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an education

Review: Blue Valentine, Never Let Me Go, Certified Copy and Rango

By Cinema and Reviews

For years I’ve been com­plain­ing about films that give audi­ences everything on a plate – they tell what you should be think­ing and feel­ing, leav­ing no room for us. This week I have noth­ing to com­plain about as three out of our four make you work for your rewards (although three tough emo­tioanl and intel­lec­tu­al workouts in one week­end turns out to be pretty draining).

Blue Valentine posterDerek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine is a ter­rif­ic indie achieve­ment, brave and uncom­prom­ising, emo­tion­ally raw but intel­li­gent at the same time. A rela­tion­ship is born and a rela­tion­ship dies. Bookends of the same nar­rat­ive are clev­erly inter­cut to amp­li­fy the tragedy (and tragedy is a fair word to use – there’s a beau­ti­ful child get­ting hurt in the middle of all of this).

Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) meet and fall in love. He’s a dro­pout start­ing again in New York. She’s a med stu­dent with an unhappy home life and a douchebag boy­friend. Five or six years later she’s a nurse try­ing not to think about unful­filled poten­tial and he’s a house paint­er who drinks too much.

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Review: An Education, Couples Retreat and Fighting

By Cinema and Reviews

Twickenham in 1961 might well have been the most bor­ing place on Earth. The 60s haven’t star­ted yet (accord­ing to Philip Larkin the dec­ade wouldn’t start until 1963 “between the end of the Chatterley Ban/and The Beatles first LP”) but the train was already on the tracks and could be heard approach­ing from a dis­tance if you listened closely enough. Middle-class teen­ager Jenny is study­ing hard for Oxford but long­ing for some­thing else – free­dom and French cigar­ettes, love and liberation.

In Lone Scherfig’s An Education (from a script by Nick Hornby; adap­ted from Lynn Barber’s mem­oir), Jenny is lumin­ously por­trayed by new­comer Carey Mulligan (so ador­able that if she’s ever in a film with Juno’s Ellen Page we’ll have to recal­ib­rate the cute­ness scale to accom­mod­ate them both) and she gets a hint of a way out of sub­urb­an English drudgery when she meets cool busi­ness­man David (Peter Sarsgaard) and he whisks her off her feet, to the West End and to Paris.

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Nine to Noon again

By Asides

I just got back from review­ing a couple of films for RNZ National’s Nine to Noon show: (500) Days of Summer and An Education. You can listen to the item here, but I also recom­mend sub­scrib­ing to the pod­cast so you can cherry-pick the best of each day’s broadcast.

[audio:http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ntn/ntn-20091014–1151-Film_review-048.mp3]

Dan Slevin reviews ‘500 Days of Summer’, and British drama ‘An Education’ by Nick Hornsby. (duration:9m15s)