Sunday, May 6, 2007

May 6th Log

2007, Richard LaGravenese, United States
1st Viewing, DVD

Every year Hollywood seems to release a film like Freedom Writers- an uplifting, based-on-true-story tale about a teacher/coach that gives the young students something hopeful. In most cases these films are formulaic and very often entertaining and well intended. Freedom Writers fits the mold, but this one is actually even a bit better. I know I was absorb into the emotional power of the film even if its storyline and filmmaking followed the typical clichés. The film begins with footage of the LA race riots before introducing the “based on a true story” aspect. The film is in fact adapted from some of the real students diaries by screenwriter and directed Richard LaGravenese (a veteran screenwriter directing his second feature film). The films use of these diary entries as well as the relatively first-time acting ensemble of the young students give Freedom Writers a quality of truth that seems fitting for the emotional involvement of the story. Though she can occasionally overplay her roles, I am a fan of Hilary Swank and she does a fine job here playing the teacher Erin Gruwell. Freedom Writers does not suffer from its formula, but there are some poor subplots (mostly involving Gruwell’s struggle with her fellow teachers and administrators). Overall I was moved and inspired by this film. It has a touching story to go alongside some of the usual Hollywood inspirational films of its kind, yet it still has something unique to offer. Freedom Writers works on every level its intends to.

1985, Martin Scorsese, United States
Repeat Viewing, DVD

After Hours opens (and fittingly closes) with highly stylized and sweeping tracking shot through an office building. This sets the tone for what is a film of absolute cinematic fun and energy. Director by the great Martin Scorsese, After Hours is non-stop invention and enjoyment. Really, Scorsese is working well within genre and the story couldn't be simpler. Yet After Hours stretches beyond conventions and is really like no other film (be it by Scorsese or otherwise). The film is simply follows a lonely and desperate man who decides to send an evening outside his midtown Manhattan home, with a mysterious blond. The night turns out to be much more bizarre and unpredictable then he would have expected and he spends the remainder of the film trying to return home. Ultimately, this is a dark comedy that is driven through characters. This simple narrative is made with such style and skill it's nearly impossible not to enjoy. Scorsese's camera movements are stunning but everything is beautifully composed within the narrative of the film. The visual details and atmosphere are stunning as much of the city's nightlife recalls German Expressionism of the silent era. After Hoursis endlessly watchable, and definitely an overlooked film from a master American filmmaker.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home