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An Education

An Education is about a spiritual conflict, something that only becomes obvious late in the film. Until then, it seems more concerned with the titillating and satirical aspects of its 16-year-old high school student heroine’s slow advance into an affair with a man at least twice her age.


Robert Altman didn’t really invent the genre, but he did it the best, and so we now call these films “Altmanesque”: Over the course of two hours or so, we dip into the lives of various people who may have no more connection to each other than the place where the film is set.

The Blind Side

Imagine a movie co-produced by the Disney Channel, Lifetime, and ESPN, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from The Blind Side. It is based on the story of Michael Oher, who spent most of his childhood in Memphis in foster homes or living on the streets. Circumstances bring him into a private Christian school where his size (6’4”, 300+ pounds) make him seem like a natural for football. But he is shy to the point of autism and unable to make sufficient grades to qualify for sports. His life turned around when he was taken in by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, a well-to-do couple whose daughter attended the same school. With their help, Oher was able to overcome his demons and go on to college at the University of Mississippi.

Planet 51

Time was, an animated feature film was unusual and expensive enough that a major studio wouldn’t invest in one unless it was sure that it had a story and characters that were special enough to appeal to and delight a wide audience.


There’s no simpler formula in movies than that of the “feel-good” movie. All you have to do is make the audience feel bad, usually by showing them something distressing, depressing, and/or horrible, and then take it away. Unskilled filmmakers too often seek to achieve their effect by making the feel-bad part as awful as you can endure—or worse. So I admit I was not looking forward to seeing Precious, based on a novel about an abused Harlem teenager who finds salvation in education.

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