Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Story

Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a homophobic electrician living in the 1980s Dallas, is diagnosed with AIDS. Ron’s acquaintance with Rayon (Jared Leto) helps him redefine his life by providing access to non-FDA approved drugs for himself and other patients.

Ο Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), ομοφοβικός ηλεκτρολόγος στο Ντάλας του ’80, τυχαία διαγνώσκεται με AIDS. Η γνωριμία του με την Rayon (Jared Leto) τον βοηθά να βρει νόημα στη ζωή εξασφαλίζοντας πρόσβαση σε μη εγκεκριμένα φάρμακα για όποιον έχει ανάγκη.

Focus Features

Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof © 2013 Focus Features

Review

Matthew McConaughey realistically portrays the hero’s inner journey from a hedonistic, aimless lifestyle to a responsible, meaningful life with solidarity to other patients, even homosexuals he used to despise.

Εξαιρετική η ερμηνεία του McConaughey που αποδίδει με ρεαλισμό την μεταμόρφωση του ήρωα. Από ένα ηδονιστικό πλάσμα με ναρκωτικά και σεξ, σε έναν ακτιβιστή αλληλέγγυο στα προβλήματα των άλλων ασθενών, κυρίως ομοφυλόφιλοι, που πριν τους απεχθανόταν.

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner

Written by: Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack

Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée

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Motivation – not another ten-letter word!

by Melina Samanidou

Have you ever felt that your ‘audience is lost’? That even if you stripped right there and then your students wouldn’t notice? I know I’ve had moments like these and I have the feeling that a large number of our colleagues have a pretty clear picture of what I mean. So, the question is raised: what can we do to attract their attention…. and keep it? What can be done to motivate them to pay attention, participate, study? Except for taking off your clothes that is….

Activities

Choice of topics

First of all, these should be close to the learners’ interests and/or similar to the Greek school curriculum, of which one should be informed at the beginning of the school year. It is interesting how children (of about 6-11 years old) love sharing what they know and how important that makes them feel, especially, for instance, if the teacher pretends to have little or no idea about dinosaurs or how rain is created…. What’s more, pupils tend to get really excited if you have something extra to add to their puzzle of knowledge that they can go and brag about to their schoolmates.

Teenagers, on the other hand, are most of the times keen on talking about music, films, sports, etc. So, you can provide them with interviews of celebrities (variety is important so as to serve all tastes) that will be used not only as the context for your presentation of vocabulary items or of almost any grammatical phenomenon, but also as a basis for later practice, which brings us to:

Role plays

Both children and teenagers love being given different roles, especially the ones of adults. They enjoy pretending to be the decision-makers for a change. Such activities can be used to practice a range of language. For example, young students going to the market (aim: vocabulary relevant to food and/or how much/many, countable & uncountable nouns), deciding what their family will do on a Sunday afternoon or where to go on holidays (aim: relevant vocabulary and phrases to make suggestions and state preferences) or older ones taking the roles of celebrities (as mentioned above). These activities can be fairly controlled (with the teacher providing the students with role cards) or completely free (with the students developing their roles on their own).

Personalisation

Students should also be offered the opportunity in the EFL classroom to talk about themselves, their hobbies, to express their personal likes/dislikes and/or their views on serious matters (that may on top of all affect them) on which nobody ever asks their opinion. As a result, whenever they are given the chance (through mingling tasks, pair work or group work), they are eager to do so.

Colourful pictures/Realia

These can be used not only to attract their attention and make the lesson come to life but also to involve the pupils in practising the language. For example, after the presentation of food and drinks, the children can use them to play ‘treasure hunt or blindfolded food testers when, in both cases, they end up having a party (eating and drinking the realia!)

Games

The perfect way to motivate students to use the language while having fun, right? Some of you may argue that Snakes and Ladders or Bingo work only with younger pupils while older ones find them boring, and I will partly agree. However, I should ask you to consider alternatives, such as word puzzles or Taboo, which can offer older students the opportunity to practise vocabulary items, idioms, collocations, along with their paraphrasing skills and satisfy their developed sense of competitiveness.

Options

Whenever it’s possible, give students the chance to have a saying on how the lesson will go on. This can vary from little things, such as choosing whether they’ll listen to a song or a story that they loved, to what task they’re more interested in doing or what vocabulary items they wish to learn. I have found it really motivating, as far as their participating is concerned, to make them feel that they are decision-makers and an active part of the procedure (lesson) instead of passive, maybe even bored, listeners of your speeches.

Magazines / Readers

These are on of the best ways for students of all ages to improve their skills and expand their knowledge of the language. But to motivate them one should make them part of that procedure too. If you assign a book or a magazine they aren’t interested in, they probably won’t read it and, even if they do, they’ll possibly hate you all the way. Giving them a list of books (or showing them magazines) and allowing them the time to vote for the ones they are most interested in might do the trick. Then, of course, it should be made sure that they get the ones they have asked for.

Rewards

Another way to motivate learners is to inform them in advance that their effort and performance in homework and the classroom will be rewarded. However, if you choose to follow this path, make sure that you always have something for everybody, even for the ones that didn’t perform so well. If you don’t, you run the risk of demotivating the latter, making them feel like losers. For instance, have different, graded stickers to offer young pupils for their performance in dictation (Excellent / Well Done / Good Job). That’s important for the stronger students too, so that they feel that their effort has been acknowledged.

My personal experience, as well as discussions with colleagues, has led me to the conclusion that it is highly significant to gain your learners’ trust and sympathy. One of the reasons why is that, if you manage to do so, there is a chance that certain students will try and study harder in order to see the look of approval and satisfaction on your face. In any case, one ought to make sure that all efforts are rewarded with it. Anyway, it’s for free, isn’t it?

Evaluation

Quizzes/Tests

These should be within the learners’ abilities and knowledge. I have seen that students tend to get really disappointed (and as a result demotivated) if, for example, there are items included in a quiz that they don’t know. In addition, different test may be needed for different groups (of other abilities and needs) even if the language taught is the same.

It is also advisable to always make positive comments on their performance, even if its negative points are more. As mentioned above, one should be supportive, encouraging and give them motivation to do better the next time.

I personally believe that a teacher should be the students’ friend and try to offer them as many opportunities possible to be intrigued by the lesson, participate and learn through having fun.

Now, who or what strengthens and motivates a teacher to go on and do all these mentioned above is probably the topic for another article, but definitely a different story altogether.

Melina Samanidou, a teacher of  Elementary - Upper - Intermediate classes

The Wedding Planner (2001)

Story

Mary (Jennifer Lopez), a wedding planner, falls for the groom in a wedding she plans as Steve (Matthew McConaughey), the pediatrician she accidentally met, is engaged to Fran (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras). Meanwhile, Massimo (Justin Chambers) proposes to Mary.

Η Μαίρη (Τζένιφερ Λόπεζ), ερωτεύεται τον γαμπρό στον γάμο που διοργανώνει καθώς ο παιδίατρος Στιβ (Μάθιου ΜακΚόναχι), που τυχαία συνάντησε, είναι αρραβωνιασμένος με την Φραν (Μπρίτζετ Γουίλσον-Σάμπρας). Στο μεταξύ, η Μαίρη δέχεται πρόταση γάμου από τον Μάσιμο (Τζάστιν Τσέιμπερς).

Columbia Pictures

Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lopez © 2001 Columbia Pictures

Review

A decade before Matthew McConaughey won critical acclaim, he was playing the hunk. Do not expect this movie to “stay with you” [inside joke] but it is fun to watch, provided you accept the clichés of romantic comedies. Because a doctor with so much spare time to wander off in sculpture gardens cannot abide real life conditions. Extra bonus Justin Chambers as the wacky Italian before raising to stardom as Dr. Karev in Grey’s Anatomy.

Μία δεκαετία πριν ο Μάθιου Μακ Κόναχι κάνει στροφή στην καριέρα του, στηριζόταν αποκλειστικά στην εμφάνισή του. Μην περιμένεις μία ταινία που «θα σου μείνει» [ατάκα από την ταινία] αλλά θα περάσεις καλά, αν αποδέχεσαι τα κλισέ των ρομαντικών ταινιών. Γιατί ένας γιατρός με τόσο ελεύθερο χρόνο να περιπλανιέται σε κήπους με αγάλματα αψηφά την πραγματική ζωή. Έξτρα μπόνους o Τζάστιν Τσέιμπερς στον ρόλο του Ιταλού μετανάστη πριν γίνει σταρ ως Δρ. Καρέβ στην σειρά Grey’s Anatomy.

Favorite Quote

I barely know you. I don’t know your dad’s first name, I don’t know if you ever wore braces, or contacts, or glasses and I have no idea how you came to be a wedding planner, Mary. But I do know the curves of your face. And I know every fleck of gold in your eyes. I know that the night at the park was the best time I’ve ever had. Pl-please say something.

 – Steve

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Justin Chambers

Written by: Pamela Falk, Michael Ellis

Directed by: Adam Shankman

Jeux d’enfants/Love Me If You Dare (2003)

Story

Schoolmates Julien Janvier (Guillaume Canet) and Sophie Kowalsky (Marion Cotillard) invent the game “Dares” – daring each other to carry out audacious pranks – to get through childhood trauma. Things get complicated when they continue to play the game despite falling in love.

Οι συμμαθητές Ζουλιέν Ζανβιέ (Γκιγιόμ Κανέ) και Σοφί Κοβάλσκι (Μαριόν Κοτιγιάρ) εφευρίσκουν το παιχνίδι πρόκλησης «τολμάς ή όχι;» ως τρόπο διαφυγής στα δύσκολα παιδικά χρόνια. Τα πράγματα περιπλέκονται όταν ως ενήλικες συνεχίζουν να παίζουν παρόλο που ερωτεύτηκαν.

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Sophie (Marion Cotillard) and Julien (Guillaume Canet) exchange the tin box (held up in the air) with each new challenge of the daring game. © 2003 Nord-Ouest Productions and StudioCanal  

Review

Exciting, brilliant romantic dramedy! Τhis movie is about a great love story, and as such it is tragic. Need I remind ‘Romeo & Juliet’? Julien and Sophie are tragic because they would take up any challenge except of the greatest one; to acknowledge they are meant for each other. Out of pride? Out of fear that everyday life would wear off their passion? There is a scene where Julien says: “Wouldn’t it be easier to hold her close and whisper to her words of love?

Καταπληκτική, ευφυής ρομαντική δραμεντί (δράμα + κομεντί)! Η ταινία αφηγείται την ιστορία μίας μεγάλης αγάπης, και άρα τραγικής. Χρειάζεται να αναφέρω το ‘Ρωμαίος & Ιουλιέτα’;  Ο Ζουλιέν και η Σοφί είναι τραγικοί γιατί ενώ αποδέχονται κάθε είδους πρόκληση δεν τολμούν να εκφράσουν τον έρωτά τους. Από περηφάνια; Από φόβο ότι η καθημερινότητα θα φθείρει το πάθος; Σε κάποια σκηνή ο Ζουλιέν μονολογεί: «Δεν θα ήταν πιο εύκολο να την πάρει στην αγκαλιά του και να της ψιθυρίσει λόγια αγάπης

Starring: Marion Cotillard, Guillaume Canet

Written & Directed by: Yann Samuell

Idiom: Head over Heels in Love

e.g. He fell head over heels in love with his piano teacher.

Meaning: completely and helplessly in love.

Origin: This expression goes back to the ancient Romans and means that being in love with someone, makes one’s emotions topsy-turvy, upside down. For nearly 500 years, it was “heels over head”. Then, the saying grew to suggest that being in love is like somersaulting.

from the Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms

Proverb: See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil

e.g. Jill: Do you have any idea why Fred is staying in the office so late every night?

Jane: Not me. Like the three little monkeys, I see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

Meaning: It is said of people who refuse to acknowledge dishonest, immoral or even evil behaviour; they look the other way or feign ignorance. But in the Buddhist tradition the proverb exhorts virtuous behaviour despite the evil around you.

Origin: It is often represented by three monkeys – Mizaru who sees no evil, Kikazaru who hears no evil, Iwazaru who speaks no evil – and refers to the three wise monkeys, a story that originally came from China to convey Confucius’ Code of Conduct. Sometimes there is a fourth monkey depicted, Shizaru (do no evil).

The three wise monkeys, a 17th century carving at the Tōshō-gū shrine in Nikkō , Japan © Michael Maggs, found on Wikipedia

Laws of Attraction/Εραστές μετ’εμποδίων (2004)

Story

Audrey Woods (Julianne Moore) and Daniel Rafferty (Pierce Brosnan) are divorce lawyers, opponents, but two of a kind and thus drawn together. After attending an Irish festival, they wake up wearing wedding rings. How long will it be before one of them files for a divorce?

Η Όντρει Γουντς (Τζουλιάν Μουρ) και ο Ντάνιελ Ράφερτι (Πιρς Μπρόσναν) είναι δικηγόροι διαζυγίων, αντίπαλοι αλλά και όμοιοι. Η έλξη είναι αναπόφευκτη. Αφού επισκέφτηκαν ένα φεστιβάλ στην Ιρλανδία, ξύπνησαν φορώντας βέρες. Πόσο θα κρατήσει ο γάμος πριν ο ένας από τους δύο υποβάλλει αίτηση διαζυγίου;

New Line Cinema

Julianne Moore, Pierce Brosnan © 2004 New Line Cinema

Review

A romantic comedy with a leading couple with no chemistry has not succeeded ever. The casting was a disaster, the script lacked pace and substance and I could not wait for the movie to be over. Too bad because in the past I have enjoyed watching Moore and Brosnan in their other films.

Μία ρομαντική κωμωδία με πρωταγωνιστικό ζευγάρι χωρίς χημεία δεν έχει πετύχει ποτέ. Η διανομή των ρόλων ήταν μία αποτυχία, το σενάριο ήταν άνευρο και χωρίς ευρήματα και δεν έβλεπα την ώρα να τελειώσει η ταινία. Κρίμα γιατί έχω απολαύσει την Μουρ και τον Μπρόσναν στις άλλες ταινίες τους.

Starring:  Julianne Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Michael Sheen

Written by:  Aline Brosh McKenna and Robert Harling

Directed by: Peter Howitt

Idiom: Old Habits Die Hard

e.g. Joan retired last year, but she still gets up as early as she used to when she had to go to work; old habits die hard.

Meaning: it means established habits and behaviours are difficult to change. It is used for someone reluctant to change their way of doing something, especially something which they have been doing for a long time. See also you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Runaway Bride/Η Νύφη το’σκασε (1999)

Story

Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) is the runaway bride who has left three fiancés stranded at the altar. Columnist Ike Graham (Richard Gere) writes about ‘maneater’ Maggie and gets fired. When he visits Maggie’s home town for vindication, she is making her fourth attempt to get married.

Η Μάγκι Κάρπεντερ (Τζούλια Ρόμπερτς) συνηθίζει να το βάζει στα πόδια έχοντας αφήσει τρεις γαμπρούς στην εκκλησία. Ο δημοσιογράφος Άικ Γκράχαμ (Ρίτσαρντ Γκιρ) την ονόμασε “νύφη-δραπέτη” στην στήλη του και απολύεται. Όταν ο Άικ επισκέπτεται την πόλη της Μάγκι ψάχνοντας δικαίωση, εκείνη κάνει την τέταρτη προσπάθεια να παντρευτεί.

Touchstone Pictures

Julia Roberts © 1999 Paramount and Touchstone Pictures

Review

Nine years after Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts and Richard Gere re-team with Gary Marshall. The chemistry is still there, but something is off. However, between the two movies, this is my favorite. It could be the realistic wedding proposal, or the original advice: Do know what kind of eggs you like! meaning that for a relationship to work, one needs to have discovered themselves first.

Εννέα χρόνια μετά την Pretty Woman η Τζούλια Ρόμπερτς και ο Ρίτσαρντ Γκιρ ξανασυναντιούνται με τον Γκάρι Μάρσαλ. Η μεταξύ τους χημεία εξακολουθεί να υπάρχει, αλλά κάτι λείπει. Ωστόσο, την προτιμώ. Ίσως εξαιτίας της ρεαλιστικής πρότασης γάμου ή της συμβουλής σχέσεων “μάθε πώς σου αρέσουν τα αυγά σου”, εννοώντας πως για μία επιτυχημένη σχέση χρειάζεται να έχεις γνωρίσει τον εαυτό σου πρώτα.

Favorite Quote

Look, I guarantee there’ll be tough times. I guarantee that at some point, one or both of us is gonna want to get out of this thing. But I also guarantee that if I don’t ask you to be mine, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life, because I know, in my heart, you’re the only one for me.

-Ike Graham

Official Trailer

Starring: Julia Roberts, Richard Gere,  Christopher Meloni

Written by:  Josann McGibbon, Sara Parriott

Directed by: Garry Marshall