George Lucas is a moron. Sure, the man had two good ideas for movies in Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but even those gems were tarnished with crappy sequels (I refer to all three new Star Wars movies, most of Return of the Jedi, everything in Temple of Doom after Shanghai and that horseshit trailer for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles which masquerades as the opening 20 minutes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). Sure, back in the 70s, when all the other nerdy weirdos were doing their best work (Spielberg, Schrader, Scorsese et al), Lucas seemed invincible. But if there’s one thing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull makes clear, it’s that George Lucas should’ve stopped in ’81.
The Wachowski brothers have a knack for wasting money. Under the protection of (frankly terrifying) producer-cum-human sledgehammer Joel Silver, they have, over the past ten years, taken Warner Brothers (their studio) to the cleaners for a sum I scarcely dare to think about. What have Warner Brothers been gifted with in return? Two crappy Matrix sequels and Speed Racer, the movie equivalent of a $200,000,000 bag of Skittles. I call these movies a waste of money. Evidently the board at Time Warner sees things differently. Why is that? Is it because movies don’t matter? Or is because we (the audience) are out of touch with what movies are today?
Good teaching is about taking care with people. Good teachers are not instructors; they do not live and die by rules; they do not hector, or bait, or preside in judgement. Teaching, as a profession, is far more about being human than it is about being in charge. Mike Leigh’s new movie, Happy-Go-Lucky, is all about teaching. Its heroine may not have all the answers, but she’s got the right stuff as far as teaching goes. To watch her with her class, or as a student of flamenco, or as a learner driver, is to watch someone both grounded and open at all times… to watch a teacher; someone delighted by life; someone who knows the lesson isn’t ever about algebra or Shakespeare… it’s about who learns, not what.
This movie is a love letter to blowing things up. It’s not unusual that way. American movies are mostly about explosions. Think of Bruce Willis in Die Hard 4, taking out a helicopter with a car (because he was “out of bullets”). Iron Man has a lot of that spirit; that hell yeah!-enthusiasm when it comes to guns. It’s a fun movie that wants to say no to war, but finds itself led astray by bright lights and loud noises. Robert Downey Jr (playing Iron Man wryly) is like a lot of us in his response to the movie’s jingoistic bombast, figuring irony makes him less culpable. Like a lot of us, he winds up enjoying the explosions. It’s hard to be ethical when you’re a vigilante robot.