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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.

Trailer:

Cruella * A Very Audacious Take For A Disney Movie – Bold, Strong, Raw And Filled With Creativity

Posted by rstapholz on
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Movie Reviews
Cruella * A Very Audacious Take For A Disney Movie – Bold, Strong, Raw And Filled With Creativity

Before she becomes Cruella de Vil? Teenaged Estella has a dream. She wishes to become a fashion designer, having been gifted with talent, innovation, and ambition all in equal measures. But life seems intent on making sure her dreams never come true. Having wound up penniless and orphaned in London at 12, four years later Estella runs wild through the city streets with her best friends and partners-in-(petty)-crime, Horace and Jasper, two amateur thieves. When a chance encounter vaults Estella into the world of the young rich and famous, she begins to question the existence she’s built for herself in London and wonders whether she might be destined for more after all. When an up-and-coming rock star commissions Estella to design him a signature piece, she begins to feel as though she has truly arrived. But what is the cost of keeping up with the fast crowd- and is it a price Estella is willing to pay? KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “Cruella, the film, is a very audacious take for a Disney movie. It is bold, strong, raw, and at the same time flourishing with creativity and joyful to watch. The acting is superb and all aspects of production—costumes, locations, art and design—are on point. Last but not least, the soundtrack is definitively one to remember.” Tiana S. adds, “The message of this film is that sometimes the worst memories are the ones that have the greatest impact on your life. In this film, Estella experiences different events in her life that would break the typical person, but it led to her experiencing some of the greater moments of her life, such as meeting Jasper and Horace or having a chance make clothing.” See their full reviews and interview below.

Cruella

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

https://youtu.be/PsoTgdQ0XRo

CRU-20144_R.jpg

Cruella, the film, is a very audacious take for a Disney movie. It is bold, strong, raw, and at the same time flourishing with creativity and joyful to watch. The acting is superb and all aspects of production—costumes, locations, art and design—are on point. Last but not least, the soundtrack is definitively one to remember.

This origin story tells how the well-known villain from the original book and subsequent animated movie The Hundred and One Dalmatians becomes Cruella. Sadly, it takes bullying, cruelty and hate to turn a wonderful character to evil. In Cruella we see a young Estella (Tipper Steifert-Cleveland) surviving as an orphan, struggling to create a family with two boys she meets on the street, along with the noble company of two dogs that are humans’ best friends. This is one of the aspects I love about Cruella: despite that Cruella de Vil is well known for animal cruelty, this movie honors dogs by having two canines, Buddy and Blink, as important cast members.

https://youtu.be/Z8bfkGw7p2c

CRUELLA_HR_FIRST_LOOK_MPC_v001.jpg

Tipper Steifert-Cleveland’s performance is the perfect predecessor to the stunning grown-up Estella (Emma Stone) to shine in a multi-layered character. We see how 12-year-old Estella is bullied at school which is one of the most important messages of the movie to its younger audience, showing how people that surround you can hurt you when your appearance doesn’t match what they see as “normal.” As Estella, Emma Stone is full of creativity and ideals and an absolute survivor. She’s a hard worker who’s determined to make her dreams come to life. We see her cleaning floors and toilets at the iconic fashion store Liberty of London, pursuing a career in fashion design—but society sabotages her plans.

The Baroness (Emma Thompson) is despicable and charming at the same time. Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser play Jasper and Horace, respectively; little thieves that show unconditional love to Estella and are literally partners in crime. John the Valet (Mark Strong), besides being perfectly cast, should have had more presence in the storyline since he could have brought more humanity and hope to the film. My favorite part? The music, brilliantly composed by Nicholas Britell to match the narration and the era. And the visuals and cinematography are just stunning.

The story of Cruella is fascinating, but my only issue is how long the storytelling takes, including scenes that could have been edited out. At times, there are a couple instances of self-explanatory dialogue related to the turning point in the story: the world is cruel, making Estella become the meanest villain in response. Ultimately, the message of the film is that environment, nature and nurture play a decisive role in one’s being and in our role in society.

I give Cruella 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids 13 to 18, plus adults. There are some mildly violent scenes and themes that can be inappropriate for the very young. Cruella opens May 28, 2021 in theaters and on digital platforms.

Cruella
By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

https://youtu.be/XBYXKUe-jGo

CRU-01854.jpg

Cruella is an all-new, live-action feature film that is fashion-forward and villainous! The fashion and soundtrack really help drive the film. The camerawork is astonishing and connects you to the protagonist’s journey.

Based on the novel The One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, Cruella takes you on the journey of how the most fashionable villain goes from being a mischievous, rebellious and fashionable young girl (Tipper Seifert-Cleveland) to becoming Cruella De Vil (Emma Stone). After suffering a great loss, Estella meets two young homeless thieves, Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) and they instantly become family. Estella uses her fashion sense to design costumes to allow them to run scams to survive. Then, she gets the job of a lifetime, creating outfits for the chic, terrifying fashion legend, the Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson). After a revelation connecting the Baroness to a horrific event from her childhood, Estella seeks revenge and gets a chance to let out her inner “Cruella.”

The main characters in this film are Estella/Cruella de Vil, the Baroness von Hellman, Jasper, Horace, Anita Darling (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and Mark Strong (John the Valet). Cruella is narrated by none other than Cruella herself and is set in 1970s London during the punk rock revolution. The camera techniques used are sensational; at times they make you feel like you are walking with the characters. The party scenes stay true to the red, black and white color pallet Cruella is known to wear. My favorite part is when the rebellious Cruella goes to a black and white ball wearing an all-white outfit and drops a match on it. The dress burns up and reveals a red dress underneath. It is also remarkable how costume designer, Jenny Beavan up-cycled materials, such as trash, and uses the infamous Dalmatian pattern, to create Cruella’s outfits.

The message of this film is that sometimes the worst memories are the ones that have the greatest impact on your life. In this film, Estella experiences different events in her life that would break the typical person, but it led to her experiencing some of the greater moments of her life, such as meeting Jasper and Horace or having a chance make clothing. The only parent warning I have is a short scene where Estella is drinking.

I rate Cruella 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18; adults are sure to love it too. Cruella releases simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access on Friday, May 28, 2021.

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