March 4, 2010
Evan wasn’t used to running like this. It was harder in some ways, more exhilarating in others.
“Faster, faster!” Danni yelled. Her hair flew over Evan’s arms as he pushed her wheelchair in the bike lane.
“You won’t say that when we’re shooting downhill at thirty miles an hour,” he said.
“Yes, I will! Turn right, turn right!” She popped a Hot Tamale candy in her mouth.
Evan veered around the corner onto a quiet street. The quiet was not without its dangers. The left wheel suddenly ran into a pothole and would’ve dumped Danni onto the pavement if Evan hadn’t grabbed her. The Hot Tamales spilled to the ground.
“You okay?” Evan asked. He hadn’t seen her smile like this in the five weeks he’d known her.
“You don’t see me bleeding, do you?” Her mouth was red from the candy.
“You walk and I’ll read.” She smiled at him. “I found your mom’s stuff online.”
“Now be quiet and listen.”
An Up The Hurt Avatar Locker Education
by Audrey Pullet
The next films on my Best Pic Hit List pick up where A Serious Man and Up In the Air leave off. Sure, Larry and Ryan have brief “aha” moments in the concluding frames, but the characters in An Education, Up, Avatar and The Hurt Locker experience real discovery. They get it.
An Education is a coming of age story set in 1960s London. Jenny, who insists on attending the school of life before heading off to university, gets involved with a suave older man. Don’t mistake this for a love story; she’s much too practical. Jenny holds back her heart, which holds back the film, but her head’s in the right place when she says, “It’s not enough to teach us anymore, Miss Wilson. You’ve got to tell us why you’re doing it.”
The animated Up doesn’t fail in the heart department, although a better name would’ve been Down. Here’s a grumpy old codger who decides too late to fulfill his deceased wife’s dream. He ties a thousand balloons to his house and floats away, unaware of his young passenger. Their adventure takes them on a predictably perilous quest (okay, the talking dogs are genius) and back home with a new definition of family.
In a larger sense, family and coming of age define The Hurt Locker as well. Sgt. James is a member of a U.S. Army special team charged with locating and defusing Iraqi bombs. A flawed modern hero who lives on adrenaline, James is every adolescent who thinks he’s immortal until he puts a face on war. He’s the soldier who figures out where he belongs, and why.
Which brings us to Avatar. A few weeks ago I wrote that Avatar is a love story. Among the nominated films, it’s the only love story.* Avatar hits on all levels. Love? Check. Conflict? Check. Self-discovery? Check. Shouldn’t they just hand the Oscar to Mr. Cameron right now? Well, no. Checking all the story boxes does not make it a good story. But there’s the incredible 3D motion capture! Check! It’s worth the $16.50 for 3D (that’s $5.50 per dimension).
Will An Education win? Not unless Academy voters secretly channeled Audrey Hepburn.
Will Up win? Not if they’ve seen Danny Deckchair.
Will The Hurt Locker win? Maybe, if they value imperfect heroism.
Will Avatar win? Maybe, if they rank great entertainment over recycled myth.
*Why is that? It’s worth exploring …
©2010 Pam Wells