Friday, September 21, 2012
HIGHLY Recommended Film: Liberal Arts
"Nobody feels like an adult. It's the world's dirty secret."
--Professor Peter Hoberg
I watched the BEST film I have seen all year, last night. It was written and directed by a fellow Ohioan, Josh Radnor, who is a hell of a writer and an amazing actor (something about him reminds me of Johnny Depp--watch the film). A lot of the movie was actually shot in Gambier, Ohio, at Kenyon College, but don't let that stop you. I crack myself up. Actually, the campus there is pretty stunning.
The film is about a graduate of Kenyon who lives and works in New York City and returns to Kenyon upon the request of an old favorite professor (played by the fine veteran actor Richard Jenkins) for his retirement festivities. The film also includes one of my favorite young actresses, Elizabeth Olsen, as a potential love interest for Josh's character.
I have to say that I was kind of put off by the casting of Zac Efron in any damn role, quite frankly. Teen idols make a bitch dubious! But Zac had a small role as a sort of weird campus angel and was perfect in the part. In fact, the whole movie was pretty damn perfect.
Allison Janney, not surprisingly, damn near stole the movie in a small role as a cold, disillusioned Romantic Lit professor. She has some of the best lines in the film, including: "My advice to you is this--put some armor around that gooey little heart of yours." I am pleased to say that Radnor's female characters are strong, believable, and multidimensional. It was a really refreshing change.
A Few Words for Viewers of the Film
Coming from English Lit, there is obviously a lot I found particularly amusing or touching in the film due to my educational background. However, that said, I think most of my readers will still find the movie excellent coming from any background, because it's about growing up and relating to people and how life happens to us.
The big book that is never named that the suicidal young man named Dean carries around and is referred to by Josh's character as the best book ever written, is David Foster Wallace's tome, Infinite Jest. David's famous commencement address, This Is Water, actually took place at Kenyon College. If you have not had the pleasure of reading this commencement address already, here is a link to it:
It is one of my favorite pieces of writing of all time. I carry it around with me in my head and think about it often.
Do me a favor, I am certainly no film reviewer, but if you happen to watch Liberal Arts, drop me a comment and let me know what you thought of it. I liked the film so much, I am buying a copy.