“Paper Clips” –
A true story now known around the world. This takes place at the middle school in Whitwell, TN. Back in 1996, the Principal and Vice Principal decided that they wanted to embark on a program to teach their students about diversity and tolerance. The community has only a population of 1600 and in the school there were no Catholics, Jews, Hispanics, and only three African Americans. What started as a learning process about the Holocaust soon transformed itself into a phenomenal project crafted by the students to commemorate the 6 million Holocaust victims. They researched the web and found that during WW II Norwegians invented the paperclip and intended it to be a symbol of solidarity against Nazis. So they embarked to collect 6 million. I don’t want to give away the rest it is too wonderful a story and should be mandatory viewing for every middle schooler across the country. So much to learned by so many and so few do. This is heart warming and life changing!!!!!!
“Roll Bounce” – Bow Wow, Nick Cannon
This is a sleeper hit, but for those of us that love disco, it is a hot one! I was actually up in my living room dancing to the hits of the 70’s and early 80’s, what a blast! It had a real live plot with a young man and his sister who lost their Mother recently and are coming to grips with life with their Dad. Their Dad is protective sort and doesn’t let on that he is unemployed, leaving every day in a coat and tie for job interviews. But the point is the music and the roller skating (yes, I did say skating, this was before rollerblades existed.) A real throw back goody. This will bring a big grin and memories of disco days!
“Speak” – Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Perkins, D.B. Sweeney, Steve Zahn – Sundance Film Selection
I actually cried in this and that is almost unheard for me in a movie. I guess I felt Stewart’s aloneness in her first year of high school and her ostracization by the cool kids and everyone else was truly palpable. OUCH. No, thank goodness I couldn’t relate to her reasons (a back seat rape by a boy at a party, and she never tells), but the angst of being a teen is hard to forget. Steve Zahn is memorable as the inspirational art teacher. I honestly think if I had had anyone like that, I might have pursued art more. It should never have been about the grade, but about the journey and he made it so. D. B. Sweeney is a rather pathetic sort, out of work Dad, and we don’t really get to know him well. Perkins is as dysfunctional as they come and does a great performance with that. See this for food for thought.
“Just Friends” – Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart
Light, very light, comedy. This is sort of formulaic, though usually with the lead being female. Classic story of overweight teen in love with popular girl. She is best friends with him, but can’t imagine more. They graduate and take separate paths only to reunite when he is transformed from ugly caterpillar to handsome butterfly. He is unfortunately so bent on impressing her he does the opposite and through of a series of tragic-comic events wins her ultimately. I don’t feel badly giving this away as it isn’t really worth the time. Mostly B grade cast, and don’t know that they will go much further.
“Casanova” – Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Oliver Platt, Lena Olin
How can you miss with Heath, he is a complete DISH!!!!!! And this does put an interesting spin on the timeless tale of Casanova, romancer of all women. Irons is despicably wicked and grossly unattractive as the Royal Inquisitor, inspiring hate in all. Oliver Platt is really sort of sadly funny and appealing as the traditionally rich but most unsexy fiancé to the lovely Sienna Miller. Luckily for him, Lena Olin is captivated and he by her so it all has a light hearted and delightful ending. This is what hot air ballooning is all about. Make 2006 your year!
“Walk the Line” – Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix
Wow, talk about a dysfunctional family to be raised in. His Father was virtually never proud of him, never said a kind word and his talent was extraordinary. He was in love with June Carter from the time he was a young boy and heard her on the radio, but didn’t get to marry her until going through hell and back and having her by his side through it all – a loveless marriage (yet he didn’t cheat, at least not on the silver screen), an intense drug addiction, an intervention, a change in musical tastes across the nation and so much more. The love for her is captivating and truly carried him through. I hope this is an Oscar pick!!