What kind of movie do you feel like?

Ask Movie Mom

Find the Perfect Movie

Family Movies for the Homebound IV: Movies Based on Great Books

Posted on March 30, 2020 at 8:13 pm

Copyright MGM 1939
More wonderful movies for families to share — these are all based on books that are all-time classics.

The Secret Garden: Agnieszka Holland’s 1993 version of the classic by Frances Hodgson Burnett is my favorite, but the others are good, too. When I first read the book, I loved the heroine because she was so cross, a delightful change from all of the earnest girls in other books. When he parents die in India, Mary must go to the creepy, mysterious home of her absent uncle. The secret garden she discovers there is not even the most remarkable surprise. Also see: A Little Princess (1995 version)

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Stick with the first version of Roald Dahl’s classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, about the poor boy who finds a golden ticket in a chocolate bar and gets a tour of the candy factory, along with some other children who are spoiled and obnoxious. You will also enjoy some of the other movies basked on Dahl’s books, “James and the Giant Peach,” “The BFG,” and “Matilda.”

The Wizard of Oz: The most-loved family movie of all time is the Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Frank Morgan, Bert Lahr, Margaret Hamilton, and Jack Haley version of the story of the Kansas girl who is whisked away to a magical land in a tornado, meets a scarecrow, a tin man, a lion, and a witch, and learns that there’s no place like home. Every time you watch it, you’ll marvel at something new. Also see: “The Wiz” a remix starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson

The Chronicles of Narnia: Four children entered a wardrobe and found themselves in a magic land, gorgeously brought to life in a series of films.

Harry Potter: J.K. Rowling’s saga about the boy wizard is one of the most successful book adaptations of all time. Read them all and then see the films.

Also see: Family Movies for the Homebound I, II, and III (Chess).

Film School on Your Laptop: George Mason University Takes Their Filmmaker Lecture Series Online

Posted on March 30, 2020 at 4:08 pm

George Mason University’s Visiting Filmmaker Series is going online. Anyone can attend!

APR
1

Visiting Filmmakers Series Online: Dennis Boni, Director of Photography
Wednesday, April 1, 2020 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM

APR
2

Visiting Filmmakers Series Online: A Conversation with Jennifer Baichwal, director of Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
Thursday, April 2, 2020 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM

APR
6

Visiting Filmmakers Series Online: Doug Spearman Masterclass in Directing
April 6, 2020, 1:30 PM to April 23, 2020, 3:00 PM

APR
7

Visiting Filmmakers Series Online: Tony Marquez, director and filmmaker
Tuesday, April 7, 2020 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM

APR
8

Visiting Filmmakers Series Online: Panel Discussion on Unions in Filmmaking
Wednesday, April 8, 2020 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM

APR
13

Visiting Filmmakers Series Online: Christelle Matou, Costume and production design
Monday, April 13, 2020 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM

APR
14

Visiting Filmmakers Series Online: Henry Ogunjimi, documentary filmmaker
Tuesday, April 14, 2020 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM

APR
14

Visiting Filmmakers Series Online: Kwanza Gooden, filmmaker
Tuesday, April 14, 2020 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM

APR
15

Visiting Filmmakers Series Online: Steph Garcia, actor, writer, comedian
Wednesday, April 15, 2020 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM

APR
20

Visiting Filmmakers Series Online: Akiva Peñaloza, writer, director
Monday, April 20, 2020 1:30 PM

Family Movies for the Homebound: Part III — A Special List of Movies About Kids Playing Chess

Posted on March 28, 2020 at 6:53 pm

Copyright hugrakka 2008

If you have some extra time at home together, it’s a good time to teach kids to play chess. It teaches patience, sportsmanship, and strategy. As is often said, chess is a pool in which a mosquito may sip and an elephant may bathe. So even a young child can learn and even an experienced player can learn more. Plus there are some great movies about real-life children and teenage chess players.

Brooklyn Castle: P.S. 318 is a below-the-poverty-line inner city junior high school. And its students have won more national chess championships than any other in the country. So this is a touching and inspiring story of triumph and what can be accomplished in spite of the most daunting of obstacles if there is someone who believes in you. And it is a story of the joys of intellectual passion and a game that goes back centuries, even in an era of saturation in digital media. There is much of what you expect — gifted kids, dedicated teacher, tense anticipation, thrilling victories. The characters are endearing and their stories are stirring.

The Queen of Katwe: An illiterate girl from the slums of Uganda became an internationally ranked chess champion. So of course there is a Disney movie. But director Mira Nair has not made the usual feel-good underdog story. It is a wonderfully rich depiction of a family and a culture, as complex in its way as a master-level chess game with intricate moves by many pieces with different strengths and vulnerabilities.

The Dark Horse: It would be so easy — and so wrong — to make this true story of a Maori chess champion who struggles with mental illness as he teaches underprivileged kids into a safe, simple, saccharine, uplifting story. But writer/director James Napier Robertson, who himself played hundreds of chess games with real-life speed chess champion Genesis Potini, trusts his story and his audience enough to give us a film that is refreshingly messy, even grungy, and therefore much more powerful.

Endgame: “Modern Family’s” Rico Rodriguez stars in this story of the grandson of a chess champion who joins his school team as they prepare for the state finals.

Searching for Bobby Fischer: Based on the real-life story of chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin (real life chess player Max Pomeranc), this is a very thoughtful exploration of choices and parenting and what it means to have a full life, with a powerhouse cast including Joan Allen, Ben Kingsley, Laurence Fishburne, and Joe Mantegna, along with William H. Macy, David Paymer, and Laura Linney.

This blog post is dedicated to our wonderful son, who used to teach chess in the New York city schools.

All the President’s Minutes: Nell Minow Talks About All the President’s Men with Blake Howard

Posted on March 25, 2020 at 7:57 pm

All the President’s Men is one of my favorite movies of all time, so it was truly an honor and a thrill to be invited to talk about it with Blake Howard on his “All the President’s Minutes” podcast, which devotes an entire episode to each minute of the film. I got a great minute, the first meeting of Woodward (Robert Redford) and Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) and Bernstein interviewing a source on top of what was then the Hotel Washington. I was a summer intern on Capitol Hill the summer of the Watergate hearings and got to attend twice, and have been fascinated by Watergate ever since.

Be sure to tune in to hear our conversation and then watch the film again!