Archive for the ‘Wednesday Movies’ Category

Movie Wednesday: Next Gen

Brave Writer Movie Wednesday Next Gen

by Amy Frantz

Mai has never been the same since her dad left. Her well-meaning but self-centered mother tries to help, but it often feels like the mother and daughter are speaking two different languages when they attempt to connect. When Mai wanders off on her own, a chance encounter with a secret and experimental new AI changes her life.


[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


Next Gen is a Chinese-North-American CG animation science fiction film released in 2018. It stars the voices of Charlyne Yi and Constance Wu.

A common trope in stories is “the boy and his X.” The “X” can stand for robot, monster, or any unique entity. As the trope name suggests, these stories are often centered around boys who form a deep, unusual bond with another being as they come of age.

In Next Gen, the main character is instead a girl who forms a connection with a special robot, which helps her to heal and grow past her pain, allowing her to reconnect with her mother and finally form healthy relationships. The film is an interesting look at both the ways in which the trope changes around the main character’s gender and the ways in which it remains fundamentally the same regardless of gender.

A note to parents: Next Gen is rated TV-PG, but we would still recommend looking up the film on sites like Common Sense Media, since it does contain intense animated violence and implied swearing (no actual swearing is heard in the film), before deciding if it is right for your family.

Discussion Questions

  • Mai has a lot of misdirected anger over her father leaving, which she channels into retaliatory violence against the kids who’ve been picking on her. What is the difference, do you think, between standing up for oneself and simply becoming another bully?
  • Mai is a flawed character, who has to learn from her mistakes and heal herself emotionally. At which points in the film do you think Mai demonstrates this growth and how does she demonstrate it?
  • The film tells us that “memories make us who we are.” 7723 gives up his memories, essentially who he is, to save Mai. At the end of the film, Mai is shown “teaching” 7723. Do you think it will ever be possible for Mai to regain the friend she had, or is that version of 7723 gone forever along with the deleted memories? Explain your answer.
  • Molly, Mai’s mother, uses robots and technology to fill the gap in her life left by her husband leaving and much to the detriment of her relationship with her daughter. But by contrast, Mai’s friendship with 7723 (a robot) allows her to heal, confront her flaws, and repair the relationship with her mother. What do you think the film may be trying to say about the roles of technology in our lives and its healthy vs. unhealthy uses?

Additional Resources

Next Gen is streaming on Netflix

Next Gen soundtrack


Amy Frantz is a Brave Writer alum and now works as a Virtual Marketing Assistant for Brave Writer. When not over-analyzing Star Wars, she has a lot of feelings about fictional robots.


Movie Discussion Club

Movie Wednesday: Penelope

Brave Writer Movie Wednesday Penelope

by Amy Frantz

Generations ago, the “blue blood” Wilhern family was cursed by a witch so that the next born Wilhern daughter would have the face of a pig. The curse can only be broken if “one of their own,” another blue blood, learns to love her.

Five generations later, the Wilhern family finally has a daughter and the curse comes true. Penelope is born with the face of a pig. Her well-meaning mother fakes Penelope’s death and removes her daughter from the prying eyes of the world, locking Penelope in the family home.

Now Penelope is a young woman and her mother is determined to break the curse. But suitor after suitor flees from the sight of her face, until one day she meets an unlikely young man who seems different. But when that too ends in heartbreak, Penelope runs away from the home that has been her prison and sets out into the world on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance.


[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


Penelope is a 2006 modern fairy tale and is loosely inspired by the story of Beauty and the Beast with the genders of the main characters reversed as a twist.

Modern fairy tales are stories with a contemporary setting which use narrative elements or story structures that we associate with fairy tales. In the case of Penelope, there is the obvious element of the family cursed by a witch. But the character of Penelope is also “a girl in a tower.” Although Penelope’s is not a literal tower, the trope of a girl being shut away from the world due to a curse or enchantment is a common one found in fairy tales.

Discussion Questions

  • The story of Penelope uses many familiar fairy tale elements. Other than the Beauty and the Beast parallels, what other things did you find in the film that reminded you of particular fairy tales?
  • The key to breaking Penelope’s curse is self-acceptance and self-love. What do you think the film might be saying about fairy tales where the curse must be broken by seeking love from others instead?
  • One of the children at the end of the film opines that it’s “always the mother’s fault.” Do you agree that it was all Penelope’s mother’s fault? Why or why not?
  • Music plays an important role in the film. Did you have a favorite musical moment? If so, which one?

Additional Resources

Penelope is streaming on Netflix

Penelope soundtrack


Amy Frantz is a Brave Writer alum and now works as a Virtual Marketing Assistant for Brave Writer. When not over-analyzing Star Wars, she has many feelings about contemporary fairy tale retellings.


Movie Discussion Club

Movie Wednesday: The Scarlet Pimpernel

Brave Writer Movie Wednesday The Scarlet Pimpernel

by Amy Frantz

In Revolutionary France during the Terror, Percy Blakeney leads a double life. In one life he is the stylish fop, Sir Blakeney, who cares mostly for fashion and appearance. But in the other life, he is the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel who rescues aristocrats and their families who have been condemned to death by the guillotine. No one suspects that the silly Sir Blakeney and the heroic Scarlet Pimpernel could possibly be one and the same. But when Percy’s wife, Marguerite, is blackmailed into investigating the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel, the secrecy of his double life is imperiled.


[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


The 1982 Emmy Award-winning film, The Scarlet Pimpernel, is based on both The Scarlet Pimpernel and Eldorado by Baroness Orczy.

The Baroness Orczy with her creation of The Scarlet Pimpernel and its titular character originated the “hero with a secret identity” trope, the prevalence and influence of which can still be felt today in such pop cultural icons as Batman and Superman. In this way, the Scarlet Pimpernel can be considered a proto-superhero. In a time when cinemas are saturated with superhero films, it can be valuable to revisit the origins of some of these now common and popular tropes.

In storytelling, a trope is an identifiable and recurring pattern in the way characters and plots are constructed. In this case, the trope is the hero with a secret identity. This trope would lead to the masked vigilante trope, which in turn gave rise to the modern superhero.

Discussion Questions

  • The Scarlet Pimpernel is a man of many disguises. Do you have a favorite disguise that he wears in the film?
  • The film is very critical of the Terror, but it mostly glosses over the sociopolitical conditions that lead to the Revolution. Do you think this causes the narrative to be unbalanced and simplistic, especially considering it is loosely historical fiction? Explain why or why not.
  • If you have a favorite masked superhero, were you able to find similarities between that character and the Scarlet Pimpernel? If so, list those similarities.
  • Every good hero needs a “good” villain. Do you think Percy and Chauvelin are well-matched enemies? Explain your answer.

Additional Resources

Register for our Boomerang Book Club class where we will be discussing The Scarlet Pimpernel novel in November, which is also the Boomerang for that month (Boomerang guide is included in the Book Club).


Amy Frantz is a Brave Writer alum and now works as a Virtual Marketing Assistant for Brave Writer. When not over-analyzing Star Wars, she spends much time reading historical biographies and Batman comics.


BoomerangLearn language arts with the Scarlet Pimpernel Boomerang!

The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is geared toward 8th to 10th graders (ages 12—advanced, 13-15) and is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

Movie Wednesday: Fullmetal Alchemist

Movie Wednesday Fullmetal Alchemist

by Amy Frantz

After the sudden death of their mother, brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric attempt to use alchemy to bring her back to life. But when it goes horribly wrong, the young boys are left with dire consequences. Edward loses an arm and a leg in the attempt and must bind his little brother’s soul to a suit of armor to keep Alphonse alive. Years later, Edward has become a renowned State Alchemist, known as the Fullmetal Alchemist because of his metal prosthetic limbs. Now bent on returning Alphonse to his proper body, Edward will stop at nothing to find the Philosopher’s Stone, which he believes will grant him the power to set things right. But strong forces outside the two brothers conspire to keep them from their goal.


[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


Fullmetal Alchemist is a Netflix original film and a fantasy science fiction movie released in 2017. Directed by Fumihiko Sori, it is a live action adaptation of the award-winning and worldwide best-selling manga (Japanese comic) series of the same name by Hiromu Arakawa.

In recent years, there has been a string of live action adaptations of Japanese manga, many of which have received heavy criticism for whitewashing. Fullmetal Alchemist is a notable exception to this trend. Although set in a fantastical, fictionalized Europe, the movie’s characters are all played by Japanese actors. A common argument against including representation in genre films has been that its presence would somehow need an explanation from the narrative. Fullmetal Alchemist never does this and simply centers Japanese actors without making it a narrative point.

Among the film’s central themes are familial love, trust and loyalty, perseverance, learning from mistakes, and that all actions have consequences that cannot be cheated.

A note to parents: Fullmetal Alchemist is rated TV-14 (roughly the equivalent of PG-13) and is intended for older teen audiences. Parents should be aware that it contains dark themes and intense fantasy violence (particularly in its last third). We recommend looking up the film on sites like Common Sense Media before deciding if it is right for your family.

Discussion Questions

  • A major theme of Fullmetal Alchemist is the principle of equivalent exchange; that in order to create something new, something old must be destroyed/given up. In what ways does the film illustrate this theme outside of the obvious alchemy?
  • Condensing and omission are necessities of the adaptation process, especially when trying to adapt a long-running comic series into a two hour film. Were there ever any moments in the film where you felt something wasn’t well explained or that something was missing, or did you feel the film’s narrative held together on its own? Explain your answer.
  • Towards the end of the film, one of the Homunculi observes that because she can die then she is human. What do you think this definition of humanity implies about her character?
  • At the end of the film, Ed decides not to use the Philosopher’s Stone to bring Al’s body back. Do you agree with his decision? Why or why not?

Additional Resources

Fullmetal Alchemist is streaming on Netflix.


Amy Frantz is a Brave Writer alum and now works as a Virtual Marketing Assistant for Brave Writer. When not over-analyzing Star Wars, she spent much of her teens building a rather large manga collection.


Movie Discussion Club

Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

From September 15th to October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States.

“Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.” –From the Hispanic Heritage Month about page

Here at Brave Writer we would like to direct you to some products and resources for Hispanic Heritage Month.


[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


Esperanza Rising Arrow

Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it.—Amazon (purchase the book here)

The Arrow is the monthly digital product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel (you purchase or obtain the novels yourself). It’s geared toward children ages 8-11 and is an indispensable tool for parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

Movie Night Suggestion: Coco

Miguel comes from a family of shoemakers and in the Rivera household there is absolutely no music allowed. Miguel’s great-great-grandmother’s husband abandoned the family many years before to pursue music and ever since then the family has forbade music on principle. But Miguel dreams of one day becoming a renowned musician. His idol is the famous Ernesto de la Cruz, who was a popular singer before his untimely death. And now it seems like it’s Miguel’s lucky break. During the Day of the Dead holiday there will be a music contest and Miguel hopes to enter. But magic is in the air, and when Miguel’s plan goes wrong, he finds himself in the Land of the Dead! Now Miguel must find his musician great-great-grandfather to receive his blessing and transport Miguel back to the living before sunrise or he will remain among his deceased ancestors forever!

Learn more about the film (includes discussion questions) here.

Poetry Teatime!

Here is a list of bilingual English-Spanish poetry books perfect for Poetry Teatime!

For more Poetry Teatime ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month, check out our post on the official Poetry Teatime website.


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