Family Movies for the Homebound VII: Kids and Music

Posted on April 20, 2020 at 8:00 am

Copyright Alcon Entertainment 2012

Some of my favorite movies are about kids and teenagers making music. Maybe some of these will inspire you to make some of your own.

Bandslam: The focus is on the manager of the high school band here, named after a line from absurdist literary giant Samuel Beckett. An exceptionally smart script and some rocking songs plus a supporting cast that includes Lisa Kudrow and a surprise cameo from one of the biggest rock stars of all time make this one you’ll want to watch more than once.

A Joyful Noise:  Pure cinematic sunshine with comedy, romance, drama, and gorgeous music featuring Queen Latifah and Doily Parton as competing singers in a gospel choir. Most of the members are adults, but the sweet relationship — and sweet duet — from teens played by Keke Palmer and Broadway star Jeremy Jordan is a highlight.

The Sound of Music:  One of the most popular family films of all time is based on the story of the real-life von Trapp family, who escaped from Nazi-controlled Austria and performed as singers in the United States before they settled in Vermont.

Sing Street: This is the rare movie that not only recognizes and portrays the  experience of finding music that introduces you to yourself; it goes farther than that. It is as close to re-creating the experience as it is possible for a movie to be. Watching this movie is not like remembering what it is like to be 14 and have your soul restored through rock and roll. It is like being there, but having it all work out the way better than you could have wished.

Selena: Jennifer Lopez is as vibrant as the star she plays in a biopic about the popular singer who was killed by her former assistant.

Almost Angels: Disney’s 1962 film is based on the real-life Vienna Boys Choir. They may sing like angels, but they get into mischief like kids.

Coco: A young boy loves music, but his family does not want him to play. He goes on a journey to the afterlife and learns important lessons about music, family, and he man he thought was his hero.

High School Musical: Even Disney was surprised by how popular this movie became. It deserved every bit of it; I love this sweet story and it was so much fun to see the cast reunited and singing with the kids from the DisneyPlus series sort of-sequel on the terrific Disney Family Sing-Along special. This is my favorite song from the original.

School of Rock: Just try to watch this movie without wanting to form you own rock band. Jack Black plays a substitute teacher who tells the students of a posh private school that all they need to learn is music that sticks it to the man.

The Rocker: This neglected gem features an astonishing cast of soon-to-be movie stars including Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, and Josh Gad (plus future hit-maker Teddy Geiger) in the story of a former rock drummer (Rainn Wilson) who joins a high school band. The cast also features comedy all-stars Christina Applegate, Jeff Garlin, Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, Jane Lynch, and Jason Sudeikis.

Imba Means Sing: The Grammy nominated African Children’s Choir is the subject of a documentary.

Boychoir: Dustin Hoffman and Eddie Izzard star in a film about a young boy who joins a choir.

Girl Crazy/Strike Up the Band/Babes in Arms: Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland made a series of “let’s put on a show” musicals that are still a lot of fun, especially Girl Crazy, with irresistible Gershwin songs like Embraceable You, Bidin’ My Time, But Not For Me, and Fascinating Rhythm.

Lemonade Mouth/Camp Rock/Cheetah Girls: Disney Channel’s movies about kids forming music groups are not great cinema but they are tuneful treats.

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For Your Netflix Queue Movie Mom’s Top Picks for Families Music Neglected gem

Newsies the Musical on Disney Plus!

Posted on April 17, 2020 at 8:00 am

First it was a movie with a young Christian Bale that never found an audience. Then it became something of a hit on video. Then it was a Broadway  musical. And now that musical is available on Disney Plus.

And of course you can watch the original, too.

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Epic/Historical Inspired by a true story Musical VOD and Streaming

Jump Shot

Posted on April 16, 2020 at 9:14 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: References to hunting, illness, sad death
Diversity Issues: References to opportunities for women in sports
Date Released to Theaters: April 17, 2020
Kenny Sailors jump shot. Copyright 1941 LIFE Magazine

Those feeling most sharply the loss of NCAA March Madness this year will be able to get some of what they miss with “Jump Shot,” a documentary produced by one of the all-time NBA greats, Steph Curry, about the man he considers one of his most significant forbears,  the late Kenny Sailors, who invented the jump shot. Yes, someone invented the jump shot, and almost as remarkable as trying to imagine basketball without jump shots, this documentary will satisfy those who don’t know who Steph Curry is as well as those who can recite the stats from his career going back to his college days at Davidson. Kenny Sailors invented the jump shot when he was a teenager. But then he went on to a life well-lived, in which the jump shot and basketball were only one part. And to pay tribute to his example, a portion of every payment for watching the film will go to helping provide food to people in need as a result of COVID-19.

Did Sailors really invent the jump shot? Here’s what the New York Times said.

People of reliable authority have said that if they had to pick the one whose prototypical jump shot was the purest, whose mechanics set in motion a scoring technique that thrilled fans and helped transform a two-handed, flat-footed, essentially earthbound affair into the vertical game it is today — giving rise, quite literally, to marksmen like Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Rick Barry, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant — it would be Sailors.

Copyright 2020 Altavod

Sailors grew up in a Wyoming small town. He loved basketball and played one-on-one with his big brother every day. His brother was big, 6’5″. Sailors was only 5’7″. He couldn’t get past his big brother. So, he began to jump. And as someone once said in a movie, he had the hang time of a helium balloon.

The documentary has archival footage and contemporary comments from athletes, including Curry and Kevin Durant, sports journalists, and Sailors’ family and friends. Sailors took his college team to a national championship as he and all of the other players knew they would not be continuing to play basketball; they were all going into the military to fight in WWII. Sailors became a captain in the Marines, and then, after the war, played professional basketball long enough to qualify for a pension. And then, for his wife’s health, they moved to rural Alaska, where he coached high school students in every sport they offered plus girls’ basketball, which was not offered until he insisted on it.

It is a touchng love story, and it is a story of a life of grace, integrity, and service, with a quality we do not see very often, decency. Sailors’ quiet humility and selfless dedication are even more inspiring than his innovations in basketball.

Parents should know the movie has references to illness and aging and a sad death.

Family discussion: What was most important to Kenny Sailors? What would you like to change about sports?

If you like this, try: “Dogtown and Z-Boys” about some teenagers who also transformed their sport

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Documentary Movies -- format Movies -- Reviews Sports VOD and Streaming

Movies For Homebound Grown-Ups: Two Cool New Indies

Posted on April 16, 2020 at 12:05 pm

Copyright Aspiration 2020

You can have your own indie film festival at home now with some new releases:

Phoenix Oregon: James Le Gros plays a bartender and would-be graphic memoirist (James Le Gros) who has lost his way. The outstanding cast includes Lisa Edelstein as a liquor distributor, Dietrich Bader as the restaurant owner, and especially Jesse Borrego as the perfectionist chef who joins forces with the bartender to open a bowling alley.

Standing Up, Falling Down: Billy Crystal gives one of his all-time best performances as a doctor with a number of issues, including substance abuse, who befriends a would-be stand-up comic (Ben Schwartz). Grace Gummer is terrific as the comic’s sister.

And check out a new streaming service for indie films, Topic.

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Independent VOD and Streaming

Tonight on PBS: The Definition of Insanity — Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System

Posted on April 14, 2020 at 7:00 am

Tonight on PBS: A powerful documentary about the failures of the criminal justice system when it comes to mental illness, will millions of dollars wasted on the very definition of cruel and inhuman punishment. It is also the story of a pioneering judge who establishes a very successful pilot program, reducing arrests, recidivism, and costs.

A personal note: When I was a young lawyer I worked on a case that would have benefitted from exactly this kind of option. A mentally ill homeless man was cold and so he broke into an office building. Because it happened to be a federal office building and he opened a file drawer it led to a number of charges that he was not really responsible for, or responsible enough to understand. I wish we had had an option like the one this judge has created.

More information:

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