ANNE FRANK REMEMBERED (1995)
This poignant documentary works on several levels: a true life coming of age; the insight of a wise young girl; the human capacity to survive while caring for others. Every teenager should see this film to be reminded of the destructiveness of bigotry and to be uplifted by the courage and power people can display. Filled with many intuitive moments, the film reminds us that soon no one will be here to tell the personal events associated with that horrific time. For example, the middle-aged son of a holocaust victim meets the woman who protected his father nearly 50 years ago. Two months after this meeting, the man died. Another moment had a sudden emotional impact on me. Real-life film footage shows a parade during that period when suddenly the camera pans up the side of a housing complex, revealing people looking out the window at the commotion in the street. One of those people was the real Anne Frank. I remember bursting out in tears as that visual overwhelmed me. I’m not sure why, other than the fact that here was this human being, full of life, and I realized that life would swiftly undergo change, then be snuffed out one day in a concentration camp. It’s a hard image to view, yet one of the most moving ever caught on film. Anne Frank Remembered is rated PG (the atrocities of Hitler's concentration camps are briefly seen toward the end of the film). PREVIEW REVIEW
BUGSY MALONE (1976)
Rated G. A spoof on 1930s gangster movies with a pre-teen cast that includes Scott Baio and Jodie Foster. Some good songs by Paul Williams and all the machine guns shoot custard.
The story concerns Katie (Mika Boorem – Blue Crush, Sleepover), a self-centered teen from an affluent Malibu family, cute and at the top of the social order at her school. Struggling with adolescent issues, including whether or not to have sex with her boyfriend, Katie is beginning to sense that there is more to life than what’s offered in her preferential world. When a favorite teacher presents an opportunity to get involved with a charitable group, she hastily agrees to travel to China as a volunteer, not realizing that this trip will change her life. Meanwhile, Lin (Yi Ding – The Joy Luck Club, The Amazing Panda Adventure) has grown up in a Chinese village protected by her loving adoptive father who learns of the medical organization. He takes Lin to the far-off big city where he and his daughter hope for a miracle. But when he is injured in an accident, they are unable to get to the surgeons before they return to America. They sadly retreat to their hometown. Once again Lin’s dreams of escape from her self-imposed isolation go unfulfilled.
After arriving in China, Katie becomes overwhelmed by viewing the deformed children in person. It is heartbreaking and more than she can handle emotionally. Her first instinct is to leave for home, but a compassionate nurse (Cheri Oteri – Saturday Night Live) helps the youngster through the initial ordeal and soon Katie begins to see the profound impact of her efforts. Learning of Lin’s disappointment and the fact that she was born on the same day as she, Katie sneaks off to find the girl. Katie is changing. Her journey to China has suddenly become selfless. And that is the missing element to life she has searched for. Caring for others brings her purpose and fulfillment.
PG-13 (A mother discusses sexual matters with her teen daughter and supports her decision to get birth control pills. There is a make-out scene, but the girl realizes that she is not ready for sex and puts an end to it. Though some may be concerned with the brief sexuality, the filmmakers felt the issue needed to be addressed and do it with discretion.)
THE BOY WITH GREEN HAIR (1948)
Dean Stockwell, Pat O'Brien. A fable about a war orphan who becomes an outcast when his hair turns green. Although when made the film spoke of European children whose parents were killed in the war, today's audiences gets a poignant message about the discrimination children with AIDS must face. The film has a great look, some of it in B&W, some scenes filmed in color.
GRACE UNPLUGGED (2013)
This Prodigal Daughter tale concerns the talented 18-year-old child of a former rock star who wants to find her own fame. The premise is certainly timely as we see former Disney Channel stars change their image in order to stay relevant in a pop-culture world that demands change over talent. It’s the movie Miley Cyrus Should See. PREVIEW REVIEW
WIDE AWAKE (1998)
A young boy enters 5th grade at a Catholic school for boys while dealing with the death of his beloved grandfather. One of the most sensitive and entertaining movies I have seen in quite some time. It shows the lad searching for God so he can ask if his grandpa is okay. The film deals perceptibly with questions concerning death and our Creator. However, it is not a sermon. The writing is true to boyhood thoughts, mischief, and dialogue. It may be a little intense for very young ones who do not understand death, but questions such as the one our hero asks a troubled priest, "Do you ever feel like giving up?" will relate to older kids and adults alike. There's no crudity associated with this film as with most kids’ movies. The boy, terrifically played by young Joseph Cross, learns forgiveness, compassion and faith. And Grandpa, played by a superb actor, Robert Loggia, stays true to the philosophy, "Hold on to your faith. Faith will get you through," even when he learns he is dying. PG (1 obscenity from the lead's best friend; 1 mild obscenity repeated over and over as the lead runs from a bully, but when he passes a cross with the suffering Christ on it, the boy apologizes; 1 expletive from the football coach; the boys innocently examine a magazine featuring a bikini-clad woman, but I did not feel this was exploitive and the picture is not predominantly shown to the audience - the youngsters are curious about the opposite sex; the best friend does not believe in God - until the end; deals poignantly with the loss of a grandparent). - Use TVG. PREVIEW REVIEW
WILD HEARTS CAN’T BE BROKEN (1991)
Gabrielle Anwar is outstanding in this true story about a courageous teenage girl searching for her place in life and finding an unusual answer to her dreams as she becomes a Big Top stunt rider. Rated G, it’s more suitable for older teens
ENDER’S GAME (2013)
Aimed at this generation by incorporating the iPad gamesmanship they have embraced, Ender’s Game should be a pleasant surprise for fans of the book. And for the rest of us sci-fi enthusiasts, who also like character development, we're rewarded with a young protagonist who is a warrior in mind, but who also displays a compassionate heart, as well. PG-13. PREVIEW REVIEW