Thursday, November 11, 2010

Temple Grandin

Mick Jackson, 2010 (8.8*)
This engrossing docudrama tells the adult life story of animal behaviorist Temple Grandin, wonderfully played by Claire Danes in an Emmy-winning performance. Temple was an austistic who used her unique way of looking at the world to create changes in the way the beef industry treats cattle, making the whole process both safer and more humane, being less fearful for the cows themselves.

We are shown Temple's life from high school forward, when she was encouraged by astute teachers, especially a science teacher wonderfully played by David Straithorn, who received an Emmy for his performance; it was he who spotted elements of genius in Temple's mind. He ascertained that she perceives the world in terms of pictures, not language.

She is also somewhat of a mechanical genius; we see a remarkable ranch gate she made at her aunt's ranch (played by Emmy-nominated Catherine O'Hara) allowing the driver of a car to open a gate that closes by itself, all based on gravity and levers. When she designs a cattle dip system, she watches a mechanical engineer drawing plans (who's too busy for hers) and she draws her own plans overnight so the elaborate system can be immediately built. At the ranch, she sees an inoculation device that 'hugs' the cows in a tight grip so they can be given shots without jerking around, and Temple builds a similar device for herself out of wood, calling it a 'hugging machine'.

One of the most successful made-for-tv movies in history, Temple Grandin was nominated for 15 Emmy awards, winning 7, including actress, director, and film. Julia Ormand also won a supporting actress Emmy as her mother. Temple herself [photo rt] was at the Emmys and hilariously interrupted Claire's acceptance speech with gentle banter. She also taught us much about autism, explaining how her mind works, as most of this story occurs in the 60's, before the affliction was understood by scientists. Her success (a B.S., then an M.S. and PhD at college, she's now a vet) has encouraged many parents and austistic children.
Awards page at IMDB


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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