Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for October, 2021

Language Arts * Emotionally Compelling Film With Impeccable Performances And Superb Cinematography

Friday, October 15th, 2021

A student project abruptly forces an emotionally stunted high school English teacher to confront his demons–past and present–taking him on a powerful journey of connection and redemption. Based on the novel, starring Ashley Zukerman, Sarah Shahi, Elliott Smith and Lincoln Lambert.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “An emotionally compelling film, with impeccable performances and superb cinematography, Language Arts provides viewers with a glimpse into the lives of parents of children with disabilities as well as the children themselves.” Kyla C. adds, “Language Arts is an emotional film that covers a wide variety of heavy, yet entertaining topics. This film has talented actors, great sets, relatable storylines, strong characters and fabulous cinematography. The creativity of this film is so cool, although it is sometimes a little bit confusing.” See their full reviews below.

Language Arts
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Kid Reporter, age 15

An emotionally compelling film, with impeccable performances and superb cinematography, Language Arts provides viewers with a glimpse into the lives of parents of children with disabilities as well as the children themselves.

Language Arts follows a man on his life journey. As a student, he befriends Dana, an autistic boy who is part of a program at his school. Dana is bullied by other students every day and, after an especially horrid incident involving a pen and a pantsing, Dana’s life is in danger. The film fast-forwards and the young man is now an English teacher with an autistic son named Cody and a strained marriage. Over the duration of the film, life comes full circle for him as he reconnects with his past and comes to terms with the struggles he faces through his student’s photography project.

The film’s director, Cornelia “Corrie” Duryée, is part of the disabled community herself, as she suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, fibromyalgia and severe multiple chemical sensitivity. Her youngest son, who makes a cameo in the film, has ASD. Four actors in the film also have ASD, including Mickey Rowe , who is an incredible actor with great depth of emotion and, evidently, personal experience that fuels his conviction to the role.

Lincoln Lambert plays Dana, and his portrayal of an autistic student is very compelling. The cinematography accents the turmoil faced by the characters, with many crisp and evocative close-ups, and music accents every poignant moment. Some of the cuts between years and ages of characters make the film tough to understand at the start, but the story unrolls as it develops in a magnificent fashion.

Language Arts promotes accepting each other for who they are; making friends with those that are different from you; and working together, which can help people overcome what may seem like an insuperable hurdle.

The film does contain some profanity, portrayals of fights, and various instances of ableism. There are also some graphic scenes where Dana is violently bullied.

I give Language Arts 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. The film will resonate with parents of disabled children. It is available now on VOD.

Language Arts

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Language Arts is an emotional film that covers a wide variety of heavy, yet entertaining topics. This film has talented actors, great sets, relatable storylines, strong characters and fabulous cinematography. The creativity of this film is so cool, although it is sometimes a little bit confusing.

The storyline follows Charles Marlow (Ashley Zukerman) as he deals with family issues and connects with differently abled people throughout his life. As some young autistic patients start sparking memories of his childhood, we travel back to those times with him. As we visit his past, we see young Charles Marlow (Elliott Smith) and Dana McGucken (Lincoln Lambert) in elementary school, meeting and marrying Allison Forche-Marlow (Sarah Shahi) and then dealing with his disabled son, Cody Marlow (Kieran Walton). We get even more backstory about young Charles as kid and observe his life with his constantly arguing parents.

Language Arts has many fantastic elements; one of them being the incredibly well-chosen actors. The emotional story leads to deeply developed characters, which requires talented actors to pull off. Each actor portrays their character very well. Some of the best performances are from Elliott Smith as young Charles Marlow and Sarah Shahi as Allison Forche-Marlow. Young Charles Marlow deals with many challenging situations, including distant parents and bullying. Elliott Smith captures his character so well that I believe he is Charles. Sarah Shahi clearly connects with her character, Allison. She shines a light on Allison’s real desires and personality, despite her actions telling a different story. Most importantly, the storyline is relatable and written strong enough to give actors the opportunity to shine. Each character has its own subplot so that every character is important. Learning about the secondary characters’ backgrounds and deepest desires through the subplots adds to the film.

The sets are another standout part. I particularly liked the set in the art studio which features beautiful artwork. The camerawork is also outstanding, using a variety of angles to draw you into the scenes. I love the creativity of the film jumping back and forth in time, allowing us to see the characters when they were younger, which helps us understand their current point of view. Yet that gets confusing at times. Sometimes it’s difficult to know if I’m watching something from the past, present or future and that makes the storyline hard to follow. However, once you get accustomed to those time changes, which includes change of wardrobe and period-specific sets, the film is easier to follow.

The message of this film is to treat people with disabilities with the same respect as anyone else. There are other important themes that are shown such as being kind and living life to its fullest. Language Arts does addressheavy topics, contains some profanity and is a sad story in many ways.  

I give Language Arts 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Language Arts now on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Vudu.

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KIDS FIRST! Film Festival at UNESCO Global Media Literacy Week Oct. 24-31

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

Join KIDS FIRST! Film Festival online during UNESCO Global Media Literacy Week

October 24 – 31

KIDS FIRST! shares an important goal with UNESCO’s Global Media Literacy Week in bringing student made films that integrate critical thinking and social activism for global issues such as

  • Climate Change
  • Racism
  • Food Insecurity
  • Intercultural Awareness

Beyond the realm of “Fake News” lies real news about real people making positive change. This collection of 35 films created by and with students ages 9 to 22 offer innovative solutions to global problems and compassion in a complex world.

FREE TICKETS OR PAY WHAT YOU CAN. Available at: https://kidsfirst-unesco.eventive.org/welcome

Growing Peace in the Middle East

Films like GROWING PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST created by a seventh grader from New York who was inspired by a visit to Sindyanna of Galilee in Israel – a unique non-profit organization led by a team of Arab and Jewish women working together to create social change from the ground up. He spent the year during the pandemic documenting the new hydroponics project at Sindyanna, which strives to enhance Arab-Jewish cooperation, while creating economic opportunities for Arab women. 17:16 minutes; Recommended for ages 10 to 18, plus adults

Kids Who Save the World: Clean Air

Films like KIDS WHO SAVE THE WORLD: CLEAN AIR which follows 7-year-old Arya to Epping Forest and finds out why trees are so important and what you can do to help reduce pollution and look after the natural world. Arya is a young girl and yet, her message is ageless. Arya hosts a beautiful live action short film showing how much she loves the outdoors and trees in particular. Her smart and articulate message comes from the heart and is a lesson that children and adults can both benefit from. 3:14 minutes; Recommended for ages 5 to 12, plus adults.

Rainshadow

RAINSHADOW, about a high school for at-risk students that is threatened with being taken over by the state due to low test scores, but the school’s art teacher and principal have one last shot to save the school that has saved so many kids. Films like this really make you aware of the different conflicts and issues in the world. This film features the students from the school talking about why they can’t deal with public school. The story will definitely pull at your heartstrings. 36:37 minutes; Recommended for ages 10 to 18, plus adults.

This is a virtual festival, that can be viewed by anyone from anywhere on the planet (with some exceptions). Admission is “Pay What You Can.” Tickets available at: https://kidsfirst-unesco.eventive.org/welcome

See the Best Films from young filmmakers worldwide. KIDS FIRST! 30th Anniversary Virtual Film Festival runs October 24 through 31 during UNESCO’s Global Media Literacy Week.

Note, KIDS FIRST! Film Festival is a project of the Coalition for Quality Children’s Media, a national non-profit (501-c-3) organization. Your ticket or donation helps support the work of the organization in bringing more kids inspirational programming.  

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Join KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Panelists at VIEW Conference October 17, 2021

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

Join our five KIDS FIRST! Film Critics speaking at the world renown VIEW Conference October 17, 2021 at 1:15 p.m. Pacific Time/4:15 p.m. Eastern. This virtual panel will tackle the topic: What Kids Want To See In Animation.  KIDS FIRST! Reporter Eshaan M. will moderate the panel with fellow KIDS FIRST! teammates Benjamin P., Tiana S., Heather S. and Ayden P. as panelists. They will discuss current trends in animation, their hopes for the future, how live-action and animation films differ and intersect and much more! Join us! FREE registration at: https://www.viewconference.it/pages/registration.

VIEW Conference is a renowned international animation, VFX and computer graphics symposium which will be taking place virtually as well as in-person in Turin, Italy, October 17-22. Speakers at 22nd International VIEW Conference include legendary Academy Award Winning cinematographer Sir Roger Deakins, Director Tom McGrath (Boss Baby: Family Business), Animator Jorge R. Gutierrez (Maya and the Three), Director Glen Keane (Over the Moon) Rob Bredow, Chief Creative Officer, Industrial Light & Magic, Maureen Fan, CEO & Co-Founder, Baobab Studios, Glenn Entis, Academy Award Winner, Co-Founder PDI (later Dreamworks) and Tomm Moore (Co-Founder/Creative Director at Cartoon Salon). Access the complete program for the event here; access a complete list of speakers here. Watch prior panels, exclusive interviews and other content from VIEW Conference here.

Eshaan M. interned at the VIEW Conference in the summer of 2021 under the mentorship of Director Maria Elena Gutierrez, creating the VIEW Conference podcast, assembling marketing materials, creating videos and editing. Eshaan lives in Houston, TX and joined the KIDS FIRST! Film Critics in June, 2020.  

Previously, Eshaan reported for Time for Kids and one of his highlights was covering the Democratic Debate in Houston where he interviewed then Senator, Kamala HarrisHe loves reading and writing of any kind and is tons of fun! We think you’ll love him as much as we do. Online portfolio

“The creative energy at VIEW Conference is mesmerizing,” Eshaan comments. “I’m so happy that VIEW Conference will be back in person this year, and I’m looking forward to hearing from so many industry professionals. The most exciting part, however, is that I get to have a fun chat with my fellow KIDS FIRST! Film Critics; it’s so rare for all of us to get a chance to sit down, chat and learn from one another. It’s certainly going to be a fun experience, and I encourage everyone to register for our panel!”

VIEW Conference is the premiere international event in Italy on Computer Graphics, Interactive Techniques, Digital Cinema, 2D/3D Animation, VR and AR, Gaming and VFX. VIEW 2021 will continue to focus on exploring the increasingly fluid boundary between real and digital worlds. Through lectures, meetings, tributes, exhibits, screenings and demo presentations VIEW will reveal the new digital frontier sweeping from cinema to architecture, from automotive design to advertisement, from medicine to videogames. The exhibition floor, which houses VR installations and the Recruitment Fair, is free to access.

More to be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChGdAnZQE6UcH_OQ5DNFW_Q

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Justin Bieber: Our World * Takes You Backstage, Onstage And Into The Private World Of Justin Bieber

Sunday, October 10th, 2021

Justin Bieber: Our World takes viewers backstage, onstage, and into the private world of the musical icon as he prepares for his unprecedented concert, “T-Mobile Presents New Year’s Eve Live with Justin Bieber.” After a three-year hiatus from a full performance, and with concert venues shut down due to the pandemic, Bieber delivers an electrifying show to close out 2020 on the rooftop of the Beverly Hilton Hotel for 240 invited guests–and millions of fans across the globe watching via livestream. The film follows Bieber and his close-knit team in the month leading up to the show, as they rehearse and construct a monumental stage while adhering to strict health and safety protocols. The film also captures personal, self-shot moments between Bieber and his wife Hailey.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Justin Bieber: Our World is one of the most immersive Belieber experiences out there – the film takes you backstage, onstage and into the private world of Justin Bieber in a beautifully produced 96 minute documentary.” Dominic D., adds, “There are many positive thoughts worth sharing about this film. First, I have a great deal of respect for Justin Bieber and his journey. He entered the industry as a child and dug his heels in to get where he is today. He has overcome many obstacles in his life, including performing for a world overcome by COVID, which is evident in this film.” See his full review below.

Justin Bieber: Our World

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Justin Bieber: Our World is one of the most immersive Belieber experiences out there – the film takes you backstage, onstage and into the private world of Justin Bieber in a beautifully produced 96 minute documentary. It’s certainly not a film to miss!

Viewers step into the shoes of Bieber and his team as they prepare for a record-breaking New Year’s Eve 2020 concert after a three-year hiatus. Due to pandemic protocols, Bieber plans to deliver his performance on top of the Beverly Hilton Hotel for 240 invited guests and millions of fans watching via live stream. But setting the whole event up is certainly no easy task. Rehearsing, building a massive stage and light setup, and dealing with technology make the experience more than slightly stressful for the crew. The film also captures personal self-shot moments between Bieber and his wife Hailey through his own “vlog camera.” A good part of the film is composed of Bieber performing his songs.

The production quality of Justin Bieber: Our World is quite high, with candid perspectives captured in an organized fashion and organic cuts between songs and scenes. The genuine companionship and love Bieber’s crew has for him (and vice versa) shows on screen. It’s certainly heartwarming to see the small, sweet moments, like how Bieber’s choreographer is welcomed back on set after his quarantine.

Justin Bieber: Our World promotes teamwork, perseverance, patience and the importance of family.

I give Justin Bieber: Our World 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Justin Bieber: Our World premieres on Prime Video on October 6, 2021. Check it out!

Justin Bieber:  Our World (2021)
By Dominic DiGravio, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Last year was a year like no other. Humans across the globe had to adapt while taking a pause due to the pandemic and its lockdowns. For many of us, that was a difficult task. Many events came to a screeching halt including family and friend get togethers, holiday gatherings, and any entertainment outside the home. Life was as abnormal as it gets!  We look forward to these events within our lives as they are what keep us laughing, smiling and connected to others. We had to get real creative in staying connected with love ones and that’s exactly what world superstar, Justin Bieber did in 2020 while ringing in the new year. Together with his dedicated team of music professionals, Bieber found a creative way to stay connected and share his talents with the world on a very special evening considering the strict guidelines of the pandemic. 

Justin Bieber:  Our World, is a new 90 minute documentary which highlights the recording of Bieber’s special evening and the days leading up to the New Year’s Eve concert.  The film takes us behind-the-scenes and gives fans a look at the many efforts put forth by the Bieber team to produce an amazing show while following strict COVID health and safety procedures. The film documents a 30 day overview of the hard work and obstacles involved in the production of an event during this uncertain time. With little public entertainment going on during the pandemic, Bieber’s creative team found the perfect way to deliver this artist’s talents to fans globally in celebration of the New Year. Approximately 200 fans were able to view Bieber’s return to the stage from their socially distant balconies, while others around the world were able to watch a live stream of the concert from their homes. Above the rooftop of the Beverly Hilton Hotel, this music artist did not disappoint his fans with his gift of 21 hits shared with the world.

There are many positive thoughts worth sharing about this film. First, I have a great deal of respect for Justin Bieber and his journey. He entered the industry as a child and dug his heels in to get where he is today. He has overcome many obstacles in his life, including performing for a world overcome by COVID, which is evident in this film. The film highlights so many of the moving parts that are put into play to produce entertainment. I appreciated seeing how all the various teams of professionals came together in order to put create such an amazing show. Most notable in this documentary are the choreography and dancers. A big “thumbs up” for Nick DeMoura, the lead choreographer on the Bieber Team, who created masterpiece dance routines for this concert.  The dancers stole the show! As I’m more than a casual fan, I had hoped that this documentary would reflect more on the personal life of Bieber, rather than the film being almost entirely about this concert.  There’s no doubt that Justin Bieber was born with a true gift and he’s a very talented individual, so whatever he is able of sharing with his fans – we’ll take it!

The message in Justin Bieber:  Our World is the importance of teamwork and loyalty.  Bieber’s team has been together since he became a super star and it is obvious that they have formed connections that are much more than professional. They work together through challenges and hard times, but always find ways to laugh and to build on their friendships. The message is also about commitment and mutual respect. These are two qualities which are desperately needed within this industry. Justin Bieber makes it very well known through his words and actions in the film that he values his team.

I give Justin Bieber:  Our World 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Adults and all Bieber fans will especially enjoy this documentary. Justin Bieber:  Our World is streaming now on Amazon Prime.

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No Time to Die * Danger, Romance, Sadness, Violence And A Shocking Reveal

Sunday, October 10th, 2021

In No Time To Die, Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “No Time to Die certainly kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire two hours and forty three minutes. This movie has a combination of danger, romance, sadness, humor and a lot of action and violence, but most importantly, it shocks the audience by revealing a secret hidden from James Bond.” See his full review below.

No Time To Die
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 13

No Time to Die certainly kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire two hours and forty three minutes. This movie has a combination of danger, romance, sadness, humor and a lot of action and violence, but most importantly, it shocks the audience by revealing a secret hidden from James Bond.

No Time to Die is about agent 007, James Bond (Daniel Craig) who, after a peaceful five years of retirement, comes back to complete a mission, rescuing a Russian scientist who created a powerful weapon out of DNA. During Bond’s mission rescuing this scientist, he finds out his number 007 has been assigned to another agent, a woman. He also finds out his wife’s secrets and he meets Safin (Rami Malek), a villain who uses the Russian scientist to create dangerous technology. My favorite part is when the female 007, Nomi (Lashana Lynch) tries to compete with Bond on the rescue mission.

This film has a lot of dangerous action. The majority of the scenes include explosives that will make the audience jump out of their seats. The stunts are amazing. The wardrobe is very classy and elegant. The female roles are very important in this movie.

Bond’s wife is Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) who, at a young age had to fire a gun in order to protect herself. Paloma (Ana de Armas) is a Cuban agent who helped Bond with his mission. Nomi is very proud of her number 007 and does not want to give it back to Bond. Watching these women in action is amusing as well. 

The moral of this film is to trust the ones you love. James Bond didn’t trust his wife and he lost five years of his life without her that he can never recover ever again. Be forewarned that this movie has a lot of gory scenes and violence, but it does have a PG-13 rating.

I give No Time To Die 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 and 18, plus adults.

This film opens in theatres October 8, 2021. What are your thoughts about agent 007 being a woman? Drop your comments below and stay tuned for more reviews.

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