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Archive for February, 2024

A Nashville Wish * The Romantic Country Film Of A Lifetime Combining Drama, Country Music, And Romance

Thursday, February 8th, 2024

A country singer falls for the girl of his dreams and has to choose between love and his dreams of stardom in Nashville.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kyla C. comments, “A Nashville Wish is the romantic country film of a lifetime. Combining drama, country music, and romance, this film is engaging and enjoyable.” Eshaan M. adds, “With a foot-tapping score, A Nashville Wish is a classic family watch that delivers exactly what it promises — a high school romance with some country music. “ Ella S. wraps it up with, “A Nashville Wish is a moving musical with an inspiring success story. It is set in the countryside and told by interesting, dynamic characters and impressive musical performances. I love the encouraging environment the movie creates with characters who provide support for one another.” See their full reviews below.

A Nashville Wish
By Kyla C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

A Nashville Wish is the romantic country film of a lifetime. Combining drama, country music, and romance, this film is engaging and enjoyable. It has strong acting, pleasant music and, for the most part, an excellent storyline.

This film follows Tucker (Maxfield Camp) as he navigates the ups and downs of his musical career and his relationship throughout his senior year of high school and the following summer. Tucker has a dream relationship with his longtime crush, the cheer captain, Lisa (Kaileigh Bullard). However, this relationship begins to create more obstacles and challenges for Tucker as he is forced to decide whether the greatest love of his life is worth sacrificing the possibility of his lifelong dream, to record music in Nashville. With Lisa’s parents disapproving of Tucker, their long term plan for her in the family business, and her reputation in town, she also has to make a difficult decision.

The characters in A Nashville Wish are portrayed meaningfully and emotionally. Tucker and Lisa are both very dynamic characters who have deep, personal backstories. For example, we discover that some of Tucker’s motives are due to a family loss a few years back. This demonstrates even further the depth of each character and how much effort went into creating these characters and bringing them to life onscreen. The acting fully mirrors the talent of the writers. Maxfield Camp and Kaileigh Bullard have amazing chemistry as a couple throughout the highs and lows of their onscreen relationship. They are so genuine; it truly seems like they’re in love. Maxfield wonderfully accentuates Tucker’s changes through a variety of conflicts, emotions, friendships and so much more. To match the spectacular characters and acting, the music is fantastic and fits the movie in every way. Despite not being a big country music fan myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the songs that are incorporated at every twist and turn of the plot. They help express the characters’ emotions and thoughts, and also help with the setting and mood of the film. The tone of the music always matches the events occurring in the film. While the songs help move the story along, the story is a bit lacking at times. Although the plot and the concept is unique and very engaging, some of the subplots failed to engage me and ended up slowing down the movement of the story. For example, parts of the film focus on Tucker’s best friend, Chewy (Fletcher Olsen). Although the character and the acting are perfect for the film, some of the storyline involving him is really unnecessary and slow.

The theme of A Nashville Wish is that when difficult decisions come around in life, it’s important to think long and hard about your priorities so you don’t make irrational decisions. Tucker’s big decision is the main focal point of the film and this message is emphasized through his character and his decisions.

I give A Nashville Wish 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can watch A Nashville Wish in theaters beginning February 2, 2024, and on video on demand beginning February 27, 2024.

A Nashville Wish
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

With a foot-tapping score, A Nashville Wish is a classic family watch that delivers exactly what it promises — a high school romance with some country music.

In a small town in West Virginia, high school senior Tucker (Maxfield Camp) has big dreams to travel to Nashville and cement his career as a country music star with his best friend Chewie (Fletcher Olson) after graduation. He falls in love with the beautiful cheerleader Lisa (Kaileigh Bullard), and she’s smitten by him as well after a serendipitous event at a concert where their favorite artist Cassie Jo Campbell (Alexis Gomez) is playing. There’s just one problem — Lisa comes from a wealthy family who owns a prominent business in town, and her parents won’t let her go to Nashville with Tucker. Lisa defies her parents, and all is set. But in a conveniently-timed scene, right before they leave for Nashville, Chewie tells her that she will ruin Tucker’s chances of becoming a star and convinces her to dump Tucker and stay home. Now Tucker is heartbroken in Nashville, and Lisa is heartbroken in West Virginia. Viewers will see how the two get back together — if at all — and the role Cassie Jo Campbell plays in Tucker’s life.

There’s no diving deep into emotions, psyche, or similar here; A Nashville Wish is among the leagues of Hallmark-esque films releasing each year, which is perfectly fine. It works as good, clean family entertainment. The acting is passable, with Camp and Olson, ironically enough, having the best chemistry with one another. A couple scenes are interestingly staged, including a musical interlude where Tucker and Lisa are in the middle of a field alone…except for a truck full of singers behind them. The cinematography is good, though, with lots of medium shots and closeups that squeeze as much emotion out of the script as possible. The music is the most striking element, as it should be in a country music-centric film. Admittedly, I’m not a country connoisseur, but the songs are amazing, both in terms of the vocals and production quality. Lee Greenwood is the most recognizable voice as Grandpa Woods. T. Graham Brown sings a country and gospel song, and the film leads Maxfield Camp, Kaileigh Bullard, and Alexis Gomez do as well.

A Nashville Wish promotes following your passion and finding a balance between personal and professional aspirations by focusing on the professional first, and then letting the personal fall into place.

I give A Nashville Wish 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18 plus adults. You can watch A Nashville Wish in theaters beginning February 2, 2024, and on video on demand beginning February 27, 2024.

A Nashville Wish
By Ella S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

A Nashville Wish is a moving musical with an inspiring success story. It is set in the countryside and told by interesting, dynamic characters and impressive musical performances. I love the encouraging environment the movie creates with characters who provide support for one another.

The movie follows a recent high school graduate, Tucker (Maxfield Camp), who is an aspiring country singer. Tucker and his best friend Chewy (Fletcher Olson) are ready to hit the road to Nashville to become stars when Tucker’s dream girl, Lisa (Kaileigh Bullard), a popular cheerleader from a prestigious but strict family, suddenly and unexpectedly takes an interest in him. Unfortunately, Lisa’s parents are disapproving of Tucker’s plan, forcing Tucker to make a decision that could change the course of his future. 

One thing I love about A Nashville Wish is that Tucker has a great support system – the encouragement from his family and friends is clear from the beginning. Chewy and Tucker have shared the same dream of moving to Nashville to become famous since they were in fourth grade. It is nice that Tucker has a friend who shares his interests. And for many artists, gaining family approval presents a challenge, but this is not an obstacle Tucker faces, as his parents and grandfather (Lee Greenwood) truly believe in his star potential and urge him to pursue his passions. I admire Tucker’s perseverance as well. At times, his life is hard, such as when he is struggling for money in Nashville. But music is Tucker’s dream for a very long time – he never considers giving up on it, and eventually he finds success and stardom! The singing in the movie is also worthy of praise – all the main actors have vocal training and a background in music, adding to the film’s authenticity. A Nashville Wish takes you on a rollercoaster of ups and downs, from the move to Nashville and arguments with Chewy to Tucker’s date with Lisa at a Cassie Jo Campbell (Alexis Gomez) concert. Tucker’s duet with Cassie makes the film wholesome and brings it full circle. 

A Nashville Wish reminds us that determination is vital to succeed. It’s what drives you to go for your biggest goals, even when the world deals you a tricky hand. It’s also a reminder to keep your eyes on the prize and trust that the small things will work themselves out – the universe has a plan for you. So stay focused and remember to thank the people who believe in you!

I give A Nashville Wish 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults.  A Nashville Wish releases in theaters beginning February 2, 2024, and on video on demand beginning February 27, 2024.  

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A Leisurely, Luminous Portrait Of Love, Culture And Cuisine, The Taste Of Things Is A Feast For The Eyes

Thursday, February 8th, 2024

The relationship between Eugenie, an esteemed cook, and Dodin, the gourmet she has been working for over the last 20 years. Growing fonder of one another, their bond turns into a romance and gives rise to delicious dishes that impress even the world’s most illustrious chefs. When Dodin is faced with Eugenie’s reluctance to commit to him, he decides to start cooking for her.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “A leisurely, luminous portrait of love, culture and cuisine, The Taste of Things is a feast for the eyes. It’s all about partnership through a shared passion, conveying feelings through fewer words and baked Alaska.” See his full review below.

The Taste of Things
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

A leisurely, luminous portrait of love, culture and cuisine, The Taste of Things is a feast for the eyes. It’s all about partnership through a shared passion, conveying feelings through fewer words and baked Alaska. With such deep themes and beautiful visuals, no wonder it’s France’s selection for this year’s Academy Awards.

The Taste of Things is a tough movie to summarize. It’s about so much more than its plot… but here goes. The film takes place entirely in a 19th century French manor, mostly in its warmly-lit, wood-accented kitchen and centers on the bonds between the characters. Dodin Bouffant (Benoit Magimel), an esteemed gourmet partly based on real-life gastronome Jean Brillat-Savarin, oversees the meal, helps with the cooking and visits with his group of friends. His partner in the kitchen, Eugenie (Juliette Binoche), beams as she whips up dozens of French culinary marvels. They have two assistants, who seem more like daughters, the teen Violette (Galatea Bellugi) and her niece Pauline (Bonnie Chagneau-Ravoire). This scene unfolds each day for years. The film follows Dodin’s and Eugenie’s romance as it evolves from unspoken partnership to marriage to separation by illness, as well as how the younger members of the kitchen grow.

Director Tran Anh Hung opens The Taste of Things with a 38-minute long tracking-shot scene of the characters preparing an intricate meal with zero technology (it is the 1880s, after all), relishing every step of the way. I found it so satisfying to watch that I didn’t pay any heed to its length, though this may not be the case for some viewers, as the only lines said are “Put the veal in the oven” and a couple directions like this. I actually enjoyed getting to know the characters by watching what they do and observing their body language. There’s many more scenes like this one, none 38 minutes long, though. The film does have a bit of a languid pace, which takes some getting used to and might not suit some viewers’ taste (pun intended). The few events that happen outside the kitchen happen either in the bedroom, in the living room or the adjacent garden. On another note, Dodin and Eugenie’s relationship is a centerpiece of this film, and Magimel and Binoche as Dodin and Eugenie spellbind with their subtle yet powerful acting and palpable bond. Dodin has proposed to Eugénie a number of times over their 20 years together, to no avail. She says marriage is not right for them, because their bond is one of mutual respect and tenderness. The openness with which they discuss love is rare in modern films, as is their clarity on the matter — truly a mature romance. Additionally, the interactions between Binoche and Chagneau-Ravoire as Pauline are a delight to watch. Pauline’s passion for food is shown in a scene where she names each of the two dozen items in a dish and when she nearly cries after tasting a baked Alaska; Eugenie sees herself in the young girl and takes her under her wing. Jonathan Ricquebourg’s mouth-watering and skillful cinematography — tracking people as if walking beside them, sometimes peering into pots, and sitting at the same table as Dodin’s “suite” of friends — along with Tran Anh Huang’s careful direction adds an indescribable realism to the film. It’s a film that will make you hunger for more.

The Taste of Things is a film about indulgence — in food, in love, in family. It also shows viewers that truly powerful relationships are those that transcend labels and that are bound by shared love for one another and, in this case, a shared passion. It shows viewers that food is inextricably tied to love, life and joy. Be forewarned that the film does contain scenes with partial nudity and smoking.

I give The Taste of Things 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Taste of Things releases on February 9, 2024 in theaters and is an Oscar nominee. 

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Argylle * Very Exciting Action Film With Lots Of Plot Twists

Friday, February 2nd, 2024

A reclusive author who writes espionage novels about a secret agent and a global spy syndicate realizes the plot of the new book she’s writing starts to mirror real-world events, in real time.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Miguel C. comments, “Argylle is a very exciting action film with a lot of plot twists. The high quality sound effects and background music are spectacular and terrific acting.” Rayce S. adds, “Argylle has some funny moments and some good action scenes, but for the majority of the movie the dialogue falls flat. The VFX look like they were rushed, and the star studded cast is not used to their full potential.” Sydney wraps it up with, “I like the detailed spy movie Argylle because it has an involving plot that put me on the edge of my seat while watching it. It starts off slowly, but then the storyline kicks up. This movie is well-produced, with smooth camerawork and appealing characters, but does have a smattering of unnecessary bits and pieces.” See their full reviews below.

Argylle
By Miguel C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14 

Argylle is a very exciting action film with a lot of plot twists. The high quality sound effects and background music are spectacular and terrific acting. 

The storyline follows a writer Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is seen at a reading for her new book, Argylle 4. At the reading we meet the key characters including Lagrange (Dua Lipa) and Aidan Wilde (Sam Rockwell) who is revealed to be a spy.  After it is revealed that Elly has been writing about a super secret spy mission, things begin to get heated.

(from left) Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Aidan (Sam Rockwell) in Argylle, directed by Matthew Vaughn.

Kudos to director Matthew Vaughn for delivering such an exciting film. The special effects really stand out, especially the sound effects which make it seem almost as if I was there. I also enjoyed the background music throughout the film. The music by Lorne Balfe creates suspenseful moments that kept me engaged with the movie. The best scene has to be when Aiden has to fight against the undercover spies on the train. We get to see how Elly interacts with the whole situation and, of course, there is amazing fight choreography. We notice how Argylle (Henry Cavill) is always alongside Elly and Aiden, but not in a way you might expect. Over the course of the film Elly is searching for the ending of her fifth book, but the plot completely changes throughout the movie. 

The film’s message is to always remember who you are and this film delivers this message in a suspenseful way. It’s important to note that this film contains a lot of fighting, blood and crazy action scenes.

I give Argylle 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theaters February 2, 2024. 

Argylle
By Sydney S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

(from left) Wyatt (John Cena) and Argylle (Henry Cavill) in Argylle, directed by Matthew Vaughn.

I like the detailed spy movie Argylle because it has an involving plot that put me on the edge of my seat while watching it. It starts off slowly, but then the storyline kicks up. This movie is well-produced, with smooth camerawork and appealing characters, but does have a smattering of unnecessary bits and pieces.

Argylle follows an author named Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) who is famous for her secret agent novels. Just as she is about to release her next book, Elly notices that the characters and scenes in her books are coming to life. If her stories are coming to life, Elly is in grave danger.

The main characters are Elly Conway, Aiden (Sam Rockwell), Argylle (Henry Cavill), Wyatt (John Cena), Ruth (Catherine O’Hara), Director Ritter (Bryan Cranston) and Alfie (Samuel L. Jackson). All of the actors are quite wonderful at portraying their characters. For instance, Elly Conway’s character dramatically shifts intentions and the actor, Bryce Dallas Howard, is quick to change from evil to the hero.

(from left) Argylle (Henry Cavill), Lagrange (Dua Lipa) and Wyatt (John Cena) in Argylle, directed by Matthew Vaughn.

Aiden is a hilarious character, especially when he fights the bad guys. He’s nonchalant and chill about taking out 20 people. Additionally, the camerawork is great because it shows many different perspectives, which make the scenes more exciting and suspenseful, but also helps the audience feel like they’re in the film. This is prominent during the fight scenes – and note that there are a lot of them. Some are unnecessary, especially during the long two and a half hour movie. The first half is slow and doesn’t have a lot of action, but the second half is action-packed. The storyline is well-written, filled with many surprises that shocked me. It is based on the real author, Elly Conway, whose identity is unknown. There are clues that hint about Elly’s true identity, and you’ll just have to wait to find out. I particularly enjoyed the dancing scenes with Elly and Aiden. They are hilarious because they’re ballroom dancing and shooting people at the same time. This is just one example of the many quirky things of the movie.

The film’s message is to trust yourself and don’t ignore your gut feelings. Elly keeps seeing Argylle in the mirror instead of her reflection, which has a deeper meaning. Elly wants to shut “him” out, but Argylle is trying to warn her of the dangers ahead. In actuality, Argylle is her voice because she created him. It’s a good reminder to always listen to yourself. Be aware that there is foul language, violence, gun usage, and murder in the film.

I give Argylle 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Argylle releases in theaters February 2, 2024.

Argylle
By Rayce S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

(from left) Lagrange (Dua Lipa) and Argylle (Henry Cavill) in Argylle, directed by Matthew Vaughn.

Argylle has some funny moments and some good action scenes, but for the majority of the movie the dialogue falls flat. The VFX look like they were rushed, and the star studded cast is not used to their full potential which is disappointing. 

The story follows an introverted novelist who writes about a secret agent and a global spy syndicate—and she discovers that the plot of her latest work is mirroring actual events in real time.

Argylle
is a movie that starts off bland in the beginning then teases you with some enjoyable moments that don’t pay off. The main character Elly Conway (Bryce Dallas Howard) was not that interesting, and I became more interested in Argylle (Henry Cavil). However, the biggest disappointment of the film is its dialogue. In the theater I found myself wanting to leave after hearing one-liners over and over that for me just didn’t land well. And the poor visual effects kept stopping my immersion into the film. Toward the climax it becomes distracting and the final action scene looks fake, mainly in the background. I do have to give this film credit for having a lot of twists and turns—until halfway through the film I was engaged. All of the shocking twists kept me wanting more. Argylle might secretly be a work of genius simply based on its ending credits scene, which I won’t spoil.

(from left) Lagrange (Dua Lipa) and Argylle (Henry Cavill) in Argylle, directed by Matthew Vaughn.

The theme of Argylle is remembering who you are, and it is best represented by Elly Conway as she embarks on a journey through her old books to find parts of herself. I quite liked this aspect of the film because it really gives us a chance to know more about Elly Conway.


Overall, I give Argylle 2 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18.  This film releases in theaters February 2, 2024. 

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