Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Kind of In Love with Will Leitch

I didn't know Will Leitch of Deadspin fame had his own blog, but I was on one site that linked to another site that linked to The Will Leitch Experience. Aside from pointing me to Shaq's (in)famous Twitter and a hilarious Batman cartoon, I was pleasantly surprised by his choice of movies, including one of my absolute favorites this year, The Class.

The Class, based on French bestseller "Entre les Murs" (Between the Walls), is a docudrama of the experiences of one inner city, Parisian middle school teacher. François Bégaudeau, the author of the book, plays himself in the movie. Though Bégaudeau and the students are novice actors, they give the most realistic, honest portrayals that you feel like you're a fly on the wall of a real classroom. Every time Bégaudeau seems to be making progress with his students, something happens that knocks him back 2 steps. That constant wearing down comes to a head when he loses his temper and tells two of his female students that they're acting "like skanks."

This totally hit close to home because when I first started teaching, I was Amy Adams...on crack. I was so positive and conviced I was going to be the change I wanted to see. Yada yada yada. Now I'm like one flask of bathtub gin away from being Miss Hannigan. Thanks to French bureaucracy, the French middle schools I taught at were similar enough to the one in The Class.

Leitch writes:

During some of the rougher “battle” rapport sequences between Francois and the class, it began to strike me almost as a war film. Upon further reflection, though, that’s not quite right: It’s a prison film. The teachers here are guards, acutely aware that the notion of “rehabilitation” is for academics and theorists; they’re just trying to avoid a riot. Maybe you can catch a kid’s attention for a second, plant a seed, but mostly you just do your best to make it through and cross your fingers that something sticks. Parents and administrators — other than the school’s principal, who has the world weariness of a man who desperately would love to give up, but can’t, at considerable expense — are people who get in the way, like civil rights lawyers at a prison. Sure, everyone would like everyone to get along and turn into Mr. Holland and his opus. But these teachers, these prison guards, these ones out in the field, they’re too busy putting out fires. And their faces show it, and show how they once felt so differently, long ago.
All in all, a fantastic movie with more insight than anything that's come out of Hollywood in a while. Give it a chance even though it is in French, which usually has guys running for the hills. That's why I'm kind of in love with Will Leitch. He gives foreign and non-mainstream movies a chance and then can speak eloquently about them. I watched The Secret of the Grain today and as usual, it was me and a bunch of little old ladies. I lost the last person who indulged me after taking them to Let the Right One In, which I still maintain was a very good movie. Vampires, especially Swedish vampires that don't sparkle, are just not for everyone.

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