8:00 PM, 22nd August, 2009
From the creative mind of Harold Ramis, and two of the writers from "The Office" (the US version), comes Year One. The movie can be seen as a road trip movie from the beginning of everything (in the Biblical timeline), where Zed (Black) and Oh (Cera) go forth on a journey to find the end of the world. After eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Zed (a hunter) is exiled from his tribe, and accompanied by Oh (a gatherer). Their journey leads them to meet other characters from the Bible (such as Cain and Abel, and Abraham), and after discovering that the girls they wanted to sleep with have been captured and turned into slaves, Zed and Oh set out to rescue them.
If you liked the boyish awkwardness of Michael Cera in, "Arrested Development," or Superbad, then you'll love the boyish awkwardness in this. Similarly, Jack Black seems to bring a bogus persona to his characters, and Year One is no different. Putting Black and Cera together as two fumbling tribesmen from the beginning of time on a journey for meaning and discovery is the perfect combination for a good movie. The movie has been likened more to the Monty Python-esque movies rather than other Judd Apatow produced movies, and the outrageous and silly premise is so farfetched it's brilliant. For a roaring good time, Year One should only be missed if you have a wedding to attend, or the birth of your first child, otherwise, a night out with Harold Ramis' latest is definitely in order.
9:52 PM, 22nd August, 2009
Francois and his fellow teacher prepare for another year of educating juveniles in a tough Paris neighbourhood. There is a big culture and attitude clash within each classroom, and we focus on one of Francois' classes, in which discussion of literature often brings bigger life issues to the surface.
As a teacher, I can tell you that The Class is one of the best cinematic depictions of the day-to-day life of a high school educator. I was intrigued that the average French teacher has to deal with so many similar issues that I have to (even though the teacher character deals with most of those issues in a very ineffective and inappropriate manner, but there's not enough room here for me to go into that!). I've always maintained that the average classroom is just a microcosm of society, and this film shows that to be true. It almost feels like a documentary at times (something I believe was intentional by the filmmakers, judging by camera angles used).
This film won the Palme d'Or at Cannes last year, and deservedly so. It is absorbing and intelligent, with realistic performances and a beautiful final shot that says so much more than words. Forget your standard Hollywood "embattled teacher breaks through to tough teenagers" tripe (like Freedom Writers and Dangerous Minds), come and see a real depiction of modern education, and one of the better French films released this year.