Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Freedom Writers

This movie is based on a true story. It is about students under forced integration living in desperate circumstances in a time and place of poverty and gang violence. Racism strongly divides the students and education is the least of their concerns. Teachers have given up on them and strive mainly to warehouse them.

A naive optimistic teacher finds ways to inspire the students and give them hope along with genuine opportunity for education through journaling and reading that they relate to, and building classroom community. She gives her whole life to the class at the expense of her marriage and two part time jobs to support her supply needs for her day job.

Union teachers are given a bad rap here as anti-reform and out of touch - not an accurate depiction as a generalization.

There is a strong anti-racism message. The movie has a good overall message but is a bit sappy and yes, I do think unrealistic in terms of mass application.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Departed

I've always loved Scorses flicks and why he still hasn't won an Oscar is beyond me, I wouldn't put it passed petty politics though.

The movie plays out in typical Scorsese style, but this time it's Boston, not his native New York where he bases most of this work. The movie is SO Gangster... and it has all the usual elements, love, betrayal, confrontation, deception all beautifully put together like an orchestral masterpiece and so reminiscent of a Shakesperean tragedy.

The acting is superb, all the players: Leonardo Di Caprio, Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon, work extremely well together as well as on their own. The direction is a brilliant mix of old and new, making it typically Scorsese but very refreshing, very different.

The movie isn't anything you would expect. The learnings however are interesting because the story line mostly revolves around deception and infiltration of the good guys by the bad guys and vice versa. Inevitably the entanglement and complex nature of all the characters makes you sometimes root for the bad guy and sometimes question the good guys... All in all it leaves you questioning around the nature of loyalty and how far a person would go to keep their loyalty to someone else.

It's something definitlely adult, not in the sense of nudity, but in the nature of the story, the violence, the language and the subject matter at hand. You have to note that all these elements, however, are only there to reflect the reality of the context the movie is set in.

Utter Brilliance.


Monday, January 01, 2007

Best and Worst of 2006

This site has a list of most of the movies released (not counting foreign films, some of the smaller Indys, etc.): MovieWeb

There were several movies I liked in 2006, several that were okay or mediocre and one that I hated. There are sure to be both better and worse movies in '06 that I just didn't see.

My #1 favorite movie of 2006 is

1. The Prestige

Runners up are, in order:

2. Invincible
3. Casino Royale
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
5. Akeelah and the Bee

And the worst movie I saw this year:
1. Little Miss Sunshine

I'll refrain from talking about each for now, aside from saying critics loved Little Miss Sunshine but I thought it was awful. I don't see a lot of movies that I pretty much have a miserable time watching because I usually can pick them out first and avoid them, but I went to see this one without having heard much about it except that critics liked it but yuck!

And The Prestige, it isn't perfect, but it was something different, dark, and thrilling, with a nod in it to my home town and my favorite insane scientist Nikola Tesla. Invincible is a Disney movie but tells a great true story, Pirates of the Carribean is exciting and fun, and Akeelah and the Bee is light but delightful.

Chime in - what are your favorites and least favorites?