27 January 2007

Freedom Writers

Dangerous Writers

Well, I saw this movie because it is about a white teacher teaching poor students in the inner city. In case you are wondering, that is exactly what my wife does. So, we went to see this for inspiration. I was not 100% on board with this, but this is one of those sacrifices you make when you put that ring on her finger.

It opens with the LA Riots. Now, I am only 24 years old. So, I had to look into the LA Riots to refresh my memory as to what they were all about. Once that was established, I moved on. It then cuts to Hillary Swank, the main character, meeting with the head of personnel at the school in which she wants to teach. She soon realizes the mountain in front of her that she must climb in order to succeed.

Freedom Writers tells the story of her first year of teaching and how she got these students to open up to her and each other through these notebooks/journals. It is a story of how one teacher can make a difference, and did make a difference.

Without going into a great deal of detail, the movie dealt with gangs and their influence on young poor kids. It dealt with gangs and how to break those bonds. It dealt with different races coming together to make a difference. I thought I had seen this movie before in Dangerous Minds. The only bad thing about this movie is that it came out after Dangerous Minds and therefore, people like me, thought they have already seen this story.

Verdict: See this movie. Support its story. Buy the true life story book by the same title. Do whatever you want, but this story is more moving than Dangerous Minds and Stand and Deliver. I can say this because I have seen and enjoyed both of these films. This is one more that you need to see. I feel bad for the next story of this nature. Freedom Writers has set the bar high.

20 January 2007

Flags of Our Fathers

Well, if there is one thing that is certain, it is that Clint Eastwood can direct. That is for sure. The landing on Iwa Jima was the best filmed battle scene since Spielberg's landing on D-Day. Flags of Our Fathers was not the movie that I wanted it to be. I wanted it to be the defining WWII film of this decade. I did have my reservations based on the casting. But, with Clint, I expected more. The story itself was not that bad. It was a story that I didn't know. I didn't know what to expect. I liked that.

It opens with an old man, in present time, waking up in the middle of the night looking for someone. It reminded me a lot of the opening of Saving Private Ryan. We then move into the past, the war. We see the guys getting ready to go land on Iwa Jima. The supporting cast was huge and impressive. The movie moves through the story of the battle of Iwa Jima and the three guys who raised the second flag on the hill. It tells of three "heroes" played by Adam Beach, Jesse Bradford, and Ryan Phillippe. These three go on a Buy Bonds tour of America. They talk of the war, and that with the support of the nation, they will win the war. Adam Beach, Ira Hayes, is called from the front lines to join the tour unwillingly. He becomes an alcoholic to supress his pain from the war. Rene Gagnon, Bradford, loves the spotlight and encourages it. Lastly, John "Doc" Bradley, Phillippe, is the moral compass for the group. He takes it all in stride.

Throughout the movie, we see more of the battle and more of the tour. There is a wonderful balance. The story was extraordinary. The acting was par. The directing, well, I said it before, it was great. I also said the the movie was not what I wanted it to be. This is why. At the very end of the movie, we go back to the present to where the son of Doc is writing a memoir type book based on his father's life. his father is the one looking for someone in the beginning of the film. It became a Hollywood story. The father passes, the son is there to say good-bye, blah, blah, blah. I did not like the end of movie. I thought that it took away from the story itself.

Verdict: I was late to see this, so I recommend the rental of this film. It is a good film, but not what I was wanting it to be. It was one of the best movies I have seen this year though.