Monday, August 28, 2006

Half Nelson

"Half Nelson" is just wonderful, a film that I don't know that I can aptly describe. It's a story of a drug-addicted teacher (Ryan Gosling) in a Brooklyn middle school and the young teenage girl who befriends him. It's set in Gowanus Brooklyn, not too far from here, although far enough (as in, away from Manhattan and the direction of my commute) that I didn't notice the film crews when they were here. For a story of a person whose life is owned by his addiction, and yet has managed to carve out enough of a compromise to function, it's light years better than "Factotum." The comparisons are hard to avoid, since I saw them close together. And they both boast powerful performances by their leading men - an Oscar contest between Matt Dillon for "Factotum" and Ryan Gosling for this would be pretty interesting. Oh, and throw in Ed Norton, who is garnering his own great reviews for another film released at the same time ("The Illusionist.") (I haven't seen it yet, but it opens in my neighborhood theater on Friday - just in time for a four day holiday weekend! You know I'll be there.)

I get Ed Norton and Ryan Gosling confused. I actually sat down with my popcorn, watched the opening credits, and was startled to see Gosling on the screen instead of Norton, that's how intertwined they are in my mind. I don't know what else I've seen Gosling in - maybe just "Murder by Numbers" - surely not "The Notebook," which I didn't see (and have no plans to.) But in this film he's just so good, and the writing is so good, and the other actors - especially Shareeka Epps as the young girl - are fabulous as well. The only thing that I wasn't crazy about was the camera - handheld, shaky, pressed up against every image so tight that you never got to see the spaces around the actors, the rooms or the streets or their surroundings. I understand that it's a stylistic choice to be that close, that it's meant to portray intimacy as well as claustrophobia, but it gets to me after awhile. I want to pull back and look away - and yet, maybe that discomfort is part of the movie experience. These aren't pleasant things, these are real life things, and sometimes there is just no escaping them.

Ryan Gosling has 5 additional imdb entries after this one - I'm impressed.


Blogger Pynchon said...

No! You must see "The Notebook". Sentimental as hell, but Rachel McAdams absolutely shines.

Perhaps it's a man thing.

3:28 PM  
Blogger medusa said...

Yeah, I think I recall your saying that before, so maybe I'll try it. I do like Rachel McAdams. As long as I'm in the right mood, I suppose I can stomach the sentimentality...

9:04 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

ring logo
Writing Desk Webring

Join | List | Random
Previous | Next
Powered by RingSurf
Locations of visitors to this page