Peter Weir, dir. Dead Poets Society (1989)
The moment I'd posted the previous list, Bronwyn pointed out a whole lot of movies I'd left out. I still think there's a slight difference between inspirational English teacher movies and inspirational university Creative Writer teacher films, but I agree that there's not a lot in it.
Is there anybody on the planet who hasn't watched Robin Williams getting his students to stand on top of their desks, judging how they walk, and telling them to rip out the introduction to their poetry anthology? It's a pity that Vachel Lindsay's "The Congo" seems to be their poem of choice (though Shakespeare gets a bit of a look-in, too), but there's no doubt that this is the King Kong of English teacher movies.
John N. Smith, dir. Dangerous Minds (1995)
Michelle Pfeiffer as a poetry teacher, yes, I can see that (just). Michelle Pfeiffer as an ex-Marine - we-ell, that's a bit harder to swallow.
Much ranting about Dylan Thomas is how I remember her pedagogical approach ("when you can read poetry, you're loaded for bear!"). Oh, and the Dylan-Dylan challenge ... Great sound-track album, though, definitely (even before the Mad Al Yankovich parody).
Richard LaGravenese, dir. Freedom Writers (2007)
While it seems to have sunk without a trace, and was a little clunky in its construction, this movie really packed a surprising punch, I thought. And it really did preach the virtues of writing things down - if not to exorcise them at any rate to assert some sort of control over them.
In fact, looking through the page of quotes from it on the IMDB, I feel like watching it again. Here's one of the quotes from Hillary Swank's character, Erin Gruwell, who's just found a racist drawing by one of the students, Tito:
Maybe we should talk about art. Tito's got real talent, don't you think? You know something? I saw a picture just like this once, in a museum. Only it wasn't a black man, it was a jewish man. And instead of the big lips he had a really big nose, like a rat's nose. But he wasn't just one particular jewish man. This was a drawing of all jews. And these drawings were put in the newspapers by the most famous gang in history. You think you know all about gangs? You're amateurs. This gang will put you all to shame. And they started out poor and angry and everybody looked down on them. Until one man decided to give them some pride, an identity... and somebody to blame. You take over neighborhoods? That's nothing compared to them. They took over countries. You want to know how? They just wiped out everybody else. Yeah, they wiped out everybody they didn't like and everybody they blamed for their life being hard. And one of the ways they did it was by doing this: see, they print pictures like this in the newspapers, jewish people with big, long noses... blacks with big, fat lips. They'd also published scientific evidence that proved that jews and blacks were the lowest form of human species. Jews and blacks were more like animals. And because they were just like animals it didn't matter if they lived or died. In fact, life would be a whole lot better if they were all dead. That's how a holocaust happens. And that's what you all think of each other.
John Krokidas, dir. Kill Your Darlings (2013)
I suppose that this is more of an anti-English teacher film than one in praise of them. Nevertheless, at the end the pompous Wlat Whitman-hating Professor ends up encouraging Ginsberg to keep on writing.
Some nice quotes from this one on teh IMDB, too:
William Burroughs: Show me the man who is both sober and happy, and I will show you the crinkled anus of a lying asshole.
Gus Van Sant, dir. Finding Forrester (2000)
Ditto this one. The J.D. Salinger-like "Forrester" of the title encourages the young black writer despite all the put-downs he gets from his loathsome teacher F. Murray Abraham.
The best scene is probably the one where Sean Connery is telling his protege to really bash those typewriter keys: "Now you're cooking ... You're the man now, dog!"
o thinking - that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is... to write, not to think!
I suppose films based on romantic images of J. D. Salinger would take us to Field of Dreams:
Phil Alden Robinson, dir. Field of Dreams (1989)
While "poetic mentor" films would take us to the more recent Set Fire to the Stars (based on John Malcolm Brinnin's tell-all 1955 memoir Dylan Thomas in America). You have to call a halt to the process sometime, though. In any case, the real - rather unexpected - star-turn in this Dylan Thomas bio-pic was Shirley Henderson playing horror novelist Shirley Jackson (though, strangely enough, she goes unnamed in the cast list, and the role isn't even listed on the actress's wikipedia page. Maybe something ... uncanny happened during filming. Maybe they all drew lots in some unspeakable ceremony. Maybe they all swore never ever to tell anyone anything about it ... on pain of death):
Andy Goddard, dir. Set Fire to the Stars (2014)