19 October, 2006

Word of Mouth

The History Boys

This multi-award winning successful play has transferred to film and despite the great performances and witty dialogue, I didn’t really like the themes or the story. Other people have described the relationship between the teachers and the boys as paedophilic but Alan Bennett makes it clear that isn’t the case. The teacher, Hector, likes to give each of the pupils rides home on the back of his motorbike so he can grope them as they journey along but when an under-18 pupil requests this privilege he is turned down for being too young.

So the groping of a teacher of his students is consenting and the possible relationship between a younger teacher and one of the boys would also be consenting. But to me it is still ethically dubious as the teachers are in a position of power.

But supporters would say that’s probably reading too much into it, which is fair enough. In fact you could say one of the themes of the play is how political correctness has gone mad in the possible persecution of Hector, the groping teacher. It’s set in the 1980s but everything from the language they speak to the songs they sing and the movies they re-create evokes the 1950s. Some ignorant person might very well say, ‘why not just bloody set it in the 1950s then?’ But I know there is a really good reason for that decision which I won’t bore you with now but allow you to discover for yourself.

Alan Bennett fans should rush to their movie theatre but others may want to lower their expectations and dawdle their way there. Or wait until it’s on the BBC next year.

Box Office#5

Stick It

I have seen Jessica Bendinger’s cheerleader comedy Bring It On a few times now and, before the accusations fly, each time has been with all my clothes on and my hands unoccupied. I just found it a funny, aspirational story working on more than one level with a nice structure and didn’t always feel the need to switch it off when it turned up on TV.

Sadly our Jessica hasn’t quite pulled it off this time. For cheerleading, substitute gymnastics but Stick It is not really funny enough, although there are some funny lines, and it’s working on just the one level. There’s no depth at all to the characters or story.

One solution suggested recently on this blog's comments was that writers should direct their own scripts if they want it done properly which makes sense but unfortunately our Jessica’s directorial choices ended up distancing us emotionally from the story rather than drawing us in.

With competitive cheerleading she presented us with a world we hadn’t seen before as well as a theme and characters we were interested in. Gymnastics is a new world we may be interested in, and we can certainly agree with the theme and message of the film (empowerment of young women to take control of their own lives) but we don’t really care about the characters and that makes it all a bit pointless really. The lead character is introduced in a spectacular way and she even narrates to help us understand where she’s coming from but it wasn’t really happening.

Box Office#11

Open Season

I think I have Animated Animals Returning to the Wild Fatigue. I should see my doctor about it as there’s another hundred due this year and by the time I see the last one it could have proved fatal. I can see this is a quality picture in terms of the animation, direction and screenplay but it seems a bit lacking. The kids will love this the most, and that’s who it’s aimed at after all, but there is stuff there that will appeal to the grown-ups being dragged along – just not a massive amount.

Box office#3

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