Archive for October, 2013

With Chanukah Coming So Early This Year, Here’s the Perfect DVD to Help You Celebrate

Monday, October 28th, 2013

213152.jpgThis debut DVD from beloved vocalist Mama Doni offers a range of music styles all celebrating the Jewish holidays of Chanukah, Passover and Shabbat. Doni sings and dances and cooks as she shares stories about the history of these holidays and how to celebrate them. Eric Lindberg, her talented musician accompanies her on the guitar, dobro, ganjo, mandolin and ukele. As 11-year-old KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Canela R says, “I think what this film teaches families is that celebrating holidays is fun even if it is not your practiced religion.” See her full review below.

Mama Doni’s Jewish Holiday Party
By KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Canela R
Full video review available here.
Video review by Keefer B here.

Do you know what Chanukah, Passover and Shabbat are?  Whether or not you do, you’ll have a blast watching Mama Doni in this very fun three-episode Holiday Party DVD.

This DVD is great for when you want to celebrate a Jewish holiday but you don’t know how. Doni tells you everything you need to know about getting into the holiday spirit – the Jewish Holiday Spirit, as she takes you through the Winter Holiday of Chanukah, the spring holiday of Passover and the weekly holiday of Shabbat.

The main character, of course, is Mama Doni. She has many friends, young and old, that pop in throughout the show.  But she is the star!  We learn about all three holidays thru some new takes on old Jewish songs as well as some new songs.  They are all upbeat and fun to listen to.  She also tells many great stories as she guides us through her kitchen and shares some wonderful recipes on classic dishes like latkes, challah bread and a new one I wouldn’t call an old classic but something that I sure want to try – matzo pizza!

My 8-year-old sister and I were so inspired that we made the Challah Bread and the Latkes right away.  They were both very delicious!

I like the lighting and how it compliments Mama Doni’s face.  She is such an energetic and appealing host. With all the movement going on, the camera man does a great job by giving us clear and steady shots. I also enjoyed the editing because it isn’t too fast or too slow and I like seeing Mama Doni in different settings and outfits.

I think what this film teaches families is that celebrating holidays is fun even if it is not your practiced religion.  I’d even say these three episodes have nothing to do with religion at all as it celebrates the Jewish Culture and not whose God you believe in.

I give this show 5 out of 5 stars because it is lively and there is never a dull moment.

I think this film is appropriate for all ages because you can watch these three episodes and learn new interesting stuff with your family that you have never experienced before.

Mama Doni’s Jewish Holiday Party is available on DVD.

“The Hunters” Puts An Exciting Spin On The Classic “Snow White” Story (Airs Oct 25 on Hallmark Channel)

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

HuntersBanner2_400X200.jpg“The Hunters” is a modern day fairy tale adventure, based on the magical mirror from “Snow White,” and follows the brothers Flynn as they embark on an international quest to find their parents and save the world from the clutches of evil.  KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. says, “The Hunters” is a great and thrilling movie for everyone! There is comedy, romance, action, adventure, thrilling scenes, a great and engaging story line and, of course, a puzzle to solve!” “The Hunters” is the fifth world premier film in Hallmark Channel’s new Friday night movie series, “Walden Family Theatre,” airing this Friday, October 25th at 8/7c on Hallmark Channel. See Gerry’s full review below.

“The Hunters”
Reviewed by Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
Video Review available here.

From the title, it’s really hard to predict what the movie will be about. Based on the title, I had an open mind. I only have one thing to say, I was pleasantly surprised! “The Hunters” is a great and thrilling movie for everyone!
I absolutely love how many things there is in this film! There is comedy, romance, action, adventure, thrilling scenes, a great and engaging story line and, of course, a puzzle to solve!

The adventure begins when three people are looking for some artifacts to build together a legendary item. When one turns on the others, everything goes wrong. The two kids of the couple who are searching for this item and their friend, go on a epic adventure to save the world and their parents!  If you want to find out if their parents are ok and if they were successful in this quest, you have to watch the film!

This film brings so many perks! It has especially great actors and the directing is also very good. The camerawork will impress you for sure – there are so many actions –  climbing and jumping and even some scary stuff. But, the picture if very clear and the storyline easy to follow!

I have to say that my favorite scene is when the older brother discovers his little brother has skipped school and he is very mad at him. I can greatly appreciate this scene. It has brotherly “love” or as I call it “bromance.” It’s extremely funny and will hit home with many viewers.

I recommend this movie to ages 8-18, because it is a very intense film. I also give it 5 out of 5 stars and wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually turn this movie into series. I know I will be watching out for that.

“Gravity” – A Thrilling Mix of “Matrix” Meets “Inception”

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

213155.jpgStarring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, “Gravity” is the highly charged story about a medical engineer and an astronaut who work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space. Be aware that it’s rated PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, disturbing images and brief strong language. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O thinks the film is “a life time experience that everyone must see!” KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Keefer B finds the film to be “a suspenseful, visually enchanting and wonderfully acted film.” See both their reviews below.

Gravity
by Gerry O, age 11, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic
Full video review available here.

A movie with such a title that is about the scary and dark void called “space,” you’d expect to be thrilling. Well, I have to tell you this movie is beyond thrilling. This film is a perfect combination of “Matrix” and “Inception” and will pump your adrenaline to a maximum level! “Gravity” is a life time experience that everyone must see! If you add to the mix that Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star in it as main characters, it just doesn’t get better than that!

Since this movie has so many genres, it’s hard to tell its main one. This movie has adventure, comedy, sorrow, suspense, thrilling scenes, intense scary scenes and so much more! The main one out of all these fantastic genres is definitely suspense. You walk in feeling bored and tired and you walk out feeling like Ryan Stone in the movie. (Sandra Bullock)

The thrilling adventure begins when a young medical engineer named Ryan Stone goes up in space to help with installations for the Hubble Telescope. It seems like a casual spacewalk, but when she gets stranded away from her ship, “Explorer,” she needs to get back to Earth by hitching a ride on a different station. If you want to find out how and if she and her co-worker,  Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) make it back to Earth alive, you have to watch the film.

The movie has so much adventure and so many impressive and clear graphics, it’s hard not to like it! You feel like you are right there, experiencing whatever the main characters experience. The acting is amazing and there is deep meaning behind it – what would you do, if you were alone in the deepest and darkest part of this entire universe, with nobody but yourself? What would your thoughts be? Would you be able to remain hopeful or just give up and let Space take you? The camera work is the best I’ve ever seen. Alfonso Cuarón, I give you standing ovation for directing this masterpiece.

My favorite scene is when Ryan is stuck in a damaged escape pod with no fuel. She thinks she’s stranded. Before she decides to give up and loose hope of returning to Earth, she starts to see Matt. Matt gets in when she does not have her helmet on and shows her that she can get back. As soon as his statement is over, he’s gone. She hallucinated him but the plan worked!  It’s a very interesting and important scene in the movie and that’s why I like it.

The movie is rated PG-13 and I honestly think it is appropriate for age 12 to 18. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and it is showing in theaters everywhere right now. I may be wrong, but I predict Oscar nominations for the cast and director of “Gravity.” Let’s see what happens in 2014!
Gravity

By Keefer B, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Video review available here

“Gravity” is a suspenseful, visually enchanting and wonderfully acted film. The plot focuses on Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) after a disaster happens in space and leaves her stranded. Her goal is to get to a Chinese space station to fly back to Earth before she runs out of time, oxygen and hope.
I love the visual and 3D effects. Space is infinite and “Gravity” shows that beautifully. When you see Dr. Stone drifting off into space you feel the vastness. Many 3D artists like to over use this technology by throwing floating stuff at us or making you think you can reach out and touch them. This is an excepted gimmick but if that’s all it accomplishes, it can get old. This movie has objects floating into the audience, but the items bring you into the actors environment making you feel like you’re with them.

Visual effects drive the structure of the film, but the heart of the film is Sandra Bullock. This movie is pretty much a one women show. The camera is never off her. Having just one character on screen for most of the film is risky. Through this film Ryan becomes a 3 dimensional character. She captures the audience’s attention and heart. Bullock’s abilities allow this to be a cohesive narrative. Her performance is superb. How Bullock gets herself into this series of emotional states are beyond me. To carry an entire film, put yourself in the physical positions, while pulling off these scenes is revolutionary. That’s why she’s my favorite character in this film.

My favorite scene is the ending. Not to give it away, but this scene is stunning. The pacing, the camera angles are just exquisite. Tension builds and you never know what’s going to happen. I love it when a film keeps you in the shadows until the very end. “Gravity” knows when to be suspenseful and to take breaks for the character to breath, literally.

The moral is, “Never lose hope.” Ryan gets close to reaching home, but her only way to get there is destroyed. Ryan thinks the only way out is to be with her deceased daughter, but learns that “when you come this far you can’t just throw it all away.”

I recommend this for ages 13 to 18. There are intense scenes and fowl language that are inappropriate for younger kids. Teens and adults can enjoy the visual effects and the intense space action.

If You Love to Draw and Want to Become Better, Check out Drawing with Mark

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

DrawingMark.Horiz.V3.jpg“Drawing With Mark: Happy Tails and Ice Cream” & “A Day With The Dinosaurs and Reach For The Stars”  – These two DVDs feature former Disney illustrator, Mark Marderosian as host to this award-winning series teaching kids how to draw. Each DVD contains two separate episodes. As Stacy B says, “You can have fun with the tips he gives you which may lead you to become and artist or to illustrate books.” Valdi, adds, “I recommend this show to anyone that loves to draw to express their feelings, or to just have fun.” See the full reviews by these two KIDS FIRST! Film Critics below. Additionally, here’s a link to a video review by Cheyenne N. and another video review from Adam C. 

“Drawing with Mark: A Day With The Dinosaurs and Reach For The Stars”
Reviewed by Stacy-Love Belizaire
Video Review available here.

“Drawing with Mark” is a great show to learn tips about how to draw and/or improve your drawing. Mark is really helpful and easy to understand. In “A Day with the Dinosaurs” I learned how to draw a pterodactyl and a T-rex. Mark visits the Museum of Boston and speaks with an expert to learn more about them and to get an idea of how the dinosaurs lived, what they ate and how long they lived. I learned that sometimes they call dinosaurs very large lizards.

In the other episode, “Reach for the Stars,” I learned how to draw an astronaut and the planet Saturn, the planet with the rings around it. At the Museum of Boston, he speaks with another expert about the stars, the galaxy, the astronauts and of course, Saturn. I also learned how far we are from the stars. I thought that the stars were probably about 270 miles from us, but they are actually millions of miles from us. That’s really far! You can see the stars look kind of close, but they are so far away!!

Mark taught me that a drawing takes time and you don’t need to rush. Always draw the stick figure, the foundation, before you start adding details and other special little things. You need to draw the outline and just sketch it, don’t hold your pencil too hard; sketch lightly and softly.

I recommend this show to anyone who loves to draw and wants to improve their drawing. You can have fun with the tips he gives you which may lead you to become and artist or to illustrate books. I give the show 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it to all ages because, it’s never too late to learn to draw. “Drawing with Mark” is a really fun, artistic and colorful program that will be open a new world to future artists around the world.

“Drawing With Mark: Happy Tails and Ice Cream”
Reviewed by Valdi Belizaire
Video Review available here.

If you love drawing like me, then you’ll love “Drawing with Mark.” This show teaches kids how to draw while also teaching them their shapes and some history about the things they draw.  Kids also learn three or four fun facts about what they are drawing.

The “Happy Tails” part of this show is about cats and dogs and how to draw them.  He also talks about how much responsibility it is to have a dog. You have to groom it, take care of it, bring it to the vet and feed it. In the “Ice Cream” episode, Mark goes to the ice cream shop and learns about children’s favorite ice cream flavors and you’ll never guess – it’s cake batter flavor! When I heard this I thought that it was funny because I would never think that they would make a cake batter flavored ice cream.

I like that this show helped me be a better artist and I learned how to draw a dog and a cat better than I already did. I also learned how to draw an ice cream truck and a man holding an ice cream cone. I love watching this because I learned a lot and it made me understand the fundamentals of drawing. I also like that they included a live-action human with animated characters. I also like it when they went into the ice cream shop and saw Crystal Cat in the toppings section. It was funny because they were talking about all of the toppings that the kids pick every time they come in and Crystal Cat was right there so they started laughing. There is no underlying message in this story, because it’s about drawing except maybe that no matter how old you are, you can draw big things.

I recommend this show to anyone that loves to draw to express their feelings, or to just have fun. I recommend this for people ages six and older because anyone can draw if they want to. I would give this DVD four out of five because overall I liked it but I wish that it had more music.

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