Archive for the ‘Wednesday Movies’ Category

January 2019 Movie Club Theme: Transformations

January 2019 Movie Club: Transformations

Getting cozy on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn watching movies and counting it as “school” is homeschool at its finest. Grab your teen and your favorite snacks and join us in our first Movie Discussion Club of 2019 (Jan 7—Feb 1). You won’t want to miss this special selection of films.

Discussing movies doesn’t feel like the chore of writing. When we get close to a teen’s passion, the words flow easier. For the teens who love movies, it’s not enough to watch them. They want to rehash the casting choices, the twist in the plot, the unsatisfying ending. Give them a chance to dive deep!

Kick off the new year with discussion about thought-provoking films on the theme of transformation. The big question asked in each of these films set in locations around the world: Given the constraints of the life we are living, is change possible? Join us in this club and discover the filmmakers’ fascinating answers.


The Breadwinner — Physical transformation. An animated tale set in Afghanistan where an 11-year-old girl takes on the appearance of a boy to support her family.

The Dhamma Brothers — Spiritual transformation. A documentary of what happens to a group of hardened criminals in an Alabama prison when they undertake the grueling 10-day challenge of Vipassana meditation.

Whale Rider — Cultural transformation. Set in New Zealand, an old chief searches desperately for the next leader of the community amongst the boys of the village. He refuses to see that his own granddaughter may be the best choice.

Please Vote for Me — Political transformation. This documentary follows a class of elementary school students in China as they participate in democratic elections to determine who will hold the coveted post of Class Monitor.

Here’s what our students say:

I love the way it doesn’t feel like writing, even though it is! And, instead of just watching the movie, I got to ponder deeper into the movie, versus skimming the surface. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!! —Brian N.

[About the Globetrotters—Iran Movie Club] To me, this was more than a movie club. Through these movies, I have learned not only how Iranian movies are made but also about Iranian history, culture, people, religion, geography, law, human rights issues, and much more. I am positive that I have learned a lot more than I could have ever learned in a geography or social studies class. It was an eye opening experience. I just love the club so much. —Meg I.

Sign Up for Our Online Movie Club

Register for Spring Classes before they’re gone!

Online classes for Spring Semester are filling up quickly—hop on over to our 2019 Spring Class Schedule and sign your kiddo(s) up for their favorite picks before we’re sold out!

Brave Writer classes are designed for the busy homeschooling parent:

  • 3-6 weeks in length (accommodating your family calendar).
  • Focused on a specific writing task—allowing a deep dive.
  • Each coach is a published author AND homeschooler.
  • Coaches offer positive, kind, instructive feedback that grows the writing.

Movie Wednesday: A Christmas Carol

Brave Writer Movie Wednesday A Christmas Carol

by Brave Writer alum, Amy Frantz

Ebenezer Scrooge is a selfish miser who believes Christmas and good will towards his fellow man are all “humbug.” But one Christmas Eve night, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his old business partner, Marley, who warns Scrooge that he will be visited by three more spirits and if Scrooge does not heed what they show him then he will be doomed like Marley to wander alone and in chains as a ghost. At first Scrooge dismisses Marley’s apparition as the product of indigestion, but at the stroke of one o’clock the first spirit appears to him.

The spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come all manifest to Scrooge, showing him visions of his youth, the squalor and suffering of the poor which he has ignored in the present, and his fate “yet to come” if Scrooge remains as he is. But can Ebenezer Scrooge mend his ways and change his heart in time to prevent what he sees or will he be doomed to his fate?

[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!]

A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, or as it is more commonly known A Christmas Carol, is a novella by Charles Dickens. Published in 1843, it has never been out of print since publication, and is has been so oft adapted and performed that it remains a holiday staple to this day.

One of those many adaptations is the British-American film released in 1984 and starring George C. Scott as the infamous Scrooge. It was filmed on location in Schrewsbury, Shropshire in England.

Ebenezer Scrooge is famous for his uttering of the phrase, “Bah! Humbug!” So much so that it has come to be almost exclusively linked to him in the public consciousness and some people don’t actually know what the word “humbug” means other than being something said by this iconic character. The word humbug refers to a trick or something which is false or deceptive. So, when Scrooge calls Christmas “a humbug,” he means that it is a sham (in his opinion, of course).

Discussion Questions

  • Do you think the apparitions that appear to Scrooge are supposed to be real or are they simply the product of a guilty conscience? Explain your answer.
  • Towards the end of the film, Scrooge admits that he has spoken too quickly on matters which he gave “no great thought.” What do you think the story is trying to say about “thinking before you speak” and why it matters?
  • After being horrified by the visions of his future shown him by the last spirit, Scrooge promises that from now on he will “live in the past, present, and future.” What do you think he means by that?
  • Mr. Cratchit carrying Tiny Tim on his shoulder is an iconic image from A Christmas Carol and is often depicted on book covers of the story. What other famous images from the story can you think of and which is your favorite?

Additional Resources

BoomerangLearn language arts with the Boomerang program!

The Boomerang is a 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.

Amy Frantz is a Brave Writer alum. When not over-analyzing Star Wars, she has been known to have her nose stuck in a book by Dickens.

Shakespeare Resources

Shakespeare Resources

Part of the Brave Writer Lifestyle is getting to know Shakespeare! 

Here are some resources for introducing your kids to the Bard:

Shakespeare Family Workshop

Brave Writer’s online Shakespeare Family Workshop is a hands-on five-week workshop and is great for all kinds of learners.

The class includes:

  • craft projects,
  • group learning/research,
  • online resources, discussion,
  • creative writing
  • video recommendations

The family workshop provides a multi-sensory approach to the study of Shakespeare and his works. A few informal writing assignments will be provided for families to do together or separately.

Movie Wednesday: Romeo and Juliet

Our Romeo and Juliet Movie Wednesday selection includes:

  • a summary of the 2013 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet,
  • background information on the play and this particular adaptation including alterations made to the text
  • five discussion questions for starting Big Juicy Conversations, as well as additional resources.

Pouch of Boomerangs: Shakespeare’s Scribe

Combine literature and mechanics with Shakespeare! This Boomerang is a part of A Pouch of Boomerangs—a set of ten digital literature guides which are designed for 6th-7th grades. The Pouch is similar to The Boomerang but written for the middle school set. Purchase them individually or bundled together.

Check out our website page for more ways to include Shakespeare in your homeschool.

Shakespeare Family Workshop

Movie Wednesday: Next Gen

Brave Writer Movie Wednesday Next Gen

by Amy Frantz, Brave Writer alum

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. 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, Brave Writer alum

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. When not over-analyzing Star Wars, she has many feelings about contemporary fairy tale retellings.

Movie Discussion Club