Archive for the ‘Wednesday Movies’ Category

Movie Night: How to Train Your Dragon

Movie Wednesday How to Train Your Dragon

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Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon has captivated millions since it was first published, and in 2012 it was adapted into a film. The film is very different from the book, but it’s a gorgeous piece of work that’s definitely worth a watch.

On the storm-tossed island of Berk, Vikings and dragons are locked in a brutal war. Hiccup, teenage son of the Chief, has a lot on his shoulders and is desperate to prove himself. But when he shoots down a dragon in battle, he can’t bring himself to kill it—and the dragon can’t bring itself to kill Hiccup.

In utmost secret, Hiccup gradually befriends the dragon, whom he names Toothless. Their friendship might change the world. But Hiccup’s friends are growing closer to discovering the truth, and the Vikings and dragons are getting closer and closer to wiping each other out. It might already be too late.

Beautifully animated and with an important message at its heart, How to Train Your Dragon is a superb film for the whole family.

Discussion Questions

  • The movie is quite a loose adaptation of the book. It uses the original idea to create new characters and a new story line. Do you enjoy films like that or do you prefer adaptations that stick more closely to the source material? Explain your answer.
  • How does the soundtrack contribute to the cinematic experience?
  • Would the film work as live action? Give examples where it might or might not work as well.
  • Though the tribe call themselves Vikings, they bear little resemblance to historical Vikings. Does historical accuracy matter in a fantasy film? Why or why not?
  • Would you like to own a dragon? If so, what kind?

Additional Resources

How to Train Your Dragon party ideas – DIY ideas for a How to Train Your Dragon themed kids party.

Make Your Own Viking Helmet – Create your own Viking helmet.

Arrow How to Train Your Dragon Learn language arts naturally with the How to Train Your Dragon Arrow!

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.

Start With What They Do

Start with what they do

A mom in the BraveSchoolers Facebook Group asked what to do when her son was asked to write a movie review but wrote a summary instead.

Start always with what he did do! A summary is challenging. That he wrote one is a great place to start. Most reviews include a summation of the movie, so notice that. Say: “Great job summarizing the story. That’s a high level writing skill” (it is). Then talk a bit about what he liked and didn’t like about the movie. While he talks, take some notes. Then hand them back to him and say: “I’ve noticed that reviews also include the personal opinions of the reviewers about the movie. You have so many good ones. I jotted a few down. As you take another look at your review, I wonder if you can think about ways to incorporate your opinions as well.”

Don’t do this too quickly after you’ve given positive feedback. Allow him to experience your pride in his work. He can then narrow and expand the content to include opinions. He can give full attention to the opinion part of his thinking and can do some freewriting around that. Then he can take these two pieces of writing and “stitch” them together on yet another day. You might even read some movie reviews together to get ideas about how to do that. Make sense?

Concentrate on how he writes! Start there. Talk about the power of his vocabulary, his ability to grab the reader’s attention, his deft handling of the storyline without boring the reader, or his pacing.

Then talk about the assignment—the purpose of a review. You might read some reviews so he gets a feel for them. Ask him if he wants to take another stab at it, using some of this material, but not giving away the entire plot. Talk to him about how film critics analyze: what are the categories, what are the focal points (Acting? Camera work? Storyline?). Do most reviewers tell the end of the story or do they simply hook you with part of it? And so on. Perhaps don’t even revise this one. Just get to know the genre of reviews, reading them and talking about them. Then he might try another movie with those ideas in mind. Make a list of aspects of film to consider as you write about one when you are reviewing. He just needs more support to do what you are talking about, but his writing is just fine. He’s doing great!

Resist the temptation to say he didn’t do what he was supposed to. Work with what he offered!

The Homeschool Alliance

Calling all armchair travelers to our fall movie club, now boarding!

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India

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Brave Writer Minister of Magic, Nancy GrahamNancy Graham joined Brave Writer’s fulltime staff this year as our Minister of Magic. She has been teaching with Brave Writer since 2011. We interviewed her about the upcoming Movie Club for Globetrotters: India.

How does Movie Club for Globetrotters: India differ from Brave Writer’s other movie clubs?

This will be the first in a series of movie discussion clubs devoted to movies from around the world. Another thing that will distinguish this club is the amount of subtitles, which is great reading practice!

What movies will the club be discussing?

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India

Our first film, Pather Panchali, is considered one of the great classics of world cinema. It’s the first of a trilogy of films that follows a Bengali boy named Apu as he grows into a man. The images are so beautiful that watching is like stepping into a black-and-white version of Bengal in the 1950s. The director, Satyajit Ray, was an eloquent visual storyteller who showed great compassion for his characters. He was influenced by other world-renowned directors such as Jean Renoir and Vittorio De Sica.

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India

From there we will jump to Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, a more recent, more commercial Bollywood musical! Set before independence, Lagaan is about a cricket match between a British regiment and the local villagers that they are unfairly taxing. I think everybody will be cheering by the end.

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India

Our third movie, The Lunchbox, somehow manages to be a love story and a sociology lesson at the same time. In Mumbai, lunches are delivered by 5,000 dabbawallahs who rarely make a mistake. In this story, through a mix-up, lunches start going to the wrong man and he and the woman who prepares them strike up a correspondence. It’s a sweet story and I highly recommend anyone watching it have some dal, rice, and curry on hand because it will make you hungry. So does writing about it: my daughter read over my shoulder as I wrote this paragraph and we decided to break immediately and head for our favorite Indian restaurant.

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India
Now that I’ve had my arugula dosa and chai, I’ll tell you about our final movie, My Name is Khan. This one stars Shah Rukh Khan, a major Indian film star, in a story that takes us from India to the US where its protagonist, a Muslim with Asperger’s traits, finds himself in the midst of tragedy and anti-Muslim sentiment after 9/11. This movie is a great discussion starter and relevant to today’s conversation about appearances, immigration, violence, and kindness.

Why sign up for an online movie club class?

Here’s how Brave Writer Movie Clubs help kids develop as writers:

1. Movies are great writing prompts. Few if any of us can watch a movie without sharing an opinion. Typically other family members watch too, so discussions ensue that help prime the pump for conversing with other members of the movie club. This is writing-as-conversation rather than as a solitary activity, and it helps writers tune in to their inner conversations. This kind of dialogic writing gradually eases the second, solitary form of writing demanded by high school composition.

2. The movie clubs offer breadth and depth in terms of developing media literacy, a complex set of analytical and creative abilities essential to 21st-century communication. We consider shot composition, transitions, lighting, scoring, sound effects, narrative development, qualities of performance, camera movement, costumes—the list goes on and on. And these topics are rarely introduced by me—it’s the participants who generate insights; I elaborate and invite further exploration.

3. Movies begin as literature with a screenplay, novel, or short story. So discussing movies is often necessarily also a consideration of the art of adaptation from one medium into another.

4. Cinema writing shares much of the language of literary analysis. Thanks to the internet, many young people are now familiar with tropes, archetypes, and other elements of literature, and regularly apply them when discussing animé, manga, and games. Our movie clubs validate and deepen the application of this terminology to the works of popular culture. Participants come to view what they do for entertainment as existing on a continuum with what we think of as high art and literature.

5. We try to make the clubs a blend of commercial successes and movies that get kids’ feet wet with independent or lesser-known works. I hope that as they grow, their increased awareness of alternative film will lead to their having expanded taste and going off the beaten track to screenings at universities, community centers, and art house cinemas.

I hope you’ll join us for our trip to India on September 19th!

Movie Discussion Club

Movie Night: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars movie night

[This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Brave Writer.]

Hazel Grace Lancaster is seventeen and has cancer. Her life is hardly fantastic, but she’s coping. Everything changes however when she goes to a cancer support group and meets Augustus Waters, a fellow sufferer, whom she forms a connection with. They bond over Hazel’s favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction, and grow closer through their mutual wisdom beyond their years and their fears for the future.

Hazel doesn’t want to fall in love with Gus—she knows that if she does, she’ll only break his heart when she dies. However, when the two decide to make a trip to Amsterdam to seek out the mysterious author of An Imperial Affliction, they’ll find out that certain things are just meant to be.

The Fault in Our Stars is a difficult film to watch, but it’s also considered by many an exquisite piece of film-making. Consider it for the next movie night with your older children and teens.

Please note: this PG-13 film contains mature themes. In order to evaluate whether or not it’s appropriate for your family, we recommend watching it first and/or using the Kids-in-Mind website.

Discussion Questions

  • As with any film adapted from a book, how do you think the adaptation compares to the novel if you’ve read it? How important is it to read the source material before watching a movie based on it?
  • At the beginning, Hazel doesn’t want to pursue a relationship with Gus in case she dies and breaks his heart. Which is better in your view: to love someone and lose them or never to love them at all?
  • Do you believe the film is respectful in its depiction of cancer patients? Explain.
  • Stories like The Fault in Our Stars might be considered “cathartic” (a work of art that provides psychological relief through the expression of strong emotions). Why do you think people appreciate films that make them cry?
  • The title comes from a Shakespeare quote: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves,” although this isn’t explained in the film. Is it a good title? Why or why not.

Additional Resources

Dutch Recipes – Try these delicious Dutch dishes.

Faulty math in the Fault in our Stars? – “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities” but maybe not in the way you might think.

Shakespeare Inspired Novel Titles – Want more Shakespearean titles? Here, have a bunch!

Fault in Our Stars BoomerangLearn language arts naturally with the Fault in Our Stars 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: To Kill a Mockingbird

Movie Wednesday To Kill a Mockingbird

[This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Brave Writer!]

Some films are nearly universally acknowledged to be great—memorable, well made, complex films which impact the world. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those films. It’s hard to view, with its honest depiction of prejudice and hatred and a not entirely happy ending, but it’s a rewarding watch if you persevere.

Scout and Jem Finch live in a quiet town in Alabama in the 1930s. They spend their days playing with their friend Dill, swinging on their swing, and trying to catch glimpses of their reclusive neighbor Boo Radley, who only seems to leave his house at night. But their innocent life is changed forever when their father Atticus, the town lawyer, is tasked with defending a black man, Tom Robinson, accused of a horrible crime.

In a town where white people are often considered superior, Atticus knows the court will be unjust to Tom. But he’s brave enough to defend him anyway, and the resulting trial will teach Scout and Jem a lot about the adult world and how other people think.

It may be over fifty years old, but To Kill a Mockingbird is still a beautiful, important film and is considered by many to be one of the greatest ever made.

Discussion Questions

  • If you’ve read the book, how do you think the film compares? What differences can you spot? How do they impact the story?
  • This film is in black and white. In what ways might this make the viewing experience different from movies filmed in color?
  • Atticus tells Scout: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” What do you think he means? How would someone do that?
  • Atticus Finch was named the greatest film hero of the 20th century by the American Film Institute. Do you agree with that choice? What makes a hero?
  • What do you think is the message of the story? The book and film first came out in the early 1960’s. Is the message still relevant today? Explain your answer.

Additional Resources

26 Foods in Alabama – Try some of these delicious popular southern dishes.

8 Inspiring Quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird – A collection of some of the most memorable quotes said by Atticus Finch.

Northern Mockingbird – Learn about the sassy bird after which the story is named.

To Kill a Mockingbird BoomerangLearn language arts naturally with the To Kill a Mockingbird 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.