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Francine Graff, MH Columnist

 

Christine Fugate, MH Creator

Lily Williams, Movie Reviewer

Sunday
Jul082012

Katy Perry: Part of Me

Reviewed by Lily Williams

There's no denying that Katy Perry has caused quite a stir in the pop music world over the past few years. From the scandalous yet extremely catchy 'I Kissed a Girl' to #1 anthem 'Firework,' her songs provide both memorable dance beats and messages of self-empowerment. And although she is seen as a role model by millions of fans, it can be tough for Perry to keep that carefree attitude she displays onstage - a dilemma that is put on display in her concert documentary, Katy Perry: Part of Me. The movie explores her early passion for singing, her struggle to stardom, and even her painfully public divorce with Russell Brand. And of course, those concert performances that every teen girl would die to see live. 

I've always been a fan of Katy Perry's music, but after seeing this movie, I can safely say that I think she is an amazing person. I've always seen Hollywood marriages two ways - publicity stunts or rash decisions. Seeing how Perry did attempt to save her marriage makes me respect her that much more. She has affected her fans' lives radically, as evidenced by the dozen-odd clips of covers and video thank-you-notes included in the movie (some of which made me tear up). The tour performances included were high-energy and perfectly interspersed between stories from Katy and her family. However, I thought that the opening credits were extremely similar to those from Justin Bieber's eponymously-titled documentary. But I guess since I am now a super-fan, I'll forgive Katy Perry. But just this once!

The film includes infrequent swearing within song lyrics, but that should be expected from a movie about Katy Perry. Dancers are occasionally shown in revealing costumes, and girls are shown wearing bikinis. I believe that children 10 and up would be perfectly fine watching this film without any problems, but if a younger child of yours is accustomed to hearing her music, then the movie will have no surprises. 

Katy Perry: Part of Me is rated PG. 

 

Thursday
Mar012012

Precious Knowledge

Starring Jose Gonzalez, Curtis Acosta

Produced by Isabella Eren McGinnis

Directed by Ari Palos

Price: $28.00

Purchase Here

View Trailer Here

Reviewed by Rafael A. Nevares

It is often difficult to separate the messenger from the message. However, the Ari Luis Palos directed documentary on the fight over the controversial Mexican-American Raza Studies Program in the Tucson Arizona Public School System forces us to do just this. Precious Knowledge is a revealing and front-line look at what happens when two of the most important issues in America today, illegal immigration and education, collide.

As the film begins, it seems like we will be embarking on a journey of struggle and discovery with Crystal, Pricilla and Gilbert. Three high school kids from Latino families who just want the opportunity to advance and succeed at securing their fair piece of the American dream. All of them come from modest homes, are intelligent, aware of their situation and desire to change it. But as the film progresses we realize that this story is less about them and more about the struggle between competing ideologies and these kids are going to be caught in the crossfire.

On the side of preserving the ethnic education program are Tucson high school teachers Curtis Acosta and Luis Gonzales. One unabashedly bases his teachings on those of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire whose philosophy of critical pedagogy is founded on Marxism and draws from anarchism. The other, a literature teacher, has his classroom adorned with political banners with slogans like  “Land or Death”, “Stop Deportation Raids”, “Citizenship Yes, Deportation No,” and a Che Guevara skateboard. As you can imagine there will be objections.  

Leading the charge for terminating the program are Arizona State School Superintendent Tom Horne and State Senator John Huppenthal. Horne professes to be an opponent of racial separation and to believe that there are better ways to decrease Latino dropout rates from their staggering 50%. But if he truly has any such ideas we are never privy to them. Each of these men, to varying degrees, are depicted as conservatives sometimes accompanied by extremist both in the state government and citizenry as shown in a scene where Horne supporters threaten peaceful pro ethnic studies demonstrators.

Acosta/Gonzalez vs. Horne/Huppenthal sounds like the card at a pay-per-view boxing match and at its core this is what Precious Knowledge is about. The clash of priorities as embodied by these willing combatants. Pugilists whose motives are questionable and in doubt. Is the primary concern for these teachers the education of their students or the advancement of their own ideological positions? Do the state officials really care about future opportunities for these kids or about their own political ambitions? After all by the end of the film the people of Arizona have promoted Horne to State Attorney General and Huppenthal to Superintendent of Instruction.

Thoughtfully interspersed throughout the film is a brief yet insightful history of Chicano education in Tucson and throughout the US and the legislative history of various Arizona state bills. An ever so slightly biased snapshot of the social background of the day reveals that naïveté and bigotry are present on both sides but dominate neither. But missing from the landscape was the usually strong role of parents in Latino culture. More insight into that would have helped provide us a more complete depiction.

The message in Precious Knowledge is the worthy cause of improving education standards and lowering the dropout rate in our Latino high schools. It is a cause which needs more films like this to raise it in the hierarchy of the American consciousness. You want to cheer for the kids, cheer for their passion for learning and their desire for a better life but you can’t help but be suspect of the outcome when those leading the charge are so driven by their personal motives.

In the late stages of the film as a group of Mexican-American Studies Program supporters peacefully and enthusiastically march towards Phoenix where the final vote on the bill to end the program will take place they pass a used car lot. For me the name of the car lot summarized the totality of the film incredibly well. The issues raised in Precious Knowledge are real and the solutions remain in doubt. In the words of Crystal “the struggle continues” and as they march past the “Ugly But Honest” used car lot we can’t help but wonder when it will end.

 

Reveiwer Rafael Nevares is a LSU Political Science graduate, former corporate CEO, Music Industry Executive and International Business Consultant. He enjoys combining his passion for films with his business and political analysis background.

 

 

Sunday
Feb152009

60 Minutes Presents: Obama: All Access - Barack Obama's Road to the White House 

Actors: Steve Kroft, Barack Obama

Number of discs: 1 

Studio: Paramount

DVD Release Date: February 10, 2009

Run Time: 240 minutes

Price: $16.99 on Amazon

From Barnes and Noble

This four-hour retrospective documents President Barack Obama's historic campaign from its small and unlikely beginnings, to the historic election of America's first African-American President. Among the material included are segments from pre-election broadcasts of 60 minutes featuring Obama and his family, as well as his declaration of candidacy and powerful speech regarding the state of race in America. ~ Tracie Cooper, All Movie Guide 

Thursday
Jan082009

American Teen

Starring: Hannah BaileyColin Clemens

Supporting actors: Geoff HaaseMegan KrizmanichMitch ReinholtJake TusingAli Wikalinska

Directed by: Nanette Burstein

Genre: Documentary

Runtime: 1 hour 42 minutes

Release year: 2008

Studio: Paramount

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some strong language, sexual material, some drinking and brief smoking-all involving teens.

Price: $14.99 on Amazon

When this movie played in the festivals, it got a huge amout of buzz. I was so excited to see it. The director Nanette Burstein is a solid filmmaker. Beautifully shot, they obviously used the style of MTV's Laguna Beach. Sometimes. I even forgot that I was watching a documentary. The film was interesting but I'm not really qualified to legitimately review it. The whole time I kept thinking, "Oh no, is this what I have to look forward to? How am I going to cope with teenagers?" I would recommend it to anyone who has teenagers, I am sure it would provide some great talking points. As for me, I just gave my 6 and 8 year old girls big hugs and played a game a Candyland the rest of the afternoon.

From Amazon:

Popularity is everything; breakups and missed jump-shots are the end of the world; a college acceptance is a dream come true; and an email forwarded to the wrong person is your worst nightmare. Now experience senior year of high school through the eyes of five real-life Indiana teenagers: the Prom Queen, the Heartthrob, the Jock, the Rebel and the Geek.

7 out of 10 binkies

 


Thursday
Oct232008

Click and Clack's As the Wrench Turns

Actors: Click & Clacks
Format: Animated, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Widescreen
Language: English
Rating:
Studio: PBS PARAMOUNT
DVD Release Date: September 30, 2008
Run Time: 300 minutes
$19.99 on Amazon

Start your engines! PBS brought Tom and Ray Magliozzi, of CAR TALK, to TV! This animated sitcom, based on the hit NPR radio show, follows the on- and off-air escapades of Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers, as they try to fix cars, fend off disgruntled customers and seek out increasingly creative ways to goof off!

Taken from Amazon.com