Posts tagged “Teacher

Look / Resolutions


Look  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

There are an estimated 30 million surveillance cameras in the United States.  On any given day, the average American is captured approximately 200 times.  Every one of us is constantly being observed at our jobs, on the street, while shopping, and sometimes even in our own homes.  Every one of our secrets, lies, crimes and most private moments are all being recorded.  But who is watching us?  Rhys Colro (“Entourage”), Hayes MacArthur (“The Game Plan”), Jamie McShane (“24”) and Spencer Redford star in this award-winning drama from writer/director Adam Rifkin that takes the ultimate look at our ‘Big Brother’ world.  “This is a brash, darkly humorous and unsettling piece of work filled with startling scenes and fine performances,” raves Richard Roeper of Ebert & Roeper At The Movies.  “”Look” is a film worth seeking out!”

2007.  Certificate: R.  American Film.  Rating Details: strong sexual content, pervasive language, some violence and brief drug use.  8.0 out of 10.

Okay, it’s the start of the New Year so I feel obliged to make some New Year resolutions that I won’t keep.  So firstly, I’m going to lose some weight.  I have a pair of trousers (actually several) that I’ve never been able to use, so my target is to be able to wear them and not cause some horrible internal injury to myself.  I don’t exactly have a plan for doing this, but I’m sure it’s possible.  I guess ‘eat less’ is a good place to start.  Secondly, I’m going to not get behind with things at work.  I seem to perpetually be explaining why I haven’t done things and there’s only so many times I can use the “dog ate my homework” excuse before it starts to look a bit lame, especially as I don’t have a dog.  My target is to simply not have to explain my temporal inadequacies any more.  I don’t exactly have a plan for doing this either, but I’m equally sure it’s possible too.  I guess working ‘smarter’ is a good place to start.  (Well that’s what I tell my team whenever any of them whine about having too much to do; it doesn’t seem to work for any of them though.)

Well I must say, I wasn’t really expecting this film to be that great, what with its promise of crappy quality ‘security camera’ footage and their associated static camera shots; a bit like a found footage film but without the ‘shaky cam’, monsters, ghosts and up nostril views.  102 minutes later and I was really disappointed that it had ended.  It cleverly mixes up footage from lots of cameras to tell the stories (or partial stories) of a number of people, whose lives to some extent overlap.  Of course it does include murder, rape, ATM abuse, car crashes, bombs, child abduction, male strippers, sex (both gay and straight), office perverts and farts in elevators, but really, it’s all just about a lot of pretty mundane and dull people going about their day to day lives; so something I could relate to.  Well put together, this is strangely hypnotic movie and well worth watching.

There’s a lot of music used in this film, but most of it just sort of fades into the background.  Forgettable.

The trailer really doesn’t tell you a lot, other than it’s a ‘clever’ film that uses surveillance camera.  Try not to fall asleep.

Movie Weather Forecast:  Warm and sunny throughout.  It looks like it’s going to be a lovely summer!

Recommended for bimbos, petrol station attendants, teachers, bored office workers, parents and perverts.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Tricky; there’s not a lot of choice in a film filled with unprincipled losers dressed in a veneer of youth or respectability.   I guess the nearest we get to a hero is the guy working in the petrol station, who manages to report a couple of killers who call in for supplies.  Strangely he looks one of the most loser-like too.  Never judge a book by its cover.

Look at IMDB (6.6 / 10)
Look at Wikipedia
Look trailer at YouTube

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Godsend / Magnolia Hell


Godsend  -  Front DVDCover  -  UK ReleaseStarring screen legend Robert De Niro, “Godsend” is the story of an eight year old boy named Adam Duncan.  A kind, thoughtful and well-behaved child, he’s the apple of his parent’s eye, until one day he’s knocked down by a car and tragically killed.  With both parents totally grief-stricken, the mysterious Dr Richard Wells (De Niro) offers them another chance of happiness.  He can create a clone of Adam that will be identical to the child they lost.  Nine months later they have their child back.  Identical in every way, it’s like Adam had never left them.  He has his mother’s eyes, his father’s smile, but when he crosses the age at which he died, terrifying things begin to happen.

2004  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Language: once strong.  Sex/nudity: infrequent moderate.  Violence: infrequent moderate.  Other: moderate horror.
8.0 out of 10

Whilst I have a lot of sympathy for Jean-Paul Sartre’s view that “Hell is other people”, he failed to take into account their surroundings.  After this last week I now know that Hell is less to do with people, or fire and brimstone for that matter; in fact Hell is a large room painted magnolia.  In the same way as the Devil has a variety of different names, such as Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer, etc, so magnolia disguises it’s presence amongst us as alternatives like light brown, biscuit, white with a touch of brown, beige, mushroom, wheat, taupe, fawn and harvest.  This week we moved our office at work, (or more accurately moved everything in our office to a different building to use as a new office; we didn’t actually dig up the existing one and put it elsewhere).  Moving is a stressful and spirit-sapping experience at the best of times, but when you have to paint every single surface, including the floor (about 500 square metres in all) before you leave, in three days, mostly magnolia, then you come to realise what pain is really all about.  The only respite was repainting the ceiling, doors, door frames, skirting boards and 12 radiators, white.  And painting something white on a white background in a weakly lit area isn’t exactly my idea of a fun day at Alton Towers either.  In fact the only facet of pleasure came from deciding which shade of gray to paint the floor, slate or frigate; and after magnolia, gray is the next worst colour.  I imagine there are more advanced species in the universe that have, in a similar way to smallpox, totally eradicated magnolia and grey from existence.  Magnolia is the distilled essence of evil.  However, for some reason there are many sick-minded and weak-willed individuals who appear to gain a sort of inner peace from using this colour.  Why?  What’s wrong with them?  Appearing initially to be the colour equivalent of elevator music, any close encounter with it soon dispels any pretence it has of being ‘neutral’.  It’s a vile, boring, sick, nauseating abomination, which is as attractive as having a squashed, pregnant cockroach smeared on your mouth; and then some.  And why is it always the cheapest paint you can buy?  The artificial distortion of the paint market in this way is clearly the work of some ungodly power.  If our media had any real balls, it would be investigating this bizarre and unwarranted proliferation of magnolia; it’s destroying lives.  In a similar way, this film is about something that goes against the laws of nature and scared the crap out of me too.

At its core, this is a thriller/horror about a disturbing, eight-year-old skinhead called Adam, who develops a mental illness of some sort.  The reasons for the latter are, unusual.  The rest of its runtime is spent faffing about with his parents and Robert De Niro, as they act and react to what Adam gets up to.  If you analyse the plot too much, you’ll come to the conclusion that some of it doesn’t really make a lot of sense.  Visually it’s not a very exciting film either; it looks a lot like it was ‘made for TV’ with a colour pallet that’s far too much like magnolia for my liking.  However, the acting’s pretty good and the story interesting enough.  The decision of the parents to have a clone of their recently killed son created is worthy of further study.  This part of the film could easily have been the whole story, but because it’s not it does get treated a bit superficially, which is a shame really.  What the movie does do really well is be creepy. I’m sure I aged a few years watching it, which is a somewhat alarming thought.  It’s one of the most unsettling films I’ve watched for quite a while.

The soundtrack is unmemorable, yet works well.  Job done.

Recommended for dodgy doctors, desperate parents, teachers, photographers and eight-year-olds that want to freak their parents out.  And clones of course.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  We all know that a good teacher can change someone’s life, but in this film we also learn that it can literally save your own life too.  I sometimes provide training as part of my job and like most things I suck at it.  I’ve never managed to impart a single bit of knowledge to anyone and tying to do so has never saved my life or changed anyone else’s for the better.  So I guess being a good teacher is badass.

Godsend at IMDB (4.7 / 10)

Godsend at Wikipedia

Godsend at YouTube


The Class / Wild Rice


The Class  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe tense environment of a tough inner-city school where cultures and attitudes often clash is revealed in this award-winning drama based on François Bégaudeau’s best-selling novel Between the Walls.  Bégaudeau himself stars as an idealistic teacher of a class of unruly 15 year-olds, whose spiky independence present constant challenges to his sometimes unconventional teaching methods.  Featuring an outstanding non-professional cast of real teachers and students, Laurent Cantet’s gripping and sharply observed film offers a microcosm of contemporary society and explores the difficult issues facing education today.

2008  –  Certificate: 15  –  French Film
Rating Details: Strong Language
7 out of 10

I worked from home today.  Despite not having nearly enough space to do so, I quite enjoy it as it allows me to work in just my underpants (the pair I was wearing the day before of course) and indulge my anti-social tendencies by not going out or seeing anyone.  Today I did have to speak to people on the phone a lot, but that’s not as bad as actually having to speak to anyone face-to-face.  For my dinner tonight I had some weird concoction that included tinned tomatoes, rice and tofu.  To further indulge my anti-social tendencies, I do most of my food shopping online.  Last time, due to an apparent world shortage of cheap, brown rice, I was gifted by Waitrose with a bag of basmati rice with added wild rice; (for the same price as the cheap rubbish I’d ordered).  I’ve never eaten wild rice before, mainly because it’s about a million pounds a bag.  After eating it tonight, I was left wondering how many people are willing to spend twice as much on a bag of rice as they need to, simply because it’s got a few ‘black bits’ in it.  Taste-wise it didn’t seem to add anything, but I guess if you’re stupid, vein and rich, you can pander to your rice fantasies whenever you like.  Finally, to indulge my anti-social tendencies still further, my meal tonight included two whole garlic bulbs.  That’s a lot of garlic; and this film is French.

This is a movie that’s looks very much like a documentary.  It features the staff and pupils at an inner city school in Paris and focuses on one particular teacher and his class, over the course of a year.  Most of the time is spent in the classroom, watching him teaching them.  Yep, that’s pretty much it; for over two hours.  The teenagers act like real teenagers; sometimes they’re good and sometimes they’re bad.  The teacher acts like a teacher; he gets some stuff right and some stuff wrong.  Strangely, it’s all rather watchable, but I really have no idea why.  Perhaps it’s the almost constant mental combat that’s going on in the classroom that makes it so absorbing?  However, it has reminded me of just what a hard job teaching can be.

Music?  There isn’t any.  At all.

Recommended for teachers and school age teenagers.  Game on!

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  This is a film about one man who thinks he can ‘make a difference’.  He’s got no superpowers or cool gadgets, or a perfect physique.  He does however do battle on a daily basis, with a horde of confrontational, argumentative and troubled teenagers.  He’s a teacher.  That’s badass.

The Class at IMDB (7.5 / 10)

The Class at Wikipedia


Involuntary / Teleconferencing


Involuntary  -  Front DVD Cover (UK ReleaseIt’s summer in Sweden…  A primary school teacher decides to teach her colleagues a lesson they’ll never forget.  Teenage girls are indulging in a webcam tease and seducing strangers.  University students are taking male bonding to a new level.  And as day turns to night, a coach driver decides enough is enough and won’t drive his passengers any further.  Showered with International awards and praised by critics the world over, “Involuntary” is a dazzling and highly original comedy from the new enfant terrible of Scandinavian cinema, Ruben Östlund.

2008  –  Certificate 18  –  Sweden
Rating Details: Very strong language and strong sex references
7 out of 10

Ever at the very cutting edge of technology, today at work we had our first regional management team meeting by phone; (or as important people like me prefer to call it, a Teleconference).  Instead of a very expensive, rush-hour-period trip on a crowded train into central London to sit in a cold, wooden shed in the woods with my colleagues, I had to endure a leisurely trip into my office, where I could lounge around, unshaven, in just my underwear, drinking coffee, adding elastic bands to our elastic band ball and sorting out the ever-growing collection of hole punches in the stationary cupboard; whilst making the occasional, worthwhile and insightful comment about something or other to impress the others, as we discussed how to reduce the amount of travelling we do by having more Teleconferences.  There are however, some downsides to all this.  As well as shocking the postman with my underpants, I’ve realised that listening hands-free on a cheap phone for hours that wasn’t designed with high fidelity sound in mind, has probably destroyed some part of the music-sensitive area of my brain.  The experience was not unlike being trapped for hours on a bus to Hell, with only a group of teenagers on the back seats listening to Top 40 R&B on a tinny smartphone for company.  This film also features two really annoying teenage girls, and several annoying adults too.

Years ago I watched a film with someone who, after a little while, got up, went over to the DVD player, took out the disc and threw it out of the window; (I was living on the third floor in a block of flats at the time.)  This was apparently a physical reaction caused by the highly annoying characters in the movie.  Had “Involuntary” been the film in question, I suspect the whole DVD player would have gone out of the window too.  A movie made up of five individual stories, all of which play out in small sections throughout its run-time, it features some of the most annoying and banal losers ever to have been conjured into existence.  For a while I sat watching and thinking, “what’s the point of all this?”  Then it dawned on me that the point was simply to watch ordinary people being ordinary.  I suppose for every remarkable person there has to be thousands of unremarkable ones; this is a film about the latter.  It’s a black comedy that manages to be amusing without being funny.  A coach driver, a father, two teenage girls, a teacher and a group of guys, all get themselves into slightly unfortunate situations, which could so easily be real.  Felling that I’d have fitted in well, it was an embarrassing experience at times.  I’d sum it up as a movie that celebrates the stupid and annoying uselessness of everyone.  I enjoyed it; it’s funny in the same way as seeing someone accidentally hit themselves on the finger with a hammer, or walk into a lamppost.  The cast do a great job.

There’s not a lot of music in this film, just some over the credits and at times in the background.  This lack probably explains a lot about the characters.

No cats, decapitation or chainsaws.

Recommended for the very, very, very patient.

Top badass moment?  Never mind the Higgs Boson, this film has introduced me to the much more remarkable concept of anti-badassness.  Its characters are so mind-numbingly ordinary and flawed…  Seriously, Batman would feel compelled to shoot them all and do the rest of us a favour.  Arrrraaggghh!

Involuntary at IMDB (7.0/10)


Notes on a Scandel / Nightmare in Cactus World (Again)


Notes on a Scandal  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Academy Award Winners Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett give outstanding, Oscar-nominated performances – one as a woman consumed by her colleague’s guilty secret, the other, a victim to her own dark obsessions – in this intelligent and stylish thriller.  Dench mesmerises as Barbara Covett, a teacher who rules over her classroom with an iron fist, yet leads a desperate, solitary life outside it.  That is, until she meets radiant new art teacher Sheba Hart (Blanchett).  Although at first overjoyed with her newfound kindred spirit, when Barbara discovers that Sheba is having an affair with a student, her jealously and rage spiral out of control.  Also starring Bill Nighy, “Notes on a Scandle” is “The first great British film of the year” (The Guardian).

2006  –  Certificate: 15  –  UK
Rating Details: Strong language and sex references
8.5 out of 10

Almost two years ago a nightmare descended upon Cactus World.  The entity known as The Amplifier became ill.  It suddenly ceased to have a voice; its thoughts, so important to every citizen of Cactus World, were gone.  Not a sound was to be heard from its mighty 7.2 outputs.  To locate a cure, special doctors in a land far, far away had to be tracked down.  The Amplifier then had to be prepared for the perilous odyssey it needed to undertake to visit them.  In the meantime the population were left despairing, with little to occupy their minds, as most of Cactus World’s entertainment infrastructure ground to a halt.  Some basic music services were eventually enabled through alternative means, but these bore little resemblance to the thoughts of The Amplifier, whilst TV and films remained entirely off-line.  Of course, as we all know now, The Amplifier eventually returned from its journey and with the help of Cactus World’s finest scientists, was reconnected in all the right places.  But this weekend, disaster!  The Amplifier became silent again.  Exactly the same evil curse has befallen it, as Onkyo’s entirely shit amplifier design raised its ugly head once more.  Government officials were observed frantically trying to put a call through to the doctors that helped us before; (unfortunately they seem to be closed at the weekend).  However, the citizens of Cactus World are nothing, if not resourceful.  After what happened before, a new emergency procedure was developed, known as Protocol One.  For the last 18 months this has been distributed to the entire population; schools have taught it as part of the curriculum, anyone wishing to settle in Cactus World has been required to lean about it.  It was a moment no one hoped they’d experience, but when the warning sirens unexpectedly went off on Saturday, indicating a malfunctioning Amplifier, it was hard not to be moved by the sight of the entire population quietly but determinedly going to their designated muster points, or reporting for their civic emergency duties; heroes, every one of them.  Anyway, Protocol One has two elements.  The first is focused on the safely of our citizens, (and if you’re a little bit cynical like me, is also there to prevent too much civil disobedience).  The second involves a plan to entirely reconfigure the national entertainmnet nexus, to bypass The Amplifier and provide full access to both music and films, something that has never ever been attempted before.  At the moment I’m feeling quite emotional and deeply indebted, along with the rest of the population I’m sure, to Cactus World’s best scientific minds and highly trained engineers, who have successfully carried out this complex procedure.  Pushing the boundaries of technology ever further.  Full, high-definition pictures and sound across all DVD and Blu-ray copyright region zones are now available and have been fully(ish) tested on this film.  It’s true, my living room does looks a bit like the Starship Enterprise on a bad day in Engineering, with cables and open maintenance panels all over the place, but the important thing is it works and I can watch films in the manner in which I’m accustomed.  This film pushes boundaries too, but in its case those of relationships.

When she’s not running Her Majesty’s Secret Service and telling James Bond to get his act together, Judi Dench spends her time as a psycho lesbian, teaching at a typical secondary school in north London.  Yes, it surprised me too.  Starting out with a ‘not that original’ plot about a teacher having an affair with a student, this proved to be a very tense thriller that ends in the way that all films featuring a ‘psycho something or other’ should end.  The acting’s terrific, the script’s great and it’s good to see a bit of anonymous, unglamorous London featured in a film for a change.  It’s also a movie that under the surface has a lot to say about chronic loneliness.  Both the primary characters are easy to sympathise with too, despite their behaviour.  This is a film you should see.

Recommended for psycho nutters everywhere; and school-teachers.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  Portia, a beautiful, long-haired cat, has a small but key role, adding both depth to the plot and an air of pathos that the film was otherwise sadly lacking.  Unfortunately, as is often the case, I believe its lines, both meows and purrs, were dubbed.  When is the film industry going to end this shameless practice?

Top badass moment?  Judi Dench’s Barbara; a great, unsung movie bastard-from-hell.  So bad she’s badass.

Notes on a Scandal at IMDB (7.5 / 10)


School of Rock: 3.5 Stars


School of Rock  -  Front DVD CoverI went to two really great gigs this weekend, the New Town Kings at the London Camden Barfly and Random Hand at the London Hackney Trashbar.  Each had really good support bands too.  The Barfly is in an upstairs room over a pub and the Trashbar in three adjoined cellars below an organic food store.  The Barfly is a well established venue, whilst the Trashbar only opened in March.  It took me six trains to get to and from home to the Barfly and four trains and two busses to get to the Trashbar and back; only London can manage to have a traffic jam for busses to get caught up in at midnight!  The Barfly sort of has some sort of air conditioning so it was only hot, the Trashbar has zero anything and a really low ceiling, so it was about 1000 degrees in it; in fact the ceiling is so low that two of the bands’ singers had to stand on the floor in front of the little stage, as they were too tall to stand upright on it.  Well anyway, both gigs were great and I was suitably knackered at the end of  them.  I felt sick on the way back from the NTK one on the Tube (too dehydrated) and (a first for me) felt sick on the way to the Random Hand one, (before realising I’d hardly eaten or drunk anything all day so was again dehydrated and probably suffering some sort of energy crisis as well).  Talking of gigs and music (and it makes a change to actually be able to draw a sensible link between the crap I’ve written in this paragraph and that in the next)….

2003  –  Certificate: PG  –  USA
Rating Details: Mild language and sex references

I can’t decide if I want to really really like this movie or really really  (which makes it a lot more realistic), the kids in it are generally pretty cool and okay it’s quite funny in places too.  Against it are the facts that the music featured in it is shit, (well, mostly anyway, except the Clash and Ramones songs, and I guess Immigrant Song is okay too if you really have to like that sort of thing), the school is also shit and has zero child protection in place, the end is way too “Hollywood” and Jack Black’s character is at times just a little bit too creepy.  I really want to like Jack Black, simply because he doesn’t look like George Clooney or Johnny Depp, but he makes it so, so difficult in his films at times.  (It’s the eyebrows I think, he moves then about way too much for me; they certainly take me outside my comfort zone.) In the end I’ve decided it’s an okay movie.

Recommended for people who like the sort of rock music that punk should really have finished off when it had the chance; you will either like hearing it, or get annoyed at hearing your favourite songs mangled by a load of kids and associated grown-ups; a good thing too if you take it that seriously.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It has to be Jack Black’s “touch the kids” line.  It’s so way out of the park compared with the rest of the very safe script that you end up thinking, “wtf, did he really just say that”?  The delayed reaction of all the parents present in the scene (who are obviously busy thinking over what he’d just said too) makes it the best badass line in the film.

School of Rock at IMDB (7.1)