Archive for July, 2012

Musical Docu Draws Fans: ‘Katy Perry: Part of Me’

Monday, July 16th, 2012

KatyPerryPartOfMe.jpgPicking up a nomination for a Teen Choice Award for Choice Summer Movie – Comedy/Musical, the documentary about teen music sensation Katy Perry gives the up-close-and-personal story that fans crave. A respectful “up close and personal” view, though, allowing the film to keep a PG rating. The filmmakers combined a variety of sources into the film, as KIDS FIRST! youth film critic and Katy Perry fan Raven Devanney, age 15, describes: “It was really cool to see some of her backstage footage of before and after the shows as well as showing some awesome concert footage. And it also incorporates some home videos as well as footage from her fans, which was so cool to see what a positive influence she has …”

Katy Perry: Part of Me
Reviewed by Raven Devanney
(See her full review on video.)

Katy Perry: Part of Me follows Katy Perry on her biggest tour yet. This fantastic film incorporates a documentary of her rise to the top as well as showing some fantastic footage of her concerts.

I thought this film was awesome. It was really cool to see some of her backstage footage of before and after the shows as well as showing awesome concert footage. And it also incorporates some home videos as well as footage from her fans, which was so cool to see what a positive influence she has on her fans of all ages and genders.

I am a huge Katy Perry fan, so naturally I loved this film. But I saw it with my little brother who doesn’t even listen to Katy Perry music and didn’t really know much about her, and he had a blast in this film. After we were done watching this movie, he couldn’t stop singing her songs.

Katy is so strong. She has been through so many record labels that didn’t work out or they were just telling her what her sound should be or what her image should be, and they weren’t letting her just be herself. And finally she got to a place where she could be herself and create the music and the life she wanted. And she never gave up on her dreams.

And now, look at where she is. She’s so huge, and she’d accomplished so much. And this film really shows how much she’s fought and worked so hard for what she needs and what she’s created for herself. RavenDevanney_180x250_1.jpg

I think overall I would give this film a five out of five stars, because it was so awesome to see a deeper side of Katy. More than just her music that we all listen to. So I would recommend this film for everyone. So grab all of your friends and family and go check it out in a theater near you.

Photos: Katy Perry: Part of Me poster (top), Raven Devanney (bottom)

Bringing ‘Quill’ to American Audiences

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Quill.JPGThe fact that Quill had been a big hit in Japan when it was released in 2005 was not the main reason Ed Arentz, managing director of Music Box Films, was attracted to the opportunity for his company to distribute the film in the United States. Part of the company’s programming strategy to obtain “art-house” films for kids, Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog was released to theaters and VOD platforms this past May and streets July 10 on DVD.

Although it had been a top 10 release in 2005 in Japan and had done well in other markets, its screenings in the U.S. were mostly at festivals, which is where Arentz “happened to see it,” he says. “It spoke to me on a personal level,” he shares. The story follows the life of one remarkable dog from his puppy days through his time as a service animal to a disabled man and into his old age. For Arentz, the connection was immediate. “[I saw it] during a period of time when my daughter, wife and I were foster parents to seeing-eye puppies.”

He felt the movie was a great tribute to dogs in general, and “especially to these breeds, the enormously helpful service dogs. They are remarkable partners in so many different activities, able to do things we can’t do for ourselves.”

Believing Quill to be a moving film that would speak to others as it had to his family, Arentz says, “The biggest challenges were convincing colleagues and partners that this was a film we should get involved with.”

He gave it an extended title, adding to the simple name of the dog it biographies (“Quill”) the more informational “The Life of a Guide Dog.” And the company added subtitles. Not that there is much dialog, anyway, Arentz points out. “Quill is not a fantasy animal; he doesn’t speak. We intuit what Quill is thinking from the actions.

“The story, we felt, was affecting and direct enough, it didn’t need to be guided that much by subtitles.” Comparing the film to a picture book, Arentz says even a 5- or 6-year-old could follow the story. “A child will easily understand the emotional aspect of the story” – with maybe just a little input from his or her parent, filling in any additional details the subtitles provide.EdArentz.jpeg

This final paragraph comes to readers with a “spoiler alert” warning, so you may wish to read no further.

“Like the best dog films, from Old Yeller to Marly, this film ends in a bittersweet way,” says Arentz. But based on his own experience as a foster parent to three potential seeing-eye dogs (two of whom graduated to become seeing-eye companions and one of whom remains with his family as a pet), he feels the film is a very honest portrayal of dogs he calls “remarkable.”

Ed Arentz shares more about Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog as a guest on this week’s episode of KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions, which streams on Voice America Kids.

Photos: Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog DVD box art (top), Ed Arentz (bottom)

‘Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog’ Is An Emotional Experience

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Quill.JPGA foreign film – with subtitles, no less – may seem a stretch for kids. But KIDS FIRST! youth film critics who reviewed the film have rated it highly and recommended it to their peers. Who could resist its appeal when, as 11-year-old Hunter Willow Jones says, “… the dogs are so adorable”? She emphasizes it in captial letters as she shares, “I LOVE this film …” and describes how it opened her eyes to ideas about how other people live and feel. Brianna Beaton, age 12, came away with a deeper appreciation of what it takes to learn to be a seeing-eye dog. She describes a few of the behaviors Quill must master, and observes that “… is an awful lot to ask of him.” And it inspired Camille Bajema, age 10, who says she was especially touched by the couple who raise Quill as a puppy and that the film “really got me interested in training dogs for people with disabilities.”

Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog
Reviewed by Hunter Willow Jones
(See her full review on video.)

I just watched Quill and I LOVE this movie! It is heartwarming and the dogs are so adorable.

I was not actually looking forward to watching Quill; I mean, the title didn’t seem very interesting. Also, it is a Japanese film with English subtitles, which didn’t excite me. But as the movie progressed, I liked it more and more.

Quill is the story of one special guide dog — a yellow Labrador named Quill because of a unique brown spot on his side. Shown as a docudrama, the movie follows Quill’s life as he goes from a small puppy with its mother to being picked to be a guide dog because of his calm nature and sent to live with a foster family that loves and cares for him until he is a year old and then to being off to school where he learns to be the eyes for a blind person. Though Quill does not seem to learn as quickly as the other dogs, Satoru Tawada (Kippei Shiina), Quill’s trainer, is patient and sees the potential in him. Quill is teamed up with Mr. Watanabe (Kaoru Kobayashi), who is not a dog lover and does not like being blind. Though the pair have a rocky start, Mr. Watanabe grows to trust and respect Quill. The ending is inspiring despite it being sad.
 
Technically,
Quill is average with good sound and cinematography. The dogs in Quill are simply amazing. They are so well trained. I think they are the best actors in the film. The subtitles were a little distracting, I didn’t like that I couldn’t understand what was being said and had to read it, but as I got into the movie that became easier. I liked seeing what life is like in Japan and that there are differences from my town, like the way the houses look, but there are more things that are same, like how we love our pets.HunterWillow.jpg

When my parents and I were done watching Quill, we talked a lot about the movie, from what it is like to be blind to how dogs are trained to be guide dogs to the story and characters. Quill made us smile, laugh and cry, but it also made us think.

Quill was released in Japan in 2005, was released in America in May 2012, and is released on DVD on July 10, 2012.

Quill is a wonderful movie for any age, but it is better for kids who know how to read. Kids and adults both will enjoy it. I give Quill five stars!

Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog
Reviewed by Brianna Beaton
(See her full review on video.)

Wow, this is a very touching and emotional film cast with one of my favorite animals.
 
First off, I really love this film for a couple of reasons. One being Quill’s extreme cuteness and how he catches everyone’s attention every time he walks into the scene. Everyone feeds off of his reactions and the rest of the cast act pretty well themselves. They portray exactly what they are feeling inside. It is hard to tell they are just playing their role. Second, I feel the teamwork shown in this film just blows me away as they are sharing a bond of trust and love. One of my favorite parts is the beginning when Quill is huddling up against his siblings. They are so cute.
 
Quill, a Labrador, is a guide dog in training. He is experiencing how hard it is to stop at a street curb or corner and is having other obstacles as well. For Quill to come and stop when asked to do so, not to take a bathroom break even when he has to and most of all be loyal to his master no matter what is an awful lot to ask of a him. When Quill grows up to an adult dog, he is given over to his new master, Mitsuru Watanabe (Kaoru Kobayashi) a lonely, middle-aged man who isn’t fond of being guided around by a dog. They both go on the adventure of trust and teamwork as Mitsuru’s daughter, Mitsuko Nii (Shinobu Terajima) narrates.
Yoichi Sai directs this outstanding film. It is in Japanese and has subtitles in English, so you really have to pay close attention to the screen. Don’t even pay attention to the Japanese, unless you speak and know Japanese.BriannaBeaton.jpg

I recommend this film for ages 6 to 12 because it is so adorable, funny and sweet. Older ages can definitely watch this film as they will enjoy it and understand what is happening. Puppy and dog lovers, this is your film.

I without a shadow of a doubt give this film 5 out of 5 stars because it has comedy, emotion, drama, crises and, of course, cute puppies.

Quill is a great film and I hope you love it as much as you can. Prepare to cry and laugh out loud. It is released on DVD on July 10, so please try and see this amazing Japanese foreign film. No matter where you are at in the world, a dog is truly a man’s best friend.

Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog
Reviewed by Camille Bajema
(See her full review on video.)

Quill is a 2004 Japanese docudrama. I like this movie because it really got me interested in training dogs for people with disabilities. This film is an adaptation of the novel The Life of Quill, the Seeing-Eye Dog by Ryohei Akimoto and Kengo Ishiguro, based on a true story.

Quill is an adorable Labrador Retriever puppy, who goes to live with a kind couple who raise guide dogs, Mitsuko and Isamu Nii, played by Shinobu Terajima and Teruyuki Kagawa. Quill lives with them for a year and is then taken to a training school where he is trained by a strict man, Satoru Tawada.

Quill is a bit slower than some of the other dogs during training, but he improves quickly and is sent to work with a very stubborn blind man, Mitsuru Watanabe, played by Kaoru Kobayashi. Their friendship grows and Quill never leaves Mr. Watanabe’s side, until he falls gravely ill.

My favorite characters in this film are Mitsuko and Isamu Nii, the couple who raise Quill as a puppy. I like them because they are so nice, loving and caring to Quill, and, while watching that part of the film, I felt very touched.

This film was directed by Yôichi Sai and written by Soichi Maruyama and Yoshihiro Nakamura. Yoshihiro Nakamura also wrote Pokemon: Power of One. The soundtrack was composed and recorded by the Kuricorder Quartet.CamilleBajema_sml.jpg

I recommend this film to kids ten and up because there are subtitles and you have to be able to read very well. There is also some bad language, and there are some very emotional scenes that would be more suitable for older children.

I give this film four out of five stars because it is slow-moving at times.

Photos: Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog DVD box art (top), Hunter Willow Jones (second), Brianna Beaton (third), Camille Bajema (bottom)

‘Spider-Man’ on the Red Carpet and the Silver Screen

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

AmazingSpiderMan.jpgMarvel Comics’ heroes transfer well to the silver screen, but those who think they know Spider-Man from previous incarnations will meet a different Spider-Man/Peter Parker in Columbia Pictures’ current release The Amazing Spider-Man. “… it is a completely different film that starts at the beginning of Spider-Man’s journey,” says KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Raven Devanney, age 15, in her review (below). Well, maybe not completely different, as the familiar events set the story in motion. But it is a new villain and a new love interest. And there is plenty of humor. “In fact, this whole film is filled with comedy and action,” says Raven.

KIDS FIRST! youth film critics were also there at the exciting red carpet event on Saturday. Be sure to check out the KIDS FIRST! website to share their experience on video.

The Amazing Spider-Man
Reviewed by Raven Devanney
(
See her full review on video.)

The Amazing Spider-Man starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone definitely lives up to its title because it is truly amazing. I was expecting this film to be an add-on to the most recent Spider-Man series, but it is a completely different film that starts at the beginning of Spider-Man’s journey. Of course, Peter Parker (played by Andrew Garfield) is bitten by a genetically modified spider and transforms into Spider-Man, his uncle Ben dies, and that’s all the same in the past films about this spandex-sporting hero, but instead of falling for his typical love interest, MJ, Peter falls for Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone). And there is no Green Goblin in this film, but instead a new villain for Spider-Man to face.

I love this movie! The special effects are phenomenal, especially in 3-D. I love Andrew Garfield in the part of Peter Parker because he does a fantastic job portraying him and he and Emma Stone have such great chemistry, which really shows in their characters. My favorite scene is when Peter is transforming into Spider-Man, because his aunt and uncle have no idea what’s wrong with him and it’s so funny. In fact, this whole film is filled with comedy and action. My favorite character would have to be Gwen Stacy played by Emma Stone because I really admire her and she does a wonderful job playing this role.RavenDevanney_180x250_1.jpg

I think something very different about this film is it seems that the target audience is just teens, whereas in past Spider-Man movies the main audience is teens and adults. Overall, I give The Amazing Spider-Man 5 out of 5 stars because it is amazing and I want to see it over and over again. I can’t wait for the sequel to come out. Go catch it in a theater near you!

Photos: The Amazing Spider-Man poster (top), Raven Devanney (bottom)

Dreams Are Worth the Challenge in New DVD ‘American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars’

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

AmericanGirlMcKennaShootsForTheStars_bluray.jpgAmerican Girl. The name is familiar to millions who either own an American Girl doll or have wished for one. American Girl characters also populate a line of books that have earned the loyalty of millions of girls as well as praise and trust from parents and educators.

A new American Girl, aspiring gymnast McKenna Brooks, comes alive in An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars, released by Universal Studios Home Entertainment just in time for the Olympic Summer Games. On Blu-ray Combo Pack or DVD, the American Girl release is available only at Walmart, American Girl retail stores and americangirl.com, or the film may be purchased via digital download through a variety of online retailers.

In recommending the film especially for girls ages 5-12, KIDS FIRST! youth film critic Camille Bajema, age 10, shares, “McKenna has difficult choices to make, but chooses to support her friends, and her friends support and inspire her as well.”

Camille also shares a one-on-one interview with McKenna star Jade Pettyjohn as the KIDS FIRST! youth film critic joined some of the movie’s stars at the Olympics gymnastics trials last week.

An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars
Reviewed by Camille Bajema
(See her full review on video.)

An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars is a new, direct-to-DVD, Universal Studios Home Entertainment film. I really like this movie because it’s a story about friendship and working hard to achieve your dreams.

This film is an adaptation of the American Girl McKenna stories by Mary Casanova and is about a girl named McKenna Brooks (played by Jade Pettyjohn) who is trying to balance the pressures of her life: family, friends, school and gymnastics. McKenna’s favorite gymnastics event is the balance beam, and the balance beam is a metaphor for the balance we all try to find in our lives.

McKenna has many setbacks while working hard to qualify for the regional competitive gymnastics team. She has trouble in school and has to be tutored. She’s very embarrassed about needing a tutor (Josie, played by Kerris Dorsey) and doesn’t want her friends to find out. She also struggles with her friendship with her best friend, Toulane (played by Ysa Penarejo), and doesn’t always want to listen to her gymnastics coach. Coach Isabelle is played by Cathy Rigby, the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic medal in gymnastics. McKenna’s parents (played by Ian Ziering and Nia Vardalos) and teacher, Mr. Wu (played by George Chiang) are very supportive of her. McKenna has difficult choices to make, but chooses to support her friends, and her friends support and inspire her as well. She learns many lessons in this film. She learns that it’s OK to ask for help when she needs it, to accept others despite their differences, and to overcome her fears and work toward her dream one step at a time.

My favorite scene in this film is where Toulane is sleuthing around to see what McKenna is really up to. I really like this scene because it’s funny and Toulane incorporates gymnastics into it. My favorite character in this film is Josie. I like Josie because she really believes in McKenna during their tutoring sessions and is also very kind to her. The music in this movie is very catchy and had me singing along!

This movie was filmed in Winnipeg, Canada, and the screenplay was written by Jessica O’Toole and Amy Rardin. Vince Marcello directed McKenna Shoots for the Stars and Steven Brown, Deborah Martin Chase, and Gaylyn Fraiche produced this film.CamilleBajema_sml.jpg

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars because, overall, it’s very well done and has positive messages. I recommend this film for girls ages five through twelve.

Look for this fabulous film An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars on Blu-ray and DVD on July 3.

Photos: An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars box art (top), Camille Bajema (bottom)

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