You don't need to have heard a single song by Outkast to appreciate Idlewild's brilliance. The film has a life - at times almost fantastical - that springs from the screen and pounces and coos in your lap as though it's wooing you. Barber was a video clip director, he cut his teeth on three minute commercials for bands like Outkast, and he's got the polish down so tight it's almost part of the celluloid. At times it can be distracting. Sometimes there is so much happening on screen that you eyes overload and your brain shuts down. You just can't catch it all. But the music - that snaky (perfectly used) synth bass line, that flapping guitar work, the sugary gut punch of the horns - pulls you back into the film like a musical whirlpool.
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The title character (Victor Rasuk) is an 18-year-old Lower East Side playa-wannabe: The film's opening finds him undressing for a neighborhood girl, derisively called "Fat Donna." Though that encounter is interrupted, Victor and his friend are soon hitting on two girls at the local swimming pool, where Victor falls for Judy (Judy Marte), who ignores him. Rejection isn't about to slow him down, though. Victor recruits Judy's younger brother (Wilfree Vasquez) to reintroduce them, and thus the two kids begin an awkward process of letting their guards down.
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All is quaint at the titular chateau amongst the chief manservant and his intimate staff until a sudden shockwave rocks the establishment. Suddenly two adoptive American brothers arrive, one a Midwestern white, frumpy bohemian type (Paul Rudd) and the other a black, balding, sharply-dressed businessman (Romany Malco). The siblings are there in the scenic French countryside to claim the expansive deteriorating estate left to them by an unknown departed great uncle.
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Joe the King is the sad story of a young boy trying to cope with his dysfunctional family in a poor, small town in the 1970s. Director and writer Frank Whaley's debut attempts to reveal the loneliness of adolescence by exposing the heart of a boy made tough by the harsh circumstances of his miserable family life. Set in upstate New York, the film follows Joe Henry (Noah Fleiss -- Josh and S.A.M.) as he deals with an abusive father (Kilmer) and a hapless mother (Karen Young). His only salvation is his fifteen-year-old brother, Mike (Max Ligosh). Together they comfort each other as they deal with each violent and horrific episode of family crisis.
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