The past two weekends I have two different films that both are set in high schools. First, Chalk is a mockumentary about four different teachers in a high school. All three are shown as humans warts and all. We see the struggles these three teachers go through and we see the successes they expereince. One of the teachers is a brand new teacher who has just come from the business field in a midlife career change. he struggles with adjusting to teaching in a school and connecting with the kids. The next one is in his third or so year of teaching and is working on trying to get teacher of the year. He sees this as a validation of his work and how hard he works with the kids. He is obsessed with this desire and even lets it interfere with teaching. The third teacher is a phys. ed. teacher who seems to have been teaching for a while and seems to care for the students she is working with, but also is a stickler for the rules and so comes into conflict with other teachers at the administration over her wanting to have everyone obey the rules exactly as they are written. The fourth educator is a women who was the chorus director and has now been promoted to an assistant principal. She struggles with balanacing the administrative work with her personal life and being split between having been a teacher and established relationship with the faculty that now have to change since she is now in the administration. Overall, the film was really well written and acted. Both of the writers for the film had been educators so they did a great job of showing what the typical year looks like for most high school teachers. As we tend to see in the media how much our eduction is failing our children and how it seems to be the teachers fault, this film shows us that teachers are humans too and they have to struggle to educate our children. The extras are also hilarious, especially the PSA announcements.
Brick is a noir film set in a modern high school. Although, I have not seen that many noir films except Chinatown and the occasional snippet from movies on AMC that I have seen with my grandparents, Brick seems to have all of the elements. It has interesting background music that sets the mood, the detective who is neither entirely good nor entirely bad, underworld characters and the femme fatale. The film surround the murder of a girl who was the ex-girlfriend of the detective. In this case the detective is played by a high school student who wants to know what happened to his ex-girlfriend. As we watch him try to figure out who is who in this complicated web of the underworld of high school, we are given many false leads and dead ends. Although, if you understand the typical plot for a noir film, it is not hard to figure out what happened, it is interesting to see who did what and to take the ride to figure out why the murder took place. This film takes an old genre of film and renews it. The noir film genre is given new life by Brick which now makes me want to go bck and watch the old noir films of the 1930s and 1940s.
I recommend both of these films but for different reasons. Chalk gives a great insight into the field of teaching and what teachers have to go through on a daily and yearly basis. Brick is a great noir film with new twists on this old genre.