The English Teacher

discs stories we tell

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Stories We Tell Sarah Polley, best known for her work both in front of and behind the camera for feature films, turns her eye onto her own family in documentary form as she explores a part of their history from varying perspectives. Through interviews and home videos she goes back in time to explore her parents lives, her own childhood, and a secret they all think they know. What starts as a focus on a mystery becomes something more as stories, recollections, and memories differ from person to person. In a year filled with fantastic and powerful documentaries, Polley’s film remains the warmest and most wondrous thanks both to the content and the film’s structure. She’s on this journey with us, equally unsure of her own motivations and delighted by the results. It’s a personal story, even her family members wonder why anyone else would care, yet it speaks to a universal truth about how we share our stories and make them our own. Each person has their own tale as well as a piece of everyone else’s, and it’s amazing to see them play out onscreen. Plus, the stinger here puts Marvel films to shame. [DVD extras: Trailer]

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The English Teacher

Editor’s Note: This review originally ran as part of our Tribeca coverage, and as of today, the film is in limited release. In The English Teacher, star Julianne Moore plays an English teacher; I point that out, redundantly, because the character type is almost redundant. Everything that you would expect from a stereotypical high school purveyor of Charles Dickens and Nathaniel Hawthorne is true about Moore’s Ms. Linda Sinclair. She’s introduced as the obvious loner, a shy woman in love with the classics. She goes on blind dates with terrible men, who she imaginatively grades in her head like a student’s paper. The script even goes so far as to make sure she’s buffeted by voiceover narration, in an inevitably British accent. Yet Moore, and to an extent director Craig Zisk, do an excellent job at keeping Ms. Sinclair away from the frustrating blandness of the stock character, at least for the first act of the film. There isn’t necessarily more to her than meets the eye, but the people around her allow her to grow into something more interesting. The English Teacher has quite the admirable start, winning the audience over in spite of all of our preconceived notions about this sort of self-consciously charming indie movie. That’s how it begins, anyway. Ms. Sinclair is a bored English teacher in a small Pennsylvania town, somewhere in the vicinity of Scranton. She bumps into a former student at the bank. Jason Sherwood (Michael Angarano) is a playwright, or at least he went […]

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The English Teacher

This much is obvious about Craig Zisk‘s The English Teacher: Julianne Moore‘s eponymous character is somehow sexually repressed because she’s sporting both a ponytail and ugly glasses. Horrors! Someone give that woman a makeover, stat! The romantic comedy stars Moore as a never-married high school English teacher whose entire world is thrown into a tailspin when a former student (Michael Angarano) pops back into her life with a brilliant play that she’s convinced her relatively staid high school will put on. They won’t, but you know what will get put on? Julianne Moore on Michael Angarano! Oh, yeah! Not messy enough? Well, it looks like Moore also takes a shine to his dad, played by Greg Kinnear. Will it all turn out for the best? Of course it will. Hey, at least there’s potential for Nathan Lane to have a nervous breakdown. Check out the trailer for The English Trailer after the break.

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published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B
published: 12.12.2014
D+
published: 12.05.2014
C+


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