Archive for the ‘Wednesday Movies’ Category

Movie Wednesday: Lagaan

Movie Wednesday Lagaan

by Amy Frantz

Once upon a time in India, in the village of Champaner, there is a drought making it impossible for the villagers to pay the British taxes that have been put on them. When the corrupt Captain Russell raises the taxes even further, Bhuvan, an inhabitant of Champaner, accepts the crooked captain’s challenge to a game of cricket. If the captain wins, the villagers must pay triple the regular taxes. But if Bhuvan and the village win, they will be exempt from taxes for the next three years. Bhuvan must unite his village if they will have any hope of learning the game and lifting the unfair tax.


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Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India is a 2001 Academy Award nominated Bollywood musical sports-drama film set in colonial India during the Victorian period. The film stars Aamir Khan, who also produced the film, alongside Gracy Singh and Rachelle Shelley.

The title, Lagaan, translates to “taxation,” and among the film’s many themes, including the importance of communal unity and support, Lagaan explores some of the injustices brought about by colonial oppression. Specifically, unfair taxation by the occupying forces.

Colonialism is a policy where a country is occupied, politically taken over by another country, and exploited often for its natural resources and labor. We see this in the film as Captain Russell attempts to exploit the labor of the Champaner villagers, necessitating Bhuvan to make a stand against him.

Lagaan was filmed on location near Bhuj. It was difficult for the film crew to find a location to shoot because they needed a place where it had not rained in some time. The film features beautiful costumes, sweeping music, a lavish film style, and uplifting messages about teamwork, love, and overcoming obstacles.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you have a favorite musical number from the film? Which one and why?
  • Many blockbusters of western cinema clock in around two or two and a half hours. Lagaan is nearly four hours long. Did you find that the length allowed the film to explore its themes more deeply or did you find the pacing slow?
  • A love triangle in stories is when three people have romantic feelings for each other. Lagaan includes a love triangle between Bhuvan, Gauri, and Elizabeth. Were you rooting for one of the girls to prevail in her affections? Were you happy with how the triangle resolved? Explain your answers.
  • In the film, the character of Lakha spies on Bhuvan for Captain Russell. When the villagers discover his betrayal, they want retribution but Bhuvan decides to give Lakha another chance after Lakha sincerely apologizes. Would you have made the same choice as Bhuvan? Why or why not?

Additional Resources

Lagaan is streaming on Netflix

Lagaan 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, in her spare time you will find her belting musical numbers.


Movie Discussion Club

Movie Wednesday: Ice Girls

Movie Wednesday Ice Girls

by Amy Frantz

After sustaining a serious knee injury during a figure skating competition, fifteen-year-old Mattie Dane isn’t sure she can continue skating, especially after her mother loses her job and the family has to relocate away from Mattie’s training rink. In her new town, Mattie finds a new friend, another figure skater named Heather, as well as a new rink and a new coach who helps her to regain her confidence. But when Mattie decides to skate again, it drives a wedge between her and Heather, and their friendship turns to on ice rivalry. With sectionals looming, Mattie must learn to persevere as a competitor and repair her friendship with Heather as the two prepare to skate against each other.


[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!]


Ice Girls is a 2016 sports movie and a heartwarming family film. Its themes include learning the value of perseverance, family bonds, and the importance of friendship.

Not everything has to be high tragedy and drama or an adaptation of classic literature in order to have value. “Feel good” movies are also an important part of building family culture and a language rich environment. It’s alright to snuggle up with some popcorn and brownies and just watch a fun, uplifting film simply ’cause it feels nice. And often times, profound and moving themes can be found in movies thought to be “light” entertainment, and Ice Girls is just such a one.

So, maybe it’s time to snuggle up on the comfy couch with some snacks and watch some figure skating with Ice Girls! It’s also timely since the Grand Prix Series, a key part of the figure skating season, is getting ready to start.

Discussion Questions

  • Sportsmanship is the practice of being fair and kind towards one’s competitors in a sport. At which points in the film do you think Mattie and Heather demonstrate good sportsmanship and at which points do they show poor sportsmanship? Explain your answers.
  • Heather’s mother is shown throughout the film to be controlling, domineering, and belittling towards her daughter. Do you think this is the cause of some of Heather’s bad behavior in the film? Explain why or not.
  • Well-written characters have flaws and demonstrate growth over the course of a story. For example, Mattie is shown sometimes giving up too soon and turning that into bitterness. She shows growth by learning to overcome those flaws with perseverance and kindness. Which other characters have flaws and show growth in the story? Explain your answer.
  • The film ends with Mattie winning sectionals so that she can go on to nationals, but the film doesn’t cover whether or not Mattie actually succeeds at becoming a champion. So, what do you think happens after the credits?

Additional Resources

Olympian Jason Brown Breaks Down Figure Skating’s Six Jumps – Wall Street Journal YouTube video

International Skating Union – The first 100 years – Part 1/3 – ISU Archives – Skating ISU YouTube video

Regular People Try Olympic Figure Skating (With Kristi Yamaguchi) – BuzzFeedBlue YouTube video


Amy Frantz is a Brave Writer alum and now works as a Virtual Marketing Assistant for Brave Writer. When not over-analyzing Star Wars, in her spare time you will find her yelling about figure skating.


Movie Discussion Club

Movie Wednesday: The Darkest Minds

Movie Wednesday The Darkest Minds

by Amy Frantz

In the near future, a mysterious pandemic has killed most of the world’s children. The children who survive develop superhuman abilities. In an attempt to control the youngsters and “protect” the populace, the government begins rounding up children and sending them to camps. Once there, the children are given colors which indicate the nature of their abilities and how dangerous they are; Reds and Oranges are “disposed” of immediately because their powers are too strong. Ruby Daly is an Orange who manages to disguise herself as a safe Green and survives in the camp for several years. But one day after a test, Ruby’s Orange status is revealed and she makes a desperate escape.

Once on the outside, Ruby meets Liam, Chubs, and Zu, children with superpowers who are on the run just like her. Together they search for a place where they can be themselves and safe from the government. But once there, they will learn that things aren’t always as they seem.


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Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


The Darkest Minds is a 2018 dystopian film and was released in cinemas on August 3rd. It is based on the YA novel of the same name by Alexandra Bracken. The first book in Bracken’s series was published in December of 2012. Somewhat inspired by Bracken’s experiences during 9/11 as an adolescent, the themes of the book include the resilience of kids and teenagers through crisis.

The Darkest Minds is dystopian science fiction. What does dystopian mean? You might be familiar with the term utopia or utopian. A utopia is the idea of a fictional world in which everything is perfect. A dystopia, then, is a fictional world in which everything is awful. Dystopian fiction as a genre typically deals with totalitarianism and/or environmental crises. The crisis in the Darkest Minds is a deadly disease that affects only children.

Nontraditional casting, more commonly referred to as colorblind casting, is a practice wherein the actor’s race or ethnicity is not a consideration in the casting process for a traditionally white role. Nontraditional casting is sometimes used to counteract whitewashing in film and television, which is a practice that prevents actors of color from landing parts by casting white actors in those minority roles instead. A famous recent example of nontraditional casting is the musical Hamilton. The Darkest Minds is also just such an example. The leading role of Ruby, although originally white in the novels, was given to Amandla Stenberg, who is an actor of color.

A note to parents: The Darkest Minds is rated PG-13. We recommend looking up the film on sites such as Kids in Mind before deciding if it is right for your family.

Discussion Questions

  • Colors in the Darkest Minds are very important. Did you notice that Ruby’s full name (Ruby Elizabeth Daly) is an acronym for red (R, E, D)? Other characters in the story have color related names (either actual colors, acronyms, or name meanings). This was done purposefully by Bracken. Which color names did you notice and what do you think these colors might reveal about who the characters are?
  • When adapting a novel to film, changes and cuts have to be made to fit the format and time restrictions, so some details can get lost. If you’ve read the book, was there anything that the film did not include that you wish they had kept? Explain your answer.
  • Dystopian fiction can often be seen as a warning that something like this could possibly happen. Do you think if there were an outbreak of a disease, like the one in The Darkest Minds, that the public would react the way they do in the story? Why or why not?
  • In the film, the kids are assigned colors that describe their powers and how dangerous they supposedly are. Reds and Oranges are considered the most dangerous, but as we see throughout the film even the supposedly less dangerous powers can be used to cause damage. Why do you think this fictional society sees telepathy/mind-control and pyrokinesis as so much more dangerous than, say, super intelligence and telekinesis? What makes these abilities seem more or less threatening?

Additional Resources

Official Movie Trailer – 20th Century Fox YouTube video

The Powers Behind the Darkest Minds – 20th Century Fox YouTube video

Young Minds with Alexandra Bracken – 20th Century Fox YouTube video


Amy Frantz is a Brave Writer alum and now works as a Virtual Marketing Assistant for Brave Writer. When not over-analyzing Star Wars, in her spare time you will find her…actually, she mostly just over-analyzes Star Wars.


Movie Discussion Club

Movie Wednesday: Kubo and the Two Strings

Movie Wednesday Kubo

by Amy Frantz

Kubo’s eye was taken when he was a baby by his grandfather, the Moon King. His mother was able to escape from her family with her son, but lives in fear knowing that the Moon King will one day come for her child’s other eye. At twelve-years-old, Kubo must tend to his mother, whose mental state is deteriorating, and earn money by enchanting origami with his magical shamisen to tell the local villagers stories about his father, the great warrior Hanzo. But one day, Kubo stays out after dark and the Moon King is able to find him. Now Kubo, with the help of his shamisen and two unlikely companions, Monkey and Beetle, must find his father’s legendary armor so that he may defeat the Moon King and protect those he loves.


[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!]


Kubo and the Two Strings is a 2016 fantasy stop motion animated film.

Kubo is set in the Japanese feudal era. Feudalism is a social structure around the holding of land by nobles where the peasant classes owe them service for living on the land. In Japan, the feudal period was roughly from 1185 to 1603 (with some historians also including the Edo Period in this time which extends it to 1868). The feudal period was decisively ended by the Meiji Era, which saw major social reforms and westernization in Japan.

Kubo is a stop motion film. Stop motion is an animation technique where physical objects are incrementally moved in-between still shots, so that when the film is played back at a fast speed the objects appear to be in motion. A combination of puppets, miniatures, and special effects were used to create the magical stop motion world of Kubo.

Discussion Questions

  • Kubo and the Two Strings has a lot to say about storytelling and the importance of stories in our lives. At the climax of the film, the villagers tell Kubo’s newly human grandfather stories about who he is, which we the audience know aren’t true but which the grandfather accepts because he has no memories of his own. What do you think the film is trying to say concerning the power of the stories we tell about ourselves and about others?
  • Kubo and the Two Strings is a quest story and follows many aspects of the monomyth or the Hero’s Journey. Do you find stories that follow these patterns predictable or do you like seeing the different ways that different storytellers interpret a pattern? Explain your answer.
  • Kubo has two guides on his quest, Monkey and Beetle. If you were to have two guides on an epic quest, who do you think they would be and what might they be like?
  • Do you think it was ethically wrong for the villagers to essentially lie to Kubo’s grandfather about who he is? Is a lie always wrong even if it causes positive change in a person? Explain your answer.
  • Kubo and the Two Strings caused controversy because no Japanese voice actors are featured in the main cast, despite the film being set in feudal Japan. A few Asian American actors, notably George Takei of Star Trek fame, can be heard in minor supporting roles, but the main cast is comprised of non-Asian actors leading to accusations that the film is whitewashed. Do these casting choices detract from your experience of the film? Explain your answer.

Additional Resources

Credited As: Stop Motion Animator – Academy Originals YouTube video – Behind the scenes of the stop motion animation of Kubo and the Two Strings

Origami Crane Tutorial – YouTube video

5 Things You Need to Know About: The Shamisen – JapanSocietyNYC YouTube video


Amy Frantz is a Brave Writer alum and now works as a Virtual Marketing Assistant for Brave Writer. When not over-analyzing Star Wars, in her spare time you will find her…actually, she mostly just over-analyzes Star Wars.


Movie Discussion Club

Movie Wednesday: Coco

Movie Wednesday Coco

by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum

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!


[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!]


Coco is a 2017 Disney Pixar 3D animated film. As is the case with some films, Coco underwent extensive rewrites and re-imaginings before finally forming into the finished product we have today. That finished product is a film filled with color and whimsy as it tackles issues of family values, forgiveness, and identity, all through compelling characters, catchy tunes, and dazzling visuals.

Coco features an all Latinx cast and is considered a stride forward by many for representation, especially in a time where there is increasing social awareness around issues of whitewashing (which is the practice in film and television of casting white actors in non-white roles).

Discussion Questions

  • Miguel feels misunderstood and unsupported by his family in his dreams to become a musician for much of the film, which causes him to make rash decisions. How do you think his behavior might have been different if his family had been more supportive from the start?
  • Family history and family secrets are important themes in Coco. How well do you know your family history? Have you ever learned something about your family that surprised you? Explain.
  • Coco contains several plot twists. A plot twist is a device that produces an unexpected outcome or change in the direction of a story’s plot. Were you able to predict these twists or did they take you by surprise?
  • Disney landed in hot water for attempting to trademark “Día de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead), since the phrase was originally going to be used in the film’s title, drawing loud criticism from the Latinx community for cultural appropriation. Do you think it’s inappropriate for corporations to trademark culturally significant phrases and traditions? Explain your answer.

Additional Resources

Remember Me – Official Lyric Video

What Mexicans think of Coco – YouTube video


Movie Discussion Club