Saturday, March 6, 2010

An Education

For some reason, An Education did not intrigue me. I first heard of it back in London. It was one of the movies shown at the British Film Institute's London Film Festival. The title, for starters, is kind of mundane, and I did not know much about the storyline. Nonetheless, I watched it in preparation for Oscar weekend.

It turned out to be quite a nice movie. In many ways, An Education is like a toned down version of Atonement. It's a British coming-of-an film about Jenny (Carey Mulligan), a high school student on the track to go Oxford. Jenny is intelligent, diligent, and independent but her desire to be adventurous and to be herself is often stifled by her strict father. After meeting David (Peter Sarsgaad), a random stranger who offered to take Jenny home on a rainy day, Jenny plunges head first into adult life.

Throughout the movie, I kept guessing what is coming for Jenny who is bewitched by David, a much older man, and all the material goods that come with money. I wanted Jenny to realize her mistake early on or fall really hard at the end. Regardless what I was hoping to see, the best part of the movie was when she discovers her mistake and the problem of her relationship with David.

As British as it gets, the emotions of the movie are restrained. Sadness is expressed through quite weeping; happiness expressed through a smile. The set and the quality of the film are surprisingly beautiful with a low budget of $7.5 million. When I finished watching the film, I thought it was nice . It was not specular. It is not a film that lingers with me. But it was a nice film to watch with some good lessons to take away.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Between the Bars

The best cover. So heartbreaking.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker is an attention gripping film from start to finish. Though at times predictable, the film keeps you attached to the screen and the story. Not a second of the film is wasted--the fast scenes give you an adrenalin rush and the slow scenes tell you a story beyond each character's facade. Jeremy Renner plays the daring and risk-seeking Sergeant William James who is a specialist at disposing explosives. James is a great character in that he is mysterious and slightly unlikeable but he is so good at what he does that he wins everyone over with his skills.

The cinematography is raw and journalistic which adds to reality to the film. At the end, I began to appreciate the work that real soldiers are doing for the safety of our country.

P.S. I was quite surprised by the fact that the film was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, a female director (who is the ex-wife of James Cameron). Throughout the movie, I did not get the sense that the film was directed by a female. In my film studies class, we had talk about the gaze of the camera which is usually presented in the male point of view aka the Male Gaze. I would expect the film to have a different feel if it had a female director. I thought this was just a topic worth mentioning and exploring.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin is an autistic woman who revolutionized the cattle industry by introducing humane slaughtering procedures and technology. Despite her autism, she graduated from college, received a Ph.D., and is currently an animal science professor and advocate of humane treatments of livestock. The HBO film of her name by Mick Jackson, who directed Volcano that starred Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche, honors her achievements and life thus far.

I never heard of the film and did not know who Temple Grandin is. I was informed by my friend of the screening at our on campus cinema while walking back home. The producer and Temple Grandin herself were going to be at the screening so I took a detour to get the tickets.

In the film, Claire Danes plays Temple. (I have always liked Danes because of her performance in Brokedown Palace alongside Kate Beckinsale. Brokedown Palace is a poignant film of two young Americans' vacation to Thailand that ended up in torturing legal troubles. I feel sad that Danes never got a breakout role and the recognition that she deserves.) At the screening, Temple said that she was so amazed by Claire Danes' performance and Danes' resemblance to herself. When she saw the film, she thought she was going through some surreal time machine back into the 70s because Danes acted just like she did. And Temple was right. Having seen and heard Temple in person, Danes got the accent, facial expressions, and physical movements perfectly. Danes was also able to capture the unusual humor that Temple has which lightened the film a bit.

It is definitely worth the time to watch the life of Temple. Her struggles, her characters, her achievements are inspiring. She was made fun of, bullied, rejected, and discriminated against throughout her life, yet she never gave up trying to innovate, advocate, and educate for a better tomorrow.