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The latest in the wonderful “Family Movie Night” series from Wal-Mart and P&G is “Field of Vision,” the story of a high school football star who has to choose between his team and his conscience when he sees filmed evidence that his teammates have been bullying a new classmate.

Faith Ford co-stars as the mother of the school’s quarterback (Tony Oller).  If he tells the coach what he saw, they may be disqualified from the championship game.  And the camera’s footage has more secrets to reveal as well.  This is an important movie for families to share as a way to talk about some very difficult subjects, not just bullying but about finding the moral courage to decide between competing loyalties.  It will be available on DVD after the broadcast.

The quote in the movie is from Hillel: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?

Common Sense Media has a great list of the best apps to encourage young readers.  This is a wonderful way to introduce children to the pleasures of books.  I was especially taken with Icarus Swinebuckle.  Parents can read aloud, with the text highlighted as they go to help children begin to recognize the words.  Then, when they begin to read on their own, they can tap on any word they do not know and hear it said aloud.  And I love the way it is inspired by the classic story from Greek mythology.  

Smartphones and tablets may have transformed the lives of adults, but the impact they will have on learning for children and older kids will be even greater.

US Magazine critic Thelma Adams has a blog post about one of the most common questions I get asked: where are the parents in movies about kids?  She quotes my comments:

Nell Minow, the Movie Mom, told me “This is the second-most frequent question I get asked by parents (first is: I am so careful with my kids, but what do I do when they go over to someone else’s house?)”

The answer, Minow continued, referencing Tom and Huck, Pippi Longstocking, and David Copperfield, et. al., is that “if the parents are there, the child can’t have an adventure. They’d be saying, ‘You can’t go on the yellow brick road today — you have homework, and you need a sweater!’ The satisfying fantasy of the story is that the child is able to do what the child in the audience would like to feel he can do — to master the scary adult world.”

She still doesn’t like it though, and wonders how many more parts there would be for mature actresses if the movies allowed more of their young characters to have moms.  And privately, we agreed that even though we loved “Finding Nemo,” the beginning is wrenching.

 

 

 

 

 

Slate has taken data from Rotten Tomatoes to compute the career trajectories of actors and directors.  The results are unexpected — would anyone guess that the actor with the best reviews is….Daniel Autueil?  And the worst actress…Jennifer Love Hewitt?  I’m a fan of both.

To be fair, on Rotten Tomatoes actors do not get individual scores, though that’s a fun idea.  How would you like to read a review that gave individual report cards to each of the people in or behind the film?  Autueil is a brilliant French actor who is equally adept at drama and comedy.  If he has made bad films, they have not made it to the United States.  Jennifer Love Hewitt is a fine actress who has appeared in some lousy (but financially successful) movies.  But the statistics are fascinating nevertheless, and Slate has included its own interactive chart, so you can put in the name of any actor or director to see how his or her career has risen and fallen over the years and even compare them to each other.  Try John Travolta, Jim Carrey, and Brad Pitt.