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Posts Tagged ‘peter sarsgaard

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

 

Shattered Glass (2003)

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Warning: Your viewing experience can be absolutely exceptional if you watch knowing nothing about this film’s plot or the real events it depicts.  That, in my opinion, is the best kind of movie watching and this film deserves that sort of attention.  Suffice it to say that this is a rewarding two hours and if you have not already seen it you should stop reading immediately and go rent this.  Right now.

At the dawn of the internet there’s The New Republic – referred to as the in-flight magazine of Air Force One.  Its youngest reporter, Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen), is the man.  He always knows just what cards to play, what compliment to throw and what joke to tell to be loved, admired, and respected by everyone.  He’s charming, he’s witty, he’s unfallingly polite, and he’s on every other magazine’s hot list.

Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) is the new editor of the acclaimed magazine and he’s got it rough after replacing the beloved Michael Kelly (Hank Azaria).  When the news team of the online newspaper Forbes Digital brings to light potential discrepancies in Glass’s recent article “Hack Heaven”, Lane is faced with the gruelling challenge of getting to the bottom of it.  Sarsgaard received a Golden Globe nom for best supporting actor in this role and he is, indeed, phenomenal.  Scene after scene he hits it without a single misstep, though I am partial to a rather stirring moment near the end in which he coolly storms into the building wearing his black leather jacket, perfectly timed to Mychael Danna’s magnificent score.

The story is nothing short of fascinating.  Layer upon layer it sucks you into its web of possible lies and deceit.  It raises some important questions about journalistic ethics, though it may not answer the ultimate question of “what is driving this kid?”  It’s a complex character study with no real rhyme or reason to his actions because pathological liars don’t always have reasons.  It gets even better after it’s over and you can find out for yourself just how accurate the film’s events were, and more importantly how accurate Christensen’s performance was.  Say what you want about this kid and Star Wars, but he is excellent in Shattered Glass.  You may argue that he’s just as whiny as ever but this time it fits his character.  Or perhaps you think he’s finally found his niche.  Either way, he’s great – so I wouldn’t give up on him just yet.  Featured on our DVD copy is the “60 Minutes” interview with the real Stephen Glass and after watching that I can safely say that Darth Vader hit it right on the mark.

Other notable performances go to Hank Azaria, Chloe Sevigny, Rosario Dawson, and Steve Zahn in his small role (I could watch that guy in anything).  The acting isn’t the film’s only strength, though.  First time director Billy Ray creates a riveting drama that captivates its audience better than any other movie I’ve seen in years.  It deserves a place right next to All the President’s Men as the greatest journalism movies ever made with a perfect, witty script and a satisfying end to boot.

I could watch this movie a thousand times, it’s that sharp. 10/10

“If it was sunny outside and Steve and I were both standing outside in the sun and Steve came to me and said, ‘It’s a sunny day,’ I would immediately go check with two other people to make sure it was a sunny day.” ~Chuck Lane on Stephen Glass

Written by laurenthejukebox17

July 25, 2010 at 12:18 pm