconnecting with family...
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/17/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Conrad Boys is a bit of a mixed bag. Made for what looks like ten bucks, using dime store actors, and looking as though it's been shot in your next-door neighbor's garage, the film is, to say the least, certainly rough around the edges. But with all its faults and it's tendency towards brazen mawkishness, The Conrad Boys eventually morphs into a moderately compelling drama which is quite a feat, considering that it's Justin Lo's first film and that he wrote, directed and actually stars in it.
Set in Newport Beach, Conrad Boys is all about family dysfunction and where the responsibilities of adulthood are thrust on those who are least ready for it. Lo stars as nineteen-year-old Charlie who has been given the job of looking after his younger brother Ben (Boo Boo Stewart) after their Asian mother dies from a pain in the side - yes, she just falls over giving a massage, and eve more strange is that her illness is never fully explained!
Charlie had big dreams of going to college back East but now he has to put everything on hold. He's the only provider and makes his living from a waiter's salary. Obviously Mum must have left him some money because it's the only way he can hold on to and keep up a reasonably upscale Newport Beach home. Charlie's world is turned on its head with the arrival of Jordan (Nick Bartzen), sexy and charismatic drifter who claims to write poetry and is the only person who takes an interest in Charlie's love of ancient history.
Lacking a place to stay and obviously on the run from something or someone shady, Jordan moves in and promptly seduces Charlie. Meanwhile, the boys' ex-alcoholic father (Barry Shay) turns up after a six-year absence, wanting desperately to get back into Charlie's good graces and win over the young and emotionally shutdown Ben.
The poor embittered Charlie has to cope with the arrival of his father and also his bourgeoning feelings for Jordan who continues to entice him with poetry and dope. When Jordan's surreptitious past eventually catches up with him, Charlie gets involved in all sorts of melodramatics that enliven up what otherwise would have been a rather tepid and overly sentimental story.
The real standout here is Bartzen as Jordan who manages to quite persuasive as this hot looking and magnetic vagabond whose real motives remain unclear. Is he just using the vulnerable Charlie for a place to stay, or does he harbor deeper feelings for his new young friend?
The main problem with the film is the character of Charlie who comes across as a bit of an unlikable whiner and a constantly frustrated grouch. Like Jordan, you feel like screaming at him to just lighten up. Also, Lo doesn't have a lot of screen charisma, and he often comes across as a bit precious when he doesn't really need to be.
Still, it is to Lo's credit that Conrad Boys doesn't fall into the predictable cliché's of family relationships dramas and as a director he's never over-indulgent and he keeps the story taut and moving along at a nice pace. The ending comes as a surprise and is without a doubt infused with a type of sadness and bittersweet irony that does indeed bring a tear to one's eye. Mike Leonard August 06.
Too Many Irons in the Fire
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/25/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"CONRAD BOYS is not a bad movie: the story though frequently used by others holds its own, the style of direction keeps the pace moving, the message of the movie is worth stating. The problem is one of a single person assuming the role of writer, director, film editor AND principal actor. Justin Lo does well in all categories except the last one. As pleasant as he is to look at his ability to create a believable character on film is seriously lacking.
Charlie (Lo) is a 19-year old taking care of his little brother Ben (Boo Boo Stewart) after the sudden death of their mother. Charlie is a history buff headed for Columbia for college until his mother's death halts that direction. He becomes a recluse despite his friend Tori (Nancy Hancock) attempts to get him out of his cafe job and into a social life. But at last Charlie reluctantly attends a party and eventually encounters a very handsome, intelligent drifter Jordan (Nick Bartzen) who touches Charlie's buried attraction and the two become friends and more. Jordan has demons, some of which become painfully apparent form his life of crime's encounters from the past. Another stumbling block for Charlie's adjustment appears in the form of his long departed recovering alcoholic father Doug (Barry Shay) who has cleaned up his act and wants to be a part of Ben's and Charlie's lives. The myriad clashes to Charlie's fragile ego serve only to bring out his protective forces in caring for Ben and eventually his nascent longing for Jordan and his responsibility for Ben are settled in surprising ways.
The cast Lo has selected is fine - especially the promising young Nick Bartzen and the solid Barry Shay. If only Lo had had the foresight to cast Charlie with an equally fine actor the film would have played more strongly. But as a first film by a young talent there is reason to view this venture. Justin Lo gives evidence of being a solid talent who just needs some focus. Grady Harp, August 06"
Engaging and Quite Watchable
moomadoo | 11/18/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If, like me, you can enjoy a small, intimate and thoughtful film, The Conrad Boys definitely has something to offer.
This is truly a family film, though certainly not in the way that overused term usually implies.
Charlie is a likable but somewhat rigid and introverted young man who faces some major life changes over the course of the story. Even though his own future becomes uncertain, he's determined to single-handedly raise his little brother as well.
The DVD includes a lively Director's Commentary which points out some things you may not notice in a first viewing, and also contains some indications of the care that went into the script and musical choices.
Even though there are a few scenes that could perhaps have been more polished, that seemed to stem mostly from the constraints of a low budget, a chronic complication for most indie makers that is alluded to in the Director's Commentary. I found any such flaws easy to overlook in light of the film's other merits.
It's noteworthy that the same person wrote, co-produced, directed, edited AND starred in this movie. As with many small films, this may have been due, in at least some part, to necessity. And while that was an ambitious -- and perhaps even risky -- choice, particularly for a young director's first film, it does result in a highly personal work. We shouldn't forget that some real gems have been made over the years by directors who are able to maintain that degree of creative control over their movies.
Overall, The Conrad Boys represents quite an accomplishment for a first-time director, including his sensitive portrayal of Charlie. I look forward to his future projects.
Good News from a First Timer
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 01/15/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
""THE CONRAD BOYS"
Good News from a First Timer
Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride
"The Conrad Boys" (Newport Films) is a lovely and sweet movie that deals with the life of a 19 year old Asian American who raises his brother when his mom dies suddenly and unexpectedly. Directed by Justin Lo, Charlie (Lo) a cute teenager who finds himself alone in the world with Ben after his mother mysteriously dies from a pain while giving a massage. It is another low budget movie with big hopes and it fulfills many of them. Charlie loves history and was headed to college when his life comes apart and he voluntarily assumes the role of parenting. In doing so he becomes a prisoner of life by his own choice and cuts himself off from a social life. Finally after being convinced by a friend, he agrees to attend a party where he meets a handsome intellectual, Jordan (very effectively played by Nick Bartzen). The two become fast friends and ultimately lovers. Yet Jordan has problems; his past was a life of crime. Without announcing himself, Charlie's abusive alcoholic father (Barry Shay) turns up and claims to have cleaned up his life and now wants to become a part of his sons' lives. This brings a whole series of events into play. Justin Lo with his first film has made an auspicious entrance into the genre of gay film making and if this film is a sign of things to come, I think we can happily add him to our list of directors to watch.
The movie is not without its faults but all in all it is clever and endearing. Lo who directed the film also wrote it and stars in it as well.
The action takes place in Newport Beach and the major fault that I found here was that at times there were moments that dragged; a tighter script could have solved that problem easily. Cute Boo Boo Stewart as Charlie's younger brother is wonderful and the supporting cast does an admirable job. But it is Nick Bartzen as Jordan who owns this movie. His characterization of the young drifter who writes poetry and is interested in Charlie is an amazing performance. Although his motives for befriending Charlie are unclear--we really don't know if he is using Charlie so that he can have a place to live or whether he really cares for him--he is a young man doing an emotional acting job.
Charlie seems to have the weight of the world on his shoulders, he is a whiner and angry and seems to be frustrated all of the time. As attractive as he is to look at here were times that I felt like I just wanted to shake him and tell him to do something with his life. I suspect that with a little more experience, he will blossom into a good actor. He has major problems to deal with--parenting, his father and new feelings of love and being brought into a new world of melodrama by Jordan. Lo does manage, as director, to keep the film from sinking into sentimentality which it could easily have done. For whatever minuses I found here, I found twice as many pluses and it seems to me that we are in store for some really good things to come our way from Justin Lo.
"The Conrad Boys" should be watched and enjoyed. It is a tight and moving movie with just the right amount of sweetness and pathos. It may not make you weep but it will elicit a tear or two and that is plenty enough for me.