Screenwriter Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King, The Bridges of Madison County) was inspired by a PrimeTime Live segment to script and direct this 2007 movie about Erin Gruwell, a fledgling teacher at Long Beach’s Woodrow Wilson High School who got her students to deal with their racial conflicts by writing journals and reading great works of literature. Hilary Swank gives a characteristically overpitched performance as Gruwell, and her story, which takes place shortly after the LA riots, sticks to the well-worn grooves of the inspirational teacher genre. Luckily LaGravenese has incorporated some of the real students’ piercingly honest diary entries and rounded up an engaging cast of unknowns and young actors (April Hernandez, Kristin Herrera, Hunter Parrish) to channel their anger and hopelessness.