St. Patrick’s Day 2019 — Irish Movies for Families!

Posted on March 17, 2019 at 7:09 am

Copyright Republic Pictures 1952

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Here are some movies from or set in Ireland for families to enjoy.

1. The Quiet Man John Wayne plays American Sean Thornton (John Wayne), who returns to in Innisfree, the small, beautiful Irish village where he was born, to buy his family’s old home. He meets fiery Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara), courts her, marries, her, and then really has to win her as both must learn some lessons about intimacy, pride, and trust. Yes, there are some moments that seem sexist but the underlying story is as glorious as the spectacular landscape and as touching as the endearing characters.

2. The Secret of Roan Inish A little Irish girl named Fiona goes to stay with her grandparents and becomes convinced that her baby brother, whose cradle was carried off to sea years before, is alive and being cared for by Selkies, seals who can transform themselves into humans. This is a quiet film, filled with lovely images that convey the magic surrounding anyone who believes in it. It explores themes of loyalty and commitment to family and following your heart.

3. The Commitments A group of hardscrabble Irish musicians come together to firm an American-style soul band and perform songs like “Mustang Sally” and “Try a Little Tenderness.” Look for future Frames and Once performer Glen Hansard in the group. (Mature material)

Copyright 2007 Summit Entertainment

4. Once The best song Oscar went to this bittersweet film about an Irish musician (Glen Hansard) who meets a pianist and singer (Markéta Irglová) from the Czech Republic.

5. Millions The Oscar-winning director of “Slumdog Millionaire,” Danny Boyle, also shows his gift for working with children in “Millions,” the story of a young boy who finds a bag of money.

6. My Left Foot Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar for his portrayal of Christy Brown in this true story of a writer and painter who was paralyzed and could only use his left foot — and of his indomitable mother (Oscar-winner Brenda Fricker).

7. The Secret of Kells This quietly exquisite animated film was a surprise Oscar nominee. It is about an 11th century boy who lives in a monastery run by his stern uncle and the gorgeous illuminated manuscript that changes his life.

8. Circle of Friends Minnie Driver and Chris O’Donnell star in Maeve Binchy’s story of love and friendship in 1950’s Ireland.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gV9sHAHGE5A

9. “Hear My Song” A fast-talking small-time promoter has to persuade a retired performer to sing again.

10. In the Name of the Father Day-Lewis again, in another true story, this time the story of a father and son who were imprisoned for an IRA bombing. Emma Thompson plays his dedicated lawyer and Pete Postlethwaite was nominated for an Oscar as the father who ends up in prison as well.

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EW Ranks the Best Fake Songs

Posted on March 15, 2019 at 8:00 am

I really enjoyed this Entertainment Weekly list of the best songs performed by musical groups on television and in films. Of course it includes the legendary Robin Sparkles “Let’s Go to the Mall” from “How I Met Your Mother” and he title song from “That Thing You Do” — though every song in that film should be included, especially “Mr. Downtown.” I was glad to see “Inside Llewyn Davis” included, “Sing Street’s””Drive it Like You Stole it”and two songs from the under-appreciated “Music and Lyrics” and thrilled to see “A Goofy Movie” on the list as well. And of course I have my own favorites that do not appear on the list. Where is Spinal Tap? “Waiting for Guffman?” “A Mighty Wind?” The also-underrated “Bandslam” has a great fictional group with a wonderful name: I Can’t Go On I’ll Go On and great songs, like “Someone to Fall Back On.” And the new “Documentary Now!” episode inspired by the D.A. Pennebaker film about the recording of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” cast album, “Co-Op,” has brilliant fake Sondheim songs like “I Gotta Go,” sung by Paula Pell, inspired by “Ladies Who Lunch,” and “Holiday Party,” echoing “Getting Married Today.” I’d buy that cast album.

I know it is unforgivably esoteric, but just once when I was a kid I saw a television show starring Ricky Nelson as a musician and there was a song in it I always remembered. Decades later, after the internet turned out to have the answer to almost everything, I was able to track it down and it turned out it was written by none other than Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Here’s the soundtrack.

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Wonder Park

Posted on March 14, 2019 at 5:09 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some mild thematic elements and action
Profanity: Some schoolyard language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Serious illness of a parent, action/fantasy peril and some violence
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: March 15, 2019

Copyright 2019 Nickelodeon
I’m pretty sure that the people behind Nickelodeon’s animated feature “Wonder Park” snuck a little love letter to their own childhood selves in this tribute to the power of imagination. They also bring the insight of their adult selves to the film’s most important insight: Not only do imagination and creativity enrich our lives and satisfy our souls; they are also vital for processing our most challenging moments. It is a welcome reminder for families raising the generation of children who will never remember a time when there wasn’t a screen to distract them within arm’s reach and the parents who check their social media when they stop for red lights. Plus it has the best song about math since Danny Kaye sang about the square of the hypotenuse in “Merry Andrew.”

June (Brianna Denski) and her mother (Jennifer Garner) love to spend time together imagining the details of a fabulous theme park called Wonderland. June has planned out all of the details, from the animal characters who welcome all the visitors to the merry-go-round with flying fish instead of horses. Like Christopher Robin, June has created a magic land for her toys, including genial Boomer the bear (Ken Hudson Campbell), who struggles with a hibernation-related form of narcolepsy, energetic beavers Gus (Kenan Thompson) and Cooper (Ken Jeong), nervous porcupine Steve (John Oliver), voice-of-reason wild boar Greta (Mila Kunis), and Peanut the chimpanzee (Broadway star Norbert Leo Butz, who translates June’s plans into the park’s attractions. June does more than imagine — she builds a scale model of the park that extends through the house. And she builds a go-kart with her best friend, Banky (Oev Michael Urbas) that works very well except for the steering and the brakes, which leads to quite a wild ride through the neighborhood.

June gets into trouble for that, but there is something much more devastating ahead — her adored mother is very sick, and must leave home for some special treatment. June’s entire sense of the world is turned upside down. She destroys her model of the Wonderworld. And, as people often do when they cannot handle uncertainty in one part of their life, she becomes fixated on what she can control, trying to take care of her father by worrying much too much. The milk in the fridge is just three days from its expiration date! Better get rid of it!

On the bus to math camp, June decides it is too much of a risk to leave her father alone, so she gets Banky to pretend to be sick and sneaks out to walk home through a forest. She discovers a version of the very Wonderland she designed, but it is under siege by tiny little zombie creatures (but cute ones, not super-scary). Only she can save the day.

It is too bad that the character design is bland as written and visualized, despite the best efforts of the talented voice performers. There are unaccountable and annoying detours into crushes — Banky’s on June and Steve’s on Greta. But the Wonderland is indeed wonderful and the message of imagination as a sustaining source of comfort and a path to understanding is wonderful as well.

Parents should know that this film includes fantasy-style peril and action violence and serious illness of a parent, some schoolyard language, and some childhood and animal character crushes and a kiss.

Family discussion: Why did Peanut hide out? What kind of amusement park ride would you like to create? How do you keep the light inside you shining?

If you like this, try: “Inside Out” and “Surf’s Up”

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Marvel Movies Deserve Your Respect

Posted on March 12, 2019 at 8:00 am

Copyright Marvel 2018
On Medium, Shelby Fielding makes a strong case that the greatest filmmaker of the 21st Century is Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige.

Feige, 45, and Marvel Studios have taught a moviegoing audience who may have never even thought about picking up and flipping through a comic book before, how to absorb a narrative over the course of differentiating stories, characters, and uniquely made worlds. With movies plotted until 2022, the studio shows no sign of slowing down, despite their reported break over the next year following “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” It is the most widely regarded and well-known story of the 21st century, to the point that a movie like “Avengers: Endgame” has a more than fair chance at breaking the opening weekend box office record that the “Avengers” film before it set almost a year prior — — which was $257.6 million mind you.

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