Weekend Binge: Like Rani Mukerji in Hichki, here are 6 movie teachers whose lessons you can’t bunk
Like Rani Mukerji’s new film, Hichki, here are six screen teachers whose lessons will stay with you long after the final bell has rung.weekend binge Updated: Mar 24, 2018 08:56 IST
Every week, we will curate a collection of titles - movies, TV, general miscellanea - for you to watch (and in some cases, read, or listen to), in a series we call Weekend Binge. The selection will be based on a theme which binds the picks - which could be extremely blunt in certain instances, or confusingly abstract in some. No rules apply, other than the end goal being getting some great entertainment to watch.
While the idea is to base the theme on the week’s major events - it could be the release of a new movie, or show - we could also use this opportunity to comment on our world in general, and turn to art to wrap our heads around some of the more difficult stories of the past seven days.
There is perhaps no profession portrayed as optimistically in films as teaching. We all know that it is rare to find teachers such as Robin Williams’ John Keating from Dead Poets Society in real life. In fact, having survived the irreparably broken Indian education system, we have accumulated a vault of terrible school experiences. How many dreams have been crushed by a stray comment? How many kids have lost their passion because of being pressured into scoring high marks? The list is endless, and quite frankly, very distressing.
And for that reason alone, we look to the movies for hope. Because in the movies, the outsiders who would normally get bullied are the ones who are transformed through kindness. In movies, teachers actually care about their students, they take part in their lives, impart wisdom that goes beyond the books. You will notice a common thread in the films picked this week - they’re all inspirational stories about idealism in the face of adversity.
Like Rani Mukerji’s new film, Hichki, here are six screen teachers whose lessons will stay with you long after the final bell has rung.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The impact that Charlie’s English teacher had on his life is often overlooked, especially since there are weightier issues the film is dealing with. But it is in his lessons with Mr Anderson (played wonderfully in the movie by Paul Rudd) that Charlie finds the temporary solace that he so badly desires. Besides giving us another reason to appreciate Paul Rudd’s endless talent, it also provided a reading list that could keep us occupied for months.
Inner-city students whose lives are transformed by an idealistic teacher, one who is often mocked and abused by the same kids he is trying to help, is the sort of story we’ve seen in dozens of movies, going as far back as the 1955 Sidney Poitier film, Blackboard Jungle. But this French Palme d’Or winner is one of those rare movies that doesn’t look at the profession through rose-tinted glasses. It’s a gritty story of how, even with the best help, not everyone makes it out.
I can count on one finger the times I’ve had to avert my eyes during a movie. Precious, the gut-wrenching drama about a poor black girl growing up in an abusive household, is one of them. There are very few films that feel as hopeless as this - the dourness is protracted, unrelenting and in the end, necessary. Because without being forced to walk in Precious’ shoes for two hours, we would never appreciate the simple acts of kindness that change her life. Paula Patton, who plays her teacher, Mariah Carey, her social worker, and Lenny Kravitz, her nurse are all heartbreakingly good.
Detachment is notable for being director Tony Kaye’s first narrative feature film since his first, the incredible American History X. Several accounts have been written about Kaye’s awful work ethic - he takes months to edit his films, often delivering cuts that have no resemblance to what he had initially promised. This led to his sacking from American History X, which was subsequently finished by Edward Norton, and the lawsuit filed against him for not turning in Black Water Transit, his second film. So in that regard, the fact that Detachment was not only released, but turned out to be a very powerful movie about a substitute teacher (played by Adrien Brody) whose life is impacted by three different women, is near miraculous.
Speaking of troubled teachers, a pre-hype Ryan Gosling plays an especially distraught teacher in directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s debut film. And even though Gosling has staunchly stayed away from the superhero genre, despite being courted seasonally, Boden and Fleck were recently hired to direct Brie Larson in Captain Marvel. Half Nelson is the story of a drug addicted teacher, who makes a special connection with one of his students, and how they both change the other in meaningful ways.
Finally, Monsieur Lazhar, the French-Canadian drama about an Algerian immigrant who arrives as a substitute teacher in a Montreal school. It’s a story about clashing cultures and prejudice, about overcoming tragedy and finding comfort where there isn’t necessarily any. Like several other films on this list, it is also about the systemic problems that continue to corrupt education around the world. Bring tissues.
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