Archive for the ‘Wednesday Movies’ Category

Movie Wednesday: Enjoy it with loved ones!

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014


Watch a film today with your kids!

Movies are just as important as the novel was in its hey-day. Movies are not a sub-standard art form that only the poorly educated enjoy. On the contrary, film today is just as important as literature and we would do well to enjoy it and study it, rather than to shun, condescend to and disapprove of it.  —from Brave Writer Goes to the Movies

Need help commenting meaningfully on plot, characterization, make-up and costumes, acting, setting and even film editing? Check out our eleven page guide. 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 of WALL-E figures by Morgan (cc cropped)

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Brave Writer Movie Club!

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

movie night!

Participants in our Movie Discussion Club “develop skills that transfer to the study of literature or any textual or visual analysis. Take advantage of this pleasurable way to expand your child’s writing and thinking skills.”

For example, read these excellent observations from a former film class about superheroes:

On The Incredibles

“Identities, there are concrete identities and abstract, there are deep characters, and shallow. Dynaguy is one of the characters who are true to the thought of ‘superhero’. Even though he had a small role in the movie, he fills the role of ‘true hero’. With his cape and his boots, he saves the weak, and destroyes evil. After another’s day work, defeating the bad guys, Dynaguy bows to the damsel in distress, and his cape gets caught on the rocket he moved to defeat evil. His short scene ends with him flying through the air, attached to a rocket, the damsel either laughing, or surprised. Edna Mode, uses his story to outline the phrase “No Capes” (one of my favorite quotes in movies). Now, Dynaguy might not have been ‘the brightest bulb’, but he stayed true to the role of Superhero. His chivalry and honor harkening back to a ‘golden age’. To be ‘Super’, one often is thought to have to have superior intellect, or powers that allow an advantage over the average human. “Super” on the other hand is found in the lives of these heroes, the acts they do to save us, the heroes we love and cherish. Even though ‘Super’ is a word delineated to the powerful and fictional, should it not be used also to describe those with a sense of duty, honor, and chivalry? Dynaguy is not a great hero, not even an average one, but he used his powers and his sense of duty to help those who cannot help themselves. Is that not something we can do as well?”


“Near the beginning of the movie, at the end of the TV report, the reporter said ‘Their secret identity will became their only identity.’ I thought that was a cool way of putting it. I believe she was saying that Mr. Incredible will stay Robert Parr from now on. Instead of saving the world, he will stay an insurance agent at Insura-Care, and will have a life the same as every other ‘normal’ person. For Mr. Parr, that is a hard change from the Superhero lifestyle he was used to. He was somewhat blinded by the ‘Glory days’ and was so preoccupied by his memories that he wasn’t really part of the family. It wasn’t until he got his identity back that he became more involved in his family. He became a much stronger person, both in mind and body. At the end of the movie, it shows the Incredible family working together as a team to help protect the city.”


“I decided to talk about Dash.( : I love Dash’s character because he is always wanting to help, he is protective over his family, and he is mischievious. Although he can be the annoying younger sibiling at times and he allows his curiosity to get the better of him, it shows throughout the film that he loves his family.

“”Haha, I love our family.’ —Dash

“Dash often uses his speed to run to the rescue. He runs to protect his sister a few times in the movie, he runs to get the remote to defeat the robot, and he runs to save his mother and sister from drowning in the ocean. Dash’s super power relates to his personality for sure! He is quick to speak and quick to act on things in pretty much any situation. Dash’s power is superspeed and he can also run on water. He is also a bit mischievious and he often uses his superpower to further his little pranks and jokes. He is curious as well he uses his speed to give him easy access into places he may not be invited to like when he eaves dropped on his parents during their argument and also to grab his costum from his mom without her being able to protest. He struggles a lot with being normal because it meant him being limited to do things that other children got to do like sports. Overall though Dash is spunky, fun, and sometimes comic relief in the Incredibles.”


The theme for our fall Movie Discussion Club: ROBOTS! 

SIGN UP TODAY for the next class!

Image by Ginny (cc text added)

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Movie Wednesday: Epic

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Movie Wednesday  Robin

Brave Writer mom, Robin, writes:

I don’t know if this is done all over the US, but our local theater has a Summer Movie program for kids each year. For $5 per person you get tickets for 10 kids’ movies, one a week for 10 weeks. For the most part they are old movies, ones we’ve seen before at home, but when temperatures soar over 105°F all summer long any A/C’d activity is appreciated.

Your Movie Wednesday blog post last week inspired me to make more of our Friday morning moving watching, and I incorporated it for the very next movie we saw, Epic. The 20 minute drive to the theater, plus the 10 minutes to pump gas, allowed us plenty of time for discussing character, plot, foreshadowing, and flashback, pulling lots of examples from recent books we’ve read and movies we watched. Since we had seen this movie before, I challenged my kids to be on the lookout for the things we had discussed so that we could talk about them on the way home.

It was such a success! Can you believe my “attention span of a gnat” 7 year old identified the flashback scene while her 11 and 9 year old brothers were still frowning in thought?

All of the kids could identify the protagonist and antagonist, although only my 11 year old remembered how to say the words. They got into a nice discussion over whether Mandrake was a dynamic or static character too. Did he change at all or was how he acted and what he wanted the same throughout the movie regardless of what happened around him?

The concept of plot was equally easy for them to grasp, although this particular movie didn’t lend itself easily to discussing sub-plots so that didn’t come up.

None of the kids could identify the instances of foreshadowing in Epic, but I really didn’t expect it; foreshadowing is subtle. So I told them about how the narration at the beginning told of “needing help” and how the father said something along the line of, “Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there.” These weren’t the greatest examples of foreshadowing, so we ended up referring to the book Johnny Tremain that we have been reading aloud.

All in all, our first foray into mindful movie discussion was a huge success. We will be doing it again, although we may skip this week’s Summer Movie (Smurfs 2, uh) and watch Mulan or Prince of Egypt or something.

Attached is a photo of my three younger kids waiting for Epic to start (my two teens weren’t interested in the Summer Movie program, so they have been staying home each week).

Thank you,

Image (cc)

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!

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Movie Wednesday: Singin’ in the Rain

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Singin in the Rain“Singin’ in the Rain” in the Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Image by Sam Howzit (cc)

by Brave Writer alum, Kyriana Lynch

Singin’ in the Rain, the classic musical starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor, was released over sixty years ago in 1952. Since then, it has become a household name as much as “bacon and eggs” (to quote the film).

The trivia about the film is abundant and oh-so-fascinating. Watch—or re-watch—the movie with the family, and discuss the trivia together!

Debbie Reynolds

Debbie Reynolds was only 19 when she began filming this movie, and it was her first major film. Prior to Singin’ in the Rain, she was a gymnast and had no dance training.

Gene Kelly, a notorious perfectionist, criticized Reynolds’ dancing ability repeatedly while filming. One day, after some harsh words, she hid beneath a piano to cry. In a twist of Hollywood fate, she was found hiding by none other than Fred Astaire, who gave her some dancing advice.

During the “Good Morning” dance number, she kept up with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor for fourteen hours of dancing, only to be carried off set with bleeding feet. Later, Kelly would say of her, “Debbie was strong as an ox and could work for hours.” However, Reynolds maintained that, “The two hardest things I ever did in my life are childbirth and ‘Singin’ In the Rain’.”

Gene Kelly

Debbie Reynolds wasn’t the only dancer having difficulties in the film. Even Gene Kelly struggled through filming the iconic “Singin’ in the Rain” scene. The scene took seven days to film, with six hours spent in the fake rain each day. Not only was the water mixed with milk to make it show better on camera, but the mixture made Kelly’s suit shrink. Even worse, the whole time while filming Kelly had a cold and a high fever.

Donald O’Connor

Donald O’Connor’s “Make ‘Em Laugh” dance has been described as one of the most complex numbers in cinematic history, and has never been repeated perfectly. After working himself to exhaustion filming the number, O’Connor was forced to rest for several days. Then, he learned that the film had been damaged. O’Connor had to record the entire scene all over again!

Other Trivia from the Movie

While recording the speaking voice for “The Dancing Cavalier,” it was decided that Debbie Reynolds’ speaking voice was not rich enough. Instead, the actress for Lina Lamont, Jean Hagen—who in reality had a beautiful voice—recorded the speaking voice in the scene. So in the film, Lina was dubbing Kathy who was dubbing Lina’s voice!

An initial idea for the ending featured Lina Lamont in a movie called “Jungle Princess,” where she would speak only in grunts. Also, she and Cosmo would have married.

Only two songs were written for the film: “Moses Supposes” and “Make ‘Em Laugh.” The other songs were all taken from previous MGM films. Thus, the screenwriters were given a list of songs and had to connect them into the script for the movie.

Hope you enjoyed learning these trivial tidbits! Do any of them change how you view the movie or the actors and actresses in it? Discuss your reactions with your family!

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!

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Movie Wednesday: Anne of Green Gables

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Green Gables Heritage Place, Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, CanadaGreen Gables Heritage Place, Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Image by Robert Linsdell (cc)

Brave Writer alum, Kyriana Lynch writes:

One of the most delightful movies from my childhood is the film series Anne of Green Gables.

At the beginning of this four-hour saga, the protagonist Anne is a spunky redheaded eleven-year-old orphan. She possesses a dreamy nature and is forever imagining things. She wishes her name was Cordelia, insists that her name should be spelled with an “e,” and abhors her red hair.

As she grows older in the story, from a child of eleven to a grown-up young lady about to begin her first job as a schoolteacher in Avonlea, she comes to accept her own appearance yet still retains her wonderful imagination and childlike faith in the beauty of the world.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the film:

“My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes. That’s a sentence I read once and I say it over to comfort myself in these times that try the soul.”

“Tell me what you know about yourself.”

“Well, it really isn’t worth telling, Mrs. Cadbury, but if you let me tell you what I imagine about myself you’d find it a lot more interesting.”

“I wish I were rich and I could spend the whole summer at a hotel, eating ice cream and chicken salad.”

“You know something, Diana? We are rich. We have sixteen years to our credit, and we both have wonderful imaginations. We should be as happy as queens.”

“I promise I’ll never do it again. That’s the one good thing about me—I never do the same wrong thing twice.”

“There’s a world of difference between being called crow-head and being called carrots. I shall never forgive Gilbert Blythe. The iron has entered my soul, Diana. My mind is made up; my red hair is a curse.”

“Marilla, I thought nothing could be as bad as red hair. Green is ten times worse.”

Anne of Green Gables is truly a wonderful movie to watch with the whole family. If you haven’t seen it yet, rent it from the library (or, better yet, buy it to view again and again) and set aside a rainy afternoon to watch the movie. You’ll fall in love with Anne and her sweet sayings and hilarious adventures!

Anne of Green Gables (affiliate link) is a Canadian television mini-series released in 1985. Directed by Kevin Sullivan, Anne of Green Gables is set at the end of the Victorian Era in the early 1900s. It was filmed where its author, Lucy Maude Montgomery, set the original novel—on the scenic Prince Edward Island in Canada.

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!

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Movie Discussion Club: Spring 2014

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Movies 240x240The theme for our spring Movie Discussion Club is Miyazaki! The films:

1. MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (1988, G) Two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother and are introduced to whimsical forest spirits who dwell nearby.

2. SPIRITED AWAY (2001, PG) In the midst of a move to a new house, a ten-year-old girl and her parents become lost and happen on an amusement park that turns out to be a inhabited by spirits.

3. HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (2004, PG) An 18-year-old hatter transformed into a 90-year-old woman encounters a wizard who lives in a walking castle with a fire demon. Based on the novel by Diana Wynne Jones.

4. PONYO (2008, G) A five-year-old boy and his adventures with a goldfish princess who longs to become a human.
We have an expert teaching our film discussion class. Nancy Graham has her MA in Cinema Studies and is a homeschooling veteran.

Join us in celebrating a filmmaker whose career has spanned more than five decades and witnessed the evolution of animation from hand-drawn to computer-generated techniques.

Class starts June 2nd
Sign up today!

Also, the Summer Class Schedule is now posted (registration opens Monday, June 2, 2014, noon EDT).

Image © Sonulkaster |

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Wednesday Movie: Gifted Hands

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Movie Ginger

Tonight we watched the movie, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, with our girls. What an inspirational story of faith, determination, and courage! Not to mention, it was just a good family friendly movie.

Our girls were a little dejected when we decided to watch this instead of something with more comedic value. The funny thing about it all though is that my youngest daughter was trying to work out the timeline taking place in the movie. It started out in 1987 but flashed back to his life story beginning when he was about ten (1961). Then towards the end it picked back up where it left off in the beginning. I was trying to explain that and I said, “Eureka!” It was just like you had discussed a few days prior in one of your daily emails. I had forwarded that particular email to her and her sister.

Start with the end in mind.

The most dramatic story-telling starts with the ending, or near the ending. The story recreates the events leading to the ending, illuminating it as they do. Try it!

She immediately understood and I believe more clearly understood the story line then. I would like to suggest this movie as a “must see.” I’m attaching a picture of us watching it. Thanks for all you do to educate, encourage, and inspire us homeschoolers. May God bless you and yours!


Image (cc)

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 of our Movie Guide (once per family).

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Wednesday Movies: A Student Review!

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Watching a blank screenImage by Kenneth Lu

The following student piece was produced for our fall Break Into Print class taught by noted author Karen O’Connor. Students first learned the language of publishing then they picked a topic they were excited about that would interest others. Next, they selected an article style, prepared their piece for submission, and wrote a query letter.

Amelia’s project was a film review—perfect for Movie Wednesday. Enjoy! (Also, note: there are some spoilers.)

A Quick Review of Thor One and Two and The Avengers


Amelia Audette-Diaz (age 11)

Did you like the first Thor movie? If you did then you will love the new one called “Thor: The Dark World.” In the first one Loki becomes evil when he finds out he is adopted (wouldn’t we all?) and is actually the son of an evil ice giant. He wants revenge and chooses to do so by going on his real father’s side, leading him into his adopted father’s kingdom and then killing his real father when he is about to kill his adopted father. Yeah, I didn’t get it the first time either.

But Loki isn’t finished. After dying in “Thor”, he somehow comes back to life in the movie “The Avengers” and wants even more revenge. He controls the mind of a scientist and Hawk Eye, who by the way, nobody knows about because they didn’t make a movie about him. Then Loki makes them build a portal between two different worlds with the help of another evil guy he teamed up with. But the Avenger, which includes Black Widow (no previous movie about that character either), Captain America, Iron Man, Hawk Eye, and the really sensitive Hulk, who steals a motorcycle and arrives just when they need him, is ready to beat Loki. Of course they defeat Loki but completely destroy New York City in the process and send Loki back home with Thor.

In the second Thor movie (“The Dark World”), Thor’s girlfriend, who Thor’s father doesn’t like because she is human and doesn’t live five thousand years, gets infected with red slime and Thor tries to find a cure. He has a plan to give her to the evil villain, who just looks like a white elf that’s power hungry, and then destroy the slime as the evil elf is taking it out of her. His father disapproves and completely forgets to tell him the red slime is undefeatable. But in the end the villain dies and they somehow destroy the red slime even though it’s supposed to be indestructible.

Wow this movie made even less sense than the first one!

If you’d like to include movies in your homeschool, here are some resources:

The BW Lifestyle: Movies and Television. Shares good reasons to include visual media in home education.

A Family Movie List. A compilation of suggested titles from a group of friends who like to discuss movies and books.

Brave Writer Goes to the Movies. This digital eleven page guide helps you to comment meaningfully on plot, characterization, make-up and costumes, acting, setting and even film editing. $9.95

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A New Year’s Resolution: Wednesday Movies!

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

The Princess Bride

Surprisingly enough, watching TV or 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 various people (especially actors) for vocabulary training as well as growing in familiarity with proper syntax.

Using films and TV shows wisely is a big part of the Brave Writer Lifestyle. In the past, we’ve highlighted and reviewed movies here on the blog, and we hope to do more of that in 2014!

Here’s how one Brave Writer family incorporated film into their homeschool:


I wanted to gently introduce my children to your philosophy of Language Arts by watching a movie after dinner. So, we plopped down after Chinese takeout and watched my favorite, “The Princess Bride.” I thought it might be a little much for my six year old, but she LOVED it. She has been asking me questions just so I will say, “As you wish” (which means I love you.) I promised her that I would also read her the book. My sweethearts are very excited about school because they didn’t realize that movies would be included!


If you’d like to do the same this year, here are some helpful resources:

The BW Lifestyle: Movies and Television. Shares good reasons to include visual media in home education.

A Family Movie List. A compilation of suggested titles from a group of friends who like to discuss movies and books.

Brave Writer Goes to the Movies. Our digital product helps you to comment meaningfully on plot, characterization, make-up and costumes, acting, setting and even film editing. This eleven page guide gives you the background and series of questions to help your kids discuss movies on a deeper level, rather than the usual “It was really good…” responses they offer. As your children learn to talk well about movies, these skills naturally help them to discuss literature. Was $14.95, but we’ve permanently lowered the price. Now $9.95!

Movie Discussion Club. This four week online class is taught by Instructor Nancy Graham (MA in Cinema Studies) who serves as club hub, provoking debate and drawing out lines of thought in the classroom.

Image above is a scene from The Princess Bride

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Blog Classic: Wednesday Movie Conversations

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Movies are the twentieth century’s contribution to the field of literature. As important as a good education in reading is, film gives us another way to experience the elements of plot and story that make us more human. I’m passionate about bringing education into the 21st century. One way to do that is to value film.

I was asked years ago how our family talks about movies and wrote the following blog entry to answer that question. Hope it helps you too!

When we sit down as a family to watch a movie, a few comments immediately precede pushing the play button.

There’s the usual:

“Scoot over, I want the corner with the pillow,”

and the ever present

“Hey I was holding the ‘click’ first!” (click=remote control).

But once we’ve settled seating disputes and have conferred the privilege of the “click” on the most deserving, we hit the play button and watch the movie du jour.

Movies are great for unpacking plot, theme, characterization, and setting—all in a short two hours! The following tips drawn from our years of family-movie-time may help you expand the value of your movie-viewing experience. Hope so, anyway!

First and foremost: Enjoy watching the film! Pop some corn, cuddle some blankets, and enjoy a true break from the usual routine. The value of movie-viewing will occur naturally, over time, if you enjoy the experience (rather than turning it into some kind of “school-plan” or “lesson”).

Once you have resolved to enjoy the film experience, you can enhance the take-away value by asking good questions.

What do you think is going to happen next?

Wasn’t (actress’ name) in…..? I like her better in this. What about you? I like her here because…. I didn’t like her in that because….

Stop the movie.

Let’s guess how the story is going to end. (Everyone suggests possible endings including our favorite funny one: the helicopter comes and rescues, assaults, crashes or defends… whomever we want to save or vilify.)

Why does it make sense that the story could end that way? (Some kids will cite other movies with similar story lines, will identify the movie as comedy or tragedy, will guess based on “foreshadowed” events in the story.)

You can point out those foreshadowing moments (if you recognize them) to help your kids notice them on their own in other movies. Usually foreshadowing in a movie is conveyed by lines of dialog or the mood created by the style of filming or the inclusion of a specific event that anticipates a fulfillment later in the plot. Musical score can also foreshadow.

Identify the climax. See if you can recognize the moment on which the resolution of the story hinges. That’s the climax. In most movies, it comes towards the end and it’s the point of no return. After the climax, either the boy gets the girl or he doesn’t, Dorothy is either going home or will be stuck in Oz forever. One way to help your children recognize the climax is to ask the following question:

What do we hope will happen by the end of the story? Did it? When did it happen (or not)?

The climax is the moment where everything comes together and we are left with a verdict about whether or not all that effort has been worth it.

How does the setting help you know what kind of movie this is? The setting will establish a context: like fantasy or realism, comedy or tragedy, romance or epic battle. Talk about how the film maker uses the setting to heighten suspense or to create a feeling a safety. You’ll look at lighting, the close ups of the face or the big panoramic vision of the landscape and then ask yourself how these contribute to the overall mood of the plot.

And finally, the best question to end a movie viewing time is: What do you want to see next?