Category Archives: Reviews

The Kings of Denmark

So admittedly, I really haven’t written in a good while. Furthermore, I haven’t written on music in a really good while. Nonetheless here I am, returned from the proverbial grave to enlighten you magnificent handful of readers who choose to edify my ego by reading. This entries focus goes squarely on one album I have been meaning to write about for some time. Actually, to be fair I wanted to write primarily about the band but since they have recently released an album I’ll make that my excuse. It’s hard to really claim any sort of special knowledge of the band, nor can I claim to have known of them before they were huge. However, the funny thing is, this ultra famous band is one that chances are you have never heard of, nor have you ever heard any of their singles. That band is Kashmir.

just a casual impromptu picture of the members of Kashmir

Now the reason you will have never heard of Kashmir, despite their receiving numerous critical accolades and awards is because they are a Danish band, and I guess Danes don’t seem to make it big here in North America. Still though, all their songs are in English and their style is so foreign that it would jar you to hear their music. In fact, many have likened their sound to Coldplay and Radiohead, which is probably fair though I think they stand a bit apart from those two bands. The bottom line is that this band is really interesting and dynamic and if you ask me it’s crazy that more people aren’t aware of them. If you want band’s full store you can check it out here. For now, let’s move on to their newest album, Trespassers, which was released this past February.

Trespassers is actually the band’s sixth full length release, so like I was saying this isn’t a group that came out of nowhere, and is the bands first album in 5 years since they released No Balance Palace in 2005. To my mind, it is probably the most balanced and consistent album of their to date, with each song managing to keep my attention while a few standouts really managed to grab me. Manta Ray and Still Boy stood out to me as the most powerful tracks on the album, with Pallas Athena probably being the weakest effort made. The sound is generally a sort of melodic rock sound, with a sort of taciturn mood for the most part. While this could aptly describe every album of theirs to date, what I felt really made this one stand out was a certain undercurrent of optimism which seemed to pervade pretty well every track on the album. I’m no musician so to comment on the instrumental competence or production qualities would be pointless, though I will say that I think Kasper Eistrup’s vocals are some of the most moving you are likely to hear on any album, which ring with a sort of sincerity and vulnerability which you so rarely seem to find. All in all the album sounds very good, and very polished.

I can’t talk about this album without at least mentioning the album’s music video for the single Still Boy. My first experience with Kashmir was actually through a music video, where I happened to stumble upon the video for Rocket Brothers. The band seems to have a tendency to make videos that have a linear narrative and some sort of morality or theme to them. There aren’t any cuts to the band rocking out or anything like that, more just a short movie with the track acting as the score to the story. for Still Boy, the video depicts a crazy homeless man trying desperately to bring to life a doll he has built in his sort of cardboard workshop. The video is powerful, and really compliments the strength of the song, but rather than describe it it’s probably best I just show you:

Thanks to Kashmir for making the video available on YouTube through their band’s channel.

I’m not really sure what more I can really say, the album is excellent and if you haven’t heard it you really should. It’s hard to really recommend this band to any one type of music listener, they have that sort of general palatability which I typically loathe. However I have to admit there is a sort of distinct character to these guys which is very charming and they really do have a sound that sets them apart.

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews

Returning to Rapture

Howdy folks, its been a while and for that I am deeply sorry but at last I return with more criticisms on the hard work of others that I enjoyed at my leisure. Today’s focus being chiefly on the sequel to the 2007 PC game of the year* Bioshock, Bioshock 2 (clever title, no?)

Because I just recently played Bioshock I’ll give you the cliffs notes to provide some context. You play as a fella named Jack who has just survived a plane crash in the middle of the ocean and winds up at the entrance of Rapture, an underwater city founded by a man named Andrew Ryan. As soon as you get there all hell has been thoroughly let loose as you find the city in ruins populated entirely by a bunch of crazies called splicers. You are guided through by a guy named Atlas, who communicates with you via headset through the city with the promise of getting you out. As you progress the plot get a lot more complicated but for the sake of the review that’s all you need to know. Basically its scary, its underwater, and there’s a lot of murky history going on. The core mechanics of the game are shooting and use of special powers called plasmids. The use of plasmids is contingent upon 2 things, the use of Eve (basically your token mana or magic juice) and Adam, which are upgrade points to get new plasmids or upgrade existing ones. The key to getting Adam is by collecting it off little sisters, creepy little denizens of rapture which are young girls who frankly look…off. While relatively harmless themselves they are always guarded by giant certified bad-asses called big daddies. The game is part survival horror and part action shooter, all mixed in with upgrade systems along the lines of RPG’s to make it a really cool genre bending game.

Now on to numero dos, which takes that very sleek and complete package and attempts to add to an already stellar experience.

The story is easily the biggest hurdle to overcome in this one, for any who have played the first this is apparent, since the first wraps up very well with little to absolutely no need for a sequel at all. However here we are and surely they had to figure out some way to drag you back to rapture. so here it is; you roam through rapture this time around as a big daddy (yeah, one of those almighty bad-asses as previously mentioned). However you being a prototype big daddy you are both blessed and cursed with some distinct differences. first, you can’t go waylaying enemies left and right, you are about as strong as the previous game’s character Jack and feature the same health system. conversely, you also have the previous game’s ability of all the same weapons (plus some crazy new ones like the big daddy drill arm) and plasmid systems. The objective of you, the prototype big daddy, is to find the little sister you are separated with in the opening sequence of the game. This time around the focus is very squarely on the relationship between the big daddies and little sisters, with the antagonist being the mother of your respective little sister Dr. Sofia Lamb. Taking place a few short years after the events of the first Bioshock the city of rapture is in ruins with Dr. Lamb looking to rebuild it in her own utopian ideal. As you progress through the game you unravel the history of Sofia Lamb and her opposition of Andrew Ryan back in the glory years of Rapture through audio diaries scattered throughout the game (same as the first one). What is a bit tricky here is that they introduce a pretty large-scale event that occurred in the history of Rapture which isn’t so much as alluded to in the first game, which makes it at times difficult to suspend disbelief. However this quibble aside the story is well told and the characters are engaging, with the return of Dr. Tenenbaum from the first game, and your primary ally being a southern gent named Augustus Sinclair, who rivals the first game’s Atlas in quality.

With the story being good it’s hard to say this game really lives up to the first on that alone, Bioshock was renowned for its incredible storytelling so being good doesn’t quite measure up. However gameplay is one element in which Bioshock 2 really does it’s predecessor proud. with the first game being a bit clunky the shooting mechanic this time around is much more responsive, as well, the dual wielding capabilities of plasmid/weapon combinations makes possible what the first game promised but could not quite deliver. This time around plasmids and firearms can be used seamlessly, which in turn creates a much richer and diversified combat system. Players can be entertained for hours just by tooling around with various weapon and plasmid combinations to discover new ways to dispatch enemies. As well, with the games use of a research video camera, the player is rewarded for creative weapons use by awarding more research points for using different weapons and plasmids, which in turn unlocks new damage modifiers and status affecting tonics. Other innovations have been made throughout to make the experience more streamlined as well, with a new hack tool which replaces the former puzzle based hacking mini-game, this time around hacking is done using a timing based bar and needle in which you stop the needle in the green area (think old school field goal kicking controls). The new hacking is a huge improvement, being that while the puzzles in bioshock were fun for the first 10 or 20, by the end of the game you’re solving virtually the same puzzles 100+ times. also, the new hack tool features a hack dart which can be fired, allowing for remote hacks of security devices which prove both strategic and less frustrating. and lastly one of the biggest changes in the game’s gameplay is in the harvesting of Adam. While in the first it was relatively straightforward (you kill big daddy then choose to either harvest or rescue the little sister) this time the choice is a lot more complex. Being a big daddy you now have the ability to either harvest or adopt a little sister after her big daddy has been dispatched. Adopting the little sister means significantly more adam but at significantly higher risk. To harvest Adam you must take your little sister to a specified corpse and defend her as a barrage of splicers attacks. After these salvo’s are over and the little sister has harvested all the Adam she can you take her to the nearest vent where you can decide to either harvest or rescue her. Like in the first, harvesting means more Adam right away, where rescuing means some rewards down the road. I am not sure which is more beneficial overall but I get the sense that harvesting is the easy route. Apart from the splicer raids, the other reason not to hang on to the little sister is the arrival of a Big Sister which are even more intense and frightening than the big daddys of the first. if you choose to go the route of harvesting you will randomly have to encounter the big sisters which can prove difficult even with your health and inventory in good order. This gameplay element is easily the most interesting and rewarding of the whole game, with the excitement of challenge of fighting big sisters the game keeps you on your toes. Conversely the relationship you form with the little sisters as you protect them while they suck the life force out of corpses is bizarrely endearing.

The games presentation is once again amongst its many long suits with its sharp graphics serving really as the underpinnings for the spectacular art design which makes this game so visually pleasing. With the distinctive art deco meets steampunk design the world of Rapture is easily one of the most interesting settings of a video game to date. The unique case of characters is equally as well acted as the first game, with honourable mention going to the character of Augustus Sinclair who does an excellent job of making you question his motivations throughout the game. The game’s sound is equally impressive, with its standout being the creepy dialogue you can often overhear between the splicers before they’ve detected you. The ambient noise is one of the elements that really gives the game it’s character.

All in all the game is a unquestionably enjoyable experience, and I would say if you enjoyed the first one the second is one you should definitely tackle. I should place an asterisk on this review given that I really didn’t play the multiplayer at all so I can’t rightly say whether or not its worthwhile or not. However, the quality of the single player alone is enough to justify playing this game, and certainly owning it if you’re a hardcore fan.

*Game of the year as according to IGN http://bestof.ign.com/2007/pc/22.html

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Hell Hath No Fury…

So back to talking about things I like talking about, derivative video games! The latest game I have chosen to waste my valuable time on was Dante’s Inferno. For those of you unfamiliar this is based on the epic poem written by Dante Alighieri of the same name. If at this point you’re wondering to yourself ‘why in the fuck would anyone make a video game about 14th century guided tour through the underworld!?’ don’t worry, you’re not alone. This was the story that nobody ever fucking asked to be made a video game. I mean even Ghostbusters, a game made based on a franchise seemingly dead for nearly 20 years made a bit of sense as a video game, but Dante!?

who ya gonna call?

So anyhow all ranting aside the question remains, how does the game measure up? well that’s ultimately the biggest problem, not only is this a bastardized literary classic, but the game is a bastardization in itself! This game is, with only a few minor details, God of War. everything from controls to presentation right down to art design. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering God of War is undoubtedly one of the very best in frenetic action adventure games, it brings me back to the question of ‘why should this game exist?’.  To sum it up quickly I’ll break the gameplay down into its core segments. You run around getting locked into battles with hordes of piddling minions while you flail your long reaching weapon around in circles until they all explode and little orbs fly out of them (God of War). Occasionally you find sinners who you can either chose to punish or absolve, punishing leads to gory death while absolving means a timing based mini-game where you hit buttons as they are prompted (Parappa the Rappa or any controller based rhythm game ever made). Once you collect points you can use either holy or unholy points to level up skills on either side of your skill tree (infamous). Also, along the way you come across relics which you can equip into slots which will give you bonuses and will get leveled up to increase their usefulness the longer you have them equipped (Call of Duty Modern Warfare). If you look very carefully there, you might just see a pattern…

Now normally, I don’t have a problem with derivative games. The way I see it when a great game is made it makes sense to take what made it great and apply it to other games. The problem I have with God of War Dante’s Inferno is mainly that it doesn’t even try to differentiate itself from the material it borrows from. enemy designs, cut scenes, quick time events, attack animations, IT’S ALL IDENTICAL! Also, the gameplay on normal was at times downright difficult, not to be confused with challenging. To distinguish my point, solving a sudoku puzzle in the Sunday morning paper is challenging, putting your fist through a concrete wall is difficult. There are some points which I should address though which I did like about the game. First, it looks pretty, visuals are polished with some very cool effects and cut scenes are among the most impressive I have ever seen in a video game. Second, for all of my harping and whining the gameplay is very playable, and though I died on several occasions without having any fucking clue why or how to fix my error I still managed to enjoy the bloody carnage. Lastly, Trophies are handed out in that game like candy, so if you’re the sort that likes trophies/achievements/digital phallus’ to prove your worth then this game will treat you very well.

I almost feel bad disliking this game as much as I do looking back on it. However with a story that shames its source material, gameplay that fails to innovate on a game that came out for the Playstation 2, and because at times the game could be an exercise in frustration aggravation this just fell hopelessly short for me. It’s not a terrible game, in fact it’s probably better than a good deal of crap out there, but if you have a Playstation 3 you may as well just wait for God of War 3, or even simply buy the God of War collection (if you have a Xbox 360 you should probably only be playing mass effect 2 anyway). However if you need to play some medieval christian allegory or if you just want to see a buttload of tits, then maybe you should give the game a shot.

Beatrice, Dante's extremely liberal sweetheart

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

I Watched a Movie a While Back

So the title pretty much says it all.

I watched a movie a while back, and given that it was a relatively limited release I may as well review it now (3 weeks after I saw it). Given that it may very well still be in select theatres and also because chances are you won’t go out and watch it anyway, it really makes no difference if I do so now as opposed to immediately after I saw it.

So what movie you ask? praying I may at last get to my point so reading this article might soon come to a close. Well let me tell you what movie! Jim Sheridan’s dramatic film Brothers.

If you’re not familiar with Jim Sheridan, he is the auteur responsible for the oscar winning Daniel Day-Lewis triumph My Left Foot and of course more recently his tour de force piece of shit Get Rich or Die Tryin` which tells the epic tale of the venerable actor rapper Curtis `50 cent`Jackson…but I digress

The movie stars Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, and Jake Gyllenhaal in a story about a marine with a perfect family life that all goes to hell when he is captured in Afghanistan and is presumed dead (for a trailer go here). Without giving too much away essentially the marine`s brother (Gyllenhaal) steps in and sees to helping the family through and ends up becoming very close with them. The Marine (Maguire) returns and is emotionally unstable and as a result must try to return to his family life, and overcome the suspicions he has of his brother and his wife (Portman).

So what to make of the film then, the story is one of genuine substance, focusing on the adverse effects of post-traumatic stress which alienate the marine and the power of redemption a loving family has on a troubled and misguided person. The characters drive the story and are complex and well portrayed, the cast is very small and you really get a good sense of every character in the story and get to see a great deal of emotional range. Maguire is easily the worst fit here, due to his flat portrayal of the loving family man. Considering though that Maguire delivers a chilling performance towards the end of the movie as a man lost in his own perennial nightmare speaks volumes then as to just how good the performances of this cast truly were. The film does stumble however, with it`s chief issues being pacing and some poor editing choices, cause the movie to at times sag and lose momentum. Music cut to montages of the brother with the family is cheery like something out of a Disney movie despite the scene having a certain eeriness, and stirring scenes conveying emotional tidal waves seem to come and go in the blink of an eye, swaddled with empty fluff showing mundane family activities ad nauseum.

The film ultimately falls short of greatness, though certainly still maintaining the ability to hold your interest for a full 104 mins getting you to genuinely care about the characters in the story. The greatest thing I can say about this film is that it feels as though it’s about real people, which is truly a credit to the actors.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

New Music for listenin’s

So yes I only just posted a new update yesterday after a horribly long hiatus but I am just so damn excited to be back I need to post more crap!

Actually in all seriousness it’s really more of a log jam of topics that I want to talk about that has me wanting to get on top of my updates so I can get back to talking about new things that nobody cares about.

I am dedicating Today’s post to music, two new albums have recently been released that I was actually on top of and got immediately upon their release, a momentous feat on my part and so I need to share with everyone my thoughts and evaluation of the albums because frankly I am a music genius and I know very definitively what is good and what isn’t! So gather round my disciples and hear me well as I regale you yet again with more expert analysis on pop culture.

First album up is Vampire Weekend’s sophomore album Contra. Following up on the unprecedented success of their self-titled début it’s fair to say that great things were expected. The band’s unique uniquely blended indie pop sound is an upbeat cross of African inspired drum beats with classically inspired melodies in an amalgam that sounds distinct unto itself. The album opens strong with what I consider possibly it’s best song Horchata, which is some sort of love ballad to the drink of the same name, and a ballad of loathing of wintertime. While this may seem irrelevant it’s important to note the lighthearted and easy-going tone of the song as it seems to carry throughout the entire album. The songs have a fast paced off-beat tempo with quick-firing vocals laced with fun and clever lyrics. Since getting the album I’ll confess to listening to it countless times, the album is entertaining from start to finish with a lot of high points such as Horchata, California English, Run, and Giving up the Gun being notables in my opinion. The album strikes me as a better and more consistent album than their first, I would recommend it to any fan of the band as well as fans of the indie pop genre.

Vampire Weekend's second full length album

The second album to recently be released was Spoon’s fifth full length album Transference. Spoon has at this point reached the status of indie rock legends after their work being featured in movies, television, commercials, and pretty much anywhere where people appreciate good music. I have followed spoon for a long while now and have always enjoyed their past efforts, with their last album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga they had released a strong effort with a good portion of the album being really great songs and only a couple of misses (the ghost of you lingers goes down as their worst song to date in my opinion) but ultimately a truly great contribution to their body of work. Transference is a tough album for me to gauge, while I enjoy the album well enough it’s not quite what I was expecting from them. This time around Spoon seem to have kept the album very subdued, consisting of tracks that build up very slowly and keep a pretty deliberate pace, with the exceptions of Got Nuffin and Trouble Comes Running which take the tempo up a notch the album is pretty slow, certainly for Spoon’s standards. The tone of the album certainly keeps to the band’s style, with their punchy beats hitting hard and frontman Britt Daniel’s distinct vocal style as present as ever I wouldn’t go so far as to say the album is a massive deviation from their past efforts. Really every album spoon has made has had at the least flashes of the tone this album portrays, this is simply a consistent collection of their more down tempo style. It’s a good effort and its by no means a discredit to the band’s excellent name. However, I will say that it didn’t take me the way past albums have, it’s simply solid by Spoon’s standards.

Spoon's fifth album transference

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews

Stuff your stories in a sack mister!

I have a great deal to cover and very little time to cover it on this fine evening so I’m going to be executing some truly impressive cop-outs on this post. There are three topics I aim to address in this post and within them sub-topics so I’ll be really skimming a lot of the meat here and getting to the barebones. Essentially I wanted to make mention of the concert I recently went to, the comics I’ve read, and the behemoth of a video game release that I wanted to review.

Also, you may have already noticed there is a new portion of the site where I will post my very own comic strips. you can view the comic here, by all means I am eager to get feedback to see if this is something I should continue to build on or if this little foray is better left by the wayside. But without further adieu, I shall begin my distilled posting.

First the concert, last friday I went to a small show of an artist called Wax Mannequin with openers Rae Spoon and Mark Bragg. I really enjoyed the show and what I consider to be Ottawa’s finest alternative scene bar Zaphod Beeblebrox was yet again an excellent venue to see a show. I would get into my thoughts of the performances but instead I will leave that to a much more eloquent writer on the topic, my good friend Max has a blog of his own specializing in music and was also in attendance at the show and provided some very insightful analysis.

As for the comics, I’ve read a whole bunch so let me just sum it up with this:

The Good – Scott Pilgrim Vol. 2 & 3 (Bryan Lee O’Malley), Preacher vol. 2 (Garth Ennis & Corey Dillon), Fun Home (Alison Bechdel), Skim (Mariko and Jillian Tamaki), Criminal vol. 1 (Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips), and Locke & Key vol. 2 (Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez)

The Bad – Speak of the Devil (Gilbert hernandez)

The Mediocre – Hellboy vol. 3 (Mike Mignola), Green Latern: No Fear (Geoff Johns)

Something Noir, Something Twisted, Something Different

Just to provide some context here, Scott Pilgrim was previously reviewed and the style remains true to the same volume with lots of wacky pop culture mayhem continuing with signature comic flair. Locke & key may be the finest horror graphic novels I have read to date, and both Skim and Fun Home are captivating expositions of self identity and adolescent transition that are deeply moving and poetic in their sincerity. As for Speak of the Devil, I was truly disappointed as I read one of his more recent works Sloth which I quite enjoyed, but this was an absolutely terrible story…disjointed narrative, no attachment to the main characters, it ultimately just seemed half baked. And as for the mediocre products, Green Lantern was good but ultimately fails to offer anything unique to a rather crowded genre while Vol. 3 of Hellboy is a bit uninspired as it seems Mignola was unable to come up with a story arc that lasts more than 10 pages so as a result you have a bunch of quick reading short stories which for the most part don’t add much to the Hellboy universe and don’t develop enough to really be interesting.

Now onto the big ol deal, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Quite possibly the most eagerly anticipated game of the year and easily the highest selling title, I got the opportunity to play my roommates copy and see what all the fuss is about first hand. Now in the interest of full disclosure I feel it’s important to point out that I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about the franchise as a whole, it’s upsetting that Activision has been steadily pumping out iteration after iteration of what was up until this one’s predecessor (Modern Warfare, which was consequently the fourth game in the series, though the first set in modern combat) a stagnant world war 2 first-person shooter gaming experience. So when I see that Call of Duty is outselling every other unique or original title being released it gives rise to an anger and frustration with the franchise and it’s effect on the gaming industry. However, I went into my gaming experience with as open a mind as I possibly could, given that i acknowledge that it’s not the game-makers fault that consumers are thoughtless zombies that buy the heavily branded overly franchised crap that is shoved in their faces and shouted into their ears.

So, how did it fair against my cruel and unreasonable scrutiny you ask? Well, much to my chagrin, quite well… Though I hate to admit it after that little tirade, I have to confess that back when the original Call of Duty was released, I was a very big fan of the game. As such it didn’t take me long while playing this to remember exactly what I enjoyed about it. The action comes at you fast and furious, throwing you into intense war zones frantically shooting the rows of enemies firing on you and your comrades. One problem this game faces however is the subject matter of the story, which is centred around a terrorist plot which catalyzes a war between Russia and the United States that is quite frankly hammy and contrived. The characters you control don’t develop any real sense of a personality and *SPOILER START* are killed off so frequently that you have trouble keeping up with exactly who it is you are *SPOILER END* Sticking to WW2 works well for the developers in that the history is already written and the characters arn’t so very important as opposed to the historical accuracy. The gameplay in single player though is very enjoyable, having some very interesting and varied level designs it feels cinematic and interesting for most of the game. However, it’s short…really short, and as such really what this game comes down to is multi-player. The multi-player is actually quite addictive. With all the trappings of the first modern warfare the sequel has all the fun level ups and unlockables that reward online addiction and the sacrifice of one’s sexual activity in the service of better gaming. It plays at a style difficult to achieve, between frenetic arena shooter and realistic tactical shooter which hasn’t been perfected by any other series since Counter-Strike. I do take issue with, one being the kill streak rewards which bring in some absurd deus ex machina into the mix (being shot down by an AI harrier is not what i consider sportsman-like) and some over the top notifications, like money flying off of a player you’ve shot down when it was ‘payback’ or a hair metal solo that seems to play every god-damned time you gain a rank. Ultimately it’s an addictive multi-player game with a lot to enjoy with a fun, though more of a merely compulsory single player experience.

Score: 9/10

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews, Uncategorized

On Other Things I Like!

Two posts in one week!? HAS HE GONE MAD!??!?!?!…!? Nonsense, I simply felt you’ve been a particularly good readership this week (for no justifiable reason actually) and I thought I would treat you with yet another poignant critique for both your reading pleasure and cultural education. No need to thank me, I already know I’m fantastic.

So as a change of pace I thought I might review a movie, and of the in theatre variety. This week I went out and saw An Education, a 60’s era love story directed by Lone Scherfig (of absolutely nothing notable fame) starring a rather unknown young actress Carey Mulligan with a cast of some very notable actors including Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Olivia Williams, and Emma Thompson. If you’re looking at this cast and thinking this must be some sort of art house picture…you’re very much right. In fact, I had to get myself to the most arty and small little cinema in my admittedly uncultured city to go see it. poster_an_educationAs you can probably see on the very pretty poster directly above, the story was written by Nick Hornby. Those of you unaware Nick Hornby is a famous Novelist known best for his novels About a Boy and High Fidelity, However I think it’s important to point out here that he didn’t originally write this story. It was actually originally a memoir published by Lynn Barber. There is really no significant reason for me to be telling you this in regards to the style of the writing or tone of the film, I just think it’s important because if any of you reading this are so inclined to read the book, you’ll know which one to go out and read, rather than reading the novel based on the screenplay, which merely laces the pockets of an already quite successful novelist. So on to the movie itself, The story is about one Jenny, a bright young 16-year-old girl on her way to going to Oxford to become an educated woman so she can live the live that her parents think would be best for her. En route to that glorious future Jenny encounters a charming older man named David (Sarsgaard) and is quickly swept off her feet. Before long she is skipping class to spend time with him and his friends Danny (Dominic Cooper) and Helen (Rosamund Pike) who live a carefree lifestyle seemingly devoid of boring obligations or financial woes. Seeing this lifestyle that she had never even thought existed before, Jenny begins to contemplate a future without going to Oxford. However as she learns more and more of the truth about David and his carefree lifestyle everything begins to fall apart and everything she had worked so hard for comes crashing down around her.

sarsgaard-education

Loosely paraphrased of course

So now down to the fun part then, I get to tell you what I thought of it. which I like doing. Mostly because I like to write things that I think, for instance I think that puffy winter coats should be filled with marshmallows for a more delicious variant of insulation. But I digress… Joking aside I really did like this movie, it was clever, sincere, and stylish. The era was captured beautifully, with costumes and props all looking immaculate. I honestly feel that Alfred Molina really stole the show whenever he was on camera, its actually a shame that his character wasn’t featured more, he perfectly captured the essence of a worrying middle-class british father and made some incredible transitions from funny to fearsome to endearing throughout the film. To be fair, there weren’t really any weaknesses to be found in the acting, everyone was excellent, but Molina’s experience and talent was undeniably noteworthy. The story itself was an interesting one, and underneath the story of a girl enamored with the glitter of a luxurious lifestyle lay a much deeper theme of questioning social pressures and expectations, as well as self-discovery. My only complaint about the film is really it’s pacing. The story, while interesting, is pretty linear and doesn’t feature a whole lot of twists or sub-plots. It’s not really something I can fault the director for, it runs at a very reasonable 95 minutes. The problem is really that the story just needs to have more to it to make it a feature film, at least thats my opinion.

verdict: 8/10

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews