Hulu Series Review: A Teacher

The new 10 part Hulu Series “A Teacher” is about a female teacher in high school, having an affair with one of her students – a story that has happened in recent history, far too often. This series does a very good job of showing the damage a short term decision based on emotion or rationalization can cause someone in the long term. In the case of a High School English teacher, Clair Wilson, played by Kate Mara – her short term rationalizations were that he marriage was failing, her student Eric Walker, played by Nick Robinson was 18 years old and they were in love. Clair’s long term penalty for having an affair with a student, was that she lost her job as a teacher forever, she was arrested, tried and had to go to prison and after she was released, she was never able to get a job again in any field.

Clair was never able take full responsibility for what she did, long after she was released from prison. During this entire story for Clair, it was always someone else’s fault, what she did was not that bad and this lasted all the way to the last episode in this series. This story is all about cause and effect, what is wrong is wrong, even if the student was over 18 and they were really in love.

The acting throughout this series is outstanding with both of the two main characters played by Kate Mara and Nick Robinson. I disagree with the mid-level 72% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and give this series a solid 80% rating.

Movie Review: News of the World

Every time Hollywood produces another Western – two of the last very good ones “Open Range”, 2003 and “Unforgiven”, 1992 (Won Best Picture) – we are all reminded of how difficult a time it was in the days of the mid 1800’s, most especially around the years of the Civil War. The new movie “News of the World” is surprisingly Tom Hanks very first Western. The story is a simple one, a man by the name of Captain Kidd, played by Tom Hanks travels from town to town and reads newspapers to groups of people – and makes a little money doing this. Back in the dark days in this country of the mid-1800’s so many people could not read, so this service of reading newspapers to a group of people was a viable profession.

One day Kidd rides by a wooded area, where there is a black man who was hung. Within the wreckage of the mans wagon, is a young girl Johanna, played by Helena Zengel, who was taken by Indians after her parents were killed and then released by the same Indians, making her an orphan twice.  Zengel has a look about her that almost makes her appear to be someone who was alive during the 1800’s.  Kidd then takes the girl to the military authorities along with her papers to try and get them to take her to her relatives, many miles away.  After they refuse, what follows is a long and hard road trip with Kidd taking care of the child and encountering two groups of extreme lowlife that always seem to be highly prevalent in all Westerns. There is a great gunfight, with even the girl getting in involved within a brilliant scene that involving quarters to load a rifle cartridge.  The ending of this movie was brilliantly conceived with a very good conclusion that was both emotional and satisfying. 

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for this movie is a very solid 85% and I agree with this opinion.  Tom Hanks might be nominated for another Academy Award for this movie, for his strong acting and for the extreme lack of movies released this year due to the horrible Pandemic.  I highly recommend this film.  

Movie Review: Promising Young Woman

On January 17, 2015 a young Stanford college student Chanel Miller got extremely drunk and was sexually assaulted by another college student named Brock Turner. Chanel later released a memoir about this assault stating that rape is not a punishment for being drunk. Odds are that the screenwriter and director of “Promising Young Woman”, Emerald Fennell was inspired by this story or another like it. Because this is the main idea behind this dark comedy/drama about a former medical student Cassandra, played by Carey Mulligan seeking revenge for a close friend who was sexually assaulted by several other college students when she was very drunk one night.

The two hours of this solid drama unwind the series of events from some seven years earlier where the medical school did nothing to prosecute those involved in the sexual assault of Cassandra’s friend Nina. A lawyer who dug up irrelevant dirt to discredit Nina and fellow students who showed Nina no empathy or understanding, ultimately turning their backs on her. Nina later dropped out of medical school along with Cassandra who devoted her time towards helping her friend recover from a violent assault that ruined her life.

Most unusual about this film is the lack of extreme-murder-eye-for-an-eye that is typical of revenge movies like this one. The revenge Cassandra seeks is more in line with an admission of guilt and retribution, rather than killing people, that I thought was a refreshing new approach. Cassandra regularly goes to bars, pretending to be very drunk only to later turn the tables on any man who takes her home and tries to take advantage of her – in a half hearted attempt to avenge what happened to her friend Nina. There are numerous attempts to be different with this story, that mostly all work, and an ending that was very unexpected, but did reach a satisfying conclusion. As have said many times in this blog, so many of us go to the movies because we crave justified conclusions that happen in real life, far too rarely.

The Rotten Tomatoes reviews of Promising Young Woman are an extremly high 91%. I agree with this rating and highly recommend this film.