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1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything * Captures A Year That Baby Boomers And Gen Xers Lived Through

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Reviews
1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything * Captures A Year That Baby Boomers And Gen Xers Lived Through

 

In a tumultuous era, 1971 would be a year of musical innovation and rebirth. Fueled by the political and cultural upheaval of the time, fresh talent exploded onto the scene, stars reached new heights, and boundaries expanded like never before. Watch 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything, now on Apple TV+. This eight-part docuseries will take you back to the birth of the most original artists and songs that we still listen to 50 years later, including never-before-seen footage of The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, and more. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything is about resilience and inspiration, or rather inspiration through resilience. As these incredible musicians weathered the tempest that was the titular year, they funneled their energy toward releasing uplifting and rousing music that would echo with the general populace; they truly seized the opportunity. And I feel that it’s a great parallel to 2020 and now 2021.” See his full review below.

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1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

https://youtu.be/Rlj8r-qiCdY

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1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything is a beautiful docuseries capturing the reality of a year that Baby Boomers and members of Generation X lived through.  In this series, the blooming of unique soundtracks in a turbulent time is captured gracefully, using archival footage and interviews plus voiceovers from influential and iconic figures of the ‘70s.The eight-part docuseries focuses on the musicians and soundtracks that shaped the culture and politics of 1971; featured artists include The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed… and even Ravi Shankar. 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything goes to great depth (each episode lasts from 40 to 60 minutes) to illustrate how these musical icons were influenced by the changing tides of history, including the Vietnam War, and how they used their work to inspire hope and change in their not-always-beautiful world. From politically-tinted songs to dreams of unity, the show runs the gamut of songs and emotions. It’s truly a beautifully-executed series, though it tends to drag about three quarters of the way into each episode.

 

The series comes from a filmmaking team that includes figures from documentaries like the Academy Award-winning ‘Amy,’ and so you know it’s going to be an awesome piece of work. Asif Kapadia is the show’s series director and serves as executive producer along with James Gay-Rees, David Joseph, and Universal Music Group’s Adam Barker. And this undertaking truly is a team effort; the production team has meticulously picked snippets of interviews, radio broadcasts, film from the recording booth and performances, and more, all from 1971, and pieced them together to tell a beautiful, intricate story. As you watch more and more of the show, you begin to get sucked into the world that is being portrayed on screen, a surefire sign that the minds behind 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything did lots of things right! Despite the show dragging a bit here and there, your eyes will surely be glued to the screen whenever you watch the series.1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything is about resilience and inspiration, or rather inspiration through resilience. As these incredible musicians weathered the tempest that was the titular year, they funneled their energy toward releasing uplifting and rousing music that would echo with the general populace; they truly seized the opportunity. And I feel that it’s a great parallel to 2020 and now 2021; certainly, music has played a major part in getting us through the pandemic, and who knows? Maybe 40 years down the road, we’ll see a film about 2020: The Year That Music Changed Everything… Again.

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I give 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything 4.5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything releases May 21, 2021, on Apple TV+!

 

The Dark Hobby * A Compelling Documentary Exposing the Ugly Truth of the Aquarium Hobby

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Reviews
The Dark Hobby * A Compelling Documentary Exposing the Ugly Truth of the Aquarium Hobby

The Dark Hobby is an exposé of the devastation to species and reefs caused by the aquarium trade. This adventurous saga follows a band of Hawaiian Elders, conservationists and scientists who stop at nothing to protect marine wildlife. They file a lawsuit against the State of Hawai’i to halt the collection of reef creatures, a fight that goes all the way to the Supreme Court. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D., comments, “The Dark Hobby, a compelling new documentary film, exposes the ugly truth behind a hobby practiced by so many people globally – the aquarium hobbyist. This film sheds light on the secrets of wildlife trafficking through the corrupt commercial extraction of our most precious species occupying the world’s coral reefs.” See his full review below.

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The Dark Hobby (2021)

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

https://youtu.be/-I4jAKRGepw

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How can we fix what we don’t know is broken?  How can we make change for something if we can’t see what is wrong?  The answer is simple…we can’t unless we are aware that a problem exists. Hidden under the surface of our oceans within some of the riches habitats on the globe, there IS a problem and we must take immediate action to save our natural world before it disappears. The Dark Hobby, a compelling new documentary film, exposes the ugly truth behind a hobby practiced by so many people globally – the aquarium hobbyist. This film sheds light on the secrets of wildlife trafficking through the corrupt commercial extraction of our most precious species occupying the world’s coral reefs.

https://youtu.be/6MdXo-MCnDk

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Aquariums are certainly beautiful and enjoyable for humans, but they come at a huge cost to other living things involved in this “hobby” industry. The Dark Hobby highlights some alarming statistics within this captive industry that are sure to shock those that admire these artificial habitats. The film takes us to Hawaii’s Kona Coast where Robert Wintner, the film’s executive producer and long time marine activist, educates us on the dismal journey of marine life from capture to captivity. Several other activists and research scientists offer additional evidence on this ever so cruel hobby. Plucked from their natural habitat, 99% of marine wildlife die within the first year of captivity – only to be replaced following their death. The continuous demand to replace aquarium life drives many “aquarium collectors” into the business, causing great devastation to marine ecosystems. The Dark Hobby refers to fish keeping as a “global travesty demanding the world’s attention” and this film is sure to change minds.

The Dark Hobby takes us underwater to some of the richest marine habitats in the world. This exclusive footage is outstanding and beautifully captured by the film’s cinematographers. The Hawaiian ecosystems shown in this documentary are so diversified and viewers get a firsthand look at what could be lost if we continue to allow wildlife to be stolen.  The scenes with including Native Hawaiians speaking out to save their culture are especially powerful and a great addition to the film.

The message in The Dark Hobby is about the need to open our eyes and think critically about all that is involved in human entertainment.  Humanity can be driven at times by greed and selfishness, which can cloud reality.  Humans are taking away marine life’s most prized possession – their freedom – and this film gives us the information and education we need to speak out about giving that freedom back. I give The Dark Hobby 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Adults, especially animal activists, will also love this documentary. The Dark Hobby makes its debut May 21, 2021 on a variety of digital platforms. Please spread the word, it’s critical that this film’s message be heard.

A Week Away * Feel-Good Teem Rom Com of the Year!

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Reviews
A Week Away * Feel-Good Teem Rom Com of the Year!

Nowhere left to go, Will Hawkins finds himself at camp for the first time. His instinct is to run, but he finds a friend, a father figure and even a girl who awakens his heart. Most of all, he finally finds a home. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Heather S. comments, “A Week Away is a total breath of fresh air! This film is set to be the feel-good teen rom com of the year with hilarious one-liners and catchy tunes. This is definitely a new Netflix knockout.” Katherine S. adds, “On the musical front, this movie has an impressive soundtrack. Kudos to the songwriter, Adam Watts, for the original songs in this movie. The choreography is splendid as everyone has a dance during the singing, and it is perfectly in sync with everything else. The setting for this movie is beautiful! The cabins have so much attention to detail; the forest is very realistic; and the lake is gorgeous. Now I want to go to Camp Aweegaway!” See their full reviews below.

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A Week Away

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

https://youtu.be/TINVwOUqv8s

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A Week Away is a total breath of fresh air! This film is set to be the feel-good teen rom com of the year with hilarious one-liners and catchy tunes. This is definitely a new Netflix knockout.

A Week Away follows juvenile delinquent Will (Kevin Quinn) as he goes to camp Aweegaway as a way to escape juvie. At the camp, he meets Avery (Bailee Madison). Soon, Avery tears down Will’s walls and shows him the ropes. The two of them, along with the rest of the campers, breakout in song and dance. The large dance numbers and intimate ballads balance out the storyline perfectly.

https://youtu.be/TINVwOUqv8s

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The cinematography is absolutely breath-taking. The shots of the early morning at the camp and the gorgeous dancing between Avery and Will at the dock are stunning. The sun shines down on the two as they dance together. The choreography is spectacular. The upbeat dance numbers with large groups make you want to dance with them. The songs are also incredible. After watching this movie, you’ll definitely want to add the whole soundtrack to your playlist. Along with this film’s spectacular visuals, the performances stand out. The intimate scenes between Avery and Will leave you rooting for these young teens from the lovely garden scene where Avery confesses how she’s exhausted of trying to be perfect, to Will’s vulnerable moment as he comes to terms with being loved and accepted.

https://youtu.be/CLcnY-LRQ0k

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The moral of the film is that your past doesn’t define your future. Once the truth about Will’s checkered past comes to light, he runs away, believing that Avery would reject him. She, on the contrary, accepts him with open arms. Over the week that the film takes place, Will’s character develops dramatically, as he learns to love himself and learns how God and faith guides souls.

I give A Week Away 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It is available on Netflix March 26, 2021.

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A Week Away

By Katherine S, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

https://youtu.be/Rk_KhtqMrRo

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A Week Away is a teen rom-com musical. It has attractive, lakeside outdoor settings, amazing choreography and solid faith-based messages.

This movie follows a teenage boy named Will (Kevin Quinn) who is a bit of a troublemaker.  He takes his actions a bit too far by stealing a police car, and when caught has the choice of going to a juvenile detention center or going to a faith-based camp with one of his foster families. He chooses camp Aweegaway, a place where some of the teens are only a week away from a life-changing experience. While at camp, Will meets Avery (Bailee Madison), who may very well be the catalyst for that change.

At several points during the storyline, A Week Away can be a bit cheesy and predictable, but this is a rom-com musical so it can only go in so many directions – and it’s still fun! On the musical front, this movie has an impressive soundtrack. Kudos to the songwriter, Adam Watts, for the original songs in this movie. The choreography is splendid as everyone has a dance during the singing, and it is perfectly in sync with everything else. The setting for this movie is beautiful! The cabins have so much attention to detail; the forest is very realistic; and the lake is gorgeous. Now I want to go to Camp Aweegaway! Kevin Quinn, who plays Will, possibly drew inspiration for this role from his character in Bunk’d, also about a camp. Bailee Madison is so believable as sweet and faithful Avery, who becomes Will’s love interest. My favorite character is Avery’s dad (Dave Koechner) because he is kind, silly and pretty inspiring. He is such a good dad role model.

The two primary messages for this movie are that nobody’s perfect and always keep your faith. There are a couple of examples of bad behavior in the movie, like someone stealing a car and running away from home.

I give A Week Away 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for ages 9 to 18. It comes out on Netflix March 26, 2021.

The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers * Comedy, Creative Storyline, Great Messages and Lots of Hockey

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Reviews
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers * Comedy, Creative Storyline, Great Messages and Lots of Hockey

After failing to make the cut to join the now powerhouse Mighty Ducks junior hockey team, 12-year-old Evan’s mother encourages him to form a new team of underdogs with help from Gordon Bombay, the Ducks’ original coach. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers is super enjoyable to watch! This beloved movie franchise now has a new series that all Mighty Ducks fans can enjoy. It has comedy, a creative storyline, great messages and of course plenty of Mighty Ducks hockey action.” See her full review below.

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The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers

By Katherine S, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

https://youtu.be/DO3WfxV6_1Y

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The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers is super enjoyable to watch! This beloved movie franchise now has a new series that all Mighty Ducks fans can enjoy. It has comedy, a creative storyline, great messages and of course plenty of Mighty Ducks hockey action.

The next installment of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers follows a boy named Evan (Brady Noon) who loves hockey and plays for the Mighty Ducks. However, the Mighty Ducks are not what they used to be, as the team has become a bunch of kids who want to win at all costs. Since the team moved to the 12 to 14-year-old bracket, only the best will stay on the team and, unfortunately, Evan is not one of them. After being devastated from being cut, Evan’s mom (Lauren Graham) decides that they should make their own team, but the deadline is in a few days. Can they find a rink, a coach, players and equipment to play in the league? It’s a lot of fun to watch their journey.

Since this new series is based on the previously released Mighty Ducks movies, you might want to watch some of those movies just to know some of the references and backstories of various characters. The characters include a diverse set of kids, parents and coaches that are very relatable and entertaining. Emilio Estevez reprises his role as a “cranky” Gordon Bombay being coaxed into coaching. Sound a bit familiar? My favorite character is Nick (Maxwell Simkins), because he is sweet, has a love of hockey, is not very good and has the best one-liners.

The message of this show is to remember that, just because you are not the best, does not mean you should not bother to try.  And it would not be a Mighty Ducks movie without demonstrating the importance of teamwork. There is a tiny bit of mild profanity.

I give The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. Adults, hockey fans and Mighty Ducks movie fans will enjoy it, too. The first episode of this show comes out on Disney+ March 26, 2021.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier * Non-Stop Action, Belly Laugh Funny, Emotional Ride Of A Lifetime

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier * Non-Stop Action, Belly Laugh Funny, Emotional Ride Of A Lifetime

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is an upcoming American web television miniseries, based on the Marvel Comics superheroes of the same names. The series is a sequel to Avengers: Endgame. It is the second installment and the second television series of Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Picking up after the events of Avengers: Endgame, the show centers on Sam Wilson (aka The Falcon) taking over the Captain America shield, and Bucky Barnes (aka The Winter Soldier) grappling with 21st century life without his star-spangled pal Steve Rogers. On top of that, the pair team up on a globe-trotting mission to take down an anarchist group called the Flag-Smashers. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jude A. comments, “Are you ready to fly into nonstop action? Are you ready to watch a show that will belly laugh and also immerse you in an emotional ride of a lifetime? Well if so, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the show for you! Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan return in iconic roles, delivering mind-blowing action choreography and creative new ways to show action like Marvel hasn’t achieved before.” Heather S. adds, “The moral of the series is that there’s always a way to help heal all kinds of wounds. Sam desperately tries to help his sister with finances and tries to gain back the time he lost. Bucky, on the other hand, goes to therapy to help deal with his trauma and pain, trying to erase all traces of the Winter Soldier.” See their full reviews below.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

https://youtu.be/C1YJhbeWsR4

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the action-packed series everyone needs! With explosions, story-telling and two Avengers, we explore the backstories and lives of our favorite superheroes. This show is definitely a Marvel world-class adventure.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is set six months after the events of Avengers: Endgame. We catch up with the two heroes and see how much has changed in the last five years. Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) is still fighting crime as the Falcon, as he hangs up the Captain America shield. Meanwhile, Bucky Barnes tries to move on from the wars, as his past as the Winter Soldier haunts him. Soon, the two Avengers must team up against their latest villain, Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl).

Marvel yet again delivers with the cinematic spectacular they’re known for. The series starts off doing what Sam knows best – fighting and flying. With explosions and swift movements, Sam saves a prisoner. This series really gives insight to characters that never took center stage. It showcases why their skills and mindsets make them valuable assets and Earth’s mightiest heroes. It’s so exciting to see them on their own. It’s beautiful to see the two heroes be actual humans and people, not just aliases. We also see how comfortable the actors are in their respective roles. Sebastian really dives in deep into how Bucky has changed and faces these emotions head on. Anthony also merges with Sam. It’s so hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. They’re both hilarious and their performances offer comedic relief. I can’t wait to see both Sam and Bucky reunite. These two characters have been teased to be a comedic duo in previous Avengers films.

The moral of the series is that there’s always a way to help heal all kinds of wounds. Sam desperately tries to help his sister with finances and tries to gain back the time he lost. Bucky, on the other hand, goes to therapy to help deal with his trauma and pain, trying to erase all traces of the Winter Soldier.

I give The Falcon and the Winter Soldier 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. It starts streaming on Disney+ March 19, 2021.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

By Jude A., KIDS FIRST Film Critic, age 15

https://youtu.be/IWBsDaFWyTE

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Are you ready to fly into nonstop action? Are you ready to watch a show that will belly laugh and also immerse you in an emotional ride of a lifetime? Well if so, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the show for you! Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan return in iconic roles, delivering mind-blowing action choreography and creative new ways to show action like Marvel hasn’t achieved before. This will definitely bring a smile to long time Marvel fans, and it will also be extremely enjoyable for first time Marvel viewers.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is set six months after the events of Avengers: Endgame, establishing the current status of Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). Sam (aka the Falcon) is still completing missions fighting crime left and right. Bucky (aka the Winter Soldier), on the other hand, is lying very low. He is dealing with mental health issues, trying to make peace with himself and the world. When the terrifying villain Zemo makes his reappearance from the events of Captain America: Civil War, Bucky and Sam must team up and defeat this foe.

In Captain America: Civil War, we get a taste of the Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan duo. Everyone loved it. Now to satisfy our lust for more, we have The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Their chemistry is outstanding. You laugh consistently throughout the show, making you want more and more. The visual effects and writing departments each deserve a lot of credit for the extremely creative route the show takes, demonstrating to the world what beautiful effects Marvel can produce.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is intense at times. A good portion of the show is pure action that some parents might not be comfortable with their younger children seeing. Some episodes contain mild cursing. The show does offer many morals and lessons. It explores themes such as teamwork, love and friendship. It also teaches the lesson that, even though you might have lost someone you love, they would have wanted you to move on and continue to live the life you want.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier soars higher than the Falcon does in the show, delivering plenty of great laughs and action-packed scenes. The show does contain intense action and cursing. Therefore, I give The Falcon and the Winter Soldier 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. Every Friday a new episode releases on Disney+ starting March 19, 2021, so make sure to check it out!

I’m Fine (Thanks For Asking) * Sheds Light on Struggles of Poverty and Virtues of a Single Mom

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I’m Fine (Thanks For Asking) * Sheds Light on Struggles of Poverty and Virtues of a Single Mom

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When a recently widowed mother becomes houseless, she convinces her 8-year-old daughter that they are only camping for fun while working to get them off of the streets. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Abigail L. comments, “I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) is a fantastic film that sheds a new light on the struggles of poverty and the virtues of being a single mother. Director, writer and star of the film, Kelley Kali, creates an excellent, heart-wrenching story that captures the turmoil and strife that people are currently facing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Joshita B. adds, “This movie represents the struggle of many single parents, especially when juggling their financial responsibilities while trying to parent as well.  Right off the bat, I must mention that Kelley Kali’s emotionally driven character is so well acted that she honestly steals the show and my heart. By making the mother so likable, the audience can’t help but root for her!” See their full reviews below.

I’m Fine (Thanks For Asking)

By Abigail L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

https://youtu.be/WQE-jmmADNw

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I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) is a fantastic film that sheds a new light on the struggles of poverty and the virtues of being a single mother. Director, writer and star of the film, Kelley Kali, creates an excellent, heart-wrenching story that captures the turmoil and strife that people are currently facing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The film features Danny (Kelley Kali), a recently widowed mother who is struggling to make ends meet. She convinces her eight-year-old daughter, Wes (Wesley Moss), that they are camping while they live in a tent. After promising her daughter that they will have a home by the end of the day Danny skates around Los Angeles trying to find different ways to make enough money to secure an apartment.

My favorite part of this movie is the acting. Each character is distinguishable and genuine. The large variety of filming locations stands out as well. It showcases the marginalized communities in Los Angeles, a city that is often associated with glamor and success, which can also be tied back to Danny who tries to constantly make things look better than they truly are. Although Danny makes several poor decisions, it is difficult not to sympathize with her struggles. The direction of this film is especially admirable because of the emotion the directors, Kelley Kali and Angelique Molina, elicit from viewers as they watch Danny go around town pleading for help and toiling to keep her and her daughter’s head above water.

This movie addresses issues that are often neglected in overlooked communities. I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) successfully conveys the gravity of the difficult decisions people encounter when destitute. Although the subject matter is rather dark, the message is still inspiring and thought-provoking. Parents should know there is some mature content such as death, strong language, drug use, violence and blood.

I rate I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. This film is premiering at the SXSW 2021 Film Festival from March 17, 2021.

I’m Fine (Thanks For Asking)
By Joshitha Balamurugan, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

https://youtu.be/K63cvWZJLWs

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I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking), directed by Kelley Kali and Angelique Molina, is an incredibly enlightening film about hardship. Everything, from the cinematography to the heartfelt dialogue to the acting, is top tier. This film is well made and sheds light on an important topic.

I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) is about a widowed mother that convinces her daughter they’re camping to hide that they’re homeless. This movie represents the struggle of many single parents, especially when juggling their financial responsibilities while trying to parent as well.

Right off the bat, I must mention that Kelley Kali’s emotionally driven character is so well acted that she honestly steals the show and my heart. By making the mother so likable, the audience can’t help but root for her! Also, the cinematography for the ocean scene is just breathtaking; the build-up for it is masterfully scripted so that when we see Kali scream underwater it hits us that much harder. Another thing worth mentioning is that the plot is very realistic – there is no magical element that whisks them away when life gets too tough to deal with.

The message of this film is that, no matter what happens, you have to put one foot in front of the other, because there is light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not an option to give up. You should know that there is some profanity and sexual references in the film. So it is best suited for older teens and adults. In telling the story this way, the truthful message we take away sticks with us.

I rate I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 16 to 18, plus adults. This film premieres at the SXSW Film Festival on March 17, 2021, so catch it there.

@thanksforaskingmovie

@iamkelleykali

@rowemolina

@artistrydna

@abigailliu_

Stray * Brilliant Documentary That Makes You See The Value Of Stepping Up For What You Believe In

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Movie Reviews
Stray * Brilliant Documentary That Makes You See The Value Of Stepping Up For What You Believe In

The world of Zeytin, a stray dog living life on the streets of Istanbul. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Carlee S. comments, “Stray is a brilliant film about three beautiful dogs living on the streets of Istanbul, Turkey.  Director Elizabeth Lo gives a unique perspective that allows viewers to venture into dogs’ lives and learn a lot about the country of Turkey and the people there, as well. Through the eyes of the dogs we learn about their lives on the streets and the lives of others they interact with.” See her full review below.

Stray

By Carlee Spagnolo, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Age 16

https://youtu.be/lRTEvpnu_B4

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Stray is a brilliant film about three beautiful dogs living on the streets of Istanbul, Turkey.

Director Elizabeth Lo gives a unique perspective that allows viewers to venture into dogs’ lives and learn a lot about the country of Turkey and the people there, as well. Through the eyes of the dogs we learn about their lives on the streets and the lives of others they interact with.  We gain a better understanding of the people as we overhear conversations the citizens are having which tell us a lot about the personal lives of the people there and the living conditions. For both the dogs and some of the people, there is danger and the struggle to survive.  There are also touching moments. It is an unforgettable film that helps people understand a different part of the world, the people and animals that live there, and that they all have the same basic needs of food, shelter, and friendship.

https://youtu.be/ABjZQH_oafo

This documentary follows three dogs named Zeytin, Nazar and a puppy named Kartal. The camera follows the dogs at their level which is a very ingenious and a creative touch. As the camera rolls, we follow along and see how these dogs interact with other dogs and the humans they encounter. Not only do we get to experience a stray dog’s life, but the lives of a young group of boys also living on the streets. The dogs in Istanbul are allowed to roam around the city freely since the citizens fought to save them. We’re taken into these dogs’ lives and live it with them, seeing all the sights and sounds they see.

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One of my favorite scenes in Stray is when Zeytin is in the park and notices another dog approaching. You can tell from the beginning, when we first get to know Zeytin, that she is a sweet dog. She doesn’t seem to mind the other dogs she comes in contact with and is friendly towards them. Watching Zeytin and the other dogs in the park was very enjoyable. I just loved watching them run around and being very playful. It is a scene that could have been in any part of the world.  I also enjoyed watching the puppy, Kartal. The puppy’s expressions are very sweet and, the way people react to Kartal, it adds a nice touch to the film.

The message in this film is to step up for what you believe in. The citizens of Turkey made sure their voices were heard, so that dogs can freely roam, and are not to be held captive or destroyed. Every life is worth something. The dogs provide comfort to many people there. There are some warnings. Some scenes can be graphic that go with life on the streets. Some of the topics and language spoken by some of the people is also for older viewers.

I give Stray 5 out of 5 stars. I was glued to the screen and I am now a much bigger fan of documentaries after watching this film.  I plan to watch more in the future. I recommend this film to ages 13 to 20. Magnolia Pictures will release Stray in theaters and On Demand on March 5, 2021.

Land * Intriguing; Valiant; Relatable. Terrific Directorial Debut by Robin Wright

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Movie Reviews
Land * Intriguing; Valiant; Relatable. Terrific Directorial Debut by Robin Wright

A local hunter brings a grieving lawyer back from the brink of death after she retreats to the harsh wilderness of the Rockies. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Nathalia J. comments, “The upcoming drama film Land, by director Robin Wright, is intriguing, valiant and relatable. I found it astounding knowing Robin Wright also starred in this film as the principal figure Edee. Considering this was Wright’s feature film directorial debut, I can’t deny that she surpassed my expectations for this film.” Rosabella P. adds, “This film is a compelling piece that captures both the internal and external landscape of Wyoming. The acting is phenomenal, which is critical given that the dialogue is meager. The cinematography and music are breathtaking, showing both the kindness and sacrifice of facing the unexpected in the wildness. This is a must see in the movie theater to appreciate the grandeur of the cinematography and all this movie brings.” See their full reviews below.

Land

By Nathalia J, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

https://youtu.be/cvjfBkjvzwM

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The upcoming drama film Land, by director Robin Wright, is intriguing, valiant and relatable. I found it astounding knowing Robin Wright also starred in this film as the principal figure Edee. Considering this was Wright’s feature film directorial debut, I can’t deny that she surpassed my expectations for this film. Land shows the raw emotion of a human overcome by grief and follows Edee (Wright) as she manages with unimaginable despondency after the passing of her spouse and child. Edee makes a bold choice to depart from society, seeking out a new life off the grid in Wyoming. Leading up to that moment, she tosses her phone, buys canned merchandise and supplies, and finds an isolated, somewhat-rundown cabin within the Wyoming wild. Throughout the film, you can see how isolated she feels — once she starts a new life, it’s like she’s left her old self behind with society.

Edee is certain about her brave decision, and ready to start a new life. However, there is no coordinate for the area’s unwavering winter. She is incapable of keeping the fire going to warm her cabin. After a bear continually eats her food, Edee is on the brink of starvation, as well as frail and too cold to stand.  Edee is spared by a neighborly hunter/woodsman (Demián Bichir) who brings her back to life and instructs her on how to survive living on the land. As Edee starts to construct a new life for herself outside of civilization, she works to manage her past and see toward a bright future.

My favorite part in Land would have to be when Edee was fishing at the nearby lake. As she is struggling to catch a fish, she becomes frustrated. Then, she notices a young man, Miguel (Demián Bichir) chasing his young son, Drew (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) She recalls memories of her late spouse and child and follows them from afar as they run through the trees. I enjoyed watching as she relived those precious moments from her past, and it was overall a heartfelt moment in this film.

However, although Land was only 88 minutes, the film felt way longer than that, due to the slow pace. There are many relatable moments within the film, but I felt some scenes dragged and, at some moments, many scenes felt “dry.” This film promotes positive social behaviors and shows the true meaning of kindness. What I took away from Land is that it’s okay to be not okay. And, sometimes, we need a break from our continuous busy schedule in life and to break free!

I give Land 4 out of 5 stars, with an age recommendation of 11 to 18, plus adults. Land debuts February 12, 2021 at your nearby theater and PVOD March 5, 2021.

Land
By Rosabella P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

https://youtu.be/EyLTIWzRroY

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Land is a poignant story with a harsh American wildness twist. This film is magnificent and has unbearable events to watch. The part I enjoyed most is when Edee (Robin Wright) finally decides to go hunt in the woods instead of starving herself to death. The part I disliked is when she is contemplating taking her life away until she reminisces about her sister Emma (Kim Dickens) tells her something important to remember about her life.

Directed and starring Robin Wright, the storyline is about a desperately sad woman, grieving over the loss of her husband and child, who seeks out a new life away from her family and friends. She is very uncertain about life and goes deep into the mountains of Wyoming to begin a life of solitude and privacy to figure things out.  With the help of a nearby hunter Miguel (Demian Bichir) solace in nature may create the best healing path for her.

This film is a compelling piece that captures both the internal and external landscape of Wyoming. The acting is phenomenal, which is critical given that the dialogue is meager. The cinematography and music are breathtaking, showing both the kindness and sacrifice of facing the unexpected in the wildness. This is a must see in the movie theater to appreciate the grandeur of the cinematography and all this movie brings.

The film has a implacable message about believing in yourself. It promotes the idea that hope is all you need to conquer anything. It also emphasizes the importance of being helpful and being supportive of people you care about. Helping others with compassion always comes within your heart.

I give Land 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. It will be available on PVOD March 5, 2021 at the theater near you

Moxie * Wonderful Comedy, Drama and Terrific Message

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Movie Reviews
Moxie * Wonderful Comedy, Drama and Terrific Message

Fed up with the sexist and toxic status quo at her high school, a shy 16-year-old finds inspiration from her mother’s rebellious past and anonymously publishes a zine that sparks a school-wide, coming-of-rage revolution. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “I love the coming-of-age movie, Moxie! It has comedy, drama and a terrific message, while handling very serious topics.  The cast is perfect, and the music gives the film a lot of energy.”  See her full review below.

Moxie

By Katherine Schell, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

https://youtu.be/uuT3uU7DFAE

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I love the coming-of-age movie, Moxie! It has comedy, drama and a terrific message, while handling very serious topics.  The cast is perfect, and the music gives the film a lot of energy.

Moxie is based on the novel by the same name by Jennifer Mathieu and follows a 16-year-old girl named Vivian (Hadley Robinson) who prefers to be under the radar. This all changes when Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña) comes to her high school. After witnessing Lucy “holding her head high” during an encounter with another student, Vivian notices all of the horrible ways that girls are being treated at her school and decides to publish an anonymous zine that sparks a fire in all of the other fed-up girls at her school.

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Amy Poehler directs the movie and plays Vivian’s mom.  She also happens to be my favorite character, because she is very clever, inspiring and is not a “traditional mom.” The rest of the cast plays their characters so well. We see Vivian’s journey from follower to leader. Lucy is such a bold and confident woman, standing up for what is right. Seth (Nico Hiragra) comes across as a really cool love interest of Vivian’s and male ally to the female revolution. Patrick Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of Mitchell Wilson is terrific, as I just hated him in the movie. The supporting characters are very diverse as we see people of all shapes, sizes and races, including a girl in a wheelchair, which I rarely see in movies, plus an all-girl band.The key messages in this film are: to be the change you want to see, and friendship can support that change. You should know that the film has some mild profanity, shows underage drinking and handles some mature subjects.

I give Moxie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. It comes out on Netflix March 3, 2021.

Raya And The Last Dragon * Fascinating Setting and Mythology; Story Falters a Bit

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Movie Reviews
Raya And The Last Dragon * Fascinating Setting and Mythology; Story Falters a Bit

Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. However, when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned, and it’s up to a lone warrior to track down the last dragon and stop the Druun for good. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “In terms of world-building, Raya and the Last Dragon is probably one of Disney’s best. This animated film has a fascinating setting and mythology; however the story falters a little… Raya and the Last Dragon feels a lot more dramatic and serious in tone than most other Disney films. On the one hand, I really enjoy this as I believe we need more serious kids’ movies.” See her full review below.

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Raya And The Last Dragon

By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17

https://youtu.be/2U1WHte8nKQ

In terms of world-building, Raya and the Last Dragon is probably one of Disney’s best. This animated film has a fascinating setting and mythology; however the story falters a little.<p>This film takes place in Kumandra, a world comprising five divided nations. When an evil force known as The Druun sends Kumandra into a state of despair, Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) sets out on a journey to find the last dragon, and defeat The Druun for good.First, the animation in this film is strong and very realistic; perhaps a little too realistic to the point where some shots look like photographs. This might be a pet peeve of mine, because I don’t like ultra-realistic animation. Sure, it is impressive, technologically speaking, but I find stylized animation to be much more striking and memorable. Aside from that, it’s very beautiful. I really like the colors, and how each location is so visually distinct.

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Raya and the Last Dragon feels a lot more dramatic and serious in tone than most other Disney films. On the one hand, I really enjoy this as I believe we need more serious kids’ movies. However, I’m assuming the producers were concerned about this film being “too dark for kids” because there is a lot of really unfunny comedy in the beginning. This comedy mostly comes from Sisu (Awkwafina), the last dragon. And while I’m usually a fan of Awkwafina and her comedic timing, she’s just not given any good material here. The jokes don’t fit with the setting or tone, and they really bog down Sisu’s first few scenes. Yet once the comedy slows down, she becomes a more dramatic character which I enjoyed.

I have a few concerns with the themes of Raya and the Last Dragon. The message that, instead of being divided, we need to come together and stand united is fine. However the execution of that message is a bit questionable. No spoilers, but let’s just say a certain character really deserved some repercussions for all the problems they caused. I do understand that the moral is that we should learn to trust each other, but I feel like that message is used as an excuse to not properly redeem a character.

I give Raya and The Last Dragon 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. It comes out on March 5, 2021 in theaters and on Disney+ with Premiere Access.

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