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Julien Donkey Boy [1999] [DVD]

12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Ewen Bremner, Brian Fisk, Chloë Sevigny, Werner Herzog, Joyce Korine
  • Directors: Harmony Korine
  • Writers: Harmony Korine
  • Producers: Cary Woods, Jim Czarnecki, Robin O'Hara, Scott Macaulay
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Tartan
  • DVD Release Date: 16 April 2001
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005AMFF
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 75,373 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

The first US film to be made under the Dogme 95 vow of chastity, Harmony Korine's follow up to the controversial 'Gummo' tells the story of schizophrenic Julien (Ewen Bremner), his pregnant sister Pearl (Chloe Sevigny), and their pedantic, over-bearing father (Werner Herzog). Using handheld digital cameras, Korine gathers together a series of disparate incidents in the life of the family - Julien's friendship with a young blind figure-skater (Chrissy Kobylak), Pearl's masquerade as her and Julien's dead mother, their brother's (Evan Nueman) training as wrestler, a visit to a gospel meeting - while slowly and subtly building towards a tragic climax.

From Amazon.co.uk

There's going to be no middle-ground in your opinion of Harmony Korine's second film Julien Donkey Boy--it's either a blazing, daring masterpiece or one of the worst movies ever made. Ewen Bremner, the gawkiest of the Trainspotting gang, transforms himself into the terrifying yet pathetic Julien, with curly black hair, removable teeth, a letter-perfect American maniac accent and the body language of the truly demented. Julien is a schizophrenic but rather than observe his mental problems the film chooses to crawl inside them--we're never sure how much of what we see is actually happening and none of the "sane" characters make much sense either. Julien's family consists of a brother (Evan Neuman) who is constantly climbing stairs like a lizard to beef himself up for a contest that turns out to be ridiculous, a pregnant sister (Chloe Sevigny) who sometimes phones him up pretending to be their dead mother and a hard man father (Werner Herzog) who douses him with freezing water to toughen him up and delivers a bizarrely sincere soliloquy about the superiority of the ending of Dirty Harry over Julien's pretentious improvised poem. Though it comes with a certificate of authenticity from the Danish Dogma 95 movement, it violates several of the cardinal rules of their manifesto epitomised by Festen and The Idiots: there is unsourced music on the soundtrack, special effects in the form of pixellated or freeze-frame images and action as family arguments explode into scrum-like fights (Korine's directorial debut, Gummo, was closer in spirit to the movement). It opens and closes with the tragic deaths of children, but is mostly a shapeless series of scenes that deliver an impression of madness rather than a story. Bits of it are undeniably irritating, just as mad people usually are, but there are lucid flashes where Korine gets his cast to focus on their characters and provide great scenes. --Kim Newman

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Mar. 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I am not a huge fun of Dogma films, ie dizzy camera no special effects, but this film seemed to have something else to it than being simply strange. To begin with the film is slow moving and apparently without plot, many people walked out of the cinema, however in the last 45 minuites the plot comes together, thus making it a worthwhile watch. Though I am rarely discusted by film violence the final scene made my feel physically sick, which I do not believe to be a bad thing. A film that con make you feel such emotion has got to be worth a look. The cast are fantastic and you will laugh at their bizare antics as much as you will cringe. I strongly advise you to take a look, if you are in a tolerant mood, though beware of the nausea!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Niall Mullen on 16 Mar. 2003
Format: DVD
A touching tale of a young man's attempts to understand the world around him through the hazed glasses of psychosis. Beginning and ending with images of an ice-skater, the film explores the juxtaposition between such beauty and freedom of form with the harsh reality of life.
Julien, the main character, suffers not only from schizophrenia, but also the brutality of life which has drawn deeply on his dysfuntional family. A harsh, severe father gives his children confused and ambiguous lessons on life, most beautifully countered by Julien's poem "Morning chaos, evening chaos, night chaos", which surmises his existence tersely.
In the face of this, the children draw strength from each other; Julien's pregnant sister pretends to be his dead mother over the telephone to comfort him. The pregnancy itself is shrouded in mystery, with undertones of an incestuous affair. Julien's claiming of the resultant stillborn child as his is, I feel, best taken as a metaphor for an unholy love, a product of their shared existence, and a statement of their future. In this way, it may be felt to echo David Lynch's 'Eraserhead', and indeed the main protagonists hurt by and for the world resonate deeply with each other.
A beautiful movie, a parable of the struggle and difficulty of life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cactus on 5 Oct. 2009
Format: DVD
Julian Donkey-boy is a documentary style film about someone from a dysfunctional American family (there're a lot of these in films these days) who suffers from schizophrenia. Pretty grim stuff, it doesn't really go anywhere as it's more or less just a `day in the life of' type of thing, but it probably does give quite a realistic portrayal of what it's like to suffer from schizophrenia and to live with someone who does. My main issue with this film is the fact that it was made in such a way that it's like trying to watch a worn out, tenth generation copy of a VHS tape. I guess this is meant to reflect something but it just makes trying to watch the film really frustrating. I spent so much time trying to work out what was going on through the `snow' and poorly focused shots that I really didn't have time to build up any sort of relationship with the characters; they all just pissed me off a bit in the end. Alternatively I might just have a dodgy pirated copy, although I did buy it from Amazon. Even the extras were pretty poor technically. Watch if you want to be a bit depressed, like a challenge, don't mind getting frustrated, want to learn a little about schizophrenia and have a box of aspirin (or paracetamol) handy. I wonder if it's available on Blu-ray?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Hale on 11 April 2007
Format: DVD
Julien Donkey-Boy is the muted and bleak tale of a young schizophrenic and his family. Set mostly in their house and filmed in Harmony Korine's grandmother's New York home in true John Cassavettes style, the film shows Julien's struggle to cope with the harshness of his condition and the world's refusal to accept him. Much like Korine's other work Gummo, the film is not concerned with the ideas of plot or linearity and really neither of these concepts have any place in something which identifies so closely with its insane protagonist. The language of the film illustrates this: with its combination of jump-cuts, spy camera shots and grainy, degraded stock we get a sense of Julien's distorted and uncertain view of reality.
The existence of film as one certified by the Danish Dogme 95 movement isn't really very important, firstly because the movement doesn't really maintain much influence or importance now and secondly because Korine broke most of the rules or interpreted them to fit what he wanted to happen and at least in its approach and its style it remains simply a Harmony film and therefore isn't like anything else.
Mostly improvised from a skeletal outline of scenes Julien follows the protagonist as he works at a home for the blind and lives with family: his caring, motherly sister Pearl, played sweetly by Chloe Sevigny, his brother Chris, an aspiring wrestler, his tyrannical, bizarre father (German director and central Korine influence, Werner Herzog) and his foreign grandmother who seems close to senile. Julien's mother is dead and Pearl is pregnant with Julien's child.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By yorgos dalman on 19 Jan. 2006
Format: DVD
Sometimes, ever so sometimes, a movie turns up that hits you in places you didn’t know you had. Or you did know you had them, you just didn’t kow they could be touched and moved by a single cinematic experience. But watching “Julien Donkey-Boy” had had these feelings of sheer beauty in a world that ain’t so beautiful at all. The brilliance of ugliness, the shinging of dead things in back alleys. Harmony Korine, a young maverick filmmaker who is more influenced by the European cinema than of his own country, paints in light and edits in lyric and movement, rather than in logic or rationally motivated choises.
The character in the title is a mild mannered schizofrenic young man who lives in a rather disfunctional familiy, run by a millitant father. The narrative isn’t really a story but more of a series of domestic and outdoor scenes, that together represent the shatered view of life of the leading character.
It’s a shattered view of life, but not necessarely a dark one, what you might expect. Korine doesn’t go for the cheap tricks when it comes to portrait a mentally distrurbed person. Korine is a child looking curiously at the weird grown-up people around him, all doing strange and weird grown-up things. And the funny thing is that those actions of those grown-ups do more than once look very much like childish things.
The movie isn’t really about a schizofrenic young man at all; it’s more a portrait of low life, and the shattering discovering that low life can also have a heart. Only at the surface it may seem like a freakshow, but underneath there is real blood flowing through real veins.
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