Queen of Katwe; 2016
(w/ Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o)
A young girl growing up in the slums of Uganda sees the harshness of life around her. Her mother worries for the future of each of her children. Phiona is smelly and poor, but she has an eye for remembering moves and planning moves in the game of chess with the help of a teacher who reaches out to slum children. She becomes the hope of her village and country when all around them is disturbances.
This is based off of a true story and was beautifully told. The sense of emotion and the direction throughout it is really wonderful. The characters are likeable and this movie is heartfelt and real.
content: The only issue I think could be a problem in this, is that a young woman is definitely seen as a victim of sexual trafficking and has a pimp. Nothing is really mentioned specifically, but it shows a teachable moment for children that are older while probably younger kids wouldn’t really understand what is going on. There is no sexuality at all in this but [spoiler] the woman does get pregnant out of wedlock. There is another scene where a woman is desperate for money and nearly sells herself to a man who has shown an interest, but nothing happens when the woman realizes she cannot stoop that low. Other than this, I can’t recall a single problem or bad part of this film. A girl is teased by others a few times as well as other kids.
First They Killed My Father; 2017
(w/ Sareum Srey Moch, Phoeung Kompheak, Sveng Socheata, Run Malyna)
This was one of my favorite books that I read in 2013. Its details and rawness has stayed with me since (which could be bad and good considering what it is about).
The movie version was worked on by the author quite a bit.
Here’s what the story is about. A little girl is living in the busy city of Phnom Penh in Cambodia during the 1970s. Her family is large and fun. Then the Khmer Rouge takes over the city and her family ends up living in a labor camp. This film shows the true story of what Loung Ung went through living in the killing fields and as a child soldier. This movie is not something for kids at all.
The film is very beautiful at times and is a bit silent. I think the reason was to show what they had to go through. The book mentions that talking sometimes got people in trouble, so there are a lot of quiet, but visual things to tell the story. There is talking, which is in subtitles. It is well done. There are a few things that were not well explained or touched on that I think the book explains a lot better, so I recommend the book more than the film, but the film is really good too. Regardless, this film version is really really close to the story in the book!
content: war violence (gruesome at times), dead bodies shown from either being brutally killed for starved, people with guns, kids with guns, shooting towards people, bombs going off where people die (bits of them shown at times)
Samurai Gourmet; 2017
(w/ Naoto Takenaka, Tetsuji Tamayama, Honami Suzuki)
This is a Netflix original show about a man living in Japan who is newly retired (a fictional character – this is actually based off of a manga/comic book). He doesn’t really know what to do with his spare time and often just walks around while his wife seems to have loads of hobbies. He enters various types of restaurants. He tells stories around the food that he is eating. Sometimes these are personal memories and other times they are more recent dealings he has had. At times he doesn’t know how to act or react, so he has this imaginary concept in his head of a samurai showing up and acting a certain way that inspires or encourages him. There are not that many episodes, but my husband was mainly addicted to this show and I enjoyed it a lot too. It was really cute. Now when my husband and I eat food that we really like, we try to do some of the adorable facial expressions in respect to this show.
content: a samurai is shown with his sword at times, there are quite a few episodes where the main character drinks beer (he really likes beer, I think he might have been drunk one time), there are a few swear words (but maybe just a 3 or 4 in total, mainly the “d” word)
Saving Mr. Banks; 2013
(w/ Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman)
Have any of you read the Mary Poppins books? I read the first one and really want to read the others now. I grew up pretty much playing the Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke film on repeat. It remains one of my favorites. Out of curiosity, I watched this, which I am really glad I did.
Emma Thompson plays P.L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins books. Considering the stories being so warm loving and fun, you’d think she’d be that way, but she isn’t at all. This is based off of the author’s time with Walt Disney once they were attempting to make a film version of her book. Throughout the movie we get to crawl into her past of what her home life was like as a child and what her life as an adult is like. It will make you cry. If it doesn’t, I will be in shock. It is really good.
content: There are moments where a character is shown drinking and getting drunk multiple times. There are also scenes of people smoking, since it is based during the 1960s when many smoked on sets and more back then. A character is shown trying to kill themselves (if you have young kids, this could either be a talking point or they are just simply too young to see this film). The words “hell” are misused. The “d” word is used in this.
The Good Earth; 1937
(w/ Paul Muni, Luise Rainer, Walter Connolly, Tilly Losch, Charley Grapewin, Jessie Ralph, Soo Yong, Keye Luke, Roland Lui, Suzanna Kim)
First thing is first. With a lot of classic films that are about Asian culture, usually they would cast various Asian people who have to do these bad Chinese American accents even if they were born in the US and don’t talk that way, but not in this film. They actually have the Asian actors speaking in American English quite nicely, which I feel was a breath of fresh air.
This story is really a good representation of what Chinese culture would have been like during the time period they portray in China (I’m assuming they are supposed to be in the late 1800s or early 1900s. They may say when in the film, but I can’t recall). It shows the poverty, the hard times, the way people might act when in desperate measures of decisions, the way field workers might suffer, and even with the treatment of women.
Although the very lead characters in this movie are white American actors, they did their best to make them look Chinese where it doesn’t look terrible (as I’ve seen in a few films). I am glad that many of the minor characters were not white.
Luise Rainer received the best actress Academy Award and with great reason. If you watch her performance all the way through, it is really incredible.
content: It is a 30s film. There is little to worry about in this. If anything there are hints at sexual things (like when a couple marries and they enter a room together or something). There are mentions to people having more than one wife. There are people with guns at one point and some people looting an area or being stomped on during it. Also some people are gathered to be fired at for crimes committed.
Spare Parts; 2015
(w/ George Lopez, Jamie Lee Curtis, Marisa Tomei, Carlos Pena, Esai Morales, José Julián, David Del Rio, Oscar Gutierrez, Alexa PenaVega, Alessandra Rosaldo)
This is based on a real story from 2004. A new teacher shows up at a school in AZ who is supposed to just substitute for a year. He doesn’t really seem to want to connect with the kids too much, but ends up becoming a coach of a few students who are interested in Robotics.
Here’s the catch, he is coaching a few undocumented immigrants, one who even tried to enlist in the army after being a part of the ROTC for a while, but he can’t show them his birth certificate and will not be allowed in which causes him to be in semi-hiding.
After a while the stories of each kid start coming out to the coach.
They plan on entering a MATE ROV competition but are nobodies. Even MIT is going to be competing, but these kids are just high schoolers.
The movie was enjoyable. There are a few differences from the real story compared to this, but in a way, they show what those things are at the end of this movie. I just found out there is a documentary about this too called “Underwater Dreams” on Amazon.
content: a kid gets in trouble for his brother’s sake (and sometimes this is really big trouble), a gun is shown at one point, teens kiss, flirting, teen smoking shown, adults are shown drinking, use of the “d” word and “hell” improperly used, a kid is continuously bullied in this. A woman slaps a man hard (with his permission).
(w/ Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki, Kichijiro Ueda, Noriko Honma, Daisuke Katô)
If you have never seen a Toshiro Mifune film, this is a good one to learn of his acting. He was in so many Japanese films from the 50s through the 80s, and I have seen a few of them over the decades. Also the director of this film is Akira Kurosawa, themost famous Japanese director of all time, who had worked several times with the actor Toshiro Mifune.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to this story. It is quite interesting!
We are able to hear the perspective of 4 different people throughout this movie that tell of the same event. The entire movie has to do with a married couple that gets attacked. The husband dies and the woman is assaulted. As the story unfolds it gets more and more interesting. You can tell the truth at the very end if you pay attention to what goes on. It does help to know a little bit about Japanese culture though. Shame and honor are very big there. If you watch this, keep that in mind, and that will help you understand things better.
The story is a bit shocking even though terms are not used specifically in this film.
content: There is rape talked about without it being mentioned, there is an obvious murder (nothing is actually shown though), a woman conjures up a dead spirit at one point. A child is found abandoned somewhere. I think there is the use of the long “b” word and the “d” word