Friday, July 4, 2014

"Words and Pictures," Directed by Fred Schepisi

"Words and Pictures," directed by Fred Schepisi and written by Gerald DiPego, is a romantic comedy set in a prep school. Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) is an alcoholic English teacher who rails against social media, which he believes has led to a lessening of appreciation for the written word. He's by turns brilliant and impassioned, as well as erratic and irresponsible, and is fighting to keep his job. Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche) is a prominent artist and art teacher, new to the staff, who is demanding in her educational methods and seemingly uninterested in personal relationships with students and other faculty members. Jack, however, is quite interested in engaging with her, as well as proving his point that the written word is superior to images. When Dina (whose outstanding canvases were painted by Binoche, an actual artist), tells her students that "words are lies," Jack sets up a contest between their students to decide the primacy of one medium over another. Knowing that an important job review is coming, Jack attempts to act more responsibly as a teacher, and his deepening relationship with Dina is also part of getting his act together. It's all threatened by his on-and-off drinking and by an act of literary plagiarism. The contest becomes his one last chance to inspire his students and prove his worth as an educator. Regardless of the results, "Words and Pictures" offers a dramatic dialogue of ideas worth considering in an era of sound bites and tweets.

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