Monday was a four-film day, which took me from Cleveland to Amsterdam, and from there to the UK and Japan.
This riveting documentary takes a close look at Entrepreneurship Preparatory School (E-Prep), a relatively new charter school within the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Believing that kids need and want direction, E-Prep offers a rigorous curriculum in a strenuously disciplined setting. The film focuses on Tyree, a charismatic seventh grader who entered the school years behind grade level in reading and math. His story is both heartbreaking and hopeful.
Laura Paglin, resident of Cleveland Heights, made this film, which gives audiences lots to think about—most obvious, can E-Prep’s methods work in other urban schools?
This is not the new Paul Giamatti film of the same name, but a hip and stylish festival entry from the Netherlands. It’s about a gawky and enthusiastic young stock analyst with a gift for knowing when to buy and sell. His genius is recognized and he’s promoted, with a luxury apartment and other perks. He continues to make millions for the firm, and seems to be in a win/win situation, but gradually comes to realize that the cutthroat competition among his coworkers is taking the joy out of what he’s been doing for fun.
Playwright Shelagh Delaney (A Taste of Honey) described Andrea Dunbar as “a genius straight from the slums.” Brafferton Arbor, the slums depicted in this semi-documentary, is where Dunbar lived. She began writing her first play for a school assignment, at age 15. It premiered in 1980 at London’s Royal Court Theatre, won the Young Writers’ Festival, and was later performed in New York.
Actors lip-synch to recorded interviews with Dunbar, who died at the age of 29, and members of her family. These segments are intercut with documentary footage of Dunbar’s life and reconstructions of her plays—the effect is not entirely satisfactory.
This may be my WOW! movie. The film opens, during the second Sino-Japanese War, with Japanese soldiers raping Chinese women. One of these soldiers is Lt. Kurokawa, who is returned home horrifically mutilated—a torso, without arms or legs, terribly scarred, nearly deaf, and except for grunts and grimaces, essentially mute. After her initial shock, his long-suffering wife caters to his needs, including his demands for sex.
The village has designated him a War God, and so his wife clings to the prevailing idea that the home front is the last line of defense . . . at least for a time. A day later, I still cannot stop thinking about this film.
Stay tuned; the journey continues.