Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Paul Anthony, Brendan Fletcher, Clarence Sponagle, Mark Hildreth, Carly Pope
Director: Richard Bell
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Gay & Lesbian, Military & War
In this poignant, soul-searching drama, Pip Anders has just turned eighteen and finds himself estranged from his family and living homeless on the streets. As he attempts to sort out his young life with the help of a local... more »
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Donald W. (Noboss17) from ELMHURST, IL
Reviewed on 8/7/2009...
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Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/04/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"EIGHTEEN as written and directed by Richard Bell may have a few too many stories to tell simultaneously for a 102 minute movie to completely succeed, but there is such a fine sense of commitment on the part of all the cast and crew that the viewer ends up wanting the movie to work - and so it does. Yes, aspects could have been finessed if the producers had more money to spend on the final cut, but as a small independent movie from Canada this is a tender, gently humorous, very touching tale about vulnerability and communication and commitment. It works on many levels.
In a very well choreographed opening we are voyeurs at a family dinner where obviously something has gone awry and results in a father and two sons taking off in a car and having an accident in which one of the sons is killed. With an introduction like that the mood is set for the surviving 18-year old Pip son (Paul Anthony - looking far too old for credibility as a teenager) to desert his family and live on the streets. He meets Clark (Clarence Sponagle) a male prostitute who gives Pip food and shelter, Jenny (the very fine Carly Pope) who saves him from a bashing by her associate Derek (Ryan McDonell) and becomes romantically entangled with Pip, and Father Chris (Alan Cumming) in a finely wrought sympathetic role as a priest. It is Pip's 18th birthday and his father (Serge Houde) traces Pip down to give him a present from his deceased grandfather with instructions the gift should be opened on Pip's 18th birthday.
Pip, though drinking too much and full of anger, pawns the tape machine but keeps the tape and begins to listen to the words of his grandfather Jason (voice by Ian McKellen) who recounts his own 18th birthday in WW II in France where he (now the very sensitive actor Brendan Fletcher) has an experience with a wounded medic named Macauley (Mark Hildreth, also superb) and reflects on his one night marriage with a cabaret singer Hannah (Thea Gill of 'Queer as Folk' fame and a fine singer and actress here), only for something to live for during the war: Jason offers succor to Macauley as he dies, with a beautiful scene of redemption for he two men at the end. The parallels of Pip and grandfather Jason interplay every time Pip listens to the tape and lead Pip to ultimately alter his view of life and love. Subplots include Clark's isolated existence as a hustler being altered by Jeff (David Beazely - in a surprisingly fine film debut) who simply wants to be loved; by an unexpected pregnancy between Jenny and Pip; by the trust Father Chris instills in both Pip and Clark in a good shepherd's manner: and by a flashback to the car accident where Pip could have saved his brother Daniel (Paul Dzenkiw) from an abusive act at the hands of his father, just before the accident, but failed to do so, opening his deep guilt and resultant misplaced anger, mirrored by his grandfather's taped experiences. Each of these subplots pulls together at the end, creating a sense of closure for each of the people involved.
There are aspects of this film that make it seem like a big budget production: the musical score by Bramwell Tovey is performed by the Vancouver Symphony members, the cinematography by Kevin Van Niekerk is aptly atmospheric, and the general quality of acting by this Canadian cast is very fine. Though Paul Anthony handles his role well, casting a very young teenager in the pivotal main role would have made the story work much better, and Richard Bell, with only one other film 'Two Brothers' on his resume, gives promise of a young talent to watch. Despite the shortcomings, EIGHTEEN is a worthwhile film and deserves attention. Grady Harp, July 06
"Grow old, buy a home and have a child"
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/17/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Eighteen is one of those movies that wants to say something about every single provocative subject and also mean something to everyone. There's no doubt the film is an accomplished effort, but director Richard Bell packs so much into his one hour, forty-five minute film that the result is a cinematic experience that sort of over extends itself.
Consequently, Eighteen is all over the place, switching backwards and forwards in time and utilizing parallel narratives, which look like they could perhaps have come from two separate movies. Social comment is all very well, but stories that deal with multiple narratives - unless done well - risk becoming a clutter of straying threads.
In this film we have daddy/son incest, abortion issues, male prostitution, suicide, male rape, stabbings, and gun shot wounds... and the list goes positively on. Pip Anders (Paul Anthony) is a street kid, a runaway from a prominent upper middle class family who is angry with his father over the loss of his older brother who died in a violent car accident.
On his eighteenth birthday he receives a tape from his grandfather (Sir Ian McKellan doing voice over) about the day he turned eighteen. Apparently granddaddy was fleeing German forces through the woods of France with a dying comrade who had suffered a fateful gunshot wound (although it's never made actually clear where they are actually going).
Pip is also suffering, running away from his family and his demons when he meets Clark (Clarence Sponagle) a gay hustler. The two form an uneasy friendship that is eventually tempered by Pip's affair with Jenny (Carly Pope). Meanwhile, Father Chris (Alan Cumming) takes pity on Pip and invites him home where he learns the terrible secret of Pip's past.
But it doesn't stop there! Pip falls in love with Jenny, Clark falls for a juvenile gas station clerk, they both meet head-on their daddy issues, and in flashback we see a World War II drama unfold in the woods of France. There's love, loyalty, sex - both gay and straight - death, passion, betrayal and attempted murder, and of course, Ian McKellan, the constant conduit, heard through a Walkman as Pip attempts to draw parallels with his own life.
Eighteen has some good moments, but so often it falls into uncomfortable histrionics. The acting is mostly melodramatic and a lot of the situations just don't ring true. The strength of the movie, however, is Cumming, who does a lovely understated turn as Father Chris, but apart from him, the rest of the cast come across as rather forced.
The mistreatment of power sexually by authority figures is obviously the theme of the film, but the impact of this gets lost amidst all the dramatics, wailing and the head banging. The World War II flashbacks are a bit of a stretch to tie in to the modern story, with the connection between them not always made that clear.
It's as though Bell is being overly ambitious; he would have been better to either stick to the modern story, or get more financing and make a more fully realized and lavish period piece. Obviously, both son and granddad have to come to terms with their lives and their insecurities, and in particular their guilt and anger - it's all a part of their journey. In the process, however, most viewers will probably be turned off and breath a sigh of relief that there won't be any more melodrama to sit through. Mike Leonard July 06.
Disturbing and riveting... a deep film
Geminiguy | Bloomington, IN | 07/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This dramatic tale unfolds with an incoherant converstation at a dinner table where it can be assumed that one of the boys has just come out to his family. His father errupts in anger and then whisks the two boys off into his mini-van in the pouring rain only to have an accident that claimes the life of one of his sons. It is a dramatic introduction to the life of Pip, a runaway teen who picks up a couple of oddball friendships along his own path of growing up in hard times.
This film is drenched with depressing undertones. And it all seems to come together (despite bing two seperate stories) through the narration provided by Sir Ian McKellen, who plays Pips grandfather. He tells of an experience during World War II that made him grow into an adult real fast... and that story is woven in throughout Pips own struggles. The back story is facinating and suspenceful, but it isn't as engaging as the "front and center" story.
Pip befriends a self centered gay hustler named Clark. Clark does not believe in love but a young man has his heart set on him even though Clark seems a little struck by Pip. After a confusing moment between Pip and Clark, Pip leaves and runs into Jenny and some guys. jenny saves his life and his reaction is less than thankful. Still, through his cold attitude, a relationship forms.
It is hard to feel sorry for Pip at first because he is so stand off-ish. He is cruel to Clark and in a moment when Jenny needs his support, he is rude and unflinchingly bitter towards her. Still, that takes a turn when he finaly meets with the priest who has had short run-ins with him before. It is during a meal with the priest that the truth about the accident that killed his brother comes to light and suddenly it makes sense as to why Pip is cold hearted. I have to say that personally, the revelation shocked me and pissed me off... and I'm sure many of viewers will find the moment disturbing and deeply uncomfortable.
This film approaches such hard hitting topics like suicide, abortion, homosexuality, rape, and molestation with an edgy approach. After the "big" revelation, it was easy to see who the real monster of this film was... and it was easier to feel for Pip as he continued down his dark path. Thankfully, this movie ends on an upbeat note despite being such a downer the rest of the time... although, becuase of the content, I cannot say that it was bad at all.
The acting was decent throughout... although I was a little thrown by the forced flamboyance of Clarks character. It seemed like he was wrestling with the material... and it got a little messy. Brendan Fletcher (as a young Jason Anders... Pips Grandfather) makes out the best because he has the juiciest role... a soldier trying to keep himself and a fallen commrade alive... and he is extreemly convincing. Alan Cumming is also a standout as the priest because he has a couple good lines about priests and molestaion... and the misconceptions that happen because of a few "bad" men.
Overall, a really good movie. It is dramatic and emotionally charged... and it has some disturbing content. It opened my eyes a little bit... and shed light on a world I hope no child has to really endure."