some people like movies

reviews and reactions to the wonderful world of film

Posts Tagged ‘coming of age

An Education (2009)

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Man am I thrilled that this isn’t just some other movie about getting knocked up.  Oh wait, did I just ruin it for you?  My bad.

The darling Carey Mulligan stars as Jenny, a bright student in ’60s London with high hopes to get into Oxford.  She loves reading, French culture and music, is an accomplished cellist, and basically just wants to learn all there is to learn.  Then one day, the tall, charming, and suave David (Peter Sarsgaard) helps her get home in the rain.  Yes, in the rain.  He impresses her with his knowledge and cultured lifestyle, and she’s darn well swept off her feet.  Jenny’s parents (Alfred Molina, and Cara Seymour) are strict, but naive.  Even they are taken with David’s sophistication and wit.  David cultures Jenny by taking her to plays, concerts, fancy restaurants, and even Paris.  Jenny may or may not be falling for the middle-aged man, and his intentions may or may not be sinister.

First thing’s first: I’m a sucker for coming of age stories.  I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this on here yet or not.  But it’s true.  When I started hearing about this movie around award’s season last year I was so pumped to watch it.  I must admit, I wasn’t disappointed and I might even say it exceeded my expectations.

It’s enchanting, really.  Actually scratch that.  Carey Mulligan is enchanting.  I know I’m probably majorly influenced by the media but the thought couldn’t escape me how much she reminds me of Audrey Hepburn.  Oh she’s darling.  She makes the movie from some random teenage tragedy to something real.  We are all surrounded by Jennys, or perhaps we ARE a Jenny, and she transforms this character into someone relatable and strong.  She’s a strong, sharp heroine.  Her love of life radiates in her eyes and her joy is contagious – even through the screen.

David too is an interesting character and well portrayed by Peter Sarsgaard, that sly dog.  In many ways, he reminds me of the character Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility. There are moments where he seems genuinely interested in Jenny and enjoys her company.  Then there are times where all he seems to want is some action.  The two together make a good acting team and their relationship seemed plausible, albeit unfortunate.

The rest of the cast is solid too, featuring Olivia Williams, Rosamund Pike, Dominic Cooper, and Emma Thompson. The script by Nick Hornby (About a Boy) is also excellent and moving.  A fine directing job by Lone Scherfig.

What sold me on this movie, though Mulligan is definitely the highlight, were the parents  – Molina and Seymour.  I love that they actually, what’s the word, exist? Too often are there stories where the parents play no factor into the ruin of teenage lives, but I love that these parents are obviously trying their best for their daughter and that they love her.  They are a perfect example of concern, and love.  The story (based off Lynn Barber’s memoir of the same name) seemed fresh and true.  I mean, 16-year-olds make mistakes all the time.  This is a great example to young girls that there is still potential to grow, even if something crazy happens to mess things up.  The future awaits.  I love that about this.

Another highlight is the music.  It’s beautiful.  The end.

Okay, so maybe this story isn’t so new.  Maybe it IS just the same ol’ same ol’ that you get in any teen coming of age story.  Maybe we HAVE heard this story a thousand times.  But to me it felt different.  It actually felt special.  Maybe it just hit me in a certain way.  I can’t really tell.  But something touched me in this movie.  It’s worth the watch anyway.    9/10


Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

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It’s movies like this that remind me how great it is sometimes to be stuck and secluded on a tropical island.  I talked with several people who disliked Where the Wild Things Are because of all the “hipster-hype” – skinny-jeaned, indie music-lovin’ people obsessing over a film that they could “identify” with.  (Frankly, I’m a nerdy, indie-music lovin’, skinny jeaned person myself but seeing as, again, I’m one in a million on this island with such characteristics, that has nothing to do with it).  All that to say, I’m really gonna miss watching a popular movie without that added over-eager endorsement from peers at school or work.  The luxury of being able to objectively watch something will be sorely missed.

The movie is an adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Caldecott Award-winning children’s book of the same name about a boy named Max who is sent to his room without supper, travels to “where the wild things are” through his imagination and becomes their king. I grew up on this story and have always loved the illustrations and creativity.

As far as the film goes… my objectivity served me well – I loved it.  In many ways I hardly know why I loved it.  Spike Jonze’s creation is nothing like I was expecting but I was fascinated with what I saw nonetheless.  I felt real child-like emotion and true earnestness.  What truly amazed me was the spontaneity protrayed through the creatures and Max.  They yell and fight and play and cry and are happy, then sad and don’t want to share and throw tantrums – all in five minutes.  Is that not like every child between the ages of 6 and 10?  The extremes may seem exaggerated but in all honesty its exaggeration was nothing but realistic.  The monsters were surprisingly complex (“Will you keep out the sadness?”) and had an honest feel to them.  I love the fresh feel of the Jim Henson-style puppet creations (Labyrinth!), rather than the usual overdose of CGI junk.

Many spoke of the feeling of hopelessness and sadness.  I agree to an extent though this didn’t bother me until several hours later.  While watching the movie I was nothing but entranced, fascinated, emotionally invested, and in awe of the visually stunning creation I was viewing.  The music also added immensely to the tone, and brought life to the story – plus I’m a Yeah Yeah Yeah’s fan.

If I could change one thing, I would change the ending.  In the book, Max returns from his adventure to find his supper waiting for him, as though everything were better.  The film ends differently, and I find it a shame.  I think that ending it the same way the book did would eliminate any remaining feeling of depression.  My opinion.

I should also credit Max Records.  He was excellent and terribly imaginative, as was the supporting cast (Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara, Forest Whitaker, and even Mark Ruffalo).  But this review has gone on long enough, however, the best part about this WHOLE ordeal is the trailer.  The Arcade Fire music rocks.  So, here’s the trailer in case you missed it:

In the words of KW “I could eat it up, I love it so.” 8/10