Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies Set in High School (Secondary School or the Equivalent)


Another Thursday, another selection of three films that relate to a singular topic (Thursday Movie Picks!).  This week was felt a little bit like a rehash of a previous week, but we'll get to that in a minute.  

The theme of the week is:



So, a few weeks back we talked about Teen Comedies, and that's practically all I could think of when I read the theme for the week, so I tried really hard to steer away from that 'sub-genre'.  Now, those teen comedies were 'Romantic' or something like that, so we got as far away from romance as we could.

At least I think I did.

Election
THIS is my kind of Alexander Payne.  This movie is wickedly funny and so spirited, and it's depiction of that fierce desire to succeed/belong/WIN is just so sharply spliced into every frame...and Witherspoon is comedic perfection! 

Brick
So, in the mid-00's it felt like they were trying to reinvent so many dead genres, and the noir was one of them.  Brick is such a brilliantly textured noir, a film that understands the dynamics of the beloved genre, but also knows how to modernize them.  It also marked the rise of Joseph Gordon Levitt! 

Bully
Yes, I already talked about this this week, but let's just continue the lavish praise for this unflinching documentary and it's brutally honest look at the effect that bullying has on, not only the students, but the people in their lives.  Get out the tissues...it's time for the heartbreak.

36 comments:

  1. Election was excellent, do like that film. Brick also sounds like a great film, already been picked this week so I really should get round to seeing it having heard nothing but good things.

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    1. Brick is a great film. So modern and yet such a nostalgic feel to it. You should check that one out.

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  2. Election! Great pick (Pick Flick!) and I agree with everything you say especially about Reese Witherspoon. I have every intention of seeing Bully but haven't yet. We match on one of our picks!!

    Here's mine for the week with an extra that I couldn't leave out:

    Brick (2005)-Attempt to make a modern noir in a high school setting is unique for sure. Laced with deadpan humor and anchored by a strong performance from Joseph Gordon Levitt as a loner who involves himself with a drug ring to try and find out what’s happened to his girlfriend when she disappears.

    School Ties (1992)-In the 1950's David Greene, a Jewish teen, wins a football scholarship to an Ivy League prep school, advised by the coach he keeps his faith to himself. Despite some cultural differences he is welcomed into the elite group at first, he grows close with the young men, falls for a girl and all is well. However eventually his secret is discovered and along with simmering resentments the prejudice of some conspire to put at risk all he has achieved and his hopes for the future. The cast is filled with actors, Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris O’Donnell, who at the time were on the rise.

    Up the Down Staircase (1967)-Well acted drama of a young teacher's struggle to adapt to a tough inner city school. Some of the sheen has worn off the topicality of the issue since there have been many versions of it but this is a fine rendering of the tale with excellent direction from Robert Mulligan. In the lead Sandy Dennis is the best she ever was on screen keeping her signature flutters and twitches to a minimum.

    Honorable Mention-2:37 (2006)-Dark complex drama of the interwoven lives of a group of high school students and a horrendous tragedy that binds them together. Small Aussie drama was one of the first credits for currently rising actress Teresa Palmer, has some very unsavory elements and is grim, grim, grim but well-acted.

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    1. I think it's funny how many 'teacher in rough school makes a difference' movies there actually are. Up the Down Staircase is a pretty great one, and it is one of the only Sandy Dennis performances I like (she was a very theatrical and shrill actress).

      Love that you also mention Brick!

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    2. Sandy Dennis is an actress I also have limited patience for, she was a very specific type and not suited to everything-I loathed what she did in Virginia Woolf!, and it caused me to delay watching Staircase. But she is truly exceptional in it, perhaps Mulligan was able to communicate the need to tone her quirks down as other directors weren't. But then I recently revisited The Out-of-Towners and her stylization worked there.

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    3. YES!!! Thank GOD I'm not the only one who thought she was awful in Virginia Woolf...and I LOVE that movie.

      She's also really good in The Four Seasons, a much more reserved and thoughtful performance for her.

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  3. ELECTION. YES. Where has THIS Alexander Payne gone?!?!?

    Bully is excellent and essential. I'm kinda surprised at all the love Brick is getting this week - not because of its quality, but because it's such a small film that I thought very few people had seen. The power of JGL is strong, I guess!

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  4. Love Brick, picked it myself. Already told you how effective Bully is. Didn't quite avoid Election, but didn't bother with it, either. Reese Witherspoon is real hit or miss with me.

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    1. Oh, Election is SO GOOD...and it's early Reese, and it's Reese doing 'smart' comedy, so it's a winner!

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  5. Election is a great comedy that I should revisit. I have not heard of Brick and will not see Bully any time soon for reasons I mentioned in an earlier blog:) I thought of "The Blackboard Jungle". At the time a new look at a school that does not have June Allyson singing but Sydney Poitier as a troubled youth and Glen Ford as the teacher trying to get through to him and the other delinquents. "Girls Town"-an outrageously bad film starring Mamie Van Doren(of course) as a teenage delinquent sent to an all girls' school run by nuns. Mel Torme (hahahaaaa) plays the bad kid on the block wearing a leather jacket. Oh, it gets better because Paul Anka is in it and sings a couple of his hits and Ave Maria in some bar I think. It is so bad it is fun to watch. The opening credits has a song where some woman screams in the middle-scared the pants off me. "My Bodyguard" is the last I pick and is a great under-rated film about a kid who is bullied so he hires the mean kid to protect him. Ruth Gordon is in the cast playing Gramma to utter delight. A deeper film than one may think

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    1. I haven't seen the last two you mention, but I almost went with Blackboard Jungle AND To Sir, With Love just because of the irony of Poitier playing unruly student with potential in one and then teacher trying to reach unruly students with potential in the other...and they are both actually good films, so there's that!

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    2. Birgit is the June Allyson film you allude to "Good News"? Love that movie!! MGM at its musical peak, the Varsity Drag number the film ends with is an absurdist dream.

      Your picks are terrific-Blackboard is dated now but you can see where it was revolutionary at the time and My Bodyguard is a lovely film that really should be better known. But Girls Town is sheer demented brilliance! The very fact that the 28 year old "girl" MVD in her bullet bra plays a character named Silver and that her gang includes "Princess" from Father Knows Best as well as Tormé and Anka along for the ride and it's the kind of schlock that only the 50's could produce.

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    3. This Girls Town film sounds incredible (in a tacky awesome way) and much different than Boys Town, which I always associated it with!

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    4. I MUST see Girls Town. NOW. It can only be an improvement on the Spencer Tracy sap-fest Boys Town...

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    5. LOL, poor Spencer Tracy. Always remembered for his least admirable efforts.

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    6. Yes Joel-"Good News" is such a great movie and I had always wished my school would break into song and dance like that:) I almost picked "To Sir, With Love" also for the same reasons you mentioned Drew. "Girls Town" is just absurd. It is so funny and I had a hoot watching this especially when I saw Mel Torme as a bad ass-hahahaa He is as bad ass as a kitten. You have to see this and let me know what you think about that hilarious opening song

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    7. Oh God I don't know how but I completely forgot about that opening theme song! Something like "Listen to me girls...watch your P's & Q's or you go to Girls Town, Girls Town, Girrrls Town!" Yipes!

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    8. I need to see this movie!!!!

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  6. Love your picks! I Also chose Brick. I never did see the Bully doc, but I probably should.

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    1. I saw that! The Brick love today is incredible!

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  7. Now, not only did we pick the same movie (Election) but we used the same exact screen cap. Awesome! Brick has been around quite a bit today. It didn't blow me away like it seemed to for everyone else, but I've always wanted to give in a second try. Really cool take on the noir genre. As a teacher, I should probably be ashamed of having never seen Bully. I really need to now. I have seen Larry Clark's Bully. That movie is all kinds of fucked up. Have you seen that one?

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  8. Election is awesome but Brick is I think a true crowning achievement. I have no interest in seeing Bully. Even as someone that was bullied as a kid as I just think today's kids are a bunch of pussies and their parents are a bunch of morons today. Sorry but that is what I think.

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    1. I'm not quite sure what to make of this comment...but I'm going to assume that you mean that bullies are pussies and the parents of those said bullies who do nothing to stop it but encourage it are morons...and in that case, I agree with you.

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  9. While "Bully" pinches my heart, that film still lacks something that can squeeze my heart. I don't know, I feel that film is plain for a documentary about bullying.

    I've seen bits of Election, but I already forget what the plot, haha.

    Someone already mentioned Brick, and I feel ashamed for not knowing that film prior this.

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    1. Oh, Bully rips my heart out and stomps the shit out of it.

      See Brick!

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  10. Great stuff man. Bully unseen, I love these choices.

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  11. I seem to be the only person in the known universe who didn't care for Brick. I do want to see Election though. :-)

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    1. I think Brick is an acquired taste. It's not for everyone, especially if you don't care for noirs. The acting is very...1940's kind of stilted, which works within the genre, but can be offputting if you're not used to or expecting it.

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    2. I like film noir, but for me merging that genre with a high school film didn't work. It was clever, though, and most people seem to love it. :-)

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  12. I'd love to say you have a Great List but unfortunately haven't seen these yet. Election has been on my to-watch list for ions, so hopefully it lives up to all that I've seen of it. :)

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    1. I hope you can get to these soon...they're great!

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  13. Brick and Election has been quite popular for this theme. The only one I have yet to see is Bully.

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    1. I was super happy to see how well Brick did! I didn't think many people had seen or remembered it.

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