Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dexter - Season Four

Every season of Dexter, I am consistently amazed how they manage to shock, awe and up the ante.

Season four is no except. After viewing the season finale, I am pretty much speechless.

My reaction can be summed up in two words:

Holy @#$%.

That's about all I kept saying while watching the last two minutes of the show--which gave us perhaps one of the best TV villains EVER in the form of Arthur Mitchell as played with sheer perfection by John Lithgow.

My brain just may explode considering the possibilities opened up for season five.

Holy @#$%!

An Education

This little British indie flick has been recommended to me by multiple people. I finally got a chance to see it today and while it still falls into the "good not great" category of most of what I've seen lately, it's still better than most of what you'll find out there.

Actually, I'd say it was "very good" instead of merely good. The acting, direction, cinematography and costumes (it's set in the 60s) were top-notch. What prevents me from being completely bowled over by it was the inability to completely suspend disbelief over the storyline.

The film follows the life of sixteen (going on seventeen--going on thirty-seven...) year-old Jenny--a smart and serious student completely focused on getting into Oxford. Her life takes a major detour when she crosses paths with the charming and witty David--who is twice her age.

David represents all the glamour, sophistication--and most importantly FUN--that is missing from her young life. Caught up in the excitement of all David has to offer, Jenny nearly loses her head while following her heart.

Peter Sarsgaard deftly handles the balance of the charming yet caddish David--yet it's hard to completely sympathize with a character whose moral center is non-existent. It's almost almost unimaginable to watch Jenny's parents (Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour) get so sucked into David's web that they allow their young daughter to be whisked away by an older man.

But while Jenny's parents are easily fooled by the clever and sycophantic David, Jenny is no simpering teenager. It boggles the mind that such an exceptionally smart young woman could fall so completely for David's shtick--even when confronted with his cohorts: the beautiful yet exceedingly vapid Helen (Rosamund Pike) and the dissolute and sometimes cruel Danny (Dominic Cooper). Of course the film compresses events into such a short period of time, it was hard for me to believe Jenny would buy into all David's lies.

But the film is based on a memoir by Lynn Barber in which she had a two-year affair with a charming con artist named Simon. Although Jenny eventually gets back on track towards her goal of attending Oxford, her real education comes through her loss of innocence thanks to David.

Although all the actors do a fabulous job, newcomer Carey Mulligan is indeed a standout with her Audrey Hepburn-esque grace combined with a Vivian Leigh-like steely reserve. And I have to give a special shout out to Olivia Williams--who is almost unrecognizable as the dowdy Miss Stubbs (she almost seems to be channeling a British Frances McDormand...) and her lovely nuanced performance.

Although An Education recalls British classics such as To Sir with Love and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, it doesn't quite have the depth of either film--but still it's worth seeing.