Archive for the ‘Wednesday Movies’ Category

Movie Wednesday: Paddington Bear

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Paddington Bear Movie Wednesday

Paddington Bear is one of the best ­loved characters in children’s literature. The story of the bear from Darkest Peru who came to Britain with a suitcase, a battered hat and a label saying, “Please look after this bear,” has captured the hearts of millions since the first book was published in 1958.

In the 2015 movie adaptation (affiliate link), Paddington arrives in modern ­day London one cold winter in the hope of finding a new home. And that’s exactly what he finds with the friendly Brown family. But life is never going to be simple when you have a bear living with you, especially when there’s an evil taxidermist after him…

The film has a stellar cast, a witty script, snow, pigeons, a high point in the Natural History Museum, a beautiful message of acceptance and hope, and lots and lots of marmalade. It’s a fantastic film for the whole family. Give it a go!

Discussion questions

  1. If you’ve read any of the original books, how do you think the film compares to them?
  2. Paddington is a CGI character, but all the humans are played by live ­actors. Do you think that works? Why or why not.
  3. Paddington says, “A prudent bear always carries a spare marmalade sandwich under his hat in case of emergencies.” Do you think a marmalade sandwich would come in use in an emergency? What would you need in an emergency?
  4. The bad-­tempered Mr Curry doesn’t like Paddington and wants to get rid of him, but he is horrified at the idea of Paddington being stuffed. Does this make him a good person or not? Explain your answer.
  5. While the original books don’t have any villains, the film does, in the form of Millicent the taxidermist. What are your thoughts about the addition of a bad guy?

Paddington Bear statue in Peru

Paddington Bear statue in Peru. Photo taken while visiting Johannah!

For a little something extra you might try one or two of these ideas:


Gummi Bears!

Marmalade Muffins

Easy Homemade Orange Marmalade

Adorable Paddington Bear Cupcakes


Paddington Bear made from a toilet roll (much cuter than it sounds!)

Paper plate Paddington

Many more fun ideas!

Movie Discussion Club
Top image by Jespahjoy (cc cropped, text added)

Wednesday Movie: Coraline

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Movie Wednesday: Coraline

If Alice in Wonderland was rewritten by Roald Dahl and Edgar Allan Poe and made into a film by Tim Burton, the result would be much like Coraline (affiliate link). This film begins with a doll being taken to pieces by hands made of needles, and if that’s too creepy for you, then this film is going to be too much.

Coraline is bored. She’s just moved to a dusty old house with her parents, who are too busy to pay her much attention. It doesn’t look like anyone’s idea of fun. But then she discovers a doorway into another world where everything is colorful and magical. Her parents are always happy and jolly ­­ and have shiny black buttons for eyes.

Based on Neil Gaiman’s novella of the same name, this is possibly the creepiest children’s film ever made, a dark fairy tale that sends a shiver down your spine without actually terrifying you. It’s also funny, inventive and a beautiful stop­ animation, a style of film that’s rare in this age of CGI. Look out for the cherry trees with blossoms made of painted popcorn!

Discussion questions

1. Would you like to travel to an alternative world? What things do you think would be better there? What things might be darker or scarier? Explain.

2. The film took longer to make than a CGI film would, as it takes such a long time to animate individual so many models. Do you think it pays off? Why or why not?

3. Coraline is offered what seems like a perfect life, if she has buttons sewn over her eyes. What would you give up in order to have the perfect life?

4. What do you think of scary stories? Do you enjoy being scared, or do you prefer light­hearted stories?

Also, movie time can be simply sitting down and enjoying a film together. It doesn’t need to be any more than that. But if you did want to add a little something extra to the experience, here are some fun ideas:

Oreo Button Cookies

Constellation Cupcakes

Coraline Cake

Coraline Costumes Simple / Elaborate

Movie Discussion Club

Coraline image by Alessandro Bonvini (cc cropped, text added)

Wednesday Movie: Chicken Run

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Movie Wednesday: Chicken Runby Brave Writer student and intern, Finlay Worrallo

The British animation studio, Aardman, is best known for using stop-motion clay animation techniques featuring Plasticine (a soft modeling material) characters. Wallace and Gromit are of course their most beloved characters, but they’ve made many other animations, and Chicken Run is one of the best.

At first glance it simply looks like a comedy about talking chickens, but there’s much more to it than that. This is a story about the bravest, most determined gang of chickens ever, committed to escaping the farm they live on, which is actually more like a prison camp.

Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy, the farmers, might sound like pleasant people, but they’re actually villains of the most fearsome breed. When they build a gigantic machine for turning chickens into pies, all the chickens are in big trouble. It seems their only hope is an American rooster named Rocky, who claims he can fly…

Chicken Run is a funny, warm, and adventurous film. And remember: all of it is done with nothing but plasticine!

Discussion questions

  1. Is Mr. Tweedy a bad man, or is he bullied into bad behavior by his wife? Explain.
  2. Rocky spends most of the film pretending he can fly. Should he have told the truth from the start? Why?
  3. Did the movie change your view on eating chicken?
  4. Do you think the film would work in any other form ­­ CGI animation, live action, cartoon? How would it be different to the plasticine animation?
  5. Could any scenes be improved? How?
  6. Do you feel at all sorry for the Tweedies? Do they deserve to lose their entire livelihood?
  7. At one point Babs says, “My whole life flashed before my eyes! It was really boring.” What would you make of your life if you saw it all in one go? What parts were boring (or exciting!)?

Chicken Run is available through Amazon (aff link): Chicken Run

Need help commenting meaningfully on plot, characterization, make-up and costumes, acting, setting and even film editing? Check out our eleven page guide, Brave Writer Goes to the Movies. Also, tell us about a film you and your kids watched together (along with a pic if you have one) and if we share it on the blog you’ll receive a free copy!

Also, check out our online Movie Discussion Club! Kids are so excited about discussing movies that they don’t even realize they’re writing!

Movie Discussion Club

Wednesday Movie: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Movie Wednesday

The 1971 movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, isn’t your run-of-the-mill children’s film. Based on Roald Dahl’s bestselling book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it’s a psychedelic mix of color and chaos, shadow and songs. When Charlie, a boy from a poor family, wins the chance to visit the world’s most famous chocolate factory with four other children, he has no idea what a spellbinding, spooky, and surprising day he’s in for.

Leading the children throughout the factory is Mr. Willy Wonka, who’s every bit as strange as the rooms on the tour. Magically brought to life by Gene Wilder, he’s got a glint in his eye and a lilt in his voice that are more than a little unnerving.

Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory is a doorway into a world where sweets grow on trees, geese lay golden eggs, and gobstoppers last forever. But it’s a dangerous world for the unwary.

Despite the fact that it’s 45 years old this year, the film is every bit as vivid, joyous, and thought-provoking as when it first came out. So give it a go if you haven’t seen it!

Discussion Questions

  • The four children who explore the factory with Charlie are depicted as highly unpleasant, but do you think they deserve what happens to them? Explain your answer.
  • Roald Dahl didn’t like the film at all, partly because he thought it focused too much on Mr. Wonka and not enough on Charlie. Do you think that is true? Why or why not.
  • If you’ve read the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, compare the film to the novel. See how many differences you can spot.
  • Was hiding golden tickets in chocolate bars the best way to find a new factory owner? What might you have done differently if you’d been Willy Wonka?

Also, see that bar of chocolate in the graphic above? The photographer notes that Prestat of Piccadilly is one of London’s oldest chocolate shops, and that Roald Dahl referred to Prestat as “the great chocolatiers.” Could that have been the chocolate he had in mind when writing Charlie & The Chocolate Factory?

Image by Martin Cooper (cc cropped, tinted, text added)

Need help commenting meaningfully on plot, characterization, make-up and costumes, acting, setting and even film editing? Check out our eleven page guide, Brave Writer Goes to the Movies. Also, tell us about a film you and your kids watched together (along with a pic if you have one) and if we share it on the blog you’ll receive a free copy!

Movie Discussion Club

What’s a primary part of any good language arts program? Watching movies!

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

What's a primary part of any good language arts program? Watching movies!

Surprisingly enough, watching movies with your kids ought to be a primary part of any good language arts program. There is nothing like listening to language used in the right context by different people (especially actors) for vocabulary training as well as growing in familiarity with proper syntax.

Film teaches kids comic timing, irony, key cultural assumptions, and makes use of a host of well-known story archetypes. Additionally, plot and characterization are both easily identified and understood in movies. Quickly kids learn about what makes a good versus poorly drawn villain, they discover what a climax is without even knowing that that is what it’s called, and they can make predictions based on past story experiences.

Comparing multiple versions of the same story (different film versions and comparisons with the original novel) is an excellent way to point out characterization choices, to focus on setting and costuming, etc.

The key to good movie viewing at home is watching with your kids and talking about what you see. Ask questions. Stop the film at a crucial juncture and ask everyone to predict what will happen next. Replay a scene after the movie is over to see if you understand it differently now that you know the whole story. Watch the same movie once, twice, three times.

Watching films together is a far better way to develop language arts skills than all the typical workbooks that talk about plot and/or vocabulary. Movies put the plot on display in about two hours. Can’t beat that!

Here are some helpful resources:

16 Fancy Literary Techniques Explained by Disney by Adam Moerder

“Because why waste money on an English degree when you can just watch Disney movies?”

Teaching Language Arts with Movie and Book Pairings from Netflix by Colleen

“For older kids, one of my favorite ways to teach language arts with Netflix is to have them watch movie versions of books they’ve read. When I taught full time in the classroom, I’d have my students do this too. It’s a great way to encourage critical watching and reading. Kids can compare the versions, and analyze which is richer and why.”

Read the Book, Watch the Movie by Andrea

“This great list of over 80 wonderful stories that have been made into movies is sure to keep you busy! This is a great way to encourage reluctant readers or bookworms alike! Read them aloud then watch them for a movie night or let confident readers read them alone.”

Encourage Persuasive Writing with Movie Reviews and More! by Danielle Mahoney

“Let a trip to the movies inspire your students to write fantastic reviews that will persuade others to either see the movie — or skip it!”

Top 25 Movies for Writers by Online Universities

“Translate your love of the craft into a night of entertainment with these great movies based on writers. You’ll find intriguing real life stories, movies that show the sometimes frustrating nature of writing, and a great collection of movies about the trials and tribulations of fictional writers themselves.”

Note: Not all film suggestions may be right for your child. Check content using review sites like Kids in Mind.

Need help commenting meaningfully on plot, characterization, make-up and costumes, acting, setting and even film editing? Check out our eleven page guide, Brave Writer Goes to the Movies. Also, tell us about a film you and your kids watched together (along with a pic if you have one) and if we share it on the blog you’ll receive a free copy!

Image by Кирилл Рыжов / Fotolia

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