Holiday movie picks
Like the chocolate covered Cadbury eggs with the white and yellow cream filling that you can only get at Easter, eggnog is a tradition I indulge in over the holidays. Though enticingly decadent in flavor, eggnog is also calorie rich so, I drink only sparingly.
Likewise as a writer, I usually recommend books rather than movies, but over the holidays, I do indulge in the rich cinematic appeal of the big screen. This holiday season you can pick from genres including animated fiction, fantasy and historical fiction.
Teachers encourage readers to allow the words on the page to create images in their minds. Reading the book before seeing the movie version so the images that the words evoke can be created first in the reader’s mind before being displayed on the screen.
Reading promotes the balanced use of the brain because the left brain activity of reading combines with the right brained activity of imagery. Of course watching movies adds the sensory rich experience of the surround sound accessing even more receptors in the brain.
William Joyce, author of the series of “The Guardians of Childhood,” wrote it to define the mythology of our childhood icons starting with the Man on the Moon. “The Rise of the Guardians” is the movie based on his books, starring a bogeyman like bad guy, Pitch, who threatens kids with fear by sending them nightmares.
The Guardians, Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Sandman, team up to protect the children. They attempt to get Jack Frost to help even though he holds the record of being on the naughty list the most. Though Jack embodies the spirit of winter, he’s invisible and disheartened because of children’s lack of belief in him, so he refuses to join the guardians, but ends up fighting Pitch anyway.
Be sure to also check out the author’s website featuring a downloadable app. The kid-friendly interplay between the book content, fresh movie and app formats is believed to be the future of children’s literature.
In the movie, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure,” Bilbo Baggins is accompanied by dwarves who are intent on getting back their stolen treasure from Smaug the dragon. As the thirteen dwarves, one wizard and hobbit venture across Middle Earth, they are repeatedly captured and fight to escape so the journey to the mountain can continue. Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and “the Lord of the Rings” films will likely enjoy this rendition of the classic children’s book.
For older students, “Les Miserables” is a musical seen by 60 million people in 42 countries that is now being released as a new motion picture with a star-studded cast. Originally written as a novel 150 years ago, its success on stage brought even more acclaim.
When ex-prisoner, Jean Valjean, breaks parole after his release from French prison, Inspector Javert pursues him for decades. Hiding his identity, Valjean becomes a town’s factory owner and mayor who promises to raise Fantine’s daughter upon her death.
Set during the 1832 revolution, Cosette, the daughter, falls in love with rebel Marius, but Valjean objects, moving her to England. Valjean later saves Marius, but reveals his criminal past so Marius’s family bans Cosette from seeing him. At his death, Valjean is finally reunited with her.
You won’t want to miss the newest version of this old tale of love in all its forms, complete with disappointments, passion, sacrifice and forgiveness — universal themes that resonate deeply within us, inventive plots that capture our imagination and vivid imagery that feeds our senses combine to make the movie going experience time well spent, especially if it’s saved for those rare indulgences rather than as a regular escape.
My author friend gives books to those on his Christmas list, saying that money spent on books lasts longer than on movies. While I agree that reading a book takes longer than the watching a movie, and thus is money well spent, I must confess that the big screen has its own appeal.
Kristi McCracken, author of two children’s books and a long time teacher in the South Valley, can be reached at email@example.com.