Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Sebastian Montoya, Rick Poli, Larry Swansen, Gates Leonard, Donald Silva
Director: John Harlacher
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Vanguard Cinema Release Date: 06/26/2007 Run time: 95 minutes Rating: Nr
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Agitpunkt | Brooklyn, NY | 04/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Urchin can best be described as "Urban Fantasy" (a genre that is still working out its own definition), and it follows the quest of a homeless boy through the tunnels and into the dark corners of an underground dwelling known as "Scum City." The ruler is preparing to lead his people into the paradise of the hollow earth, and this is, obviously, where things become a little weird. Is the ruler of Scum City a scam artist? Is he a herald of a better future? Urchin plays with your perceptions by only giving you as much information as you need to question everything you're seeing. When the protagonist stumbles upon a conspiracy in the city above, involving a Burroughs/Cronenberg-esque "human bomb", we are left wondering what the reason behind it all was. The only thing that we are sure of is that the world above, the one we live in, is deeply stranger and more dangerous than the one below.
This entire project is a great achievement for a first time film maker. Every shot is stolen (which gives it a gritty, manic energy), and the cast is well chosen and does great things with the material, especially those in smaller roles who tend toward a quirk or an odd choice in their performance that suggests a life outside the situation you're seeing them in. This, I think, is what makes Urchin so good. It's epic in a way that most street level independent features aren't and there is so much left unsaid about that characters that you can imagine this being just a small glimpse into a much larger world. I left the theater wanting to know much more.
Could've been great, but fell a bit short. . .
Tyr Shadowblade (TM) | Denver, CO | 10/22/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"When I read that URCHIN had been filmed illegally in the sewers and subway tunnels of NYC, I just had to check it out. It started out strong, with good dialogue and powerful acting, but about halfway through it started to run out of gas. Still, it is certainly worth your time to watch once.
The protagonist is a young homeless boy who lives with a group of squatter mystics in "Scum City." They smoke a magical crystal (crack, apparently) and their leader promises them a better life in the underground realm of Shambala -- which he claims is an actual physical location that he can lead them to as soon as they bring him enough money (many digs at cult leaders, like charismatic evangelicals, which I found insightful and amusing). The boy raises this money by purse snatching and selling crack. Eventually, he steals a big bag of cash, thereby forcing the leader to "put up or shut up" . . . but can he deliver?
There are a few interesting subplots -- some of more relevance than others. A few seemed more of a distraction from the story, though. For instance, one gangster's rambling and apologetic soliloquy -- while valid -- is easily twice as long as it should've been, and what was up with "Mister Big"??? The mob boss is some scrawny doofus in a karate uniform (complete with nunchaku hung round the neck) who appears only on the screen of a laptop . . . and when things go wrong, the laptop turns into a tiny spaceship type thing that flys around the room shooting everyone while Mister Big chortles. As they say on the Internet: OMGWTF??? As the only Sci-Fi element of the entire story, it was horribly out of place and downright asinine.
Even though it wasn't technically accurate, I really liked the improvised weaponry the boy constructed from household gadgets. The ending was a bit odd, though. After repeated allusions to the possibility that the boy had been molested/raped in the past, the story ends with him seemingly spending the next few years alone with some creepy old professor (who just quit his job after a mid-life crisis) on his yacht (presumably in the capacity of "cabin boy").
A good editor could've made this a 5-star movie. Too bad this wasn't done. Several scenes should've wound up on the cutting room floor -- you can always show them in the special features section; and it DEFINITELY needed an alternate ending. After being a grubby and dour urchin throughout the entire flick, in the final scene he's freshly scrubbed with curly locks and a big smile -- not even recognizable as the same person. Three stars ***"
Smart and well-done
openwindow | New York | 04/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a fan of small, grittily made cinema, Urchin is definitely a film you should check out. The story follows a young misfit orphan who belongs to an underground "Mole People" cult of sorts led by the Old Man. The Kid is recruited to be the lackey for this group in their endeavor to make money by selling drugs. Caught between the comical mobsters who are the buyers and a dying serial killer who is trying to "collect" good souls to get to the underground paradise, The Kid struggles to stay alive and find a better life for himself and those around him. Despite the film's dark tones, in its heart is the belief that some people just have goodness in their core (even if they're just a kid). To the writer/director's credit, the film is thematically taut.
At times, the story-line can be a little hard to follow (multiple character stories interact), but the film isn't about plot twists and turns. Urchin is about tone and atmosphere - when watching it, you feel like The Kid, everything is scary and you don't have the answers, but damn if you'll figure out a way.
Lastly, the acting is some of the best I've seen in an independent film in a long time.
The Ripper | nyc | 11/04/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The photography and the editing were great and considering that this is a lo-no budget movie the director is to be commended. But the big problem I had is that you just can't follow the story. It runs about 40 minutes to long and it looses focus going from one meaningless scene to the next. I tried to watch the whole movie three times but just got frustrated and turned it off because there seemed to be no end in sight. If your a fan of independent lo budget movies it's worth checking out because it has a lot going for it. I just wish the movie was shorter and the story was tighter."