Dead Poets Society
directed by Peter Weir

This is a film that challenges us to see things in ways that we don't necessarily think of seeing them--in other words, looking more closely at the world around us and trying to see in our own ways, not just the ways we've been told to see it.  It's also a film of friendship and loyalty, and the power of systems to affect our lives strongly, even when we don't want those systems to be able to affect us.  It features a strong performance by Robin Williams and a strong cast of young actors, all of whom are believable and credible.  Williams is a teacher who tries to get his students to think for themselves, focusing his teaching around the concept of Carpe Diem, or "seize the day."  To his students this is a new idea that makes them a bit uncomfortable--they're not used to thinking for themselves, and in their worlds their parents seem not to want them to do so.

While there are a few weaknesses in the script and a few contrived scenes, the film does work on all levels.  While the ending is tragic, it's obvious that the tragedy is going to make most of the young men stronger, and not bring them down.  We also know that Keating will be okay, that he'll move on with his life and not suffer greatly from the short-sighted attempt of the school administrators to cover their own behinds.  It's especially easy to see this if we keep our focus on Todd Anderson, the young man whom the film is ultimately about.  This is a film that I strongly recommend, though I would suggest that you go into it with an open mind and realize that boys of this age in their era generally hadn't been exposed to concepts such as those that their teacher introduces to them.
Our rating:  A-
Amazon rating (July, 2012):  4 1/2 stars of five (384 reviews)
Barnes and Noble rating (July, 2012):  4 1/2 stars of five (most of the 50 reviews seem to be from students who watched it for class, though)