Thursday, December 31, 2009

Getting Smart

How do we get smart? We know about street smart, book smart, and the half dozen different kinds of intelligence identified by social scientists.

But what is a well educated person? The questions are raised, though not definitively answered, in An Education, yet another coming-of-age movie out this season. It is a very enjoyable movie, written by Nick Hornby, and set in the British equivalent of a private girls school in the early '60's. The lovely, thoroughly admirable student is working hard to get into Oxford, spurred on by her education driven middle class parents. Enter the older man, who introduces her to jazz clubs, art auctions, and Paris. Who wouldn't be tested? That he is married and a thief she learns only as the movie evolves.

So is she better educated by studying Latin in preparation for Oxford or by learning the traps of a romantic escapade with the wrong person? See the movie and decide.
An Education has fresh and convincing performances by Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard and a fine supporting role by Alfred Molina as the father.

Just one word about It's Complicated, with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin playing the upper middle class couple who, ten years after their divorce, have an affair. The New York Times review is very thoughtful.

The movie is lovely to look at, with lots of laughs, especially around the issue of aging bodies, old habits, and "senior" dating. Some predictable situational humor, but many laugh-out-loud moments. Bottom line: However mellow you've become in recent years, there was a reason you got divorced in the first place! Women far outnumbered men in the theater, but men should find food for thought in Alec Baldwin's hilarious performance.

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