The Class. Directed by Laurent Cantet, who made a film I liked very much, Time Out. This one is a documentary-style look at a year in a French classroom … literature teacher François Bégaudeau wrote an autobiographical novel about his experiences, and that novel became this movie, with Bégaudeau in the role of the teacher. The students are apparently played by amateurs … whatever their backgrounds, they are uniformly excellent. The film is excruciatingly realistic, and will have teachers and students squirming. My personal problem is that, even though I have spent a little more than 20 years of my life as a teacher, I always identify with students in these stories … the more rebellious, the better (my favorite character in Blackboard Jungle isn’t the liberal teacher played by Glenn Ford, or the surly but ultimately good student played by Sidney Poitier … no, I much preferred Vic Morrow as the bad student who will never turn good). My sense of identification means I am perhaps too willing to see the students’ side in all of this. The Class is noteworthy because it takes everyone’s side without being too heartwarming. 8/10.
A History of Violence. Watched it a few months ago and wrote about it here, so I’ll just add that for some reason, I found Viggo’s character funnier in the later scenes than I remember from my first viewing.