Sunday, August 31, 2008

Movies with Educational Magic

From the makers of
"Beethoven Lives Upstairs"...

Additional favorites for your family! Devine Entertainment Corporation. Check out all their movies, sets, AND teacher's guides:

The movies are short (55 minutes) and not animated (both seem to be key to making the context of history come alive for my older elementary and high school students!) These educational films bring the world's most famous figures to life in historically beautiful locations.

We own most of the Artist Series:
- "Mary Cassatt: American Impressionist"
- "Degas & The Dancer"
- "Winslow Homer: American Original"
- "Rembrandt: Father & Sons"
- "Goya: Awakened in a Dream"
- "Monet: Shadow & Light"
and The Inventor's Series:
- "Edison: The Wizard of Light"
- "Leonardo: A Dream of Flight"
- "Galileo: On the Shoulders of Giants"
- "Einstein: Light to the Power of 2"
- "Newton: A Tale of Two Isaacs"
- "Marie Curie: More than Meets the Eye"
Now I want to start acquiring the Composer's Series:
- "Strauss: The King of 3/4 Time"
- "Rossini's Ghost"
- "Liszt's Rhapsody"
- "Bizet's Dream"
- "Handel's Last Chance"
- "Bach's Fight for Freedom"

(Just think!) IN DEVELOPMENT
The Writer's Series:
- Alexandre Dumas "Three Musketeers"
- Mark Twain "Huckleberry Finn" 
- Molière "The Misanthrope"
- Cervantes "Don Quixote"
- Edgar Allan Poe "The Tell-Tale Heart"
- Lewis Carroll "Alice in Wonderland" 

*spoiler* = I can't seem to get any on NetFlix, but a few are available at my library. I'll be pushing for both to acquire more copies! (Often I have found them cheaply on auction sites.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Love Comes Softly

Love Comes Softly, Hallmark film.

We watched a copy borrowed from the library last night. The girls and I had fun catching all of the out-of-period idiosyncrasies: hair, mannerisms, situations. The male protagonist reminded us immensely of Colin Firth! All in all a predictable yet pleasant family show about courage and love.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Way Home

We watched it last night, and it felt like being inside a Flannery O'Connor story: the accurate, painful slice of a sick modern society embodied in a spoiled, unpleasant and mean child--and then the long-awaited, fulminating moment of grace and redemption, forgiving, transforming. Few films cause me to cry, much less at home with the family, but this one did.

The Way Home is a film that transcends the ordinary, a serious non-romantic study into a young soul in a journey towards the encounter with Charity.
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"Follow the Stars Home" by Hallmark

Here's another movie with pro-life themes. Hallmark made "Follow the Stars Home" in 2002, based on the book by the same title. I highly recommend this inspirational tale for families because it shows the strength and blessings that come from making "good" decisions. Love is a decision -- not just a feeling. This movie touches on both sides of dating, broken marriage (some alcoholism and domestic violence are suggested but not clearly shown), abortion, and birth defects.

*spoiler = Younger children might be scared by the scene when a puppy is put in a pillowcase and thrown into the river.

The happy ending of this movie ultimately shows that loving sacrifice, patience, and hope make for a better life.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Henry Poole is Here

Three parents and nine teens from our Catholic homeschool group went to see "Henry Poole is Here." All of us really, really liked this movie. It is definitely hard to write about it without giving away the whole plot. It's also hard to find the right adjectives to describe it. Henry Poole knows he is going to die soon, and takes a sad/angry/depressed approach to meeting his death. He uses the Lord's name in vain twice, but he says it in the context of moaning in exasperation (and for deliverance). It was very appropriate to the script, no matter how offensive to my 40-something ears.

Henry's conscience is being pricked by the "religious" neighbors. Esperanza is a beautiful Catholic woman, who cares for his feelings and his eternal soul. She brings her priest over (George Lopez?!) and he says all the right things about the apparition on Henry's house. It is not an anti-Catholic movie at all! That's all the spoilers I will give away.

Prepare yourself for a slow-moving plot. Stretches of silence give you the depths of Henry's despair and his solitude actually brings him to reflect on his childhood and make sense of his life. The background music is very "techno" (Bob Dylan, Ben Harper, U2) - I don't know how to describe it. The music and the main character are very odd! I probably would not take my 10-year-olds because they might think it moves too slow. However, there is nothing to prevent that age group from going! I can heartily endorse this movie for showing the honest struggle of man's deepest questions about life and death. It is both funny (we laughed out loud) and sorrowful (we passed out tissues). Enjoy!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Miss Potter

Miss Potter
After a summer of watching films my family chose, Iron Man, Wall-E, The Incredible Hulk, There Will Be Blood, 3:10 to Yuma and finally the Dark Knight, I was happy to see them sit down to watch one of my movie choices without me even asking them to do so. Tonight's movie was 2006's Miss Potter starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan MacGregor and directed by Chris Noonan.Peter Rabbit

The movie tells the story of the author and illustrator of the beloved Peter Rabbit and the other delightful animals still popular with children worldwide even after all these years.
Peter Rabbit cover
As I watched the beginning of the movie, I was not sure that the actor chosen to portray Miss Potter was the right choice. I felt Miss Zellweger's acting was too stilted and that she made too many exaggerated facial expressions. However, as I continued to watch, I found her portrayal of Beatrix Potter to be charming. She was the right actor for this part.Beatrix Potter

This movie that had elements of romance, fantasy, conservation, etc. was good enough to capture and hold the attention of two action/adventure loving guys. They even thanked me for movie selection.Jemima Puddle Duck

The way the movie was created was quite clever. I really enjoyed seeing the familiar characters come to life.

I fell in love with the movie and the characters. This is now on my list of favorite movies.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Kit Kittredge - An American Girl movie

For 5 years I was known locally as "The American Girl Club lady" so I simply had to take my daughter to see the newest American Girl movie. My boys thought they were too old for a G rating - especially one about a girl. To their surprise, there was not one doll in the whole movie. It was a funny yet poignant hit with all of us (ages 10 to 42).

Based on the Depression-era series of books by Valerie Tripp, this short film offers a sneak peak into Cincinnati during 1934, and kids today would do well to learn from it. Soup kitchens, hobo secret symbols, and feed-sack dresses are just some of the lessons Kit experiences firsthand. American Girl afficianados will be pleased with the attention to details, like Kit's necklace, pet dog, desk lamp, typewriter, ball mitt, and friend Ruthie. Why not take the kids out for a little unit study before school begins? And we can all be thankful for our blessings from God.