Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Mr Holland's Opus

Mr Holland's Anus would be a much better title.

It's a long movie, and last night that was what I thought I needed. Something to get wrapped up in, and lose myself. And maybe even have a good cry with. And this movie... Well, it ticks all the right boxes. A teacher who doesn't want to be a teacher but ends up loving the job and pretty much living for it? Check. A difficult relationship with a deaf child - his own - which is complicated by his obsessive love of music? Check. Kids needing to be inspired by this man in the classroom? Check.

Lots of checks.

But it's just cold. There's no emotion at all in this film. It's too polished, it's too by the numbers, and there is just no heart here.

Oh, and it has a montage which got right on my tits. In the montage, to mark the passage of the late 60s and early 70s, there were clips of Hendrix playing, and of the Vietnam war.

Now, call me cold hearted, but Vietnam as a cultural reference is largely meaningless outside the US and yet somehow, all those worldly US writers and directors don't think so. As far as I am aware, the only thing that made the Vietnam war different to any preceding it, is the degree of and kind of reporting that came from the front lines. The access reporters had - and of course, television.

But outside America... It's just not important at all. Most people don't even really know when it was. And as movies are a global media, I think it's about time US filmmakers got off their lazy arses and started thinking a bit more. With the number of movies and type of movies there are about that war, you'd think millions of US troops died in a bloodbath rather than 58,000-ish. Don't get me wrong, that's bad enough, but in a sliding scale of war badness... It's just not on the list. So one brief mention, perhaps, then let's skip on to the clip of Nixon and be on our less-than-merry, let's-be-manipulated-clumsily-by-this-piece-of-shit-film way.

That's my rant over. Yopu want a decent weepie, avoid this movie and rent Fried Green Tomatoes or similar instead.


sybil law said...

I've never seen this movie. Think I'll stick with that!!

badgerdaddy said...

That's what we're here for, ma'am.

B.E. Earl said...

We are going to have to agree to disagree about this movie, because I liked it.

And your problem with the montage is just silly. It's an American film about the American experience during the 60's and 70's. And Vietnam was a HUGE event in our nation on a cultural level. It would have been disingenuous not to have included it in the montage. If Mr. Holland taught in Paris or London, I'm sure the filmmakers would have glossed over its impact.

To fault an American film for using imagery and events that were mucho importante to the American experience in that time is pure nit-pickery.

badgerdaddy said...

Earl, fella, I didn't say DON'T include it - I said this film will be seen all over the world, so why use so much of it? The only reason I can see for its inclusion in the montage is because one of the boys he's taught is presumably killed in the war (I forget if that is actually stated, but it is followed by the funeral a couple of scenes later). Why use a montage at all? It's just to show the passage of time, right? Sure, the war is important to an American audience, but it's largely superfluous to the movie, and that movie's not just for an American audience is it? It felt to me like it was presented like it's hugely important, when it isn't (to the movie, I mean).
It's not an actually dislikable movie - I just think it's really, really cold. All the elements are there, but there's no heart at all. And believe me, I cry at anything*.

I actually believe that if it had been in France or England, and it had come from Hollywood, yes, they probably still would have included Vietnam in the montage.

Sorry to go off in different directions... It seemed really, really odd to me that the movie skated over that whole period. Didn't that seem strange to you?

*I did actually cry during the movie but it was not related to watching the film at all!

B.E. Earl said...

It was hugely important to the film, because it was hugely important to the rock & roll. The Vietnam War, in all it's stages, inspired musicians here for over a decade. Folk music, protest songs, concerts (would Woodstock and that whole movement have happened had we not been in a period of extreme disagreement over the war?), reactionary effects after the was very important.

I'm actually not sure now if you think that there should have been less mention of the war or more by your "skated over the whole period" comment at the end.

I think the filmmakers did it the way they did to show that even through this huge moment of political turmoil, he was still int the trenches every day. Teaching and inspiring.

And that's all I'm gonna say about that because I didn't like the movie THIS much. :)

badgerdaddy said...

I see... Sorry for being unclear. The thought just popped into my head - if the war was so important (in terms of the movie), why skate over it in just 15 seconds? Why not show anything that is happening at the school in that time, the emotion of seeing former students going off to war and in one case, not coming back, for example? If it's important, make it important - if it's not, don't put it in, was what I was thinking when I wrote that.

I realise that sounds like I'm contradicting my original statement, but in fact I'm just not explaining myself very well. Ho hum.

badgerdaddy said...

PS: Earl, you still rule. I'm just saying.

B.E. Earl said...

I know I do. ;)