Corey Trench's Blog: My Growing Life

Film Review: An Education

“Girls, they want to have fun.  Oh girls just want to have fun.”

Meet Jenny, the main protagonist in An Education, a film directed by Lone Scherfig and adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby.  Jenny (played by newcomer Carey Mulligan) is bored.  She lives in suburban London in the 1960s, attends an all-girls school, studies Latin every night, plays cello, and is ALWAYS in bed by 10pm.  Her parents are upscale, traditional, and seemingly dull.  Her father, played by veteran actor Alfred Molia, doesn’t understand Jenny’s passion for attending concerts and love of French culture (she sings to Juliette Greco records in her room).  He just wants her to get into Oxford.

An Eduction Poster

As you can imagine, Jenny gets more than a little swept off her feet once an older man named David, played by Peter Sarsgaard, comes into her life.  He’s charming, goes out to concerts and fine restaurants, loves the arts, and most importantly of all, wants to take Jenny to Paris.  What more could a 16-year old girl want?  He lives a fantastic life and she wants to be along for the ride.  However, the romance gets much more serious when David reveals that he’s not all that he appears to be.

Writer Nick Hornby adapted An Education from the memoir of Lynn Barber, the real life Jenny, who learned a great deal about personal liasons with older men.  He characterizes her 16-year year old self as a young girl who desires to be a woman.  When they’re alone the bedroom, Jenny tells David: “I want you to treat me like a grownup.”  But make no mistake, she still plays into David’s grand deceptions throughout the film.  And even when he reveals his underhanded ways, Jenny remains complacent.  After all, it’s all about having fun at this point.

Lynn Barber Photograph

Lynn Barber as a teenager.

Jenny reminds me of a time in my own youth when I was only thinking about the present and when everything was just about fun.  Why bother with such trivial things as your future?  You fail to see the point in such things when you’re that young.  Jenny pontificates to her headmistress (Emma Thompson): “If people die the moment that they graduate, then surely it’s the things we do beforehand that count.”

After viewing the film, I can honestly say that Carey Mulligan definitely has a shot at a Oscar nomination for Best Actress.  Her performance is arresting and captivating.  It was a bold decision to choose a little known actress such as herself for the lead, but she inhabits her role with a deep conviction that envelops complete verisimilitude. Hopefully, you will see more from her in the future.

Carey Mulligan

Carey Mulligan as Jenny in "An Education".

Novelist Nick Hornby presents a beautifully written screenplay with great dialog. My only complaint would have to be the tail end of the third act. Hornby admits that he wanted to give the story that “close call” feeling for Jenny as tries to put her life back together after the fallout with David.  It just might be a little bit too contrived. Any regular cinema goer will have already predicted the end-result of Jenny’s struggle before the ending credits start to roll.

But much like the film, the most enjoyable part of life is the journey, not the destination.


Flying By The Seat Of Our Pants…Without Underwear?

The Wright Brothers had done it.  They had given man the gift of flight… for about 12 seconds. On December 17th, 1903, their first successful flight had only taken them 20 feet off the ground. It was a major step forward in the field of aviation.  Now, we can fly for days and elevate thousands of feet in the sky.  If only they could get to see how far and how high their discovery would take humankind.  However, if they were alive today, I believe they’d have a tough time getting through airport security.  Orville’s large, burly mustache would probably get him labeled a “suspicious character”.

Wright Brothers

"Damn it, Orville! You picked today of all days not to shave!"

Post 9/11 air travel.  It’s hard to even imagine what it was like to fly before that.  I bet you could skip (not walk) through the metal detector while holding a set of steak knives.  The idea sounds crazy to us now, but not quite as crazy as what 23-year old Umar Farouk did on Christmas.

Yes, the press acclaimed “underwear bomber” had concealed a explosive packet in his drawers. Can you imagine how embarrassed he must have felt? He literally had an accident in his pants and now everyone knows about it.

Underwear Bomber

Terrorists Prefer Hanes

Well, apparently young Umar was not the most stable kid before Al-Qaeda recruited him.  I can sympathize with him though.  Underwear can be very constraining and give you terrible chafing. I’m much more of a boxers guy.  Very roomy.  No room for bombs though.

But seriously, just when you thought that terrorists had already thought of every possible method of trying to conceal an bomb and then bring it on a plane, they think of this.  I don’t know about you, but I’m petrified.  If these men aren’t afraid to blow off their private parts, how are we going to beat them?!

Umar Farouk

The tortured look on Umar's face clearly shows he's chafing.

But I think the larger question in all of this is: how far is this going to go?  You already have to remove your shoes whenever you go through security.  Are we going to have to remove any underwear that we might have on before boarding a flight?

In a world where solutions to these problems are far from practical, you can rest assured of one thing: at least you can walk around in your underwear at home.  I’m sure Umar can’t say that.

Mistakes, I’ve Made a Few
January 6, 2010, 3:59 am
Filed under: Life | Tags: , , , , , , ,

One of the many reasons I hesitated to create a blog was the fear of making mistakes. Spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, and even factual mistakes.  It’s a risk that many bloggers take when they start to write their blogs.  After all, most of them aren’t professional writers by trade (No offense blogger community.  Please, don’t hurt me).

So, if I have such trepidation of writing a blog, why does one exist before your very eyes?

Back to the Future Poster

"Whoa, Doc!"

Let’s go back in time, shall we?  Come on. You all love a good time travel story.  That’s why Back to the Future is so awesome! However, I don’t intend to travel far enough to play matchmaker with my parents and ensure my own existence in the present.  No, let’s go back to 1998.

Ah.  ’98.  That’s when Clinton was President wasn’t it?  The days where the Spice Girls were topping the charts, everyone was using AOL, and you couldn’t point out where Afghanistan was on a world map.  Those where the days. Oh, where was I?  Oh yes, middle school.

Middle school was the type of place where most kids were in the in between stages of puberty and emotional development.  We weren’t necessarily all that close to adulthood, but we didn’t want to treated like children anymore. We were 12 year olds after all!

I always think of the times in science class when it was a great relief to all of us when the teacher would turn off the overhead projector and pop in a video (VHS of course) and we’d get to watch an episode of The Magic School Bus.

MAGIC SCHOOL BUS?!!  Yes, I had a feeling you would react that way.  Everyone knows what I’m talking about when I say those three magical words. You can picture it now, that anthropomorphic magical school bus that could seemingly morph into anything.  And all the kids would climb into this wonderous bus with Miss Frizzle, our favorite ginger science teacher, leading the way to amazing educational adventures (I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a Facebook group dedicated to her)!  In every episode, she’d utter her famous catchphrase, “Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!”

The Magic School Bus

Too much, the magic bus!

Miss Frizzle

Where does she get those clothes? Salvo?

Whoa.  Make mistakes?  I thought making mistakes was a bad thing.  All those red marks on my English papers told me so!  So why is The Friz telling me otherwise?  She must be talking about the scientific method, where in order to test a hypothesis, you build upon pervious mistakes that you have made in your past experiments.

So, it makes sense that mistakes can sometimes be good.  But how can you tell the difference between bad mistakes and good mistakes?!  Why go out into the world if you don’t know the difference?  You’re just going to make mistakes anyway!  As the nebbish Arnold from The Magic School Bus used to say, “I knew I should of stayed home today.”  Well, Arnold, I suppose you could live in your parent’s basement for the rest of your existence, but I’m afraid it’s either that or The Friz going through your colon. That’s life buddy!

We all have a little Arnold in us that keeps us cautious from making mistakes in the first place. He keeps us on the path that’s far, far away from self-destruction.  However, there’s always a little Friz that’s telling us to take a little detour from this path and do some off-roading in order to do some self-discovery.  Mistakes keep life from being too predictable and keep us from being too familiar with ourselves.  You have to take a chance in order to move forward.

So, as I’m writing this blog, I know that there will be some mistakes (believe me, there are a lot you’ve probably noticed already).  However, if I continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, it’ll be because I DON’T write in this blog.  This is a way to put my writing out to the world.  It’s an open forum for others to critique my points, style, and mostly grammar (thankfully, spellcheck has my back in the spelling department).  This is an adventure for me.

And much like The Friz, when it comes to adventures, I’m not afraid to get a little messy.