Sunday, January 9

Review: Dead Poets Society

Hitchcocks movies are often described as machines. When you sit down to watch them, you are fed into them. Mr. Alfred will then make you a puppet on his strings, making you feel exactly how he wants you to feel. You emerge scared shitless, laughing or with a silly grin on your face. This is the way most Hollywood movies are: experience in a can. The good ones, at least. The shitty ones don't feed you emotions, but little signs reading "feel (emotion X) now". You completely see through the illusion that way, which makes the movie obnoxious rather then moving. An excellent example of this is Dead Poets Society, a movie that tries so hard to make us cry it only made me groan.

The movie tells about a group of gifted youngsters who are being held down by The Man in the form of a repressive school system. But then they get classes from a cool and inspirational teacher, who opens their eyes to the beauty of the world and their true potential. But although the people in charge try to put them down, in the end they all... what do you mean, that is the plot of a thousand other movies? Well, this one is different, because it ends with one of the boys killing himself and the teacher getting fired. So much for the all's-well-that-ends-well moment at the end that is always the high point of movies like this.

They do stand on their desks, though. So there's that. Dude still gets fired, though.

What's even worse, though, is how untrue Society is to exactly the point it's trying to make. Tom Schulman, who wrote the movie, apparently wants to advocate a free-thinking, romantic sort of lifestyle. He did so by writing a sentimental, melodramatic movie. But the worst crime it commits is playing it safe. There isn't a single deviation from the formula here. Come on, Schulman! Just making the characters cite tons of poetry doesn't make them romanticists! In fact, it makes them come of as whiny bitches, instead of the heroes in agony you want them to be. You can have all the criticism you want on the romanticists you want, but at least they were sincere. 

Schulman was educated in a restrictive, authorial school himself, so you could see it as a way of coming to grips with his youthful ideals. But what is there to take away from this? Schools like that don't exist anymore, and children nowadays are being encouraged to be creative and free-thinking and such. This movie is about a problem that was solved before I was even born and how bad it was. This was not a rebellious act when it was made, and now it's even more painfully safe. If you want to see a movie about a true rebel, go check out Steven Soderberghs monumental Che. That guy had balls in the face of death, and the movies are made that way too. Dead Poets Society doesn't even have the stones to mix things up in the face of bad reviews. Get the fuck over yourself.


P.S. If you think I'm being hard on Schulman: the man won an Oscar for this piece of shite.

Now THIS is an honest song.

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