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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

One Eight Seven (1997)























Starring:
  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • John Heard
  • Kelly Rowan
IMDB.com
Kevin Reynolds, the director of "One Eighty Seven", a film written by Scott Yagermann, supposedly a teacher himself, shows he is a man that clearly understands today's problems in the inner city schools.

Some of the children, of mostly immigrant parents, are lured to join gangs in order to survive the hostile environment. These are the same children who could benefit from the free education in their new adopted country. Instead of making something out of themselves, they create their own problems and will end up doing menial work, or in jail because of the choices they make.

This is the basic premise to this story, in which, a decent man and an excellent teacher, is stabbed at the beginning of the film, and not only is his body injured, but also his spirit. The relocation from Brooklyn to L.A. proves to be the wrong move. If Trevor Garfield thought he had it bad in New York, he is not prepared for a school system in California that seems to be a disgrace.

This particular school, where Trevor is hired as a substitute teacher, has some of the most dangerous teen agers of the city. It appears that kids have the upper hand in whatever is going on because its principal is more interested in avoiding being sued by the students than in educating them. In fact, they rule the school. The worst thing that comes out in the film is how Cesar, a teen ager, who is a bully and a criminal, can't even read! There are a few other aspects the film is trying to explore. Teachers who are corrupt, like is the case with Dave Childress, who admits to having had sex with one of the students. The young woman who is being helped by Mr. Garfield turns against him, only to redeem herself at the end, after it's too late for her to recognize a valuable lesson Trevor taught her.

Samuel L. Jackson gives an intense performance portraying Trevor Garfield. Mr. Jackson shows in the film another dimension to his method of acting. He is never boring. John Heard is the corrupt Dave. Kelly Rowan is Ellen, a teacher who judges her fellow teacher and is repulsed by what she finds out. Clifton Collins is good as Cesar, the ignorant young man, a product of the gang mentality. Karina Arroyoave is seen as Rita.

"One Eighty Seven" is an eye opener about why some students aren't learning in school and a tribute to the teachers that are trying to educate them in spite of the horrors in the classroom.

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