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music

Half Nelson

by Matthew Freemantle

half nelsonA drug addicted teacher. A precocious student with trouble at home. This the one where teacher helps student find true self by standing up to gangsters, teacher himself makes up with girlfriend and film ends with chubby scholar scoring the winning points in a basketball match, right? Wrong. With Half Nelson, Director Ryan Fleck takes a story that could so easily be turned into 90 minutes of cheesy, Tom Berenger-starring awfulness and delivers a film that single-handedly restores this reviewer’s faith in American independent cinema. Fleck’s genius is that he never overcooks anything; from the moment Gosling’s beleaguered Dan is discovered smoking crack in the locker rooms by a student Drey – played by excellent newcomer Shareeka Epps – the story routinely avoids cliché or morality-drenched sentiment, choosing instead to study its lead character’s predicament with careful empathy. Gosling might have lost out fair and square to Forest Whitaker at this year’s Oscars, but his turn as Dan might have won it any other year. A subtle and deeply moving masterpiece.

 

 

 

The Simpsons Movie

by Matthew Freemantle

simpsonsWhen production houses refuse to screen films to press before they are released to the public, it is usually a bad sign. ‘Number 10’, the direst local film in a long time that starred the horribly miscast Colin Moss as a (cough) heroic fly-half, was one such production. But, under pressure, the PR folk allowed press a sneak preview days before release and it took ten minutes of the film to explain why we had been kept away. That Moss still has something of a career left is down largely to the fact that nobody saw the film. It was that bad. So when we heard that The Simpsons Movie was being similarly held back, there were rumblings in the press that perhaps the makers knew it wasn’t very good. Precious little is known about this long-awaited feature, but what we do know is that in the film, Homer is tasked with saving the world from a threat he himself is responsible for. That’s good enough for me. See you in line.

 

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