Half Nelson

A cracked-out good time!

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Never seen the movie? Me neither! Watch the trailer here.

With Kevin McKernan

This is one of my favorite movie because:

When I first saw it in the theater, I immediately loved it for its side-stepping of teacher-movie cliches. I actually saw it twice in the theater…something I rarely do. Also, I’ve often felt like Dan myself…and not because I’m a teacher, but because I’ve felt trapped between adulthood and childhood, idealism and despair, self-destructive habits and finding healthier ways to express myself. Plus, I love the girl who plays Drey in it. Her performance is just so pure and her facial expressions in her quiet moments speak volumes. 


I am shocked Darch hasn’t seen this because:


I’m not too shocked because it had a limited release in theaters, and even though Gosling got an Oscar nom for it, it still didn’t get the attention it deserved. BUT if I have to give an answer to this question then it’s: I AM SHOCKED YOU HAVENT SEEN THIS CUS RYAN GOSLING IS SO HOT AND THE NOTEBOOK! OMG THE NOTEBOOK!


The three parts I’m most excited for Darch to see are:


1. The moment Drey walks into the hotel room toward the end. Killer. Should wreck you.

2. The first time Drey finds him in the bathroom at the gym after the b-ball game. I remember accidentally holding my breath during it.

3. “I don’t know. I don’t know! Fuck. Because I’m supposed to do something, right? But what am I supposed to do?” Perfect in terms of not trying to provide any simple answers.

Darch

I’m pretty sure this movie is about:

Well, I know Half Nelson is a wrestling move (pin?), so maybe it is about a man who is wrestling with his identity and feels trapped in his current situation. He wants to discover who he is, but can’t find the path to discovery. He tries a bunch of wacky new hobbies- skydiving, bowling league, that thing where you paint and drink wine- but nothing sticks. Until He meets his biological father Nelson. When they start to bond, the main character never loses himself, but now realizes what it means to be Half Nelson.

Famous scenes/lines I think are in this movie:

When the main character meets his dad it’s in a coffee shop. The main character is waiting nervously, and when his dad walks in, the dad feels very out of place. They don’t know what to do (shake hands? hug?) or what to say so the main character asks if the dad wants a coffee. The dad says “I don’t much care for it.” And the main character says “Me neither.”

I haven’t seen this movie because:

I clearly have no clue what it is about.

Darch types in gray over here.

Kevin types in red over here.

Hello, I am the guest, Kevin. We are watching this in the Darch kitchen because she doesn’t have a DVD player in the main room. I like this because it feels different. I’m drinking tea.

—WE MEET THE MAIN CHARACTER AND I FALL IN LOVE—

Kevin already scoring points with a surprise Ryan Gosling.

Gosling making trumpet sounds with his mouth. I do this too…even before I saw it.

I love how they tried to make Ryan look shitty with this beard deal and you JUST CAN’T.

I love when movies start a school day with a HUGE overarching theme question, but the teacher already knows everyone’s names.

I like how one kid has his backpack on for all class. I encounter this too.

I was just counting down the seconds until basketball was used to teach something.

—WE FIND OUT RYAN, AS A TEACHER, IS POOR—

First Broken Social Scene track of the flick. Also like giving exposition via voicemail.

Ryan is totally cool teacher.

In this class, when someone insults you, you give them a random date to research that inevitably changes their lives in ways they can’t yet understand?

—WE SEE RYAN COACHING INCORRIGIBLE YOUTHS—

I like old-school scoring with flaps with numbers.

The voicemail lady stalked him to the high school he works at and instead of a restraining order Ryan can’t help but woo her.

There goes your little con Ryan.

—RYAN GETS CRACKED OUT IN THE BATHROOM AND FOUND BY A 12 YEAR OLD—

This is way too much for this little girl to handle. Leave her out of your life Ryan.

I really like that longer shot of her leaning over him…it captures how young she is really well…with her shoes and her backpack, etc. I’ve seen this movie maybe 5x now, and I always remember how much I really like those small moments…and I always find new ones to like.

I can’t imagine what the next day of school would be like. One day, a student caught me at a Wiz Khalifa/Snoop Dogg concert and I wanted to die the next day. I didn’t even smoke crack that night!

A high school girl I knew came up to me at Laclede’s once. She was drunk, but I was in my late 20s at Laclede’s. So we just kinda called it even-steven.

—MOM TALKS TO DREY ABOUT DAD, PRINCIPAL TALKS TO RYAN ABOUT CURRICULUM—

Look mama, I don’t know what the deadbeat dad is like but at least your daughter isn’t taking care of his CRACK EPISODES.

THE CIVIL RIGHTS BINDER!

I like Ryan is just sort of teaching the general definition of the word “history” and the principal is for some reason mad. Like, listen lady, it’s an untested subject.

I think this mechanic is black hawk… hawkeye… jayhawk… from Ironman.

—RYAN’S LIFE STARTS TO GO DOWNHILL—

I don’t think he’s a good teacher…which I like.

[catches kid cheating] “Unbelievable…Go sit in the desk. 10 points off.” Must remember this strategy for dealing with cheaters.

It’s feeling like Drey’s older brother took the fall for Iron Man’s friend and no one will talk about it?

Most of the history I’m learning is because kids are insulting each other.

—FRANK STARTS TRYING TO HANG OUT WITH DREY MORE, RYAN DOESN’T LIKE IT—

We definitely don’t trust this 40 year old, but we don’t know why yet.

“That crack is making him so thin…I worry about him”-Darch

So… Ryan sees another inappropriately old man paying attention to this 12 year old and is like “Yo, you want a ride home?”

Darch has no idea where this flick is going…and it’s driving her wild. We’re midway through and she can’t imagine the ending, I don’t think.

“I cleaned up” he famously says while snorting coke.

This {Lover’s Spit}  started a year-long crush on Feist. Saw her twice in one year. Sometimes I forget about that crush.

Girls are so into guys that snort coke and then can’t get their shit together. It’s the new “I’m just a boy, looking at a girl.”

What does he calculate with his calculator watch?

I’m sitting in a wicker chair. In a kitchen.

—FRANK COMES TO A BASKETBALL GAME TO CHEER FOR DREY AND NO ONE LIKES IT—

I’m so uncomfortable watching two 40 year olds fight over her.

“What does he do?” Ryan asks, uhhh he just casually rolled up and said “Want some candy?” we ALL know what he does.

Darch is freaking out about Drey being at Mr. Dunne’s apartment. This is making teaching looking less-than-stellar. Expect to see Darch as a financial planner soon.

—DREY HID HER KEYS, WAS LIKE, OH NO, I’M LOCKED OUT AND INVITED HERSELF OVER TO HER TEACHER’S HOUSE—

Ryan is casually like “Let me just hide my paraphernalia for a  quick minute.

This girl knows ALL the moves. “Oh, can I borrow this so I one day have to return it?” I SEE YOU DREY.

Darch, can I borrow this TV with DVD player in it?

“What’s it like when you smoke that stuff?” TEACHABLE MOMENT RYAN.

He just kicked out the girl he banged out and was kinda rude about it.

Darch ain’t gonna like this confusing scene.

—BIG DANCE COMING UP, BIG MOMENT FOR EVERYONE TO MESS UP—

School dance, hormones running high. Drey trying out new makeup.

Huh. Who would have thought ANYTHING Ryan has done would backfire?

—AFTER RYAN GRINDS WITH A  12 YEAR OLD GIRL, HE UNDERSTANDABLY FREAKS OUT—

Uh. Oh. Bender starting. Bloody nose. Dead cat. Can’t remember Paula Dickson. Lecture going off on tangent.

…kids looking less engaged, no one can follow his ramblings.

I do relate to this insofar as I tend to go on more tangents when hungover.

—RYAN GOES TO FRANK’S HOUSE TO COME TO SOME SORT OF AGREEMENT; DOESN’T—

Now I know what to yell when I don’t know something.

Man, Drey is going to freak out when the two 40 year olds that she’s in love with are hanging out together.

—RYAN GOES TO THE HOT TEACHER’S HOUSE AND IT DOESN’T GO WELL—

Oh yeah, this is a creepy scene too. Man, Dunne needs to get it together. Rapey here.

That judge in that rich white boy’s rape case would be like “Well you did open the door for a man at 2:30am. Innocent.”

Man, I forgot how many moments are uncomfortable and cringe-inducing here.

—DREY AND RYAN DON’T LIKE EACH OTHER ANYMORE—

“Asshole.” “bitch.”

We’re really hitting rock bottom here now. Sunglasses inside. Taking all the coffee. Band-aid on lip.

Still hot though.

—DREY GOES OVER TO FRANK’S HOUSE AGAINST MY WISHES—

They keep pretending like what Drey is saying is cool, but they just need those little hands to scoop coke.

Darch thinks this movie takes place in 1995. Well, city public schools in mid-2000s, might be time for an upgrade!

Their relationship is inappropriate because “he’s a basehitter, and basehitters don’t have friends.” Or like because he’s your teacher and you’re his pupil.

—DREY STARTS DEALING DRUGS AGAINST MY WISHES—

Drey walking into a room of mostly naked women with Daddy issues. SHE IS NOT READY FOR THIS LIFE.

—DREY GOES TO SCHOOL AND RYAN HAS A SUB THAT DAY. SHE GOES BACK TO THE HOTEL TO FIND HIM—

I love MR LIGHT with the smiley over the “i.” I can imagine the screewriters being like: should we really make this guy such a joke? And them being like, yeah, fuckit.  

All it took was Drey giving him one lollipop and his life is all topsy turvy.

He shaved!

And we’re DONEZO.

“Does he get his job back?! That resolved nothing! I’m more confused than ever.”

Overall Rating: A

Comments: Wow. This movie is equal parts heartwarming (any time Ryan is cute) and heart breaking (all of the other moments). I started the movie thinking it was another Dead Poet’s Society (cool teacher that changes everyone’s lives) but it was much more than that. I think it explored a lot more of how stressful being a teacher is, how much teacher’s care for certain students and how they don’t always have the answers. I think I’m going to have to watch this movie a couple more times before I understand all of it, but right now, I LOVE IT.

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