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|Index||23 reviews in total|
With his latest film, Andy Anderson proves once again that an engaging,
entertaining movie can be made on a modest budget. Mainstream Hollywood
movies have become increasingly predictable, but not Anderson's work. He
swims in his own private river where quirkiness and surprises
Is DETENTION a comedy? Black comedy? Social drama? Thriller? Don't even attempt to apply a label until you've watched this movie to the very end. This is part of the film's allure. It can't be categorized by genre.
DETENTION is a unique, satisfying film. It takes the viewer on a thought-provoking, thrill ride that won't soon be forgotten.
This film was obviously made on the cheap, but its low production values
prevent me from enjoying it. It is a dark comedy that is quirky and funny,
enough of a hard edge to keep it out of the mainstream.
The movie is about a man that has accepted a teaching job at a high school where the students are out of control. What he decides to do about it is technically child abuse, but is fun and fascinating to watch.
"You my be right, but I may be crazy..."
In the opening scene of this dark satire, a panning camera finds a man sitting alone in a room of fading photographs and antiques. A telephone rings. He picks it up just as men sent to take him to a mental institution are knocking at his door. His choice, to take a job as a substitute teacher, sets off an intriguing and provocative tale that takes us through deft riffs on Clockwork Orange, Blackboard Jungle, Heart of Darkness, Kafka, and Jonathan Swift, and I am not just dropping names; a meaningful discussion of this complex film would include all of these influences. What appears to be a conventional, yet both disturbing and comic, story about an idealistic instructor's attempts to reform wayward youth takes a startling turn and confronts the viewer with questions of the basic worth of human selfhood and dignity. Anyone concluding that the film espouses a certain "solution" should look for the irony and keep in mind that the director himself referenced Swift's "Modest Proposal" at a recent post-screening discussion. General release in August
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As a person who works with kids with behavior problems, and am starting to
teach special education, this movie provided a great, guilty, cathartic
I thoroughly enjoyed the humorous but dead-on portrayals of the various problems with teaching "problem kids", and I really enjoyed seeing the kids get to find themselves when literally stripped of the distractions of material culture.
I found that the language and disturbing situations in the school were not very far off from my experiences in the classroom and hallways. I really have known homeless students. I really have known kids who went out on their own because a parent overdosed and died.
And, on the fantasy end, it was interesting to see the extreme application of brainwashing for a startling new effect. Sure, some scenes stretched credulity... (How do you pretend to shoot a student at point blank range without really killing them?) but I found it great entertainment with a deep truth to the core message of the film.
Although the production quality on the VHS I bought was poor, I intend on buying the DVD so I can watch my favorite scenes - the art scenes and the Heart of Darkness scene - repeatedly.
What a wonderful guilty pleasure. I plan on watching it while grading papers several times a semester!
I saw this one but it had been renamed "Learning Curve" and it's pretty hard to find. Still, it's worth the search if you like cute nymphettes running around in terror with very few clothes on. The cinematography is moody and atmospheric which lends extra punch to the suspense. The actors aren't stars, but most of the main leads have a charismatic charm that plays well in a movie like this. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the sound editing. In places it was hard to hear some of the dialog but it might just be the print I had. This movie actually has a taut plot, too, so it's not just valuable for its erotic qualities. Maybe I'm no highbrow cinema critic, but I know what I like. This movie was hot, fun and easy to get into.
"Detention" is a film that's as smart as it is entertaining. The dialogue
puts the contrived clichés of the average Hollywood films to shame, while
the cleaver plot twist keep the audience guessing right to the pictures end.
(Stay for the credits)
Andy Anderson and his mostly young cast confront the question of school
violence and the crisis in our schools head-on in this dark comedy. The
role of Bill Walmsley, played by John S. Davies, is a signature performance
of a teacher who still manages to care in an impossible situation, maybe way
This is truly independent film, made for all the right reasons.
Anderson is a teacher, and his passionate concern for students and education
comes shining through in this brilliant comedy. This film places him
solidly at the fore-front of current independent writer/directors and
hopefully this film will be given the audience it richly deserves.
After some personal trauma, Wilson Walmsley (John S. Davies) is invited
to work as a substitute teacher in a suburban public high school. He
finds lack of authority and interest in the school direction and
teacher body; uncontrolled and abusive students in an environment of
disrespect and lack of discipline. He becomes close to the arts teacher
Louise (Marsha Dietlein) and to the smart and abused student Joey
(Forest Denbow). When he saves Louise from a sexual assault of the
student Davey (Meason Wiley), Louise and he are sued by Davey's family
lawyer; then Davey's girlfriend beats Louise. The upset Walmsley lures,
drugs and kidnaps Joey and six troublemakers of his class and brings
them to his isolate real estate in Alpine, Texas. When the seven
students wake up, they are naked and caged in cages with electric
fences. When Walmsley arrives, he advises that his class will begin,
and any disrespect or lack of discipline will be duly punished, and
shots Joey to make clear his intentions. And the class begins.
"Detention" is a surprisingly great low budget movie. The theme of a new arrival teacher in a school with troublemakers was originally explored in the masterpiece "To Sir With Love"; more recently I recall the good "Dangerous Minds", the reasonable "The Substitute" and some others. However, "Detention" uses in addition the concept of "The Collector", but with a teacher that seems to become temporarily deranged and resolves to brainwash the problematic students of his class with education and good manners. The final situation is predictable, and the greatest flaw in the plot is how he could afford to buy a trailer with a car if he seemed to be broken when he accepted the invitation and was stolen with only four dollars in the wallet. However, Walmsley is a mystery, since his private life, his trauma and his motives are never disclosed to the audience, only for Louise but in private. I liked his explanation how people is brainwashed everywhere and the mission of a teacher, therefore better off by a teacher. The acting is excellent and this film is a great entertainment. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Enjaulados" ("Caged")
I have to admit that this did not turn out to be what I expected it to be. It was actually better. The script is well done and provides enough substance to make it worth watching. For the most part it is a believable story. The acting is not bad for the relatively unknown cast. If you are looking for something different, this is it.
A hilarious satire of contemporary education and today's coddled youth,
little-seen comedy rates as a real triumph for writer/director Anderson
(whose "Positive ID" was pretty terrific, too).
Good luck finding it, though -- after some festivals, it's kind of disappeared.
The advance reviews of writer & director Andy Anderson's Detention prepared
me for a '90s version of To Sir with Love, and indeed, the first part of
this film is along that line, except that now we have not only
uncontrollable kids but an adminstration that has lost the will and the
power to do anything about them. The teachers are bound by political
correctness, a starvation budget, fear of lawsuits, and a thousand other
plagues on the education system. Even Sidney Poitier would be helpless were
he bound this tightly by a legal system gone mad.
I kept waiting for Bill Walmsley, the hero teacher of this movie, confidently played by John Davies, to work the Stand and Deliver miracle, but it doesn't come, and the movie slows, when suddenly Walmsley tries an approach that rips the conventions right out from under this movie. No, this isn't To Sir with Love or Stand and Deliver or even The Dead Poets Society. Yet in one fell swoop, the movie becomes darkly funny while raising some serious questions about how difficult public education is in a world run by lawyers. It's a sure sign of how crazy the education system has become when the craziest arguments for reform make the most sense I've heard in years.
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