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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Arts Recommends

Published: November 11, 2011
Section: Arts, Etc.

‘Rocket Science’

An indie film about a 15-year-old stutterer learning to debate sounds questionable. Combine that with an obsessive-compulsive kleptomaniac for an older brother and a father walking out, and it sounds pretty awful.

“Rocket Science,” however, pulls this background together and creates a charming protagonist in the form of Hal (Reese Thompson). Hal is recruited by the very pretty star of the policy debate team, Ginny (Anna Kendrick), and, even though it’s the worst idea, Hal is soon smitten with Ginny and agrees to be her debate partner. Hal has a hard time speaking at debate practice, however, and when Ginny tries to comfort him, he kisses her, which seemingly results in Ginny transferring to another school.

“Rocket Science” emerges as one of those high school movies in which the hero isn’t actually the hero and sometimes feels too real. But it is in that aspect that “Rocket Science” shines and results as a movie that stays in mind for a good while after seeing it.

candice bautista, editor

‘Hard Candy’

Without any background, “Hard Candy” begins like a typical Lifetime movie. Girl meets man on the Internet, man invites girl over to his house and trouble ensues in a way that terrifies the middle-aged women that watch Lifetime. The girl in this movie is not just any girl, however, she is tough 14-year-old Hayley Stark played by a pre-“Juno” Ellen Page. The man in question is 32-year-old photographer Jeff (Patrick Wilson) who is a handsome man—not who you would imagine for a pedophile. After meeting in a cafe, Hayley persuades Jeff to take her home and that’s where things go unexpectedly.

Long story short, Hayley puts a roofie in Jeff’s drink and he awakens tied to a chair. Soon, Jeff is seen begging for his life as Hayley asks him what happened to a local girl who was recently kidnapped and remains missing. Hayley psychologically tortures Jeff from asphyxiating him into unconscious to tazing him.

This movie is a thriller and is emotionally taxing because we don’t know with whom to side. It is never clear that Jeff is responsible for the kidnapping, though it’s clear his intentions with Hayley were suspicious. On the other hand, Hayley’s torture methods are a bit inhumane. “Hard Candy” is an amazing film featuring Ellen Page as a questionable heroine.