Music of the Week — August 20, 2006
Sunday Night Journal — August 27, 2006

Movie Recommendation: The Chorus

Les Choristes in French (click to go to IMDB entry, but watch out for spoilers). Not being any sort of serious film buff, I don't know whether this is the work of a famous director, or anything about its reputation. But it's good. We recently joined NetFlix, mainly because I had decided the time has come for me to get better acquainted with Wagner's Ring operas, and the copies in the local library seem to be defective, and partly because I'm tired of looking at the huge lineup of Hollywood sludge in the local video stores. My wife picked this one out because "it sounded interesting." (I never know what's going to strike her as interesting--she also picked one which involves a dwarf living in a train station, which we haven't watched yet.)

Anyway, this is a very fine work, about an unsuccessful middle-aged musician taking a job as prefect (a step below actually teaching) at a school for troubled or delinquent boys shortly after World War II. I'm having trouble coming up with adjectives that wouldn't make it sound a little sappy. Let's just say it covers some of the same territory that a Hollywood inspirational weeper-heartwarmer might--the kind of thing Robin Williams often does--but with more grace and subtlety, and fewer cheap emotional effects. And it's very beautiful to look at.

Not suitable for children, as it deals pretty straightforwardly though not pruriently with some of the dark stuff that you would expect to go on in a home for adolescent boys.

UPDATE: I have corrected the lamentable error in which I gave to Robin Willams the name of an artist who means considerably more to me.


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