Friday, November 20, 2009

Don't miss it!

Best family show in a looong time! We love it--our entire family, teens, kids, adults! So much fun and such depth of the human spirit--and although not strictly accurate, it does justice to Alexander McCall Smith's beautiful and honorable creative mind!

Do not miss it!

Neflix has all of the episodes, made by the BBC.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

My family went to see the film adaptation of the classic book a few weekends ago. I was pleasantly surprised by Where the Wild Things Are, it was true to the book, as much as a 1.5 hour film can be to a short picture book. The additions to the story did not take away from the charm of the classic book, but added a new dimension. I cannot say it was great, but there are many redeeming things about the film.

Visually, the film has great beauty, the settings are filled with simple, natural beauty. The beauty of the film off-sets the sadness of the story. I read a quote in which the movie was compared to a Flannery O'Connor story, and there couldn't be a better comparison.

Unlike many children's films, Where the Wild Things Are is not uplifting, but it is comforting. Really, I do not think this is a children's movie, teens and young adults, would better enjoy the complexities of relationships. The film does a good job of expressing the despair that children (and adults) feel as they are thrust into relationship changes, particularly divorce. My own children liked it, but not loved it. They have no desire to see it again, though.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Star of Bethlehem -- Christmas movie

We watched "The Star of Bethlehem" documentary DVD, which we borrowed from our parish priest. It was produced by the same man who did "Passion of the Christ" and it was a very educational 65 minutes. My 11 yo said, "It was remarkable how he figured out all those things!" A non-astronomer lawyer proposes the events in the night sky over Bethlehem from 1-3 B.C. using Hubble telescope images and computer calculations to go back in time. It went extremely well with our Astronomy unit study in homeschool studies. My teens want it to show it at their youth group as an apologetics theme, too. I am not a scientist, but I was impressed by the logic of his presentation and his Biblical scholarship. More about it at Mark your calendars to watch this during Advent!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Movie Review "Come What May"

My teen daughter and I finally watched "Come What May" and heartily recommend it! Focused on the college debate team at Patrick Henry College, one boy must decide whether he'll argue for or against Roe v. Wade. All the while, his mother is facing the same situation in a real courtroom. Compelling messages about pro-life science, courtship, and fidelity in marriage. Plus it was written by the same man who gave us "The Rookie" and "Miracle," two sports movies that my family loves!
You know they are a brainiac family when they argue by writing Latin phrases on the chalkboard! Note: We have Latin phrases on Meggar's chalkboard - but they are for encouragement, not argument!

I believe this is the first film from the Advent Film Group, which was formed by film professionals who wanted to create another Christian witness in the industry. It is a high-quality DVD and thought-provoking script. They received support and a staring role from Dr. Michael Ferris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association (1983) and Patrick Henry College (2000). I look for more good movies to come after this.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

100 best pro-Catholic films

It's not a new list, but it's a good one to revisit from time to time!

In 2004, the National Catholic Register and Faith & Family magazine gathered online nominations for films that best celebrate Catholic life. These are movies with specific Catholic references, not simply with Catholic themes.

More than 1,000 people voted for their favorites. Here are the results.

WARNING: Not all of these movies are family-friendly. Movies with asterisks are known to have adult content. However, readers are advised to preview all films to determine if they’re appropriate for your children.

1. The Passion of the Christ (2004)*
2. The Sound of Music (1965)
3. A Man For All Seasons (1966)
4. The Song of Bernadette (1943)
5. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
6. The Ten Commandments (1956)
7. The Scarlet and the Black (1983)
8. Jesus of Nazareth (1977)
9. Schindler’s List (1993) *
10. The Bells of St Mary’s (1945)
11. Thérèse (2004)
12. Braveheart (1995) *
13. The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima
14. The Mission (1986) *
15. Lilies of the Field (1963)
16. The Miracle of Marcelino (1955)
17. Les Miserables (1998) *
18. The Quiet Man (1952)
19. Ben Hur (1959)
20. Rudy (1993) *
21. The Robe (1953)
22. Return to Me (2000) *
23. We Were Soldiers (2002) *
24. Becket (1964) *
25. Going My Way (1944)
26. Romero (1989)
27. Sister Act (1992) *
28. Pope John Paul II (1984)
29. Jonah: a Veggie Tales Movie (2002)
30. Shoes of the Fisherman (1986)
31. Brideshead Revisited (1981) *
32. The Keys of the Kingdom (1944)
33. On the Waterfront (1954)
34. I Confess (1953)
35. Boys Town (1938)
36. Molokai: the Story of Father Damien (1999) *
37. Quo Vadis (1951)
38. The Trouble With Angels (1956)
39. Babette’s Feast (1987)
40. The Rookie (2002) * S
41. The Reluctant Saint (1962)
42. One Man’s Hero (1999)
43. Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972)
44. The Exorcist (1973) *
45. Dead Man Walking (1995) *
46. Joan of Arc (1948)
47. The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) *
48. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) *
49. Angels In the Outfield (1951)
50. Moonstruck (1987) *
51. The Miracle Maker: the Story of Jesus (2000)
52. Henry V (1989) *
53. Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)
54. Entertaining Angels: the Dorothy Day Story (1996)
55. Knute Rockne: All American (1940)
56. The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)
57. The Singing Nun (1966)
58. Marty (1955)
59. Monsieur Vincent (1948)
60. The Assisi Underground (1985)
61. Au Revoir Les Infants (1987) *
62. Come to the Stable (1949)
63. Diary of a Country Priest (1951)
64. In This House of Brede (1975)
65. The Jeweller’s Shop (1988)
66. The Miracle of the Bells (1948)
67. The Fighting Sullivans (1944)
68. The Fourth Wiseman (1985)
69. The Juggler of Notre Dame (1970)
70. Barabbas (1962)
71. King of Kings (1961)
72. Francis of Assisi (1961)
73. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1937)
74. The Decalogue (1987) *
75. The Gospel According to Saint Matthew (1966)
76. Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)
77. The Fugitive (1947)
78. The Longest Day (1962)
79. Thérèse (1986)
80. The Gospel of John (2003)
81. A.D. (1985)
82. Faustyna (1995)
83. The Son (2002)
84. Francesco (1989) *
85. The Flowers of St. Francis (1950)
86. Brother Orchid (1940)
87. Demetrius and the Gladiators
88. Nazarin (1958)
89. The Silver Chalice (1954)
90. When In Rome (1952)
91. Not of This World (1999)
92. Open City (1945) *
93. 3 Godfathers (1948)
94. Don Bosco (1988)
95. Abraham (1994)
96. The Detective (1954)
97. The Hoodlum Saint (1946)
98. The Sign of the Cross (1932)
99. The Wrong Man (1956)
100. Padre On Horseback (1977)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The new Fatima film, again

There is a long post on the Ignatius Press blog about this new film, with many video clips!

"'The 13th Day' is the best film ever made about Fatima..."

... writes Steven Greydanus, "— the most beautiful and effective, as well as one of the most historically accurate. Sister Lucia's memories are imbued with an aura of reverie and contemplation by striking visuals, an effective score and a stark, simple narrative. A fact-based film that succeeds in being both artful and reverent is a rare thing. The 13th Day succeeds."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Galileo: On the Shoulders of Giants

We are studying Galileo and astronomy since this is the 400th Anniversary of his Invention of the 30x Telescope. In fact, 2009 has been dubbed International Year of Astronomy, too. Posted here before but worth repeating, the movies in this "Inventor" series from Devine Studios are wonderful! "Galileo: On the Shoulders of Giants" is only one hour and quite fair to the Church's history. Especially important is the closing scene when he renounces his life's work and discoveries. These movies are still not available from NetFlix, but likely to be found at good libraries or from used sources listed online like Amazon and

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Twilight Samurai

We have loved Samurai films through the years. This one has a different tone, less action, and portrays the ordinary life and love of a poor samurai. We watched it as a family last night.

Wikipedia has a good synopsis of the film. Great photography, subtitles.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A new film about Fatima

From what I read it went to Cannes.

I just watched the trailer... looks good!

Thanks, Candise!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Studying WWII with movies

From our study of World War II, we have three movies to recommend:

"Saints and Soldiers" is PG-13 because it contains a fair amount of violence. Based upon the actual events of the Malmedy Massacre, five Allied soldiers are trapped behind enemy lines and are desperately trying to get intelligence information delivered. Beautiful cinematography--especially when you learn that this was an independent film (made with 1/140th of the budget of "Saving Private Ryan" by using World War II re-enactors who volunteered to be extras and equipment/props from private military collections). It's not always easy to tell who are the "saints" and who are the "soldiers." War is ugly in its realities, and there are "good guys" on both sides. Especially compelling is the character nicknamed "Deacon" for his Bible reading and hope of heaven. If the true measure of love is "to lay down one's life for one's friends," than this movie is very Christian in content and authentically catholic (with a little c). Filmed in 2004 and only 90 min. in length.

"In Love and War" (Hallmark version) is more of a love story with the War as a backdrop. My daughter loved it, while my son didn't even want to watch it to the end. Some romance, some comedy as an injured British soldier has trouble after his escape from a POW camp because of a foot injury. With the help of the local villagers, he hides from the Nazis, learns some Italian, and falls in love.
"The Miracle at Moreaux" The nuns running a French boarding school try to protect the children from the politics and racism of the War. Superb story line as the children must come to grips with their own stereotypes and bigotry when confronted with Jewish children under the threat of Nazi genocide. Additional benefit is the Christmas scene at the end. A nice story for families who want to get a glimpse of soldiers and Holocaust sufferers without PG-13 violence.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Violin Music and Suzuki Teachers

We rented “Music of the Heart” -- a movie about a Suzuki violin teacher, and I would recommend it for all violin students. Meryl Streep stars in this 1999 true story about a part-time music teacher in Harlem who dreams of making a difference. I highly recommend the finale – a concert featuring Marc O’Connor playing "Orange Blossom Special" with all the extras!! plus Joshua Bell, Gloria Estefan, and other famous music artists also make cameo appearances. For younger children, I might suggest fast-forwarding through the single-mom drama parts. But don't miss any of the violin playing/practising to see if you can recognize all the Book 1 songs! That was our favorite part. Plus Roberta Guaspari was not exactly sweet-natured when talking to her Suzuki students! Still a lovely music lesson for the whole family.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

"In this House of Brede"

Here's a convent movie with a happy ending! "In this House of Brede" by Rumer Godden is a fictional tale of a late-in-life vocation that was shown on the Hallmark Hall of Fame. I thought it was sensitive in every way and compelling in its realistic portrayal of convent life. A worldly London business-woman hopes to "escape" by becoming a Benedictine nun. But she finds jealousy, past hurts, affection, and pride are part of everyone's life. She gently conforms to the rule first out of obedience, then out of genuine love. There are important lessons about friendships, because community life challenges them to love all sisters equally.
The scenery is beautiful, and the movie was filmed on location at genuine convents in London and Ireland (with some limitations of television technology in 1975). Film is good for all ages. I recommend the book, of course, because the movie doesn't exactly follow the book nor have its depth (for older students).

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Two Lincoln Movies

In this month of Lincoln, I must heartily endorse the movie "Young Mr. Lincoln" for all ages. The 1939 fictionalized tale is black-and-white, which only adds to its historical feel. My youngest children don't realize this isn't actual footage. Henry Fonda plays the young lawyer as he progresses from shop owner to practising lawyer. All the good legends are included in the 100 minutes: his love of books, being honest, log cabin poverty, going the extra mile, and young love. Best of all is the tough case he takes on behalf of a woman whose son was unjustly accused of murder. A griping tale of wits. How can Mr. Lincoln prove him innocent?!

Secondly, we watched "The Last of Mrs. Lincoln" but cannot recommend it as easily. This 1976 production is actually filmed on stage, but is Slow paced and focused heavily on Mary Todd-Lincoln's mental illness. That was difficult to explain to younger children. Here's the product description:

Julie Harris, recreates her 1972 award-winning Broadway portrayal in this powerful and touching look at the final 17 years in the life of Mary Todd Lincoln, widow to the martyred President. Based on real events, this production casts a sad and sympathetic light onto this frighteningly complicated woman. Mary Lincoln scavenges desperately for money, loses a cherished son to consumption, is branded a lunatic and committed to a mental institution; culminating with her spending her final days fleeing from the preying eyes of the public and a scandal-hungry press.

Any other "Lincoln" suggestions for next year?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"The Maldonado Miracle" Review

From our NetFlix queue came "The Maldonado Miracle" for our family movie night this week. We liked it much more than we expected! GREAT movie about a fictitious Catholic church whose crucifix starts dripping blood. The little immigrant boy is adorable and you will start praying for him to get his dog back. Peter Fonda is the parish priest whose hope is dying in the nearly-ghost town. Mare Winningham is the perky cafe owner who befriends little Jose and his dog. Several miracles woven together effortlessly into one, short (99 min.) movie. The script and director both won a Daytime Emmy in 2004.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Meet the Robinsons

Disney's Meet the Robinsons (2007) is one of my very favorite animated movies. It's funny and original and has some lovely things to say about life, love, attitudes about learning and how our choices affect our future.

I recently helped sponsor a homeschool team at our state Latin Convention. Because the theme of the convention was "Our success is only limited by our imagination," we thought a Meet the Robinsons theme would be appropriate. I thought you might enjoy a few pictures:


Lewis and the Bowler Hat Guy just before roll call:

The Bowler Hat Guy in action:
Lewis, Frannie, the Bowler Hat Guy and Grandpa:

Coming soon

The BBC films for the international best-selling books by Alexander MCall Smith, The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency, will be available soon in the USA.

I can't wait!

Preview it here.

More about it from the author's official website.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ring of Bright Water

My girls love animal movies and I bumped into this at the library quite accidentally. We watched it last night and I later found out it was done by the same animal-loving couple of "Born Free", which I must have watched some 30 years ago. This was a good family movie--enjoy!

Editorial Reviews
Coincidence throws Mij the otter and Graham Merrill (Bill Travers) the computer worker together on a busy London street. What transpires from this chance meeting is an epiphany that leads to the complete upheaval of Graham's life. Evicted from his city flat thanks to the antics of his newly acquired, mischievous otter, Graham embarks on a train journey to the Scottish Highlands. Suffice it to say that trying to smuggle Mij onboard as a "diving terrier" is not successful. When the pair finally arrives in Scotland, they fall in love with the countryside and a dilapidated cottage by the sea. Fate introduces Graham to the town's animal-loving doctor (Virginia McKenna), and an enduring friendship and romance are forged. The photography of both the Scottish Highlands and the antics of Mij the otter in this 1969 movie are truly wonderful--it might just make you reconsider your current digs and friendships. The story (based on Gavin Maxwell's book of the same name) is somewhat formulaic and dated by its romanticism, but enjoyable nonetheless. Slip into an ideal world of simple happiness and celebrate the cyclical nature of life, if only for 106 minutes. (Ages 5 and older) --Tami Horiuchi

Product Description
Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, the husband-and-wife team who starred alongside Elsa the Lion inBorn Free, now share the screen with Mij, a delightfully mischievous otter who'll enchant viewers of all ages in this bright, wholesome (Cue), captivating and endearing (Video Hound's Golden Movie Retriever) film! Middle-aged bachelor Graham Merrill (Travers) has a nice, quiet life in London, but his fun-loving new roommate Mij is about to change everything! Curious and playful, this otter has better things to do than sit around a stuffy apartment, so Graham decides tomove to the coast of Scotland where Mij can frolic to his heart's content. Once there, they meet Mary (McKenna), and the unlikely trio begins an incredible journey of friendship and discovery that will transform each of their lives forever!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wuthering Heights

I found an interesting opinion on the newest PBS version at Tea at Trianon...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Watching Lagaan again

We watched Lagaan again as a family, this time with our college kids-- we liked it even more than the first time!