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Our Writers

Francine Graff, MH Columnist

 

Christine Fugate, MH Creator

Lily Williams, Movie Reviewer

Wednesday
Aug102011

The Help

Movie Review

by Christine Fugate & Carrie Williams

My writer friend, Carrie, and I attended the press preview for film, The Help, this week. We'd both read Kathryn Stockett's book (which the movie was based on) and loved it, so we had high expectations for the movie - and for our night out together, sans kids! For anyone not currently in a book club (because otherwise you've read the book), The Help is the story of a young woman, Skeeter (Emma Stone), who is coming of age in Jackson, Mississippi at the height of the Civil Rights movement.  Coming back home after college with a journalism degree and liberal viewpoint and inserting herself back into the world of racism, conservatism, bridge games and Junior League meetings is not as easy as she'd hoped. Observing the illicit and not-so-illicit racism among her friends, family and community - in contrast to the warm and nurturing relationships she's had with her African-American caregivers - spurs Skeeter to write an anonymous account (working clandestinely with maids and nannies) of the African-American domestic experience in Jackson. And, from there, the drama unfolds.

I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, attended Tulane University in New Orleans and have driven through Mississippi countless times.  Carrie grew up in Newport Beach and has never been to the South, unless you count Atlanta...which we're not sure qualifies.

We sat down with our leftover Raisinets to review the film. 

Carrie:  Did you like the movie or the book better?

Christine:  First of all, I loved the movie - thought it was great.  Bryce Dallas Howard was fabulous as Hilly and she looked gorgeous.  I also liked Emma Stone as Skeeter.  The casting was brilliant.  When you make a movie, you only have 90 minutes to tell a story.  I think they pulled the best parts out of the book.  The only things I really missed that weren't in the movie were Skeeter typing at night and when she meets Stuart's parents.  What about you?

Carrie:  I loved the book and loved the movie.  I thought Viola Davis was incredible as Aibileen and agree with you on Bryce and Emma.  It made the South look so beautiful that I want to visit.

Christine:  Well, I never saw Mississippi look that beautiful before.  I never knew they had such lovely, tree-lined, wide streets.  It's not the Mississippi I know, but I haven't been through Jackson. The film wasn't filmed in Jackson, though, it was filmed in Greenwood, Mississippi. 

Carrie:  After the film, another audience member asked you if you felt the film glossed over the Civil Rights issues.  What do you think?

Christine:  It was interesting that we didn't see the shooting of Medgar Evers, and we never saw Leroy's face (Minny's abusive husband).

Carrie:  I agree.  I think they may have done that to focus more on the female relationships that were at the heart of the story, but I'm not sure.  The good thing about them treading lightly on some of the depictions of the Civil Rights clashes is that I can (and will) take my girls (ages 10 and 12) to go and see it. I want them to get the important messages the film has to communicate. 

Christine:  That's a good point.  I would guess that is why the producers did that - to reach a broader audience. Speaking of which, I laughed more than I thought I would, but it is not a comedy.  It's still very much a drama.  What was your favorite part of the film - was it something that made you laugh or made you cry?  I laughed and cried at parts. 

Carrie:  I have to say that I was so enthralled by watching Bryce Dallas Howard play Hilly.  She is so exquisite looking and an amazing actress with great comedic timing and an ability to also play pure drama.  I loved all the scenes with her in them.

Christine:  I agree. I think she made the role more complex with more depth than was even in the book.  Her ignorance was so part of who she was, that it was - in a way - hard to hate her.  Even though what she stood for was awful. The way she walked off in a huff in her cigarette pants made me laugh so hard.

Carrie:  Another of my favorite parts of the film was the relationship between Minny (Octavia Spencer) and Celia (Jessica Chastain) - it was drawn even more richly and played even better than in the book. 

Christine: I loved Jessica Chastain as Celia and I think we're going to be seeing a lot more of her. 

Carrie:  By the way, I read that article you sent me from The Washington Post about how Tate Taylor, who adapted the book and directed the film - has been BFF's with The Help author Kathryn Stockett since they were five years old.  I love that.

Christine:  Yes! I found it really inspiring for other writers to know that Kathryn's book was turned down so many times and that Tate took it on when no one else would.  That says something about faith, hope, tenacity and friendship.

Carrie:  What was your main takeaway from the movie?

Christine: This film's not bubblegum.  It's stayed with me for days.  As I learned from the book and saw in the movie, it takes a lot of courage to be a writer and to stand up for the right things.  That is a lesson I want to keep learning, and one that I want to teach my kids.

Carrie:  I couldn't have said it better.  I encourage everyone to go and see The Help.

Christine:  I agree.  I think it's appropriate for kids in fourth grade and up.  Okay, BFF.  Time for you to go write a book that I can make into a movie!

"The Help" opens August 10th. For more information, visit www.thehelpmovie.com.  Share your own stories of empowerment at www.takepart.com/TheHelp.

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Nov252009

See "The Blind Side" says Thelma 

and I agree. I can not wait to see this movie. If I could just get a swine flu, performance free moment without a child (or husband) whining by my side, I am out to the theaters. I recently saw The Proposal and while Ryan is hot (brava Scarlett!) I am LOVING Sandra Bullock and will follow her anywhere. Yes, that means to the movie theater.

Here is my BFF Thelma's review which verifies my intuition:

http://www.ivillage.com/blind-side-salute-do-right-woman/1-c-66940

Check it out!

Monday
Mar162009

The Kit Runner Blue Ray DVD

 

TITLE:

The Kite Runner [Blu-ray] (2007)

DIRECTOR:

Marc Forster

PRODUCERS:

Bruce Toll, E. Bennett Walsh, Jeff Skoll, Kwame Parker, and Laurie MacDonald

ACTORS: 

Khalid Abdalla, Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada, Atossa Leoni, Shaum Toub, Sayed Jafar Masihullah Gharibzada

WRITERS

David Benioff and Khaled Hosseini

RELEASING COMPANY:

Dreamworks Video

RATING:

PG-13

FORMAT:

AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen

RUN TIME:

128 minutes

SUGGESTED PRICE:

26.99

REVIEWED BY:

Isabella Lucero

Two childhood friends spend their days running, grinning, catching a movie, reading a book in the graveyard, and carving their names into a lone pomegranate tree in the posh Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood of Kabul, Afghanistan.  The boys, Amir and Hassan, have an unequal friendship because Amir is the son of the man of the house and Hassan is an uneducated servant boy. Amir’s father seems to favor the valiant servant boy because Hassan doesn’t mind sticking up for Amir with the neighborhood bullies.  Hassan is honest, brave, and loyal, many of the qualities that you would hope for in a young man.

Of course there are cinematic kite flying sequences to remind the viewer of a brief period of tranquility that precedes the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union.  When the Soviet tanks come rolling in, Amir and his father have to abandon their privileged life and take off in the middle of the night. They eventually make their way to the U.S. and the once wealthy father has to work at a gas station while Amir attends a community college and eventually writes books. Unexpectedly, Amir is summoned back to Afghanistan to help his childhood friend Hassan.  Amir has to go undercover and wear a fake beard to fool the Taliban and finally stand up to neighborhood bullies.  This story asks if it is possible to redeem yourself after you have committed an unforgivable act.

The traveler in me loved to see the story of the boys played out in the streets of Kabul (it was actually shot in China since it remains to be too dangerous to shoot in Afghanistan) and I also always enjoy seeing how brave immigrants deal with new surroundings. 

BLUE RAY Featurettes

The featurettes include commentary with Marc Forster, Khaled Hosseini, and David Benioff, Words and Images from the “Kite Runner,” and a Theatrical Trailer in HD.

7.5 out of 10 binkies

Isabella Lucero is a writer, mother, cook, and gardener living in Tucson, Arizona.  She enjoys riding her bicycle and baking beautiful and tasty birthday cakes. 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Jan212009

Eagle Eye

Rated PG-13
Run Time: 118 minutes
Studio: Dreamworks
Starring: Shia LeBeouf, Michelle Monaghan
Directors: D.J. Caruso
Writers: Dan McDermott, Hillary Seitz, John Glenn, Travis Wright
Producers: Alex Kurtzman, Edward McDonnell, James M. Freitag
DVD Release Date: December 27, 2008

Priced at Amazon $14.99
Reviewed by: Mary Anne O’Connell

From IMBD: Jerry and Rachel are two strangers thrown together by a mysterious phone call from a woman they have never met. Threatening their lives and family, she pushes Jerry and Rachel into a series of increasingly dangerous situations, using the technology of everyday life to track and control their every move.

Eagle Eye is a story about Jerry Shaw (Shia LeBeouf) a copy associate and Rachel (Michelle Monaghan) a mom/paralegal who are paired up together by a mysterious female caller who leaves messages on their cell phones instructing them to do certain things to avoid danger. Jerry is framed for making threats against the government and the President. These two are led around Washington, DC on wild goose chases and the movie makes more twists and turns than my lower intestines! The special effects are really great but the story itself leaves much to be desired – it’s just not very original.

Rosario Dawson and Billy Bob Thornton are wonderful in their supporting roles as law enforcement officers, who eventually begin to believe that everything is not as it seems.

Our family has been watching and loving Shia LaBeouf since he was a little boy and starred in Disney’s “Even Stevens.” He really is a great actor and we will continue to support him in his career.

I really thought this movie was going to be a great action-thriller especially after watching all the previews, but I must say, I was a bit disappointed.

5 out of 10 Binkies

Monday
Jan122009

Greek: Chapter Two

Cast: Clark Duke, Scott Michael Foster, Spencer Grammar, Paul James, Jake McDorman

Number of discs: 3

Studio: Walt Disney Video

DVD Release Date: December 30, 2008

Run Time: 517 minutes

Editorial Reviews (From Amazon.com)

Product Description
Join TV's coolest young cast as they find friendship, fun and a new kind of drama in the sensational second chapter of the ABC Family original series
Greek. The excitement and the heartbreak of Greek life continues for the students of Cyprus-Rhodes University, and everything heats up when they head south for Spring Break. Is there enough room in Myrtle Beach for Casey, Cappie and Rebecca? Will Rusty ever learn to balance his loyalties between friends and frat? Witness every romance and rift, every juicy bit of gossip and all the ups and downs of the emotional roller coaster called college. Go deeper into the lives of your favorite characters than ever before, and experience all 12 episodes of Greek: Chapter Two, complete with chart-topping music and never-before-seen bonus features in a three-disc box set. Pledge today. It's a rush.

I had not watched a full episode of this tv drama before turning on the DVD set of Season Two. The first thing I will say is that everyone is beautiful. Secondly, I wasn't in a sorority in college so I can't speak to the authenticity of how Greek life on campus is protratyed. Finally, in my opinion the characters in this drama speak very, very eloquently in their daily conversations. Having made those disclaimers and first impressions, I will say after watching one episode, I was sort of hooked.
I really wanted to see if they let bad girl Frannie back into the sorority or if the campus ban on the Greek ticket lottery was lifted. There are characters I loved immediately like Scott Michael Foster who plays Cappie or Spencer Grammar the president of ZBZ and Jacob Zachar who plays, Rusty her younger brother.

In the episode "War and Peace", two rival fraternitys pull pranks on each other and it reminded me of being in high school when at summer camp the girls and boys sabotaged each others dorms! Fun times.
This show is cute and everyone is beautiful. I would recommend it for some well deserved escapism or if you want to see how Greek life is protrayed on screen. Not the best choice for family viewing due to mature topics and language, but overall, I liked it. It was fun to watch.

This set includes some pretty funny gag reel stuff and a cool music video from the Plain White T's which is a creative choice for a DVD set geared to younger folks!

7.5 out of 10 binkies!