Freedom Writers (2007)

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Freedom Writers was released in 2007, starring Hilary Swank. It is a drama based on the nonfiction book, The Freedom Writers Diary, and is based upon a true story.

The book and the movie tell the story of a remarkable teacher and group of kids from Woodrow Wilson Classical High School, in California. At the time of the book’s writing, this was one of the roughest schools in the country, filled with gangs, violence and a failing academic record.

Hilary Swank portrays teacher Erin Gruwell, a novice teacher who reshaped the kids in her classroom, helping them catch up academically and exposing them to the wider world. She worked two part time jobs to pay for opportunities and teaching resources – including English books – that were not funded by the school.

Here is the trailer.

I have seen this movie several times, but was inspired to re-watch it after listening to the book The Hate U Give.

The themes of racial tension, gang violence, education and growing up in rough neighbourhoods are similar.

The movie is entertaining and inspiring. There is violence, which flows well with the storyline and themes without becoming graphic. Although the subject matter isn’t happy, it also brought back a slight sense of nostalgia for the 90s.

I thoroughly enjoyed re-watching this film, and now I am am more interested in the Freedom Writers today. I want to google and see if any of them became activists or educators. I am also going to try to find a copy of their book to read.

Edit: Here is a link to 2017 news article, “where are they now”.

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Incredibles 2 (2018)

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Incredibles 2 takes place immediately after the conclusion of the first movie. Jack Jack is still a small baby, and his family is not yet aware of his powers, although the audience certainly is!

This book highlights the struggles the kids face in adapting to their dual identities as “normal kids” in school and supers. In addition, all supers are still illegal and fighting back to regain their place in society and embraces their powers.

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I was not a fan of Incredibles 2. It definitely is not a movie that I would watch again. For a company like Pixar that had 14 years to put together a blockbuster sequel to their hit first film, I really felt let down.

The movie is meant for kids admittedly. But in my opinion, Pixar and Disney usually aim at making films that can appeal to the whole family. Parents are generally roped into watching movies with their kids, and certainly it is the adult taking the family to the movie theatre.

Now, the film generally received positive reviews from the critics and has been nominated for a People’s Choice Award so my opinion seems to be an uncommon one. But I would not recommend this movie.

I felt it was overly predictable, even for a children’s film. It lives in the shadow of the original, and all the other superhero movies that have emerged in the past decade. Another example of the sequel failing to live up to the original.

You can watch the trailer here.

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Book Club (2018)

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Book Club came out in May of 2018, so of course, I am just now getting around to watching it.

This movie is hilarious!

A few times I had to pause the DVD because I was laughing so hard, I couldn’t hear what the characters were saying anymore.

The leads in this film are all “young seniors” who have been best friends for their entire adult lives. It was awesome to see their examples of supporting female relationships, and how that was fundamental to the film.

Even though I am in my twenties,  I was still able to relate to their characters and think that women of all ages will enjoy watching this movie (though it is definitely not appropriate for children)!

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This is my favourite movie so far in 2019. I highly recommend it and it is great to watch alone, or with a group of friends.

You can watch the trailer here.

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My Secret Valentine (2018)

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A young woman takes advice from the notes that are left by a mysterious “Handyman” when a sales rep arrives with plans to buy her family’s winery.

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My secret Valentine is a 2018 Hallmark film set around – you guessed it Valentine’s Day. It stars Lacey Chabert (as Chloe) and Andrew Walker (as Seth).

I watched this movie for the first time and fell in love so I of course had to share it. Its a short, sweet movie with romance, family and good friends, and just a little cheese. I enjoyed my evening in on the couch, snuggling, eating chocolate and watching romance unfold. There were definitely a couple of moments when I could be Chloe!

Watch the trailer here! I promise, the acting is better than than the trailer makes it out to be.

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Instant Family

downloadInstant Family is 2018 movie about a couple who adopts children through the foster system in California. This type of adoption is often referred to as “fost-adopt”.

Angie from This Gathered Nest featured the show on her channel a few weeks ago. She and her family are huge adoption advocates and I am super excited to share this film.

I saw it last night and it is sweet, funny and so so true. Although not a Christmas film, it is in theatres right now and I highly recommend you see it. It exemplifies many themes behind the true meaning of Christmas and will fill you with all the feels.

I really hope that this film inspires others to become involved in the foster care system. There are many more children than parents in the system, but there are lots of other ways you can also become connected. One example is working with local organizations to fund extracurricular activities, joining Big Brothers and Big Sisters, sponsoring a foster family for Christmas … the list is endless.

I really enjoyed this movie and it is one I would watch again without hesitation.

The trailer is available here.

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The house with a clock in its walls (film)

The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a 2018 children’s film, based on the book of the same name that was written way back in the 1970s by John Bellairs. It is a beautiful blend of mystery, fantasy and thriller and although not overtly a Halloween story, it is one I can see myself habitually watching each October.

The film stars Jack Black, Cate Blanchett and Owen Vaccaro.

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Set in 1955, a 10 year old braniac is sent to live with his estranged uncle after a terrible car accident kills his parents. Unbeknownst to him, Uncle Jonathan is infact a warlock, lives in a magical house and is best friends with his next door neighbour, an extremely powerful witch. The banter between Jack Black and Cate Blanchett made the movie in my opinion.

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The house contains a terrible secret. It is a ticking heart hidden within it, put in place by the evil warlock who used to own it, and which is rumoured to bring about the apocalypse in the very near future. Together, the three must teach young Lewis to do magic, uncover the magical clock, and unravel its secrets to save the universe.

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This movie drew a surprising number of adult viewers to the theatre, at least for the showing I attended, and was generally well received. I am not a huge purveyor of children’s films, but I enjoyed it and so did my Mum, who had invited me.

The special effects are well done and there is enough humour in the plot and acting that we were laughing throughout.

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The Rundown (2003)

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A tough aspiring chef is hired to bring home a mobster’s son from the Amazon but becomes involved in the fight against an oppressive town operator and the search for a legendary treasure.

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I haven’t written any film reviews in a while and I have been curled up watching some lately, so I thought I would share a few of my favourites.

The Rundown is an action film starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Christopher Walken, Seann William Scott, and Rosario Dawson. Hard to believe that this film is already 15 years old!

The plot is pretty simple and pretty well spelled out from the above summary provided by IMDB.

I love action films – as long as they have a credible plot – and The Rundown is funny as well which makes it that much better! Definitely one I recommend.

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Bon Cop Bad Cop

Bon Cop, Bad Cop (the first and the sequel) are comedic Canadian bilingual movies. Yeah you heard me, bilingual movies. They feature an Ontario officer and a Quebec officer who have to work together to solve a series of murders.

There are English subtitles if you don’t speak French, and French subtitles for the English sections as well. Or if you’re real fancy, you could enjoy the movies sans subtitles if you speak both languages. Warning: they speak fast.

“Ontario” is a by the book, up-tight hardass who has trouble communicating with those be loves. “Quebec” is a rough and tumble, charming, good ol’ boy who pays little observance to the rules. Anyone who knows anything about Canadian politics knows that Ontario and Quebec don’t usually play too well with each other and this is personified in Colm Feore and Patrick Huard’s performances.

The first film is one of my favourite comedies and I would highly recommend it for anyone to watch. The sequel won’t really make sense unless you have seen the first one, but I guess it might be ok on it’s own. I thought that #2 was just as funny as the first, but there were a lot of plot holes in it which I felt brought down the entertainment value. This leads me to rate the first film five stars and the second film three stars.

At the end of the day, these movies are not meant to be taken too seriously. They provide funny caricatures of Ontarians and Quebeckers in the first film, and Canadians and Americans in the second.

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a very late review

Guess who finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy II?! Yup, this girl. I’m sure there are a million and one reviews out there already breaking it down, but I want to talk about it so here is one more.

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Also, spoilers abound.

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Guardians II is FUNNY. Quite possibly even funnier than the first one which is saying something. Rocket and Baby Groot are hilarious and kinda steal the show in my opinion. There was one point where I seriously considered whether I would have to leave the theatre for a few minutes to calm down I was laughing so hard.

There are very few action movies that are also comedy but Guardians has that shit nailed down. It is also family-friendly and thoroughly entertaining for adults so its no wonder they rake in a billion + before the DVD is released.

Baby Groot is adorable and I loved that the animators took the opportunity to make him so much more expressive in personality and facial expressions. At times, this little guy almost broke my heart but he is the core of the film and my favourite character.

The only part of this movie that I didn’t like, was the part that I was looking most forward to. The big reveal of Peter’s lineage, aka The Celestial, Ego.

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Ego started out great and I think Kurt Russell did a pretty great job of it, but the idea of Ego is somewhat existential and I didn’t feel like that came across very clearly. I also hate how he was supposed to be so powerful and yet was defeated relatively easily. Certainly more easily than Ronin in the previous movie!

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Additionally, I was disappointed that Peter finally finds his dad, who is a super cool being, just for Ego to immediately portray his complete lunacy and evil intentions, and then be killed off. It was too “easy” and would have loved to see Peter have a contentious struggle with his father all his life … which is apparently a very long time … and develop his super-power.

It finally looked like we had met a human supe without any (obvious) physical enhancements, “just” the ability to manipulate energy and energy balls. Most of the Marvel cast are superhuman in a physical way, from Thor, to the Hulk and Spiderman and Captain America. Now Peter is a run-of-the-mill human.

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I detest that Marvel made Ego so evil. It doesn’t fit with my idea of a Celestial and made the character so pathetically one-dimensional when he could have been the most interesting new development in the MCU. I would have preferred him to go forward mostly impartial to the plight of humans, and all our “petty” concerns, and have an ongoing relationship with Peter and his family. Ultimately, this plot line dropped a star from my review of an otherwise fantastic movie.

I did love the plot development that went into this movie. Everyone involved brought more into the universe from the intricacies of ravager society, and the gold people to information about the creation of the universe itself.

I saw this movie with my Mum who isn’t a marvel fan and doesn’t like superhero movies in general. She hadn’t even seen the first movie which I didn’t quite realize before we arrived, but she was a good sport to go with me for my birthday and even she admitted it was great. I’m glad she enjoyed it and even ventured that the trailer for Spider-man (2017) looked good so maybe I can return the favour and take her to that for her birthday!

Trailer for this movie

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Drop Dead Fred (film)

Drop Dead Fred is a HILARIOUS movie that was released in 1991 by Universal Studies. It stars Phoebe Cates and Rik Mayall.

I have been looking to watch this movie for so long now. I couldn’t find it on DVD or streaming service anywhere, other than for rent on Youtube. Thankfully, my local library just got a new streaming service that is free to members and this movie was on there. Libraries for the win!

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From IMDB: A young woman who’s attempting to find her place in the world battles with her controlling mother and a womanizing husband finds comfort and confusion with the appearance of her childhood friend. It is a zappy movie that emphasizes self-actualization.

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This movie is rated pg-13, but I watched it with my parents from a young age. Looking back, that is a little shocking because of the swearing in the movie, but I was never one for bad words so I guess my parents could tell that the language and occasional adult situation went over my head at the time.

Drop Dead Fred is a fantastic movie to watch as a family if your children are a little older. The rating is mostly for language, there aren’t any sexy scenes. Making out is about as heavy as it gets.

Drop Dead Fred is a hilarious coming-of-age story about a mousy young women taking control of her life that was previously run by her husband and mother. She overcomes the emotional abuse that was inflicted upon her as a child, with the help of her childhood imaginary friend, the rambunctious and heart-warming troublemaker, Fred. You will be in stitches over the situations that Lizzie and Fred find themselves in, both as children and as adults, and if you’re a neat-freak like me, you might just be cringing a little bit too.

The young child, Ashley Peldon, who plays Young Elizabeth in the flashback scenes does an amazing job. She is sweet and convincing in her role. It is more than a little heartbreaking to see how the mother treats her and all I wanted to do was hold her tight and love on her.

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I highly recommend this hilarious comedy for some hearty laughs on a cold and snowy winter’s night.

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