(Quarantine Ed.)

Sisters are doing it...

ImageI'm not sure if everyone felt it, but for me there was a sense of celebration on our yard on Saturday evening. Obviously we were celebrating the final screening of an unusual season - one in which the singular pleasure of coming together to share the movie watching experience was challenged by this awful virus, but in our case, overcome. We thank all of you who made Saturday our biggest turnout of the summer.

In addition, we were celebrating Linda's efforts on behalf of I Support The Girls, and the tremendous and much appreciated support from myriad friends, in the giving of time, and labor, and on Saturday in the giving of donations of essential women's supplies. The huge pile of contributions received on Saturday, added to the huge number of Amazon packages she received was overwhelming, and Linda offers her heartfelt thanks to you all.

For all this, it was lucky that we had a movie which was worthy of the celebratory mood. Little Women was a feel-good movie for a time that needs something to feel good about. But this was not just a typical strumming of the heartstrings in pursuit of an emotional response. This is a very smart movie. I have said before how the creative use of a non-linear timeline had impressed me on first viewing, but I still had to check myself as the movie opened, and confusion sunk in. Had I, once again, allowed the DVD to start somewhere in the middle ? But at almost exactly the same point as my last viewing, everything clicked into place. From that point, the movie experience changed from the traditional story-telling to a sense of dipping into a family album and finding warmly remembered moments.

In interviews, Greta Gerwig has said that she felt sad that in the original storyline, as the girls grow into adults they go their separate ways, and never recapture the intense sisterhood they shared when younger. This reordering allows us to better understand how their adult lives reflect the way in which the sisters helped each other deal with their individual flaws (vanity, hot-headedness, materialism and timidity). This is particularly the case with Jo. Our friend and Film Club regular Jannean told me that when reading the book as a young girl, she simply could not understand why Jo would choose not to marry Laurie. But now in this timeline, Jo's character as a strong, independent, free-thinking women is laid out in advance of the proposal, and her decision makes perfect sense.

The screenplay also brings a sense of modernity to the role of women in society which may not have existed in the book. Whilst Alcott's four young women in the novel are well-drawn and by no means are any of them wallflowers, Gerwig shines a spotlight on archaic attitudes like marriage as an economic arrangement, women at the bargaining table, and even the role of the woman in a 19th century novel.  It's clear that this was very much a labour of love for Gerwig, where every character is treated with both respect and affection, as is the story itself. When it was first published, Little Women was hugely popular, largely because of the realism of the characters lives, but also because it hinted at a non-traditional model for womanhood. Gerwig's treatment respects that approach and extends it by applying it to issues facing women today.

It was my favourite movie of Oscar season, and I enjoyed it even more on Saturday. What a lovely way to sign off for the summer.


FAFC presents LITTLE WOMEN - Sat 12 Sept

Buzz and Woody have overcome some formidable challenges in their time - Evil Sid, being lost, Al McWhiggin, Zurg, being abandoned (again), Lotso the Bear and an incinerator. But they could not compete with the rain storms that persisted throughout the day last Saturday, and with the end of our season approaching fast, Toy Story 4 has unfortunately hit the wayside.

Little-women-photos-ss01Instead we look forward to Saturday, and the excellent Little Women. In the season preview I mentioned how I had somehow managed to previously avoid accumulating any knowledge of this classic piece of literature, neither on the written page or any TV or film adaptation. And despite my general coolness towards costume dramas, this did not stop me thoroughly enjoying this first time around.

DownloadOne thing I knew I would enjoy was Saoirse Ronan, who I firmly expect to become a major star as her movie career progresses. Previous movies like Lady Bird and Brooklyn are among my personal favorites over the last few years. One thing I did not realise I would appreciate so much was the excellent screenplay by Greta Gerwig (who also directed) which includes an interesting but effective non-linear timeline. I think the Oscar snub for not winning Best Adapted Screenplay was bigger than not receiving any directing nomination (although the award actually went to Taika Waititi for JoJo Rabbit, so there is that...).

Download (1)This last screening of the summer is also in aid of I Support the Girls . Many of you know (and have previously supported - thank you !) this charity for which Linda is the Affiliate Director for Central/South New Jersey, and she is in great need of additional supplies. We are asking you to bring, as a contribution for attending, new, unopened packs of pads, panty liners, tampons or new underwear. We are also accepting Amazon Gift Cards!!



So come and see out the summer with us on Saturday. Do a good deed. Keep on eye on the weather, as we are approaching mid-September, and don't forget to sign up.

Parents Guide on IMdB.

Parent Reviews on Commonsensemedia.org

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Rain Stopped Play

118559727_3493638537322074_1928342771323661359_nGood afternoon. We've prevaricated long enough.....
Sorry folks but we are canceling tonight's movie. The back yard is sodden and squelchy underfoot. There is still a chance of rain mid way through our viewing time and we don't want to risk you (or the projector) getting soaked! We will work on a date to reschedule and let you all know asap.

FAFC presents - TOY STORY 4 - Sat 29 Aug

Toy-Story-4-PicturesOn Saturday we have our annual family movie night. Who could have known it would be in these circumstances, where we have to think hard about a yard full of kids running around, and how we handle the distribution of ice cream (yes, there will be ice cream). But here we are, ready to go, and with the cracking Toy Story 4 as our offering.

I think a lot of people thought that the fourth outing for Woody, Buzz and the gang might be one sequel too far. You expect to be emotionally manipulated when you sit down for a Pixar movie, and not only had the Toy Story franchise played on our heartstrings like a virtuoso through three episodes, they had also managed to tie up all the loose ends in a most satisfying if handkerchief sodden fashion. And yet…

Toy Story 4 delivers on the Pixar promise in spades, although some might feel that the tears in this ultimate denouement are closer to tears of grieving and loss, rather than sentimental joy. Nevertheless, all the familiar elements are there, and you will need to bring your OWN tissues, due to social distancing rules.
See you on Saturday !
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I Believe in Yesterday - Mostly.

First things first. What actually happened to The Beatles ? I mean, in our recent offering ‘Yesterday’, we’re supposed to believe that some weird electrical glitch removed all traces of the Beatles from global memory banks - apart from one (or more ?) favored individuals. But then, John Lennon turns up. What happened to him ? Did he forsake music completely ? Did he try and make it, and then fail ? Most importantly, where was Paul ? And why did these adjustments to recorded history bother me so much more than the ending of ‘Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’ ?

Yesterday songIn truth, Yesterday was actually a very simple ‘Boy Meets Girl’ story, which is not surprising given it comes from the pen of Richard Curtis (Four Weddings, Notting Hill, Love Actually). You know, it’s one of those boy meets girl, boy and girl have immediate chemistry that means everyone in the known universe knows they will be together in the end, except of course they don’t see it till the very, very end. In fact, the biggest surprise in this movie might be that Hugh Grant doesn’t play the aspiring musician Jack Malik. (Then again, if you’ve seen ‘Music and Lyrics’ you’ll know why he was a non-starter for this role.)

30YESTERDAY-SONGS-facebookJumboSarcasm aside, Yesterday is funny, warm, and very feel-good. It would be hard not to be with all those Beatles songs peppered around the soundtrack. And whilst I would never look to this kind of thing for the stand-out acting performances, I have to say that Himesh Patel was excellent in the lead role. Not only does he deliver just the right blend of cynicism and wry wittiness about his faltering career, but he is a brilliant performer, and - dare I say it - brought something new to some very familiar songs.  His desperate, raucous rendition of ‘Help!’ on a hotel rooftop (see what they did there ?), just when things seemed blackest to him was memorable. I’d personally like to see more punked-up Beatles covers.

Pleasant enough, charmingly funny, great music delivered well - what’s to dislike ? Ed f***ing Sheeran perhaps ? Nah. Oh I believe in Yesterday.

FAFC presents - YESTERDAY - Sat 15 Aug

So, the big question facing me as I write this preview is - should I pack the preview with Beatles puns, or should I leave it to the review ? I thought about waiting till next week, then I thought 'No, You Can't Do That'.  So, here we go...

Yesterday-movie-1557038778Imagine there's no Beatles, it's easy if you try...(My God, this is going to be like shooting fish in a barrel !) In case you didn't know, the premise of this movie is that after some weird electrical storm, the world awakes with naery a jot of memory of the Fab Four ever existing. But not the whole world - Jack Malik, a struggling singer-songwriter appears to be the only one who remembers them and their amazing songbook which becomes his legacy, and his ticket to stardom. How will he use this gift ? With a little help from his friends, this boy carries that weight along the long and winding road until, Baby he's a rich man. Yet all he wants to do is get back to where he once belonged, or he's going to lose that girl - he needs help...phew ! (I could do this for hours !)

Beatles-inspired-film-yesterdayAs for the plot, there is one hole that needs fixing. The Beatles had their first UK chart hit in October 1962 (Love Me Do), and in April 1970 Paul McCartney walked away precipitating the end of the band. The Beatles star shone brightly for 7 years and 7 months - a staggeringly short amount of time for the impact their music had on the world. Yet Jack is able to recall so many of their songs, and all the lyrics from his head, since he is unable to Google the lyrics on the internet. Isn't that ridiculous ? I mean, would you or I know all the lyrics to any Beatles song that suddenly came on the radio ?  Do you want to know a secret ? I think we would.

Come and find out on Saturday evening. Social distancing in place, we're still starting closer to 8.30pm because of the light.

Parents Guide on IMdB

Parent Reviews on CommonSenseMedia.org

JoJo puts away childish things...

Expectation is a dangerous thing. I’ve fallen foul in the past as my movie watching is spoiled by having high hopes only for a movie, excellent in its own right, to fall short of my contrived expectations. I told several people that, parody aside, JoJo Rabbit is a hilarious film, and spent some time during Saturday’s movie worrying that I had oversold it. There are some excellent funny moments, but hilarious ? I’m asking myself why I had previously formed that opinion, and searched for other adjectives I might have used. And every one I came up with - joyous, gentle, feel-good, inspiring, heart-warming - have in common that they are words you would least expect to use for a movie about kids joining the Hitler Youth, vilifying Jews and with Adolf Hitler as a mentor, albeit in JoJo’s imagination.

2020-01-15_JojoRabbitBut make no mistake, JoJo Rabbit is a feel-good story, and not just because Elsa escapes from her captivity and can finally dance in the street with JoJo. What we see unfold is a transition from boyhood idealism/indoctrination to personal realization through human contact. It helps that the most of the Nazis on display are buffoons, including Der Fuhrer. And the sad moments - indeed the films pivotal shock-horror moment - contrast starkly with the otherwise gradual development of JoJo’s personal conscience.
687a9ebde5e8db3f208fd644b3cd68c1The movie was written and directed by Taika Waititi, who also plays the imaginary Hitler as a cartoon figure. He has taken some criticism for a depiction of Nazism that fails to represent its full evils, but perhaps this can be excused - we see the world how JoJo does. He sees only smart uniforms, fun war games and the caricatured depictions of evil Jews with their hidden horns and their mind control tricks, which are ultimately at odds with his discovery of Elsa and her humanity. 
As I watched this for the second time, I was struck how many lessons there were for our lives today, as much as its anti-Nazi message. A population controlled and channelled though distorted representations of national enemies, outrageous lies accepted as truth, fear of authority amongst good people, almost arbitrary violence against those who speak out, yet when people talk to people and make a human connection devoid of propaganda and politics, good prevails. Even as we all sat stoically in gentle rain, refusing to give in to the elements for the sake of the movie, I thought of viruses and masks, and how doing the right thing is always the right thing to do.

FAFC presents - JOJO RABBIT - Sat 1 Aug

You may have noticed that I haven’t written a separate review of last week’s movie, EMMA. The more time passes from that viewing, the less I remember about it, which kind of sums it up. I do recall laughing at some points, and being entertained, like a Sunday night viewing of some English costume drama on PBS Masterpiece. But there was nothing that really stuck in my brain. It felt like eating cotton candy - sweet, tasty, light and dissolves to nothing once you’ve consumed it. Jane Austen is obviously a significant and talented author, and this is regarded as one of her lighter pieces, but still…

17abacb1-3abd-4584-b266-6cfb6fd1e29a-large16x9_jojo1200We have MUCH weightier things to consider with this week’s offering. In its simplest synopsis, JOJO RABBIT is the story of a young boy in WW2 Germany who not only joins the Hitler Youth, but has Adolf Hitler as his imaginary friend. If you are not immediately put off by that description, you are probably savvy enough to realize that symbolism and satire play a significant part in the story. But there are two things you need to know before you take against a satirical treatment of such a historical monster.

049Firstly, the satire is not in your face, unsubtle and preachy. There are lessons to be learned, but we learn them as Jojo does, gradually through his experiences. Not all those experiences are comic, which makes the lessons more powerful.

Secondly, the satire is not the primary source of the humour here. The movie does not depend on the smug laughter of knowingness for its laughs. It is genuinely, laugh-out-loud funny. No, hilarious. If you are not uncomfortable with the thought of laughing at Hitler and his Nazis, you will LOVE this. In my birthday watching last year, we saw a lot of great movies. OUATIH was perhaps the smartest, Little Women was the best crafted, but JOJO RABBIT was easily my absolute favourite.

Please don’t miss this treat.

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