The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet

Not rated yet!
Director
Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Runtime
1 h 45 min
Release Date
16 October 2013
Genres
Adventure, Drama, Family
Overview
A 12-year-old cartographer secretly leaves his family's ranch in Montana where he lives with his cowboy father and scientist mother and travels across the country on board a freight train to receive an award at the Smithsonian Institute.
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Armond White
The National Review / OUT



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • 1 - T.S. Spivet: Jeunet Makes a Gay Boyhood
    Armond WhiteMovies The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet is a title that should trigger anyone’s gaydar. It evokes that “innocent” time when gay young men were tactfully described as “sensitive and precocious,” but is set in a present-day as visually, emotionally intense as 3D. Ten-years-old T.S. (Kyle Catlett) is a science-minded nerd who runs away from his Montana home to accept an award from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., for his invention of a perpetual motion machine. Rich with fantasy (serving as desire and allegory), the movie shows a young boy moving toward self-realization, an essential gay concern. T.S. packs favorite items in luggage (including his mother’s diary) and leaves a comforting note: “You are the best family in the world.” This ambivalence (first pinpointed in Andre Techine’s gay coming-of-age drama I Don’t Kiss), explains his escape into science and invention--as many a gay child has similarly escaped into art, literature, theater. It also reflects the influence of a pubescent sister (Niamh Wilson), an adventurous, intellectual mom (Helena Bonham Carter) and a rugged, cowboy father (Callum Keith Rennie). T.S. alternates naturally between reason and instinct, realism and fantasy, yet he harbors a secret: his twin brother Layton was killed in an accident that split the family into disparate eccentric worlds. This powerful sense of longing contrasts the film’s poignant, dreamlike imagery of a supernaturally bright, clean, unspoiled America. A sense of distance and untouchable beauty animates every frame. French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, Alien Resurrection) idealizes America as a pop-up picture book. Western landscapes are vast and colorful like Thomas Hart Benton paintings. Jeunet creates a child’s vision like his 1995 City of Lost Children while stirring the romantic detachment that helps kids--especially gay kids?--survive and cope. T.S. struggles toward his identity in response to his mother’s intellectual isolation (she catalogues bugs as species or sub-species) and his father’s stoic perseverance (his masculine duty and protectiveness--epitomized when he places chocolate squares between his toes for the family dog to lick). These contrasting soft/tough personalities urge T.S. to define himself against social norms and toward deeper family sympathy. Many gay filmmakers (Cocteau, Visconti, Demy, Cukor) used to express their sense of difference through melodramatic heterosexual plots. Jeunet’s nuclear family dioramas contain recent social enlightenment and respect difference--a gay child’s individuality. (T.S.’s cruel schoolteacher chides: “Superiority complex, that’s what you have!” Every gifted or different child has felt that sting.) It moves into areas of private sensitivity which gay viewers might respond especially strongly. Precedents for T.S. Spivet include Charles Laughton’s 1955 childhood tale The Night of the Hunter with its implicitly gay venturing into worldly danger; Robert Mulligan’s 1972 story of mournful adolescent separation The Other; and Carson McCuller’s1952  androgynous coming-of-age drama The Member of the Wedding. If you don’t know these films, Jeunet’s evocation (including a nod to Helena Bonham Carter’s Toast, a marvelous bio-pic of gay gourmand Nigel Slater) gives reason enough to search them out. T.S. Spivet joins the legacy of adolescent difference even in films that look at the eternal mystery and wonderment of love, marriage and family. That’s the perpetual motion machine--a pop-up vision of today’s new gay reality. All this aligns T.S. Spivet’s reverie to modern gay consciousness. The scene of T.S. attempting to free a goat stuck in barbed wire is a perfect symbol for gay social struggle (and recalls a powerful moment in Spielberg’s War Horse). No other film this year matches the moment of T.S. explaining his fraternal loss to a roomful of adult faces. The mention of AIDS and bereavement take the film outside the kids-movie realm as surely as the scene of a youth’s cerebral cortex (a round table of selves and wall panel videos of the super-ego) is visually and philosophically superior to Pixar’s Inside Out. T.S. Spivet is a boy’s film in the best sense; its subtitles, inserts and diorama imagery suggest a dream of what Wes Anderson movies used to be and could be at best. The moment little T.S. (the most moving child performance since Haley Joel Osment in A.I.) wonders if his father pats his back “to brush me off, reprimand me, or substitute for a hug” sums-up the entire past decade of gay political advance, and the need for affection and social acceptance that will never change. This quintessential humanity should be a lesson to every gay filmmaker (and gay film watcher) from now on. Released in Europe in 3D (but 2D here), the American T.S. Spivet begs you to use your tactile imagination. It’s the most touching film Harvey Weinstein ever dumped. T.S. Spivet is currently in select theaters. Watch the trailer below: ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • 2 - The Secret History of 2015's Best Gay Movies
    (”The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Armond WhiteMovies Why should a Best Gay Movie List rubber-stamp mainstream Hollywood? How dare anyone compose such a list when Hollywood still depicts LGBT life strictly as political causes rather than emotional experience that connects to the world? 2015’s best gay films defy the clichés that commercial Hollywood is most comfortable marketing; clichés that distort or stereotype gay folk by keeping them in the repressive past or sentimentalizing them as pathological test cases. There’s a difference between high-profile marketing that exploits the desire for social acceptance and good, edifying filmmaking. (Why the French remain best at this deserves a separate article.) The best gay films confront stereotypes and resist them, bringing out “the secret history” (as one film put it) of gay life that no longer needs to remain secret.  1. The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet - Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet got to the heart of same-sex affection through the innocence of a boy inventor (Kyle Catlett) who leaves home and goes out into the world (a story the Stonewall movie botched). He discovers the strength of devotion through self-realization and a sense of family that’s as complicated as community. This year’s most moving fable, it also provides the boldest gay metaphor since Tennesee Williams: Spivet invents a Perpetual Motion Machine--what gays will recognize as love. 2. Salvation Army - Abdella Taia adapts his autobiographical novel into a powerful expose of triumphant gay self-reliance. This real-life, sexually explicit T.S. Spivet emerges from the Muslim third world into a new Europe.  3. Love at First Fight - Thomas Cailley uses the intricacies of LGBTQIA identity as the basis of a millennial rom-com. Out actress Adele Hanael and Kevin Azais make gender expectations complicated and surprising.  4. In the Name of My Daughter - Andre Techine, France’s greatest gay director, puts Adele Hanael, Catherine Deneuve and Guillaume Canet in a true-crime melodrama. His insight and sensibility reveals sexual tension at the core of social behavior. This is the movie Carol should have been. 5. The New Girlfriend - Francois Ozon explores transexual psychology and spirituality when Romain Duris’ deep femininity uncovers Anais Demoustier’s deep friendship. Their performances, plus Ozon’s elegant humor,  fill-in The Danish Girl’s laughable gaps. 6. Eastern Boys - Robin Campillo cruises the two-way street of sexual exploitation when Parisian Olivier Rabourdin picks up Russian immigrant hustler Kirill Emelyanov. Their personal and political needs mesh, resulting in the year’s most intimate sex scene.  7. Appropriate Behavior - Not only is Desiree Akhaven’s autobio-bisexual debut the American gay movie of the year, it’s a comic breakthrough. 8. Girlhood - Celine Sciamma finds beauty and liberation in the struggles of Afro-Parisian girls who discover their sexuality through Rihanna’s girl-power example. This Female Gaze on females is an aesthetic breakthrough. 9. Stanford Prison Experiment - Kyle Patrick Alvarez combines ‘70s clone erotica with a cautionary tale. He turns an infamous case of psychological research into an exploration of male sexual power dynamics, showcasing a dozen talented American actors. 10. Gerontophilia - Taboo-buster Bruce LaBruce makes his most daring and compassionate film, challenging the age-ism of gay culture with this wise, affectionate and ultimately universal romance. 11. Tangerine - Sean Baker’s lo-fi day in the life of two Los Angeles trans hustlers is raucously anti-Hollywood. Shot on cell phone technology it makes sub-cult secrets personal and relatable. Sisterhood and butt-dialing redefined. 12. The Duke of Burgundy - Sometimes justice and jollies come from unexpected places. Peter Strickland’s campy tribute to ‘70s hetero porn, muff-dives into serious and defendable lesbian intimacy. Chiara D’Anna and Sidse Babett Lnudsen’s fine acting and sensitivity provide the emotion Carol lacks.   ]]>
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    (Review Source)
  • 3 - The Eleventh Annual Better-Than List
    (”The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    The year’s best films verses the overrated worst In 2015 more movies were released than ever (an average of a dozen a week). And while many of them offended one’s sense of truth, beauty, and politics, mainstream media (both conservative and liberal) promoted them nonetheless — as if only newness mattered, and not quality. Commerce smothered art in 2015, disguised as movie love. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t still excellent, satisfying films — the best, Queen and Country, released in early January by British master filmmaker John Boorman, remained unsurpassed. You could still have a good time going to movies in 2015, but it required discernment, personal taste, and political rigor. Thus, this year’s Better-Than List reminds filmgoers that in cinema as in politics, quality and integrity are more important than popularity. It’s never too late to vote for the better movies. Queen and Country > The Force Awakens The visionary Boorman’s memoir/swan song recalls the roots of family, citizenship, and morality, all conveyed in cinematic mythology. The Disneyfied Star Wars replaced pop mythology with fascist marketing, deceiving viewers who are ignorant of the difference. (function($){ var swapArticleBodyPullAd = function() { if ($('body').hasClass('node-type-articles')) { var $pullAd = $('.story-container .pullad').addClass('mobile-position'); if (window.matchMedia("(min-width: 640px)").matches) { if ($pullAd.hasClass('mobile-position')) { $pullAd .addClass('desktop-position') .insertBefore('.article-ad-desktop-position'); } } else { if ($pullAd.hasClass('mobile-position')) { $pullAd .addClass('mobile-position') .insertBefore('.article-ad-mobile-position'); } } } }; $(window).on('resize', function(){ swapArticleBodyPullAd(); }).resize(); })(jQuery); Güeros > The Hateful Eight Alonso Ruizpalacios’s mixed-race Mexico City college students search for their ethnic and cultural roots in the style of Sixties New Wave cinema, superior to Quentin Tarantino’s pointless mashup of spaghetti westerns and blaxploitation movies. By exploiting American racism, QT promotes it. The Young and Prodigious T. S. Spivet > The Revenant Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s coming-of-age fable expresses an outsider’s affection for 20th-century Americana, while Alejandro González Iñárritu reduces the history of the American West to savagery — and Obama-era self-deprecation. Love at First Fight > The Martian France’s Thomas Cailley updates the service comedy — social experiment in the military viewed as Millennial screwball romance — but ultrahack Ridley Scott minimizes NASA space exploration as Matt Damon’s solipsism in outer space. Creed > Straight Outta Compton Ryan Coogler reenergizes pop ethnography and Sylvester Stallone’s bootstrap boxing franchise, reasserting that All Lives Matter because all are connected. But F. Gary Gray’s bio-pic about the hip-hop group N.W.A. panders to current social cynicism and valorizes hip-hop culture’s most noxious historical episode. The Green Inferno and Knock Knock > Mad Max: Fury Road Eli Roth’s two-fer made him the year’s wittiest political filmmaker, reviving low-grade genres as social satire — the opposite of George Miller’s craven, violent, utterly mindless spectacular. The Stanford Prison Experiment > The Big Short and Spotlight Kyle Patrick Alvarez experiments with the power dynamics of masculinity, while Adam McKay and Tom McCarthy both ignore race and gender components in films that celebrate white professional-class privilege (via stock-market arrogance and anti-Catholic journalism). Alvarez’s compelling, watchable actors contrast with McKay & McCarthy’s miserably dull all-celeb casts. Black Souls > Black Mass An authentic Mafia critique from Italy’s Francesco Munzi surpasses Scott Cooper and Johnny Depp’s mob-monster Whitey Bulger film. The crime movie Scorsese cannot make vs. the movie Scorsese has made ad nauseam. Macbeth > The Force Awakens* Justin Kurzel uses Shakespeare to envision a metaphor for modern political nihilism, a moving, classical reminder of what has been lost to Star Wars infantilism. * Yes, Star Wars again. Its menace is no phantom. In the Name of My Daughter > Carol André Téchiné’s family saga goes beyond modish sexual transgression through deep insight into class ambition. Todd Haynes’s dull lesbian melodrama endorses the cliché of 1950s repression (while still favoring the dominant bourgeoisie) to make today’s political correctness seem “smart.” Sicario > Bridge of Spies Denis Villeneuve explores the moral parameters of the U.S. drug wars while Steven Spielberg plays moral-equivalency games with Cold War history. Visionary boldness vs. visionary smugness. Horse Money > Timbuktu and Arabian Nights Portugal’s Pedro Costa owns up to colonial debt in an emotional, visually arresting art film. He humanizes the personal cost of Europe’s immigrant debacle, while Mauritania’s Abderrahmane Sissako, in Timbuktu, panders to jihadist clichés and liberal guilt. Meanwhile, Miguel Gomes’s trilogy, Arabian Nights, reveals Portugal’s (Europe’s) capitulation to G8 and ISIL narratives. La Sapienza > Ex Machina Expat American Eugène Green’s Western-heritage drama, delighting in the ethics of classical architecture, perfectly contrasts with Alex Garland’s juvenile rehash of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. Adult sophistication vs. teenage sci-fi misogyny. Appropriate Behavior > Trainwreck Desiree Akhaven’s bisexual-identity farce (the year’s most original comedy) was ignored by mainstream-media acclaim for Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer’s hetero-skank privilege. The New Girlfriend > The Danish Girl François Ozon spiritually redeems sexual dysfunction, but Tom Hooper settles for a ghoulish, politically correct tearjerker. Compassion vs. freakdom. Joy > Steve Jobs David O. Russell puts a human face on capitalism in a bio-pic that’s really an American social comedy — the opposite of Danny Boyle’s babbly hagiography, which deifies and sentimentalizes corporate fascism. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence > Anomalisa In several powerful tableaux, Sweden’s Roy Andersson connects personal anxiety to historical anxiety, while Charlie Kaufman pampers faux existentialism with zombie puppets. Furious 7 > It Follows James Wan’s populist sequel in the Fast & Furious franchise celebrates E Pluribus Unum brotherhood, but David Robert Mitchell’s Detroit-set ruin porn and scaredy-pants narcissism result in the year’s crummiest thriller. — Armond White, a film critic who writes about movies for National Review Online, received the American Book Awards’ Anti-Censorship Award. He is the author of The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook the World and the forthcoming What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about the Movies.   ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

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