AGORA
: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.


CRITICAL WOMEN HEADLINES

5/19/09

HE SAID, SHE SAID....What Goes Up

A MACHO CRITIC FREE ZONE

HE SAID....

By Gerald Wright

Screenwriters Jonathan Glatzer and Robert Lawson wrote a cautionary tale concerning sexuality, drug use and a hint pedophilia starring Steve Coogan, Hilary Duff, Molly Shannon, Olivia Thirlby, Josh Peck and Max Hoffman. Despite the controversial and central concept of the story hosting an ex-Disney starlet, I really wanted to enjoy this film. However, as luck would have it, I was left bewildered and disappointed.

The plot starts off centering on a morally troubled New York reporter/journalist in the 1980s who is assigned to cover the story of a New Hampshire female school teacher's space flight. Once arriving in the small New England town Campbell Babbitt (Steve Coogan of Tropic Thunder) finds out that his old college chum and once local high school teacher has died. Rumors say it was suicide and it leaves his odd-ball students of his homeroom class depressed and confused. As a good reporter Campbell sees a good story in his old buddy's death and decides to put the space launching on hold.

As the story progresses it goes sour with the introduction of the dysfunctional high school students: Hilary Duff as Lucy a sexual tease, Olivia Thirlby as Tess who is socially depressed, and Josh Peck as Jim a paranoid doper. Other misfortunate students are Peggy, Sue, Ann (Sarah Lind, Andrea Brooks and Ingrid Nilson) and Brenna O'Brien as the Diminutive Girl. These characters set the stage for - Why did their favorite teacher kill himself? What are the hidden secrets of his life? Was he having an affair with young sexy Lucy? Will mature Campbell get in immature Lucy's pants?

I am not an overzealous adult who frowns on films that suggest pedophilia, but if it undermines feminism I find it in bad taste. As the plot attempts to develop it strays to and from a hunt for secrets to a pathetic Campbell Babbitt lusting after a high school sex kitten. Josh Peck's (The Wackness) character Jim is very disturbing and confusing because there isn't a hint as for why he is so angry with everyone except his misfit colleagues. Hilary Duff who has outgrown the Disney theme seems to be searching for a role that fits her. Unfortunately, this is not the role. The other young cast members were merely props in a high school movie attempting to recreate scenes from The Breakfast Club, Heathers and Juno. Molly Shannon plays Donna a middle age horny neighbor of Campbell who tries to put the "make" on him and fails. This is because Steve Coogan's whimsy character (Campbell) is too busy walking the thin line he encounters in being a predator of a provocative teenage girl suspected of an affair with her now dead teacher.

This story has far too many holes in it to hold an audience. For instance, where are the parents of these kids who hang out all day and have grown men yelling up to their daughter's window late at night? How and why would this middle age dead teacher have such an influence over the kids? Where is the guidance teachers of the high school? How could this be considered a "coming of age" movie that instructs or even hints at improper sexual encounters between adults and kids?

The performances of the ensemble isn't totally bad, however it does leave a lot to be desired. What a mess!

Directed by: Jonathan Glatzer
Running time: 107 minutes
Release date: May 29, 2009 (limited)
Genre: Drama, Comedy and Coming of Age
Distributor: 3 Kings Productions
MPAA Rating: R

FILM RATING (D)

Gerald Wright - Film Critic
HDFEST.com
Film Showcase


SHE SAID....

By Linda Z

Set as a quiet background, a seemingly unobtrusive event, is the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy. Add to that the images not discussed of the school teacher, Sam Calailucci's plummet to his death off a roof top. Then add the humor that only young "misfit" teenagers can muster juxtaposed against the too well established adult world and what do you have, WHATgoesUP

What stays down on earth is our creation of heroes in our midst.
WHATgoesUP is the story of the reported Babbitt(Steve Coogan) obsessed by the death(suicide) of a local hero. He is reassigned to the New Hampshire hometown of the doomed teacher (an old college buddy) and soon to be suicide victim.

Two suicides, one failed shuttle with resounding heroic effects and youth confronting the advent of life in the troubled adult world.
And this is a comedy, a seemingly light hearted film for those who see films for the pleasure rather than the message to be learned or understood

My hero is the film maker who dared to go beyond the Judeo-Christian ethics and morality with which we are too familiar and accept too readily its limitations on our ability to live our lives as we want. He replaces this time honored guide to a "good life" with a discussion of Socrates, as the true hero in our midst.

Suicide victims do not go to hell and ABORTION is shown, (the first time I have seen it in a main stream film) without dire consequences. The teenage girl(Olivia Thirlby) is accompanied not by her parents and not with their consent or knowledge but by a girlfriend ( Hilary Duff), someone with true compassion and understanding of the necessity of the procedure.

And Thirlby's character survives! She becomes a hero, a mature young adult whose wisdom is well worth listening to.

I recommend this film because of the quiet, amusing and convincing way it presents highly charged ideas. My only regret is that the filmmakers didn't have the abundance of finacial backing to make this film an exravaganza of robust detail. They seem to have spent their limited funds on quality acting rather than expensive and elaborate sets.

Who can fault that!

Jonathan Glatzer Director
Writers:
Jonathan Glatzer (writer)
Robert Lawson (writer)

Steve Coogan, Josh Peck, Hilary Duff, Olivia Thirlby, Molly Shannon

LindaZ
WBAI Women's Collective

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