Schindler’s List (1993): Thoughts from the Couch (Potato)

Schindler's_List_movieRight, so I have been wanting to watch this movie for literally years.

I mean, I was thirteen when the movie first came out in theatres and all the grups were talking about this forever and EVER and there were even a couple of teens who even snuck into the film by putting on salaryman uniforms and carrying briefcases whilst slouching and looking troubled, you know, basically trying to look old and responsible and many years older than 21 years of age.

But when I turned 21 and wanted to watch this film, NOBODY wanted to see it with me. It was all ‘Yes yes yes you should totally watch Schindler’s List it’s a very good film’ but also ‘No no no I can’t watch with you I just can’t watch again it’s too horrible’.

Finally, The Barn Owl decides that he will watch the movie with me so it was quick get hold of a copy of the movie from anywhere before he changes his mind!

As far as holocaust films go, this one is particularly interesting, especially since the main characters, Oskar Schindler and Amon Goeth, are both members of the Nazi party – and you see the similarities and differences between them. The horrors of the the holocaust are plainly depicted – elderly men and women made to run naked in the mud so that the sick and ill can be weeded out, the randomness of executions, SS soldiers going insane from the atrocities they are committing…and there’s also the little girl in the red coat, whose brief and tragic story is only hinted at. Ralph Fiennes is chilling as Amon Goeth. He’s always good at playing bad guys. He makes you actually feel a little bit sorry for the demonic Amon Goeth because that guy is just so unhinged and he just loathes himself for his attraction to his Jewish maidservant.

And for course, there’s Liam Neeson.

Debs G Recommends: Watch this film together with “Life Is Beautiful” for a full evening’s emotional holocaust.

P.S. Get Schindler’s List here

P.P.S. Check out the rest of the Couch Potato series here.

Advertisements

Australia (2008): Thoughts from the Couch (Potato)

Australia movie posterA British aristocrat, Lady Sarah, inherits a cattle ranch and unwillingly engages the help of an Australian cattle drover (cunningly named ‘Drover’) to protect her property.

Usual love story ensues.

This takes place around WW2 and is cleverly interwoven with the mystical story of Nullah, a half aboriginal boy who is trying with some success to avoid being separated from his tribe and sent to Mission Island to join the rest of the ‘Stolen Generation’.

This film is beautifully rendered with the usual breathtaking cinematography that is associated with Baz Luhrmann. There are plentiful scenes of Hugh Jackman doing all sorts of sexy things in slow motion (walking, riding, getting doused in water/dust/mud, gazing thoughtfully into the horizon etc etc).

In comparison, there are precious few beauty shots of Nicole Kidman, though. Very few closeups. She may be over 40 in this film but she is still gorgeous and it would been nice to see her beauty celebrated just a teensy weensy bit, Mr Luhrmann!

Debs G recommends: Watch this movie with Moulin Rouge! for more beauty shots of Nicole Kidman to balance out your Baz Luhrmann evening!

P.S. Get Australia here

P.P.S. Check out the rest of the Couch Potato series here.

Hairspray (2007): Thoughts from the Couch (Potato)

HairsprayMoviePosterI must admit that I was very reluctant to watch this musical, simply because the title sounds vapid (Hairspray? Really?) and because I am utterly resistant to the charms of Zac Efron.[1]

However, John Travolta, James Marsden AND Christopher Walken in a musical together? DANCING?

THIS IS MOVIE GOLD!

And yes, Movie Gold it is indeed. Apart from the catchy tunes and snazzy dance numbers and the fact that John Travolta looks fetching in a dress, the storyline is both relevant and uplifting.

(And…Christopher Walken totally rocks.)


[1]During my first pregnancy, I was rather sickly, so The Barn Owl, in an ill-conceived attempt to alleviate my symptoms, borrowed High School Musical from the local video library. Needless to say, I spent most of that day staring down the U-bend.

P.S. Get Hairspray (2007) here

P.P.S. Check out the rest of the Couch Potato series here

 

Expanding a child’s worldview : Part 1 Inspire Them (or Tomorrowland 2015 – A Spoiler Free movie review)

There are so many movies around now that revolve around a dystopian future or cynical view of the ugliness that surrounds us in the world.

While I think it’s necessary to jolt people out of their comfort zone by exposing the problems in our society, most of these movies hardly ever show us a solution, and I quite often leave the cinema feeling disillusioned, thinking that all efforts to reduce worldsuck are pathetic and completely futile. All the complaining and finger-pointing about how terrible things are and who is responsible for it, well, I think that it accomplishes nothing except to add to the hate and negativity that is already out there.

If we want our society to improve, we have to act in whatever way we can, not just stand on a soapbox and scold.

It’s very rare to come across a movie that focusses on the possibility of making an effective, positive change to our world. Which is why Tomorrowland has got to be the best film that I watched last year. The movie brings a very important message: that it is possible to make a real and lasting difference to our society by finding out how things work and then persistently making efforts to improve humanity.

Everyday is the opportunity for a better tomorrow – Tomorrowland (2015)

Seriously, if you haven’t watched this movie yet, you really should, because it is awesome. After watching it, you should show it to your kids, because if there is any movie that galvanises a child to action, this is it. After watching this movie, J and Little E were ready to go out and change the world.

During this beautiful movie, a teenaged optimist and a mysterious young girl work together to drag a jaded, world-weary grownup out of his rut in order to save the world. The movie is chock-a-block full of thrilling action sequences, some of which involve instant disintegration so if you have a particularly sensitive child, it can be a little scary.

I felt a personal emotional connection to the characters in the film and their journey, and I am not ashamed to say that our entire family (the Barn Owl included) were in tears before the end!

The kids loved this movie so much that they even insisted on making it into the theme for their birthday party this year! More about this in another post, I promise.

wheat-field2

The front of their birthday invitation card

For now, just enjoy the trailer – and watch the movie! You won’t regret it, honest.

P.S. Buyer’s note: We bought our copy of Tomorrowland from Amazon here.

Is there a movie, book or TV show that inspired you or your children to act positively to change society? Share it with me in the comments!

Joseph: King of Dreams (2000): Thoughts from the Couch (Potato)

Joseph_king_dreamsJoseph: King of Dreams certainly is a movie.  It sure is animated.  I could definitely see all the drawings and hear all the voice acting.  Also, it had music and songs in it.

I am writing this review to remind myself that I have watched this movie, because it was so unremarkable that I’d actually forgotten that I’d already watched it last year.

The problem with this movie is that it is not Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which is so bad that it actually swings right around to good again and continues on to become absolutely fabulous.

This movie is not that.  It is not bad, but it is not good.  It just is a movie.

You should watch Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat instead.  I hear that Elton John is going to make it into an animated movie soon[1].

P.S. Find Joseph: King of Dreams here.


[1]What?  I said it was a fabulous show.

Disney’s Big Hero 6 (2014) – A Spoiler Free Movie Review

There’s nothing like a Baymax Hug!

So, a few days ago, the kids and I were invited to the sneak preview of Disney’s latest animated feature film, BIG HERO 6, which is very (very) loosely based on a little-known Marvel comic book of the same name.

AND. IT. IS. SO. AWESOME.

The movie revolves around 14 year old robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada, and Baymax, an inflatable vinyl healthcare robot created by his college-aged older brother, Tadashi. When disaster strikes the city of San Fransokyo, it’s up to Hiro and his friends to save the day. As you can tell, the main story arc itself is a straightforward superhero origin story complete with Big Scary-yet-tragic Masked Villian, Colour Coded Superhero Team Members and a Musical Training Montage! YEAH!

Mummy Warning: The action is brilliant, fun and well-paced, although some parts may be a little bit intense for preschoolers, particularly if your preschooler is sensitive. My own 3 year old Little E did need a little reassuring cuddle during the battle scenes, but there’s nothing gory or gruesome to worry about. If you are concerned about how your child is going to react, try showing your kids the trailer first!

In terms of animation, the look of the film is a beautifully rendered mash-up of East-West culture, with the story taking place in the city of San Fransokyo, which looks absolutely gorgeous from its rolling Californian hills (so great for car chases!) to the Golden (Torii) Gate Bridge. The attention to detail is absolutely incredible, and I am not surprised to discover that Disney had to assemble a dedicated supercomputing cluster in order to handle the digital processing demands.

Hiro and Baymax fly over the Golden Gate (Torii) Bridge

Hiro and Baymax fly over the Golden (Torii) Gate Bridge

I have to say that I am very excited to see some main characters that are not only of Asian descent, but who also look and behave, well, like regular people. Not once during this film did I hear the phrase, “You have dishonour your fambry!”, nor did I see any wispy bearded old person wearing a silk robe and dispensing sage advice. None of that! We are making big steps here, people, big steps!

The movie was also a great launching point for many discussions with the owlets on the nature of science and ethics as well as the capacity for people to make helpful or harmful choices. My 6 year old, J, was particularly thoughtful after the film, commenting that creativity can be channelled in both constructive and destructive ways, and it is up to each person to decide how they want their actions to impact the world.

We watched the film in Incredible 3-D, which I felt did very little to enhance the overall experience of the film, so here’s a tip: save your pennies and watch Big Hero 6 twice instead! Don’t forget to stay to the end of the credits for the obligatory Marvel-related cameo.

(By the way, the movie is preceded by ‘Feast’, a lovely new animated short about love as seen through the eyes of Winston the dog and is revealed through the meals that he shares with his master, which had me all teary-eyed even before the film started. Disney, you really know how to tug on those heartstrings!)

Debs G rates Big Hero 6: An exploding fist bump followed by an acrobatic fire-breathing dragon!

Big Hero 6 premieres today (13 Nov 2014) at cinemas across Singapore. Go watch it!

Hanna (2011): Thoughts from the Couch (Potato)

hanna movie posterIn one corner we have, Hanna, a 16 year old assassin, hidden away and trained by The Incredible Hulk in the frozen Finnish wilderness! She is erudite! She is dangerous! She is blonde and her eyes are very blue! She fits into very small spaces!

AAAAAAAAnd…in the other corner we have, ruthless CIA operative Marissa Wiegler! She has a gun and a whole army of goons in flak jackets as well as a fabulous german sociopath and his skinhead sidekicks!

DINGDINGDINGDING…FIGHT!

This film starts out with some breathtaking action sequences (the escape from Camp G is particularly fun to watch) and introduces some fascinating characters. Joe Wright does an awesome job keeping the plot moving whilst keeping you intrigued.

Debs G recommends: Watch this movie with Joss Whedon’s Serenity for an evening of badass teen girls beating up a whole bunch of dudes.

P.S. Find Hanna here.