Archive for the ‘Wednesday Movies’ Category

Movie Wednesday: The Hunger Games

Movie Wednesday The Hunger Games

[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!]

Untold years in the future, the nation of Panem hosts an annual event called the Hunger Games, in which one boy and one girl from 12 Districts between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen as Tributes and forced to compete in a live broadcast death match until only one Victor remains.

Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl from the outlying District 12, volunteers for the Hunger Games to save her younger sister from competing. Katniss, along with fellow Tribute Peeta, is taken from her home and family and carted off to the extravagant Capital where she will have to fight to the death against other children if she hopes to survive and return home.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (featuring the Hunger Games and Catching Fire, which are among our Boomerang titles) was adapted into four films released from 2012 to 2015 to much critical acclaim, becoming one of the biggest film franchises. Touching on issues of family, violence, reality TV culture, consumerism, and political injustice, the Hunger Games films tell a story of human struggle and are a great jumping off point for Big Juicy Conversations.

A note to parents: All four installments in the Hunger Games films are rated PG-13. We recommend looking up the films on sites such as Commonsense Media for detailed lists of content so that you can make an informed decision about whether the films are right for your family.

Discussion Questions

  • If someone you cared about was picked for the Hunger Games, would you volunteer in their place like Katniss does for Prim? Explain.
  • Why do you think the Capital has such outrageous fashions and trends? What do you think these things say about the society living in the Capital?
  • The Hunger Games films stay pretty faithful to the books, but if you’ve read the books you may notice some differences. Were there any changes the films made that you didn’t like? Explain your answers.
  • In the fictional world of Panem, the Hunger Games are broadcast live and are presented in a manner which is unmistakably similar to the reality TV of our real world. What do you think the story may be trying to say about reality television and pop culture?
  • How do you feel about the Hunger Games mechanizing and marketing materials since the films are so critical of consumerism and commercialism?

Additional Resources

Hunger Games Book Club ideas from notbefore7

Learn language arts with the Hunger Games and Catching Fire Boomerangs!

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: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Movie Wednesday: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

[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!]

Swallow Falls is a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean where everyone makes their living by fishing for sardines. But when the world stops eating sardines, the future looks set to be grey and tasteless.

But Swallow Falls is also home to one of the world’s most original inventors, Flint Lockwood. Flint’s latest invention can turn water into food, and it might just save the town’s economy and make it world famous… or possibly destroy civilization with enormous meatballs and spaghetti tornadoes! Now it’s up to Flint, Steve the Monkey, and weather reporter Sam Sparks, to save the world from the first ever food storm!

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a fun, colorful film about big ideas and never giving up. Give it a go!

Discussion Questions

  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is based on a picture book of the same name. If you’ve read it, how do you think the film compares?
  • Would you want to live somewhere where it rained food? Why or why not?
  • Which characters change throughout the film and which ones stay the same? Share examples.
  • Ultimately, did Flint help Swallow Falls or just give it more problems? Explain your answer.
  • What do you think is the overall “message” of the film? It’s OK to be geeky? Follow your dreams? Too much junk food can kill? Something else?

Additional Resources

Family Breakfast Party – How to make a Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs themed breakfast.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs picture book – Check out the story that started it all.

Movie Discussion Club

Movie Wednesday: Planet of the Apes

Movie Wednesday Planet of the Apes

[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!]

Taylor, an astronaut explorer and his crew, depart the planet Earth in 1972. They awake from stasis to discover that they have crash landed on a strange planet in the year 3978. The astronauts learn that the planet is inhabited by primitive humans without the power of speech and is ruled instead by intelligent talking apes. Taylor is captured and brought to the ape city where he and his captors will have to face questions of what constitutes intelligent life and grapple with their beliefs and identities as Taylor’s mere presence throws the ape society into an uproar.

Before the big budget, CGI heavy reboot in 2011, Planet of the Apes was first brought to the big screen in 1968. Hailed for its cutting-edge makeup and prosthetics as well as its challenging and innovative story, this film is considered a classic in its genre and stars Charlton Heston as Taylor. The film was inspired by the early ‘60s novel by Pierre Boulle and launched a franchise which endures to this day.

With the next installment in the reboot set to release in July 2017, now is a great time to journey back to the cinema of the ‘60s and ‘70s and experience this widely popular and seminal film series from the beginning.

A note to parents: Although the original Planet of the Apes films are rated G and PG respectively, they were released prior to significant changes in how films are rated and their content is not comparable to modern day films of the same rating. Discretion is advised for younger viewing audiences and you may wish to look up the content of the films prior to viewing using a site such as Commonsense Media.

Discussion Questions

  • The apes have a cast system segregating chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans into strict social roles. Why do you think this is? And do you think it’s a good system? Explain your answers.
  • In the original film, apes treat humans as inferior life and therefore feel it’s acceptable to experiment and treat them poorly, similar to the way humans treat animals now. What do you think this says about our own society?
  • If you found yourself on the planet of the apes, how do you think you would react? Would you make the same choices as Taylor or would you make different ones? Explain you answer.

A full length documentary detailing the production of all five original films is available with the DVD/Blu-Ray set.

Check out our guide:

Brave Writer Goes to the Movies

Movie Wednesday: Inside Out

Movie Wednesday Inside Out

[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!]

In Disney Pixar’s Inside Out, eleven year old Riley goes to school, plays hockey…and has five tiny people inside her mind. Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust all have specific jobs in Riley’s head. They keep her emotions balanced. But when her family moves to San Francisco, Riley starts feeling a lot less Joy and a lot more of everything else.

Things go from bad to worse when Joy and Sadness are accidentally lost in the enormous maze of Riley’s Long Term Memory. With her personality collapsing and Fear, Disgust, and Anger unable to save Riley, can Joy and Sadness make it back before Riley stops having emotions at all?

The movie is vivid, clever, and of course, emotional. Give Inside Out a watch.

Discussion Questions

  • Which of Riley’s emotions is your favorite? Explain why.
  • Riley’s mom’s emotions are “female” and her dad’s “male,” but Riley’s own emotions are a mixture. What does that tell us about her character?
  • How could Riley’s parents have reacted differently to Riley’s problems adjusting to change?
  • Describe how your emotions might look. Which one is in control most of the time?
  • Write a conversation between your emotions.

This film is also an opportunity to start a conversation with your kids about mental health, since Riley at the very least shows signs of an Adjustment Disorder though the film conceptualizes this in kid friendly language.

Additional Resources

Psychology Today Article on how Inside Out is stays true to cognitive, developmental, and clinical psychological.

Untranslatable Emotions – Feelings we might not know we have because we don’t have words for them.

Inside Out Party Ideas.

Movie Discussion Club

How Movies Made Me a Reader and Writer

why you should let your kids watch adaptations

By Brave Writer Alum Amy Frantz

I would often hear, either in the homes of family members or in the aisles of stores, a parent telling their child, “You have to read the book first,” when the child asked for a movie. I heard this all through my childhood outside of our home and it never made sense to me.

Movies made me a reader and a writer.

Allow me to explain:

I am severely dyslexic. By the age of eleven, I still could not read well. In fact, I didn’t start reading well until my teens. Reading is physically painful for me, but I did it and do it for long chunks of time a day anyway. Reading is vitally important to me, but for a large part of my childhood and adolescence I couldn’t read or couldn’t read well.

So, I watched movies and TV shows instead. I first travelled to Narnia through the television and the BBC’s excellent Chronicles of Narnia adaptations. I met Harry Potter and journeyed to Hogwarts through the cinema, not through the written word. I had adventures with Peter Rabbit through animation. Film and television ignited my love of stories, a love which has lasted my entire life.

I was quite lucky to be raised outside the school system by a homeschooling mother who was calmly undismayed by my difficulty reading. My mom steadfastly believed that I would get there in my own time, in my own way. And I did.

I was raised in a language rich environment. My mom read to my brothers and me daily. For long car rides, we had audio books. Mom would take us to the library and I would go to the kid’s section and take a seat beside the Beatrix Potter books. I couldn’t read them, but I liked to be near her words. I would flip through the books, looking at the illustrations, and running my fingers over her words. I checked out books I couldn’t really read ‘cause I wanted to take the words with me and I was allowed to do that.

But more than all this, my parents allowed me to have access to adaptations of books. No one insisted that I “read the book first.” I was allowed to check out the BBC Chronicles of Narnia from the library as many times as I wanted. I’m sure I watched the first Harry Potter movie until my entire family was sick of it.

I loved these stories so much and I loved words even if their written form was a tricky foreign country with unreadable road signs. Because I loved stories so much, I wanted access to their source material.

Movies and television not only made me want to read books,
but they made the reading easier.

When I begged my mom to let me have the first Harry Potter novel, it was a struggle for me to read it at the age of eleven. But because I already knew the basic story, because I knew how most of the pieces fit, if I had to skip sections or couldn’t understand large swaths of paragraphs, that was okay because I wouldn’t get lost.

Adaptations gave me a road map for this strange land of written words that can still be difficult for me to navigate even today. If I don’t concentrate, the words will fracture and all their meaning will run right off the page. Movies and television helped me to put the meaning back when I was still struggling so hard to read.

I honestly don’t know how my development would have gone if I had been raised in an environment that limited my access to stories. I might not enjoy reading now and I probably wouldn’t be a writer.

When I was young, my parents gave me a bulky red tape recorder that I could carry around with me, and I told my stories into that because I couldn’t yet write. It was counted as writing even though there wasn’t a pen in my hand.

My mom accommodated my learning disability. While she still diligently worked with me at handwriting and phonics, undeterred by my seeming lack of much progress, she also gave me access to the forms of language and expression that were easiest for me, instead of insisting I restrict myself to the forms which were painful, difficult, and limiting.

Developing reading and writing skills in children don’t always look like a child sitting with a book open in their hands or physically putting a pen to paper. Sometimes a child developing reading and writing skills looks like watching Harry Potter for the thousandth time or speaking into a recording device. I think it’s important to give kids access to stories and language in the ways that are easiest for them. While still teaching the ‘hard’ stuff, sure, but not letting the hard stuff dominate the child’s linguistic landscape.

I grew up with fantastical stories and words, so many words, running through my head. I grew up with Narnia and Hogwarts and Wonderland, Winnie-the-Pooh and Shakespeare, and so many more. I had a childhood rich in language, but it oftentimes might have looked to an outsider like a kid “just watching television.”

I put forth for your consideration that a child who wants to watch the same Disney film for the third time this week is a child who wants to actively engage with a story and with words spoken and sung. That’s a child loving a story just as much as the child curled up on the couch with a book. And sometimes kids need to come at stories through a screen before they can pick up the book. If a child loves stories, they will probably want to pick up the book when it’s right for them, and that’s the most important thing.

Movie Discussion Club