Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Oscar Movie Review: "Dead Poets Society" (1989)

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Movie"Dead Poets Society"
Year Nominated: 1990
Director: Peter Weir
Rating: PG
Running Time: 2 hours, 8 minutes
Did It Win?: No.

A new English teacher at Welton Academy inspires his students to appreciate poetry, seize the day, and chase their dreams.

"Dead Poets Society" is directed by Peter Weir and is written by Tom Schulman. It stars Robin Williams as John Keating, the new English teacher at the Welton Academy preparatory high school. He is the type of instructor who tries to make teaching and learning fun and teaches his students to think freely, something that goes against the natural order of Welton. Joining him are Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles, Gale Hansen, Dylan Kussman, Allelon Ruggerio, and James Waterson, who play students of Keating's and those who eventually re-form "The Dead Poets Society," a club about sharing poetry and embracing life.

"Dead Poets Society" is a coming-of-age drama, and even though Robin Williams was nominated for Best Actor for his impressive performance, he is really more of a supporting character. The film focuses more on the students and their growth into independent thinkers and bright, ambitious young men. Much of the focus is on Robert Sean Leonard's character Neil Perry, who has an overbearing father who wants Neil to be a doctor despite his passion for acting. He doesn't allow Neil to follow his interests or dreams and demands he do exactly as he is told, something that may come back to haunt this stern father. The movie also focuses on Ethan Hawke's Todd Anderson, who has a significant arc as he starts out a reserved introvert and must learn to be bold and courageous. The message of this movie is, of course, carpe diem, or seize the day, something we can truly get behind. It is full of both humor and tragedy, though the emotional response you may be left with is one mostly of anger towards certain school officials and one parent in particular with how they handle a situation which could have very easily been deescalated, but ended up in catastrophe.

This is a well made film with extremely good acting, especially by the aforementioned Williams. We all know Williams passed away a few years ago, so going back through his body of work now that he is no longer with us makes us ache inside because he will never again be able to share his gift with the world. At least we have brilliant performances like this, ones that show his talent and thirst for depth in his roles. "Dead Poets Society" wound up being nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture, and took home just one Oscar for best original screenplay. Fans of Williams' work will love this movie.


My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
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Last Oscar season, we were watching: "American Beauty"

Two Oscar seasons ago, we were watching: "Rachel, Rachel"

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