Starring: Josh Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Allison Janney, Richard Jenkins, Zac Efron
Written and Directed by: Josh Radnor
My Rating: 6.6/10
Worth: On Demand/DVD rental, 2 hours, 3/4 paying attention
Jesse: You think [college] is a prison?
Peter: Any place you don't leave is a prison.
"You know [David Foster Wallace] said that the purpose of fiction is to combat loneliness. Although spending most of your time with an eleven-hundred page book tends to put a dent in your social life."
I've often wondered who is smarter: a person who is well-read or a person who is well-lived. As with any philosophical question posing two sides, the answer is finding a balance. But what happens when our tendency is to retreat and live out the lives of others through fiction? I fall prey to this desire far too many times. Do we revert to our pajamas and a good movie or book because that's what we like? Or because that's where we feel safe and we are afraid to be the leading ladies of our own lives? Liberal Arts is a good film, in that it challenges us to do both - that is, to read books, watch films and hear scores because they enlighten our souls; but also, to live today well. If you want to feel more intelligent, while you're sorting files or cleaning out your hard drive, this is the movie to watch.
"Grace, I realized, is neither time-nor place-dependent. All we need is the right soundtrack."
This film left me wanting to read a good book, put on Bach and contemplate the meaning of life. Good soundtracks can change your day. Liberal Arts challenges us to step away from the latest alternative band and play something that can be a score to the film that is our present life. Who decides that that particular Indie band is good? Who decides what is good taste? Zibby, Elizabeth Olsen's character, challenges us to answer "ourselves" to those questions. Read something because it's fun. Listen to something because of the way it makes you feel. Don't be weighted down by the thought that someone might flip through your iPod and see Sister Hazel. Don't jump at the chance to toss the phrase "guilty pleasure" around. Embrace the things you enjoy and stand by them because they are what make you unique.
But what would Jesse say to this? Taste is taste, some people have it and others don't. People like Jesse might never find joy in discovering his own brand of the arts. And people like Zibby might never be quite as knowledgeable. But I ask you, who will have the better life?