Adam Koury

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Standing By Yourself Review


Very Good
The recklessness and self- destructive posturing of young people has a long history of being sensationalized by the movies, generally made by grown-ups long out of touch with youth culture. From Reefer Madness to Kids, something gets lost in the translation. That's why Standing by Yourself is so prevalent, suggesting that the only way to capture that side of life is through osmosis. Director Josh Koury started this documentary as part of his senior thesis project, running around with his kid brother's bad apple friends and shooting their boredom-alleviating mischief with a consumer market Hi-8 camera. It's the type of project that may have been started just for fun (what kid doesn't like to have his shenanigans captured on tape?) and steadily evolved into something deeper: a non-condescending document of suburban bad boys who steal, drink, and do drugs as a desperate means of entertainment.

Koury's brother Adam is one of those bright under-achievers who no doubt finds the company of degenerates more fulfilling than generic high school preppies. And Standing by Yourself discovers its maladroit protagonist in rebellious Josh Siegfried, a little boy lost disguising hismelf in punk attitude. Siegfried's pimply tough-guy mug is forever plastered with a giddy, willfully ignorant grin. Whether picking a fight with a less than reliable friend or stirring up trouble with shopping mall security guards, Siegfried's acting for the camera in ways that bring to mind Oscar Wilde's quote, "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he'll tell you the truth." Standing by Yourself, by nature, can't perceive what makes Siegfried the way he is, but what he doesn't show or tell, what he's willing to perform, allow for plenty of inference.

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