Kim Newman Junior
Posted on Wednesday January 30, 2008, 16:15 by Ian Freer in Empire States
If you are aged between 7 and 19 and fancy your chances as a movie critic, UK Film Industry charity Film Education are running a competition to find The Young Film Critic of the Year 2007. Head over to www.youngfilmcritic.org for more details.
16 year old David Gray from Shenley Brook End School (Milton Keynes) won the prestigious title last year . David (pictured above with Film Education’s Derek Ray-Hill) was invited to London to watch and review The Kite Runner. He was also presented with his prize of a Yamaha Home Theatre system.
"It’s about two months since I won the Young Film Critic of the Year competition, and that’s how I came to be writing this review." says David. "This is my first commissioned article after being invited to a preview of The Kite Runner. I was given a grand introduction in front of pupils from a number of schools from across the UK, shortly followed by a chorus of, ‘who?’ after my name was announced."
The Kite Runner
It is always difficult to make a successful film adaptation of a popular novel, but with The Kite Runner Mark Forster has managed it with great aplomb. It is a film that has Oscar written all over it: a gritty and disturbing yet often touching piece of social realism that extols the virtues of that utopian paradise also known as the USA. The rather unsubtle pro-Americanism of the film is a minor distraction, though.
Politics clearly has to play an important part in the film, as it is impossible to ignore the effect that the both the Taliban and the Soviet invasion has had on ordinary Afghan citizens. But the main story here is that of Khalid Abdalla, as the film follows his life from a young boy to a grown adult. The two actors that play him at different stages in his life both give superb and harrowing performances: the tired mantra that you should never work with kids is completely destroyed here as all the child actors give, at the very least, fully competent portrayals of their characters.
Although Forster sometimes strays into the dangerous waters of over-sentimentality, there are some moments of real poignancy here. He is probably the only director that I’ve seen who has managed to create a genuinely exciting and emotional scene based entirely around kite-flying. Although it is a somewhat limited category, it’s still quite a feat.
It is not without its flaws, but on the whole The Kite Runner is an impressive achievement that will probably not escape the attention of the Academy members whose attention this film clearly craves. And if indeed it is nominated, it will certainly be no injustice.
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Posted on Thursday February 7, 2008, 10:44
I just went in for Young Film Critic of the year. Here is my entry.
It is of course, pretentious nonsense.
"It's difficult to review a film, which by all accounts is outstanding, but appears (at first glance at least) to have little or no aspects of merit - however this is a horror film of class, unbearable suspense and ultimately, as what is expected of the genre, pure terror. Fault #1: We open on an obvious and cliched setup; two teenage girls talk about boys and sex whilst alone in a dark house, squeaky best friend brings up creepy urban legend - the titular VHS that kills you one week after viewing, girl #2 confesses to seeing said VHS, and before you can say "Phone's ringing!", girl #2 winds up popping her proverbial clogs. So far so obvious, but director Hideo Nakata directs with such vivid understanding of that primal fear of what's lurking in the shadows, what seems like your average pop horror flick, becomes a deeply unsettling experience. Fault #2: At first glance, Ringu seems derivative - Videodrome and Poltergeist come to mind instantly, as does The Shining, however, Nakata manages to create a picture which feels fresh and new, and despite numerous contrivances, not least the convenient telepathic powers amongst his protagonists, creates an urgent and frightening sense of doom throughout. It goes without saying his protagonist, Reiko, struggling mother and chronic bitch, decides to watch the VHS, and becomes embroiled in a race against time to save her own life. Nakata knows this is a ridiculous set up, but presents it with such vibrancy and such a straight face, that it's impossible not to believe it. You're unlikely to find a film as involving, suspenseful and bone-freezingly horrifying as this. A dazzling achievement, no matter how softened it has been by its endless imitators."