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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The bespectacled, wrapped-too-tight spinster, Julianne Moore, is an
archetypal schoolmarm with a fire down below living a life of quiet
desperation. Until a former student, a failed playwright, with the
right poker (pun intentional) arrives in town with a play no one wants
to see. Teach flips over the play and pushes the Drama Club to mount it
as the complications pile up.
Ms. Moore is simply superb here. She's a national treasure and woman-of-a-certain-age Hollywood still calls. And rightfully so. Although pony tailed and covered head-to-toe as "The English Teacher," she's still hot!
Teach judges men she dates with stream-of-consciousness displayed as on-screen text. She's abetted by a proper British narrator, Fiona Shaw, who adds an element of Gothic Romance to this tasty stew.
The Drama Club is run by a terrific Nathan Lane, a failed Broadway Star, who delivers the funniest lines in his trademark condescending dryness. Kudos also to Jessica Hecht and Norbert Leo Butz as Principal and Vice who take exception to the play's dark ending and demand a rewrite. Add a serviceable Greg Kinnear who easily handles his role as the playwright's Doctor Dad.
The play, "The Chrysalis," is received as having a universal theme all people relate to as if it were written specifically about/for them. The broad interpretation is Ms. Moore, by film's end, has broken out of chrysalis to butterfly. (Much to the consternation of the narrator who unsuccessfully attempts to talk Teach out of a date with Kinnear.) Scratching beneath the surface, students of Literature and Drama might find the film mildly thought provoking.
Ms. Moore's arc is predictable, but the journey remains a lot of fun.
Though a bit lightweight, with a great cast, a smart, funny and intelligent script, there's little to dislike about "The English Teacher." One hopes Ms. Moore will keep you after class.
This is one of those indie movies that is much better than many big
budget feature film comedies.
The story combines original comedy, a touching partly dramatic climax and a feel good plot that comes together perfectly. The comments on screen are an original touch. No wonder such a top notch cast appears in it.
The performances are stellar. Julianne Moore gives a wonderfully varied and moving performance as a spinster English Teacher in high school who mounts the play of an ex student played by Michael Angarano. She can do comedy just as well as she does drama and biopics.
The supporting cast includes Broadway veterans Jessica Hecht and Norbert Leo Butz as school principals, Nathan Lane as the diva of a drama teacher, the lovely Lily Collins as a high school student and aspiring actress and finally Greg Kinnear as the young playwright's father.
This is one of the best indie comedies in years and deserves much more critical acclaim and financial success than it received. Look forward to seeing more from the screen writing duo who penned the story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The English Teacher is a great film for many reasons, but one of them
is it touches on a subject that is so often ignored and undermined in
the world. That subject is exercising a passion for something that
doesn't amount to anything. It is one of the greatest personal
tragedies in life, and those who experience it are likely to lose
confidence in themselves and in the world. No longer does your passion
become a gift but a curse once you realize you may not or are not able
to do anything with it.
This strikes a personal chord with me; someone who excels in writing and creativity but flounders with math and science in a computer/arithmetic driven society. The last five years, I've maintained great relationships with my English teachers, who I've held dearly to my heart in school as they guided me and supported me through my ongoing career in writing. The thought that this may never amount to anything but a personal hobby is a frighteningly upsetting one, but it's a reality I've too-long ignored. Even if this turns into nothing else than an outlet for self-satisfaction and personal fulfillment, I have greatly enjoyed the ride.
Moreover, The English Teacher concerns Linda Sinclair (Julianne Moore), a high school English teacher in the small town of Kingston, Pennsylvania. She's in her mid-forties, unmarried, and content with her position in the world, going through a textbook routine of eating healthy, watching Television, and trying to enrich her students with the wonders of classic literature. She discovers one of her old students, Jason Sherwood (Michael Angarano), who she recalls as one of the greatest writers she ever had, is back in town and living with his domineering father Tom (Greg Kinnear). Jason reveals to her that after going to New York to major in dramatic writing, success has seemingly passed him by and he has taken his father's advice to go to law school. Jason clearly loathes this idea, and subtly winces when he says that writing makes him nauseous, but Linda can't see him throwing away his long-pursued hobby for the redundancy of being a lawyer.
Jason gives Linda a copy of "The Chrysalis," a play he wrote that he shopped around to no avail. She reads it, cries her eyes out, shows it to the drama teacher (Nathan Lane), he highly regards it, they force the school to allow it as this year's school play, and they reluctantly accept - but they demand the tragic suicide ending be changed. Linda buries this small point when disclosing the contract to Jason, who approaches the idea of his play being made with great hesitation. In the meantime, passions begin to flare between the confidence-deprived writer, the repressed, unfulfilled English teacher, and one of the leads in the play leading to much stress amidst the cast.
Julianne Moore gives a career-making performance as Linda, a role that is made more complex by including the ideas that she is in fact happy with her life position, regardless of the fact that the spark is fading dimmer and dimmer. When she is suddenly given more responsibility when Jason's play commences, we see that she may have not been lying as she handles the pressure with great uncertainty and frustration. Michael Angarano, who earlier this year did great work in the quirky, effervescent Brass Teapot, terrifically captures the essence of a struggling writer in search of a voice and heart. And while somewhat shortchanged, Greg Kinnear is never a problem to see turn up in any film.
When you really think about it, a job as an English teacher is pretty unforgiving. I can show you how to do a math problem and, since there's a set of rules and specifics to obtain a certain solution, solving it involves direction and not creativity. English and writing, on the other hand, are harder to teach. You can teach formatting, punctuation, and sentence structure (the redundancy of subjects, predicates, verbs, nouns, adverbs, adjectives, independent, and dependent clauses had me struggling to stay awake in grade school), but when it comes time to actually write, the weight is all on you on how you approach a subject. Formatting you can teach, but creativity you can not. I can tell someone how to properly use punctuation, but I can not tell them how to structure an essay accordingly.
I say an English teacher is an unforgiving job because I feel that more than half of a typical student body feel that writing is a chore. I'm likely one of the few who actually smiles when told we're going to write an essay. I can finally express creativity, opinion, and insight far beyond the confines of the coldness of multiple choice questions and short answer responses. Writing gives a human range and freedom to express thoughts, and I hold that kind of expression dearly to my heart. And when an English teacher assigns kids a book to read, they almost have to duck and cover. It's predictable, but at the same time crushing to hear kids regard classic literature as "a waste of time" or "so pointless." I recall being the only person in my English classes to enjoy the tragic hero in Death of a Salesman and the communist symbolism in Of Mice and Men.
But I digress. The English Teacher is a terrific film, with beautiful touches of intelligence, craft, soul, and careful storytelling. The relationship between a teacher and former student is touchingly portrayed, and the characters seen throughout the film are the kind you regard as friends and colleagues. This is a remarkable picture that certainly overcomes its awkward, out-of-place English narration.
Starring: Julianne Moore, Greg Kinnear, Michael Angarano, Nathan Lane, and Lily Collins. Directed by: Craig Zisk.
I was captivated by this movie and laughed from beginning to end.
I do not get the people who did not like this movie. They say nasty things and say nothing about the movie. Did any of them even watch the movie? They all deserve an "F". Yes, everybody who hates this movie gets an "F" in good taste and an "F" in life. Now, go back to High School and learn what you didn't learn when you first attended.
For the rest of us, especially those of us in the teaching profession, this is a gem. Not since Neil Simon retired have we had such sharply drawn characters and such sweet and gentle self mocking humor. It is both English teaching and High School theater that gets gently ridiculed. Yet, underneath the humor there is a real understanding of the importance of both subjects in our curriculum.
Any humanist, Jane Austin fan, Julianne Moore fan or theater lover will appreciate this movie. Go for it.
First of all watch the film, then make up your own mind, I can't stand
people who come on here and give bland one or two word reviews. Its a
small budget film which centers around a returning high school grad and
an English teacher trying to help him succeed and reminding him to keep
at his dream of becoming a playwright in New York. Its films like this
that make me want to continue watching films, they center around
characters, story and actual acting. If you want gimmicks and
explosions with no point then go play a computer game or watch a
Michael Bay film.
Okay so this film isn't the best you'll ever see but its decent.
I think it was nicely done. I am very anti cuss words but, The occasional cuss word in this film were perfectly placed and funny. I have a soft spot for Nathan Lane and his inclusion was the main reason I put aside an hour or so to watch this movie. He was brilliant as a play director. I think the casting department did a fabulous job with everyone. I had the distinct feeling the cast were good friends off camera. The story was unique despite a couple of cliché moments and I didn't notice any lighting of camera errors, no mikes hanging in view, editing smoothly done. I am having trouble finding fault, so let's say it was over too soon. Oh, I hoped for the ending, and I got it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's always pleasurable to see talent on the screen. Be that on the
shape of a great screenplay, good acting, or a combination of both.
"The English Teacher" offers both, and this might not make it a perfect
film, but it's quite enjoyable, funny and heartbreaking, and relatively
fresh. It doesn't resort to vulgarity to make us laugh, and it
certainly reflects the times in an accurate way. It incorporates
technology without forgetting the human side of the story, and it
centers around a good story.
Enters a lonely English teacher on her way to becoming a certified spinster. She tries to find a good man to date and marry, and the choices are scarce. Before she knows what hits her, she is involved with a former student of hers in an scandalous affair, yet this incident adds a touch of excitement to her life, maybe a little too much.
Her world as she knows it, spins out of control, and her students, her high school faculty, and a few members of society are quick to crucify her. Still in the middle of this mess, we have some comic relief, as we discovers the thin line between drama and comedy. Tears and laughter coexist very well together, and with Lane in the middle of the crazy drama, we can assure a few good laughs will be there.
So it's not like the classic comedies of the thirties,and sex may be at the center of the situation, but it's still not far from taking the social commentary stance seen in other films where society is quick to judge, and humans are still quite careless and irresponsible when rushing into emotional affairs. Moore is in a class by herself as the woman who holds back her personal passions, only to let herself fall quite hard when she misreads real life versus the experience she finds in the classics. Real life is not that easy to control.
In the end, things do work out, but it's a hilarious ride from beginning to end, and it's quite a clever script, so enjoy it.
"The English Teacher" is actually a thought-provoking movie. It's
somewhat bittersweet in its depiction of an array of likable,
believable characters who encounter - and must deal with - a gap
between personal ideal and reality. Take the drama teacher: he tells us
that he once had ambitions, while now he's the quirky local school
drama coach. Everyone, including the teacher herself, has some
unfulfilled ambition bubbling beneath the public surface.
I'll admit to having perhaps a slightly different perspective than many other viewers. I live in the real-life Kingston, Pa. and saw the movie with an audience that "got" all the local references, for better or worse, and probably laughed harder than other audiences would. But I think any audience, anywhere, could enjoy - and even perhaps identify with - the characters who populate this movie. If "action" seems minimal, maybe that's because what's "happening" is the everyday lives that we eventually settle into.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
At first, movie is not true to its trailer. The trailer promised it to be much more funnier and I had much expectations because it is Tribeca films, but there is not much comedy but more of the drama element. Now, the movie itself Linda is shown to be pretty mature, clear minded and not at all desperate for men. In the scene with Jason after their argue with his dad, there is a hint of motherly feeling in her for Jason. But out of nowhere, Jason kisses her. (Why?) She is first shown to resist but after the kiss, she is shown to dive in the act with both feet in. What suddenly happened to Linda? Where is her dignity and professionalism? In the next scene, she asks Jason to take a break (not breakup) from the relationship in the name of the play. Okay, means she is thoughtfully ready to have a relationship with Jason in future. But no, this time Jason messes the things up by hitting on Hailie who already had a thing for him from the beginning. Now, what Jason is trying to do? Is he too desperate to have sex and non-responsible for the enactment of his own play? Then Linda is shown to be pretty immature by trying to talk Hailie away from Jason using her authority, in place of talking to Jason about it. Can anybody tell me why so much immaturity is happening when the characters are established to be very mature? Okay so, then this complete asshole Will, whose character is not developed in the movie, records the tiff between Linda and Jason (in which they talked about their sex) and distributes it in the whole college. So, someone writes obscene words outside the door of Linda's classroom which Linda pretends to be Hailie. (Why Linda why? It could be anyone. Please use your mind.) Then, out of rage, Linda barges into the principal's chamber complaining about Hailie by telling half the truth to the principal. Then, principal and vice-principal goes to auditorium only to find out the complete truth. At this point, all the characters are present in the auditorium and when all the truths get revealed, it becomes a huge mess. Actually this all is the story development and movie starts from here on. But there are too many flaws in the characters' development which makes the movie not enjoyable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With any other actress in the lead role of a spinster English teacher
in a small Pennsylvania town The English Teacher may have flopped
entirely on its own misshapen face, but under the devices of Juliann
Moore nerdy Linda Sinclair shows us a lot about how best intentions can
cause the worst outcomes and teach us so much about life.
Teaching high-school English in Kingston, PA Linda Sinclair (Julianne Moore) is a judgmental customer when it comes to dating. At 45, and unmarried she views every potential mate with a harsh grading system much like the one she uses in her class room where students are delighted by her firm but supportive guidance. When former star pupil Jason Sherwood (Michael Angarano) comes to town disheartened from his labors in New York to become a playwright, Linda attempts to show her students and surly Jason what it's like to see creative writing fleshed out. Linda pushes the young writers play into production at the high school much to the chagrin of his father Dr. Tom Sherwood (Greg Kinnear) who wants his son to become a lawyer. When Linda and Jason sleep together the event shakes the English teacher out of her well-constructed cocoon and when the student body gets wind of the affair, Linda discovers that she must come out of her shell completely to save her job, save the show, and rebuild her own self respect.
They say that the best comedies are terrible things that happen to other people. When we see poor Julianne Moore's hopeless romantic Linda Sinclair's life tumble our initial reaction is thwarted by a cavalcade of events that progressively erode into a tragedy except for the fact that her character loves every aspect of what is happening to her because it fuels a deep-seated need for drama in her sheltered world.
The filmmakers have a host of support actors led by the stalwart Nathan Lane as the wise and sensitive drama teacher Carl Kapinas (whose name all the students purposely mispronounce to make it sound dirty) and Lily Collins, Norbert Leo Butz, Jessica Hecht, Charlie Saxton and others. Watching Jason's play in rehearsal offers some of the most hilarious moments in the film, and anyone who has been in high school productions, or community theatre for that matter will see some of their friends here.
The films overall subversive nature is off-putting for anyone really thinking about what the screenwriters Dan Chariton, and Stacy Chariton are putting out there. On the one hand they have their story narrated by an unseen Narrator presented by Fiona Shaw whose voice like the goddess of English Literature reminds us of the correct direction of the tale as it unfolds. This traditional and romantic viewpoint is undermined by the real-life events of a young playwright attempting to have his own writer's voice heard. The clashes of these two realities coalesce into an unusual parable about male and female relationships as unattainable in the post-modern world.
The overall idea that our public literature classes are producing staid and packaged pseudo intellectuals is addressed by the suggestive Narrator of the story being essentially shut out as Linda finds the right man for her. This is high comedy, something we smile at as the screen fades and anyone who has been in high school will feel the effects of the banal questioning from teachers after we have read A Tale of Two Cities, begging us to understand the idea of self-sacrifice.
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