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Movie Review: Catherine Called Birdy * Tackles Gender Norms In The Middle Ages With Tact And Humor, Making It A Great Introduction To Medieval Comedy

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Movie Review: Catherine Called Birdy * Tackles Gender Norms In The Middle Ages With Tact And Humor, Making It A Great Introduction To Medieval Comedy

A 14 year old girl in medieval England navigates through life and avoiding potential suitors her father has in mind.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Lena Dunham’s newest film Catherine Called Birdy tackles gender norms in the Middle Ages with tact and humor…” Heather S. adds, “Catherine Called Birdy is absolutely hilarious! The film is light hearted and funny, with a star-studded cast.”Tiana S. contributes, “Set in England’s medieval era, this movie takes you through a year in the life of teenager who has to use her wits to get out of tough and almost impossible situations.” Selene W. wraps it up with, “Boredom is for the dull-witted”– and the heroine in Catherine Called Birdy is anything but dull-witted! Catherine Called Birdy is relatable to modern audiences and kept me guessing while entertained.” See their full reviews below.

Catherine Called Birdy By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

ANDREW SCOTT and BELLA RAMSEY star in CATHERINE CALLED BIRDY Photo: ALEX BAILEY © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

Lena Dunham’s newest film Catherine Called Birdy tackles gender norms in the Middle Ages with tact and humor, making it a great introduction to medieval comedy for those of appropriate age to handle the gore and thematic elements.

Catherine Called Birdy, as you might expect, follows the 14-year-old Lady Catherine (Bella Ramsey), whose nickname is Birdy. She’s a tomboy to the nth degree, playing with her best friend, a goatherd, rolling in mud and dirt and scorning all that the Middle Ages would deem “ladylike” comportment. Her father, Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott), is deeply financially destitute and utterly greedy, so he aims to use his daughter as his path out of financial ruin by marrying her off to a wealthy man for money and land. What ensues is comedy gold, but also empowering, as Lady Catherine fights back against the repressive expectations for women of the time.

BELLA RAMSEY stars in CATHERINE CALLED BIRDY Photo: ALEX BAILEY © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

Lena Dunham’s direction and Bella Ramsey’s performance really add to this film. Dunham crafts every scene to be perfectly shot and cut, and the young Ramsey shows her talent as Lady Catherine, standing up to injustice and sexism with superb dialogue delivery and emoting throughout the film. I also love how the writers have crafted Lord Rollo’s role; besides fueling the main conflict of Catherine Called Birdy, his character flaws make him perhaps the most complex character of the whole film. Andrew Scott works magic as Lord Rollo, especially in the final scenes of the film where the message is hammered in.

Catherine Called Birdy promotes standing up to rules you feel are unjust. There are some violent (but not graphic) and disturbing scenes, including a difficult childbirth.

I give Catherine Called Birdy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. Catherine Called Birdy releases globally on Prime Video October 7, 2022.

Catherine Called Birdy By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

JOE ALWYN and BELLA RAMSEY star in CATHERINE CALLED BIRDY Photo: ALEX BAILEY © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

Catherine Called Birdy is absolutely hilarious! The film is light hearted and funny, with a star-studded cast. There is not a dull moment in this medieval comedy.

Catherine Called Birdy follows Catherine (Bella Ramsey), a 14-year-old Lady in medieval England. Catherine navigates life, dodges her father’s suitors, and tries to find her place in the world as a woman. The film is based on the book of the same name.

This film is as hilarious as it is sweet. Catherine and her family are witty and messy. Catherine is a strong young girl, ready to make the best out of her situation. She loves her family and her friends, which makes audiences love her. Meanwhile, her father, Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott), is the funniest man in England. He’s funny and crude, his comedic timing is on point. Each character has their own kind of humor, which adds to their dynamic.

BELLA RAMSEY, LENA DUNHAM, and ISIS HAINSWORTH on the set of CATHERINE CALLED BIRDY Photo: ALEX BAILEY © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

The best scenes are when the entire family is together and each one tries to lie through their teeth and diffuse the problems that Catherine has created. The costumes and wardrobe are another factor that makes this film a success. Each dress and accessory is elaborate and glamorous, effortlessly beautiful. Every Lord and Lady, members of nobility, has robes and layered dresses, showing their status as the elite rich. The wedding outfits are exquisite. The soundtrack is extremely creative. Modern songs are included with genres ranging from pop to rock. These tunes aren’t overused and fit perfectly into the story and add more emotion.

The moral of the film is to make the best of every situation. Catherine watches the man she loves marry another woman; she fights with her best friend; her mother has several stillbirths – yet she still has a positive outlook on life. She’s determined to have ownership on her life and never conform to the roles laid out for her.

I give Catherine Called Birdy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. Catherine Called Birdy releases globally on Prime Video October 7, 2022.

Catherine Called Birdy By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

BELLA RAMSEY stars in CATHERINE CALLED BIRDY Photo: ALEX BAILEY © AMAZON CONTENT SERVICES LLC

When you’re just 13 years old and forced to grow up, life can be hard, but you have to make it through. Set in England’s medieval era, this movie takes you through a year in the life of teenager who has to use her wits to get out of tough and almost impossible situations.

Catherine Called Birdy follows Catherine, aka Birdy (Bella Ramsey), who is being forced to marry a rich man, because her family doesn’t have money. Birdy doesn’t want to leave her home, get married or have to act like a lady. While dealing with puberty, betrayal and wanting to live the way she wants, Birdy has to find a way to change her father’s mind before it’s too late.

The main character is, of course, Birdy. I love the relationship Birdy has with her family, as well as her community. She’s young and just wants to have fun, not fall in love, be formal, or have children yet. I love how she uses her voice throughout the film. My favorite part of the film is seeing the relationship Birdy has with her town and, even when she is playing in mud fights, or casually having fun with her friends. This film is based on the novel of the same name by Karen Cushman. It’s a great adaptation of the novel and the costumes and setting really fit the era in which it is set. The storytelling method used for this film is creative, in that they feel like journal entries. While I agree it isn’t the best for young viewers, it still has a good message behind it and will offer more mature audiences certain life lessons.

This film really drives home how you have to fight for what you want in life, and that it’s okay for children to take their time growing up. Catherine just wants to have fun and live, not worry about making decisions that adults have to make, such as getting married and having children. She stands up for herself and doesn’t give up, until her voice is heard. Parents need to be aware that it covers topics such as sexuality and abuse, plus has scenes addressing puberty, other adult behaviors and drinking.

I give Catherine Called Birdy 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Catherine Called Birdy releases globally on Prime Video October 7, 2022.

Catherine Called Birdy By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

“Boredom is for the dull-witted”– and the heroine in Catherine Called Birdy is anything but dull-witted! This timeless coming-of-age story which takes place in 13th Century England is witty and engaging. Catherine Called Birdy is relatable to modern audiences and kept me guessing while entertained.

Lady Catherine (Bella Ramsey), known around the manor as Birdy, is a clever and stubborn 14-year-old girl who valiantly fights against medieval traditions for her independence. Her father, Lord Rollo of Stonebridge (Andrew Scott) seeks to find a foolish young man who will trade his fortune for a title by marrying off his only daughter. Fortunately, Birdy is not foolish and her rebellion proves to be entertaining as we see that her truest passion lies in avoiding chores, causing mischief at home and in her village, as well as routing her various suitors on her own personal crusade.

The incredibly clever screenplay, written by Lena Denham, is based on the book of the same name by Karen Cushman. Bella Ramsey, as Birdy, has wonderful comedic timing and utilizes the witty dialogue to capture the audience, while confusing her various suitors. I enjoyed watching Birdy’s cleverness and frustration in overcoming social norms and assumptions from that time. All teenagers can relate to parent’s expectations and interference while struggling against them. Lena Denham also directs the film and you can tell that it is certainly a labor of love. The scenes in the countryside and manor are quite beautiful and the cinematography, under the guidance of Laurie Rose, truly adds to the story and film. The set decorator Stella Fox, along with costume designer Julian Day, complete the audience’s immersion into the manor and village of Stonebridge.

The message of this film is that you should not be burdened by the expectations of others – even if they come from those you love or feel an obligation to. Under pressure, Birdy doesn’t fly the coop, but instead she stays and fights for her future and her independence.

I rate Catherine Called Birdy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film opens in select theaters September 23, 2022 and on Prime Video October 7, 2022. Don’t miss this relatable and enchanting tale.

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Movie Review: For Tomorrow * An Uplifting, Inspiring And Thought-Provoking Portrait Of Human Resilience And Innovation

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Movie Review: For Tomorrow * An Uplifting, Inspiring And Thought-Provoking Portrait Of Human Resilience And Innovation

Follow the journey of grassroots innovators dedicated to fighting some of today’s most pressing sustainability issues. Through actions, big and small, everyday change-makers are tackling local problems and inspiring their communities with ingenuity, resilience and vision. Whether it’s a solar-powered car built from recycled materials by a self-taught engineer to combat air pollution or a line of cleaning products made from food waste by someone with no chemistry training, grassroots solutions are setting the planet on a more sustainable path. But for a real breakthrough, governments, global institutions and the private sector must recognize these innovators and actively seek out their ideas. From the streets of Baku to a farming community in the Andes and the mountains of Northern India, our documentary follows five innovators on their quest for real, actionable change. Their journey to innovation is never simple-how do you keep going when even your husband doesn’t believe in your idea?-but the power of their vision keeps them going. Is the world ready to finally listen to them and change the way it handles and solves global problems?

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “One of my favorite documentaries of the past year, For Tomorrow is an uplifting, inspiring and thought-provoking portrait of human resilience and innovation. With immaculate cinematography and compelling storytelling, young minds will be nourished by this wonderful film. Even the K-pop group BTS thinks so.” See his full review below.

For Tomorrow By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

One of my favorite documentaries of the past year, For Tomorrow is an uplifting, inspiring and thought-provoking portrait of human resilience and innovation. With immaculate cinematography and compelling storytelling, young minds will be nourished by this wonderful film. Even the K-pop group BTS thinks so.

“Minds on the margin are not marginal minds.” This line perfectly sums up For Tomorrow, which, yes, was promoted by the Korean pop band BTS.

Following five grassroots innovators from across the world, this documentary, narrated by Daisy Ridley, strives to go beyond labs, think tanks, and name brands to show the real people making change happen. One, a disability rights activist in Baku, Azerbaijan, fights for the construction of elevators in metro stations to make public transport more accessible for the 620,000 disabled Azerbaijanis. Another change-maker is an inventor in Sierra Leone, working to bring electricity to rural areas and get more solar cars on the roads.

An Tran’s direction elevates this already incredible film, as she creates mini-portraits of each of the innovators featured in the film, showing what their daily lives look like and how they tackle the challenges they face every day, whether that’s mountains of trash outside or water scarcity.

The cinematography is just WOW; it’s clear that production was clearly highly valued. For Tomorrow was produced in association with the acclaimed platform fortomorrow.org and the UN Development Programme; the UN could not have made a better filmed or edited documentary to promote their site. I love how For Tomorrow both intertwines, but also separates, the stories of each change-maker. This makes the film easy to follow and constantly engaging.

For Tomorrow promotes finding unique solutions in, at-times, dire situations and empowers others. The world’s biggest problems won’t be solved with just one person’s effort — collaboration is the key.

I give For Tomorrow 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. ForTomorrow is available Amazon Prime Video September 16, 2022.

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Everybody’s Talking About Jamie * Teen Musical Reminding Reminds You To Find Your Place In The World

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Everybody’s Talking About Jamie * Teen Musical Reminding Reminds You To Find Your Place In The World

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a 2021 biographical coming-of-age musical comedy-drama film directed by Jonathan Butterell (in his feature directorial debut) from a screenplay by Tom MacRae based on the stage musical of the same name, in turn adapted from the BBC Three documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16. Despite obstacles, 16-year-old Jamie has the courage to fabulously follow his unconventional dream in this inspiring true story turned musical sensation.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katie F. comments, “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the new musical film of the year! With music to get you on your feet and comedy that will make your stomach hurt, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is one to watch.” Eshaan M. adds, “A glittery, glamor-filled, unique and entertaining film, everyone is bound to be talking about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie! The musical numbers, the classic plotline of a teen finding their place in the world, and lovely messages of having confidence in yourself and following your passion all make this production an especially fun watch. However, some directorial choices might cause you to divert your attention from what’s happening on screen.” Heather S. wraps it with, “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the empowering spectacle everyone needs! With its amazing songs, incredible dresses and an iconic protagonist, the film will have you wanting to dance along at your nearest cabaret.” See their full reviews and talent interviews below.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Katie F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Aged 12

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Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the new musical film of the year! With music to get you on your feet and comedy that will make your stomach hurt, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is one to watch.

Based on true events, the story follows Jamie New (Max Hardwood) , a sixteen-year-old boy with the passion to become a drag queen, and he gets help from a former drag queen. With his best friend, Pritti Pasha (Lauren Petal), he attempts to prove wrong the people who doubt him, including school bully Dean Paxton and his own father. Although his father has chosen to cut him out his life, his loving mother is always there to help.

Jamie New is a huge character. He has an answer for everything and always has some glitter to spare. As he attempts to become a drag queen he is more confident than ever. Hugo/Miss Loco Channel (Richard E. Grant) is a former drag queen who attempts to help Jamie as he sees him as the next generation and the future of drag. Pritti Pasha is definitely the brains of the duo. She is a high achiever and would never break the rules. The rest of the cast are incredible and every single character stands out.

The music in this film is from the original stage musical. My favourite song is the opening song, “And you don’t even know it.” It serves as an introduction to some of the characters and is an upbeat dance number that will have you dancing and singing along just like the rest of the soundtrack. My favourite part of the film is when Jamie realizes that all he wants is to be a drag queen and becomes Hugo’s trainee. As a result he starts saving for his very first drag queen dress – his mum already bought him the shoes.

The message of the film is to be who you want to be. Don’t let others pull you down from what you want to do, especially if it makes you happy. You should be aware that this film does contain very strong language.

I give Everybody’s Talking About Jamie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie steps out of the darkness and into the spotlight on September 17, 2021 on Amazon Prime.

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Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

A glittery, glamor-filled, unique and entertaining film, everyone is bound to be talking about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie! The musical numbers, the classic plotline of a teen finding their place in the world, and lovely messages of having confidence in yourself and following your passion all make this production an especially fun watch. However, some directorial choices might cause you to divert your attention from what’s happening on screen.

The film follows Jamie New (Max Harwood), a gay 16-year-old boy from Sheffield, England, whose secret dream is to become a drag queen. His mom, Margaret (Sarah Lancashire), as well as his best friend and fellow outcast Pritti Pasha (Lauren Patel) support him, but his absentee father (Ralph Ineson), homophobic bully Dean Paxton (Samuel Bottomley) and future-focused career’s teacher Ms. Hedge (Sharon Horgan) all seem to be against Jamie. Mentored by former drag queen and current shopkeeper Hugo Battersby (Richard E. Grant), a.k.a. Loco Chanelle, Jamie embarks on a journey to discover his true identity, tearing down boundaries and burying toxic relationships along the way.

Max Harwood brings viewers along on his emotion-packed hero’s journey; he certainly steals the show. Besides Harwood, though, Lancashire’s portrayal of Margaret captures all of the motherly emotion that a sentimental coming-of-age story needs. The care between the two is palpable. Jonathan Buttrell makes his silver-screen directorial debut with this film, and his technique of capturing emotion is superb. Unfortunately, lighting, camera angles and focal choices leads to some distraction in some compelling moments. The score of the film, as with the musical version, is superb, but the sheer number of songs and usage of varied background tracks causes the film to drag as it nears the end. Nevertheless, the music is undoubtedly the highest point of the film.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie promotes acceptance, following your dreams and never being afraid to take a risk. There is some mild profanity in the film.

I give Everybody’s Talking About Jamie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is available on Amazon Prime Video beginning September 17, 2021. Go check it out!

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Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is the empowering spectacle everyone needs! With its amazing songs, incredible dresses and an iconic protagonist, the film will have you wanting to dance along at your nearest cabaret.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is based on the true story of Jamie New (Max Harwood) and adapted from the West End musical of the same name. Jamie was always taught to be conventional, to choose a “realistic” career and be basic like everyone else. On his sixteenth birthday, he realizes that’s not who he is, and decides to become a drag queen. The film has mind-blowing choreography with top-tier songs that pay homage to the musical.

This movie is a real Broadway show in your living room. The elaborate dance numbers with large groups of people, neon lights, phenomenal singing and fabulous drag dresses leave little to be desired. Jamie finds his way into the world with glamour and by making a statement. He encourages audiences globally to be yourself. Being a drag queen in the small town of Sheffield, England was very different. Jamie grows into the stunning personality of Fifi la True with the support of his amazing mother and friends. The film itself really proves how much effort the filmmakers put into their work. The movie shows the real truth of what it was like to be a drag queen in the past. Richard E. Grant is the best mentor Jamie could ever have. He explains his life in the 1980s reminding Jamie about the epic beginning of drag culture. He is so amazing; his fluid movements and the way he speaks just make you want to be his friend. Richard really worked hard on not making his character a parody of a drag queen, but reflect the beauty of a queen. He shows he has what it takes to be called Loco Chanelle, on and off the stage. The movie also has amazing cameos like the iconic queen Bianca Del Rio and Layton Williams, the star of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie on West End.

The moral of this film is to always be yourself. Jamie never gave up on his dream of being a drag queen and most of all, he never gives up on being himself. He put in the effort of becoming an amazing queen, and working on himself. He always shines and never cares what others think.

I give Everybody’s Talking About Jamie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18 plus adults. It is available in theaters September 17, 2021.

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