Category Archives: Movies

A Few of My Underrated Movies

She picked two movies I’m a fan of (though not equally), and two movies I’ve never even heard of, but they look fascinating:

That’s Matt Bird’s intro to my Cockeyed Caravan guest post now up.  As might be expected three of the four movies I chose are related to children’s books.  But they may still surprise you so do take a look (and add your own ideas about underrated movies in the comments if you are so inclined).



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The Percy Jackson Movie — Should I Go?

Percy Jackson, you are no Harry Potter. You are not fit to walk in a hobbit’s wake.

I really enjoyed the Percy Jackson series and thought I’d be rushing off to see the movie. But Tom Long, who starts his review with the above bit of snark, along with too many others, has me dragging my feet.

After having gone to a couple of other movies with our school Book Bloggers Club, we had them all read The Lightning Thief (some had already, but not all) and figured we would all go to see the movie this week. But then we discovered there was no directly-after-school showing so we’ve left it that the kids should go on their own and then write reviews.  And that leaves me also having to go on my own.

The reviews are pretty tepid and I’m quite put off by the kids being so much older than in the book.  Seems a sop to broaden the movie audience which I get, but disappointing nonetheless. I mean, it was Percy being such a real middle school kid in that first book that got me hooked.  Rick Riordan had been teaching middle schoolers for years, knew them well, and it showed.  If the movie was getting raves I might forgive them for this, but it is not.

So unless someone convinces me that I should go see it now while it is in the theater I’m inclined to wait for the DVD.


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Big and Friendly or Big and Scary?

Children, even young children are different. Some, even young children, like the scary and frightening, others do not. At a preliminary screening of Jurassic Park I saw some children, boys and girls, preschoolers to early secondary having a grand time. Others, both boys and girls and across the same age range were crouching in their seats, hiding their eyes.

David Elkind and other experts weigh in on scary movies for kids.

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Harriet the Blogger

Harriet will be updated in many ways for today’s youth, particularly portraying her character as “blogger” and establishing a high school age setting rather than the 11-year old in Fitzhugh’s book.

That’s from this article about a new Harriet the Spy movie in the works.  Now I have to say I wasn’t wild about the last film version, well-intentioned though it was.  And I sort of like the idea of a blogging Harriet, but setting it in a high school has me fearing a Disneyized-Gossip Girl wannabee.  Hope I’m wrong.

(Thanks to Kidsmomo for the heads-up. )


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Eeriness, Spookiness, and the Two Neils

When Neil Gaiman announced that another Neil, one Neil Jordan, was going to do The Graveyard Book film, I was puzzled as I associated him vaguely with The Crying Game, a terrific movie, but a very different genre indeed.  However, just now I did a little investigating and I totally, totally get it.  I hadn’t realized that he was the director of  The Company of Wolves, one of the coolest fairy tale films I know.  Based on Angela Carter‘s story, “The Company of Wolves”  (you can read an excerpt here), it is definitely of its  time (1984), but nonetheless a very eerie and unique film.  I was then very intrigued to see he has just done Ondine. If it is about the nymph  Ondine or some variant of her, that will be very cool.  My only quibble is that of the two Jordan films mentioned first (as far as I know the only ones of his I’ve seen), they are pretty serious.  I just hope that he gets the humor of the graveyard as well as I’m sure he’ll get everything else.

Here’s the first ten minutes of that Little Red Riding— I mean, Jordan’s The Company of Wolves:


Filed under fairy tales, Film, Movies, Neil Gaiman, Newbery

The Tale of Despereaux Film (Not a Review, Exactly)


I saw the movie today.  And I’m okay. Not besotted and in a rush to see it again, but not miserable either.  It is okay.  Perhaps even a bit more than okay.  And for those who don’t care about or even know the book, it is probably way more than okay.

I first read Kate DiCamillo‘s The Tale of Despereaux. as an ARC in the summer of 2002, fell in love with it, read it aloud to my students who also loved it.  We were beyond thrilled when it won the Newbery (and the first image is of the little Despereaux mouse puppet of ours, with his Newbery medal, doing his favorite activity, reading.) Since then I’ve read it aloud many times.  In 2005 I spoke about the book in a talk on literary fairy tales at CLNE  (you can read it here).  So needless to say I was rather apprehensive about the big Hollywood movie it was turned into.

At the screening today I decided to simply watch it to see if it was a good movie, not if it did a good job with my beloved book.  And I’m happy to say it was a good movie, perhaps not a great one, but a very decent one indeed.  It is attractive to look at, interesting, and I think children will enjoy it. I will leave it to the movie reviewers to tell you more.

Did they do a good job with my beloved book?  Well, more or less. That is, given that it is a big Hollywood film, it was much more along the lines of the book than I expected.  Miggery Sow, whom I thought would surely have been eliminated, is there,  toned-down though.  Roscoro is toned-down too, that is, not nearly as nasty and complex a piece of work he is in the book.  In fact, toned-down is probably good phrase for what has been done with the book.  The extreme darkness has been massively toned down.  The humor seems tamped down too.  I mean, this is a book where you laugh and you cry.  As for the movie, I’m not sure it elicits either.  (One of the best images in the movie is of the sad king strumming his guitar and one that I missed most of all was Despereaux’s mother wailing that he was, “such the disappointment!” )

Not a review, I’m afraid, but I do encourage you to see the movie.  And, again, I’ll be interested to see what others have to say.


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Hayao Miyazaki’s New Movie

Who knew that Miyazaki had a new movie coming out? You did? Oh. Whatever.

So New York Magazine’s Vulture — Entertainment & Culture Blog has all sorts of stuff about Gake no Ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) which is evidently for very young children.


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Thanks to Edward Champion for this.

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