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Archive for the ‘Adam’s Movie Review List’ Category

Man, I don’t see movies very often. The last movie I saw was Hugo. The last movie I saw with The Wife was Winnie the Pooh. So here’s a funny thing: Hugo is based on a middle-grade novel; Winnie the Pooh on an early reader chapter book; and HG on a young adult novel. All beloved by me.

I’ll first say that I liked the movie, that it seemed like a good adaptation, and that nothing dissatisfied or annoyed me. I look forward to Catching Fire.

So let’s talk about some things I’ve heard other people say about it. In particular, several reviews I’ve read mention the dulled violence, compared to the book. This was done, obviously, to achieve a PG-13 rating to cater to a largely middle- and high-school aged audience. Personally, I didn’t have a problem with the “dulling down” of the violence. Though the book was quite graphic in some parts and gut-wrenching in most, I have certain feelings re: movie violence that lead me to believe that the filmmakers’ choices were right. So often violence in movies is glamorized, glorified, and essentially celebrated. Making HG graphically violent would have played right into that. Perhaps it would have been different with kids perpetrating the acts. I think not. Reviewers would have praised it (maybe), teens would have thought it was cool, and all of it would be wrong.

Reading HG was excruciating for me. I just had this pit of dread in my stomach for the entire first book and most of the rest. I liked it a lot, but I don’t think I’ll ever read them again. Maybe when Corbchops and The Iza are “of age.”

In the movie, by only glimpsing the violence, with the worst parts happening off screen, the viewer is allowed to imagine the worst but not be subjected to it. I felt it was more effective this way. We are densensitized to violence on screen. But we aren’t desensitized to the unpleasantness of our own imaginations.

So that’s my feeling on that.

Now, I think, let’s consider age-appropriateness. As a 5th grade teacher, my official position to students is: “I likedThe Hunger Games. They are good books. But I cannot and will not recommend them to you because they are middle school books. Next year, I will recommend them to you. But not now.”

One kid in my class has read them. I don’t really have a problem with my students reading them. If it was my choice, I’d say no, but I will never tell students what they can or cannot read. That’s their parents’ job. I will simply make my recommendations and provide students with someone to talk to about serious books (or any books).

I’ll leave you with two articles:

Article #1: This author attempts to explain why she’s taking her 4th grade daughter to see HG. I found it on Twitter when a children’s author I follow liked the mother’s “thoughtful parenting.” I had to disagree. It seems like selfish, impatient, excuse-making parenting to me. She spend a lot of time explaining how her daughter is young and not even thinking about or interested in the themes of HG, and then says “I’m taking her.” This girl seems like she’s doing pretty great right now. She’s not even interested in HG. What the hell? What a couple years and watch it with her on DVD.

Why don’t I just let my daughter read the books? For starters, she’s not interested. This despite her room, in fact, our entire home, lined with bookcases brimming with tempting titles. No surprise—she’s a voracious reader. The Hunger Games hasn’t caught her attention yet, but will soon enough. So why don’t I wait on the movie?

I don’t want to wait. Like all mothers, I was once a little girl who hungered for role models to emulate.

That right there, is bullshit. There are many, many books with strong female role models. They haven’t all been made into movies. Is that the problem? You really want your daughter to see a movie? Whatever. Wait until she tells you she’s ready.

My opinion. Gah. Must stop before I rant on.

Article #2: Here we have the opposite perspective. This mother has told her daughter, “You cannot read these books or watch this movie yet.” Which, of course, is the best way to drive kids crazy wanting to do just that.

I picked up “The Hunger Games” to see if it would be appropriate for an independent-minded girl. It took less than 20 pages to see that this was the perfect book for her. But within 20 more, I was determined to keep it from her as long as possible.

So, the author admits it’s the perfect book for her. She is interested in reading it. Sounds like a perfect time to read it together. The title of the article is “Wait, Listen, Grow.” My thinking is, “Read, Listen, Talk, Grow.” Because if this girl is pushed into reading in secret, then she won’t be able to talk about the book without admit she sneaked a read. Maybe their relationship is one in which the daughter would never go behind her mom’s back. Or maybe it wasn’t, until…

I don’t really mean to be overly critical of these mothers, though those who write editorials are inviting and should be expecting and embracing judgment and dialogue. My kids are under four. I don’t have to make these decisions, yet. Thank goodness.

Must stop writing and judging and ranting.

‘Nuff said.

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Hugo

I went to see Hugo, based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick, with my Guys Read book club. We read the book last year. It was our first movie-going experience.

I wrote a review for the Guys Read blog. I’m not going to write another one. So I’ll just paste it here. You’ll just have to pretend you’ve read the book and that you’re in 4th or 5th grade.

Yahoo! That was a good time, huh? We had a great crowd at our first Guys Read movie outing. It was great to see so many guys able to make it.

It was great, also, to not have any ridiculous coughing fits during the movie. I was sucking on cough drops the entire time. I stayed home from school Friday, and I’m still pretty sick. Classic adult move, eh? Stay home from school but still go to the movie. Would your parents let you do that?

So what did you think? It seemed like a pretty solid version of the story to me. Movies always change books, and it can be hard to watch movies of books we love. At least it’s hard for me. I have a hard time with the Harry Potter movies. I love the books too much! Maybe it’s not the same for kids. Kids just like movies, right?

Anyway, as I was saying. I was pretty pleased with the movie. It had a great feel to it, very like the book. The train station was very cool–it was interesting to get a sense of the people and the place.

We watched the movie in 2D. I was very surprised that the guys voted for that over the 3D. I was certainly OK with it–3D makes my head hurt. I noticed a few spots in the film where 3D might have been cool, but the 2D was fine. Supposedly a lot of that train station dust was supposed to be 3Dified? I don’t know…

We definitely got to learn a lot about Georges Méliès. Did you feel like an expert since we watched A Trip to the Moon last year? I kind of thought the movie was not just a version of Brian Selznick’s book, but also a tribute to Méliès. We learned a lot more about him than we did in the book.

Was there anything you didn’t like? It seemed to me that the biggest change was taking out the character of Etienne. Do you remember him? The boy with the eye patch who loved movies? His role kind of got spread around between Isabelle, Professor Tabard, and the bookseller. It worked out fine. Why do you think they took him out?

I was also really wondering how they would deal with the whole “invention.” Remember that Hugo built an automaton that supposedly wrote and illustrated the whole book? How would they do that in the movie? They took that part out of the title. Well, they took out the “invention,” but the telling of Hugo’s story was still given importance. I thought it was nice that Isabelle was the one who ended up writing the book.

OK. One last thing. Remember when the box fell and all the papers came out? I was searching and searching to see if any of Brian Selznick’s drawings were in there. I couldn’t find any. Don’t you think that would have been a nice touch?

Brian Selznick wrote a “making of” companion book for the movie. I can’t wait to read it and learn more about how it all came together.

I really liked the movie. I can’t wait until they make a movie out of another Guys Read book! What books would you really like to see a movie version of?

‘Nuff said.

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Ah la. Time to knock that pizza bite down the page.

We took the Corbchops to see his first ever movie in the theater. Actually, he had seen a short Dora movie at the Vancouver Aquarium, but that doesn’t really count.

He was pretty funny. He sat so still, and was so focused on the screen that he could hardly eat his popcorn and fruit snacks. It was like he didn’t want to miss anything. And that was just the ads before the movie started.

During the previews he asked me at the end of each one “What was that one for?”

WtP was a good movie to see for a few reasons. First, the Corbchops knows these characters. So it amuses him when they do funny things. He doesn’t have to try to figure out what’s going on or who’s who. Second, it’s not too long. Third,

There’s the whole thing about appropriateness. Which is basically “All movies” vs. Winnie the Pooh. Because there is nothing bad about WtP. Unless you count Pooh continually sort of putting down his own intelligence. Which is not insignificant, but fairly tame.

The Corbchops has seen Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Cars. He mostly sees old fashioned “book movies” like Corduroy. Even with the Toy Story movies, there are things I’d rather he not see. Fighting. Name calling. Etc.

I can’t really protect him from all this. Nor do I really want to. But I do want him to encounter things at points in his life when he can differentiate between movie and reality. And I don’t mean understanding that Cars is not real. I mean understanding that if Woody and Buzz fight, that doesn’t mean we fight.

It’s a difficult thing. And that’s why we celebrate Winnie the Pooh. And wish there were more movies like it. Quality. Harmless. Fun. With kids’ movies, it’s rare to have all three of those in one movie.

By the way, for those with kids especially, and those of you who find movie ratings completely useless, this is the best site ever: Kids in Mind.

‘Nuff said.

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(c) Paramount PicturesWhich I saw a long time ago and never wrote about and which is worth seeing because Coen brothers yay good.

Coen movies fall into a few different categories. This one fits best with Fargo, I think. Not exactly a drama, not exactly a comedy. Clever, whip-smart wit, some disturbing scenes. Just a western version.

OK, I’m not going to write anything else about a movie I saw so long ago.

‘Nuff said.

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© Warner Bros. I don’t really have much to say. The movie was not bad. It was not special. The next part should be the big one. I’ve only read this last book twice, so I don’t remember it as well. Maybe that made the movie seem more OK. That’s probably the best strategy. Don’t read good books, so that when they get made into mediocre movies, they don’t seem so mediocre.

Anyway, Part 1 did seem fine enough to make me feel OK about going to Part 2. And like I said, they could really do it right in a finale.

But probably they’ll just junk most of the story to make the final battle last an hour-and-a-half.

‘Nuff said.

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Property of Pixar/DisneySuch is my dedication that I have, in the last year, seen all three Toy Story movies alone. And while it is wonderful to share such a pleasant movie-going experience, it is most important to have the movie-going experience in the first place. The Wife is in no condition to sit in a movie theater seat for two hours. My friends don’t quite have the Pixar desire that I do. The Corbchops is just too young to manage feature-length.

So I go alone.

I don’t really care for 3D. If I had it to do again, I’d save my $3.50 and just see the regular version. TS3 wasn’t gimmicky or anything, and the 3D added depth to the scenes, but it makes my eyes feel funny.

And let’s not talk about that anyway. It’s already been discussed.

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Hiya!

I do love a bit of Wes Anderson. Can I count myself as an original Wes Anderson fan, a fan since the day Bottle Rocket appeared among the new releases at the video store? Does it count even though I didn’t see it during its theatrical run?

I did orchestrate the sold-out midnight screenings at the dear, sweet Pickford, so I have seen it on the big screen, albeit several years late.

What movie am I writing about again?

I feel like Fantastic Mr. Fox is a return to form for Wes. This is for two reasons: (1) It is like an animated version of The Royal Tenenbaums, and (2) it is not like an animated version of The Darjeeling Limited. Speaking of which, let’s revisit those things I was tired of, last time we mused on Wes’ oeuvre:

I’m really tired of the following things:

  1. Bill Murray in Wes Anderson films FAIL
  2. Angelica Huston in Wes Anderson films SUCCESS!
  3. Owen Wilson in Wes Anderson films FAIL
  4. Slow-motion in Wes Anderson films (especially at the end) SUCCESS!

So we see some improvement. And while Bill Murray’s voice is instantly recognizable and his role fairly large, Owen Wilson could almost be given a pass due to the cameo nature of his role. And no, stop-motion does not count as slow motion. Angelica Huston had to drop out, and Meryl is excellent as her replacement.

Anyway. I liked it. But that’s not actually what I wanted to write about.

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