Thursday, September 20, 2012

Liberal Arts

The Atlantic Film Festival just wrapped up my fair city, and alas I only had the time and money to make it out to one film. Luckily it turned out to be a good choice.
Liberal Arts attracted me because it stars and is written/directed by Josh Radnor, aka. Ted Mosby on How I Met Your Mother (one of the most original and funny sitcoms on tv, imho). I have also been hearing a lot about Elizabeth Olsen but had yet to see any of her movies, and I was attracted to the romanticized University setting since I work at a University and cherish my own time as a student. There is just something about University campuses and the mood and energy they impart - it's hard to explain but it's almost like there is a pulse of people learning and doing cool, innovative things that reverberates throughout everything. Although I am merely a secretary in one small department in one large institution, I feel this energy every day when I walk onto the campus to my office.

In any case, it seemed like a fun, quirky movie with some subject matter that would speak to me so off we went! This movie has been compared to Garden State a lot and I can see why - it has the same sort of twenty-something, "trying to figure out my life" kind of vibe but I found it was more intellectual than GS and had a lighter mood.

First of all, Elizabeth Olsen?? She is like freakin' ADORABLE! She's just so darn pretty and has such a great, grainy voice, plus she just seems really 'cool' and smart - like someone you would want to be friends with. I mean, look how cute:

The film definitely had a slow pace (this isn't the Expendables, people) so some parts felt a little long, but for the most part I liked the pace. The quirkiness was actually verging on overkill at some points too, but again this is a small complaint. The random Zac Efron 'fairy-like' hippy dude character was sort of strange - like there were times where I questioned whether or not Jesse (Josh's character) was actually seeing him or not - but he was also pretty hilarious. I like to see actors who are somewhat typecast playing characters that are completely against their usual role.

I liked the conversations between Jesse and Zibby - one especially great bit was an ongoing argument about a series of "vampire books" (which are clearly meant to be representative of the Twilight series) and how they "empty your mind"...and whether or not that is a good thing. I also liked a part at the end where Zibby tells Jesse she figured she was using him as a kind of "shortcut" to adulthood. In fact, all the dialogue surrounding the strengths, weaknesses and fears about college and "growing up" all rang true with me - I think we have all been in that place where we are simultaneously excited about the next stage in our lives and terrified.

Another actor who is awesome? Richard Jenkins. He has a relatively small part in this film but his feelings resonate across the screen so well. You really feel his retiring professor's depression, fear and loneliness at entering a new stage he was looking forward to for so long, but did not love as much once he got there. (If you haven't seen The Visitor, you really should. Like now. Now's good). AND as if that wasn't enough, Alison Janney has a bit part as another professor. She is another one of my favourite actors and she does NOT disappoint in this role. She's hilariously cold, snobby, boozy and insightful all rolled into one.

What about you??? Seen any good movies lately? What did you like/dislike about them? Do you yearn to go back to college or did you loathe your college experience?


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