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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 16 March 2003
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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on 8 March 2001
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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on 5 October 2009
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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on 19 January 2006
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.
And talk about real and flowing: watch the scene where the pregnant sister (Chloë Sevegny) is cutting the hair of her father, outside in the front yard, (the father, played by european movieicon Werner Herzog): The editing is just as wicked as brilliant, with on the soundtrack an old record on which Werner Herzog talks about a talking context for birds. Completely out of focus, both in form and content, and yet an unmissable part of the entire film – and that shows just how gifted and original this rebellious young Korine is.
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on 28 October 2001
Chloe Sevigny, Ewan Bremner, Werner Herzog and Harmony Korine have hip movie pedigrees but nothing prepares you for a film where blind bowlers bowl, black albinos rap, little brothers wrestle wheelie-bins and fathers do like yoga in gas masks. And Julien washes his "gold fronts" (removable teeth) in his lemonade. I suggest you see this film.
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on 27 March 2001
... and Werner Herzog, well know german cinematographer; the 6th dogme95 movie leads you into a real vision of schizophrenia, and it's a real editing lesson, and even if it's not the best of the dogme95 movies, if you like cinema and new things, you got to see it.
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on 29 April 2002
Well Harmony Korine really does it this time. With a hauntingly beautiful opening sceen of a delicate iceskating ballerina to schizzo spazz Julien who talks to Hitler in his basement; this movie jumps between the high and low like a bouncing ball. Blind peoples parties are great . I myself work with mentally retarded people and find the representations of the handicapped and disabled in this film very sensetive and loving. Touché Harmony, touché old boy.
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on 2 April 2001
very sentimental and melancholic compared to director harmony korine's 'gummo' but with almost similar setup: delineation of recluse characters. pure artistic brilliance!
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on 18 June 2016
awful, it's horses for courses, but personally i couldn't watch it to the end.
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on 3 December 2001
Harmony Korine is a genius. He makes films that are at once sublimely hypnotic and hysterically funny. His subject matter is similar in many ways to that of Todd Solondz (suburban alienation) but whereas Solondz uses his characters as pawns in a callous scheme of personal degradation, Korine allows actors to express feeling, making his films far more realistic and believable. Werner Herzog is truly...beguiling (for want of a better word) as Julian's insane father. If you like this, I recommend you check out Korine's book, "A crack up at the race riots" which opens on a picture of MC Hammer, age 12.
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