Daily Archives: October 17, 2013
Not all good movies are from Hollywood. Here is a list of five movies that I think best understand children. Watch them and you’ll remember your childhood days. Be aware though that some are foreign movies so check if English subtitle is available before watching.
1. Taare Zameen Par (Every Child Is Special)
Ishaan Nandkishore Awasthi (Darsheel Safary) is an eight-year-old boy who dislikes school and fails every test or exam. He finds all subjects difficult, and is belittled by his teachers and classmates. But Ishaan’s internal world is rich with wonders that he is unable to convey to others, magical lands filled with colour and animated animals. He is an artist whose talent is unrecognised.
Ishaan’s father, Nandkishore Awasthi (Vipin Sharma), is a successful executive who expects his children to excel. His mother, housewife Maya Awasthi (Tisca Chopra), is frustrated by her inability to educate her son. Ishaan’s elder brother, Yohaan (Sachet Engineer), is an exemplary scholar and athlete, which Ishaan is frequently reminded of.
After receiving a particularly poor academic report, Ishaan’s parents send him to a boarding school. There he sinks into a state of fear and depression, despite being befriended by Rajan (Tanay Chheda), physically disabled and one of the top students in his class. Ishaan’s situation changes when a new art teacher, Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Aamir Khan), joins the school’s faculty. An instructor at the Tulips School for young children with developmental disabilities, Nikumbh’s teaching style is markedly different from that of his strict predecessor, and he quickly observes that Ishaan is unhappy and contributes little to class activities. He reviews Ishaan’s work and concludes that his academic shortcomings are indicative of dyslexia. On his day off, Nikumbh visits Ishaan’s parents and asks if he can see more of their son’s work. He is stunned by the sophistication of one of Ishaan’s paintings, and tells his parents that Ishaan is a bright child who processes information differently from other children in his class, but Ishaan’s father is suspicious that the explanation is simply an excuse for his son’s poor performance. Nikumbh demands that he read some Japanese text on a box and berates him when he cannot, giving him a glimpse into Ishaan’s experience of school. Nikumbh describes dyslexia to them and explains that it is not a sign of low intelligence. He tells them he can provide extra tutoring that will help Ishaan, highlighting the boy’s artistic ability evident in his many paintings and other creative works.
Nikumbh subsequently brings up the topic of dyslexia in class, and offers a list of famous people who were dyslexic. As the students are leaving the classroom, Nikumbh asks Ishaan to remain behind and reveals to him that he too experienced the same difficulties with dyslexia. Nikumbh then visits the school’s principal and obtains his permission to become Ishaan’s tutor. He attempts to improve Ishaan’s reading and writing by using remedial techniques developed by dyslexia specialists; Ishaan soon develops an interest in language and mathematics, and his grades improve.
Towards the end of the school year Nikumbh organises an art fair for the staff and students. The competition is judged by artist Lalita Lajmi. Ishaan, with his strikingly creative style, is declared the winner and Nikumbh, who paints Ishaan’s portrait, the runner-up. The principal announces that Nikumbh has been hired as the school’s permanent art teacher. When Ishaan’s parents meet his teachers on the last day of school they are left speechless by the transformation they see in him. Overcome with emotion, Ishaan’s father thanks Nikumbh. As Ishaan is getting into the car to leave with his parents, he turns around and runs toward Nikumbh. The film ends with a freeze frame shot of Nikumbh tossing Ishaan into the air.
In 1965, two poor Singaporean children, Chew Kiat Kun (Shawn Lee) and his younger sister Seow Fang (Megan Zheng) live with their mother (Xiang Yun) who is late in her third pregnancy and their father (Huang Wenyong) who is in debt to a local rice merchant. The children make the best of what little they have, while their father works long hours doing odd jobs.
The family’s problems are compounded when Kiat Kun accidentally loses Seow Fang’s only pair of shoes after taking them to be repaired. The children conduct a frantic search but find nothing; a karung guni man had claimed the shoes as unwanted rubbish. The Chew siblings are frustrated and rendered helpless by the situation until their father inspires Kiat Kun to share his shoes with his sister, trading off between classes so they can both attend school. Unfortunately, this plan brings additional problems: Seow Fang is chastised for wearing oversized shoes to school, while Kiat Kun is repeatedly late as he must wait for his sister to exchange shoes with him.
At school, a wealthy schoolmate of Kiat Kun’s named Tan Beng Soon (Joshua Ang) runs an amateur football team with his friends. Kiat Kun and his friends strike a bargain with Beng Soon to play on the team using the other boys’ football shoes, in exchange for helping them cheat on their homework. However, the boys quarrel, causing an angry Beng Soon to renege on the deal and remove Kiat Kun and his friends from the team.
Without their assistance, Beng Soon and his friends are punished for producing substandard homework. Although the boys try to resolve their differences, they eventually give up on reaching an agreement. Beng Soon’s grades continue to fall, and his parents decide to send him away to study in England.
Meanwhile, Seow Fang sees her classmate wearing her lost shoes to school. She and Kiat Kun follow the girl home, but after realising her father is blind and that her family was in a more dire situation than theirs, they decide not to reclaim the shoes. However, a few days later, Seow Fang notices that her classmate is wearing a new pair; upon confronting her, she discovers that the girl has discarded the old pair at the kampung rubbish dump. The Chew siblings frantically search the rubbish dump for her shoes, but only discover them as they are destroyed during a trade unionist riot.
Set in an impoverished town, a couple begins to lose hope and courage when faced with life’s adversities – a daughter who suffers from cerebral palsy, a son who loses his scholarship, and a young boy named Magnifico or Ikoy, who is not so good in school. But Ikoy is gifted with a good heart and a large spirit that allows him to give joy to hopeless people in their community and magically transforms their lives for the better. With Ikoy’s grandmother is discovered to have stomach cancer which has reached uncontrollable stage.
4. The Perfect Game
César Faz (Clifton Collins, Jr.), moves to Monterrey, Mexico after he is let go by the St. Louis Cardinals from his job as a clubhouse attendant. There he meets local children being led by Padre Esteban (Cheech Marin), enjoying baseball; he takes pitcher Ángel Macías (Jake T. Austin), under his wing and brags about his own pitching skills and how he used to coach the Cardinals. Ángel convinces César to help recruit and coach Monterrey’s first-ever Little League team. With César’s skills and Padre Esteban’s support, the boys hone themselves into a competitive team worthy of international competition. At the final game of the World Series of Little League, Monterrey defeated the team of West La Mesa, California 4-0. Enrique Suárez (Jansen Panettiere), hit a grand slam home run, and Ángel Macías pitched a perfect game, a feat that has not since been repeated in Little League World Series history.
When the team arrives in the United States, they are met with racism, a language barrier, and visa troubles. Though the underdogs, the team scores a series of victories that endear them to the media, and new fans. They befriend a sports reporter, Frankie (Emilie de Ravin), and the groundskeeper, Cool Papa Bell (Louis Gossett, Jr.), who then assist the boys in reaching the final game.
Conor O’Neill (Keanu Reeves) is a gambler who secretly bets $6,000 on his (dead) father’s account and is now severely in debt with two bookies. In order to repay the debts, he is told by a corporate friend that he must coach a baseball team of troubled fifth grade kids from Chicago’s Cabrini Green housing projects in exchange for $500 each week, for ten weeks.
Worried only about getting his $500 check, Conor shows up at the baseball field to a rag tag bunch of trash-talking, street-wise, inner city kids called “crack babies” who live in the projects, where people have to sit on the floor in their apartments to avoid stray bullets. Conor’s efforts are hindered from the onset by the fact that he doesn’t have nine kids to make up the team—one kid, having altered his birth certificate to be older and another, “G-Baby” (DeWayne Warren), who is far too young to play. The kids tell Conor it is because their teacher, Elizabeth “Sister” Wilkes (Diane Lane), is making several boys finish a book report. Conor visits the teacher, but his life is threatened repeatedly by his bookies for not paying his gambling debts. He is visited by the mother of three boys that are allowed to play in exchange for his tutoring them. One of the kids, Jefferson Albert Tibbs (Julian Griffith), asks Conor to walk him home after practice, but Conor only caring about his partner bringing him tickets to scalp, didn’t realize how rough the neighborhood was after dark and is then given a car to take the kids home after practice.
Conor works to get the team to support each other and stop trash-talking each other’s bad plays; but the team nevertheless, loses its first game 16-1, which fosters hostility between the players. Conor brings them together by buying them pizza (trading sports tickets for the pizza) and leads the team to win their second game 9-3. The team starts to come together as Conor tries to kindle a romance with Wilkes.
Conor risks everything and makes a $12,000 bet with a new bookie to cover the $12,000 debt he owes to the other bookies. His stress, already high from his gambling debts, runs higher at the baseball field because one of his players is pulled from playing after a competing coach questions the boy’s age. Conor takes offense to the league president’s threat to be removed, after he voices his objection to his team having to wear ratty t-shirts while the other teams have full uniforms. In protest, he announces it was his last game which draws dissention and resentment from his players.
Conor barely wins his $12,000 bet, pays off all his debts, and is pressured into making another bet for $24,000 using his $12,000 winnings. Conor connects with the kids, finds it harder to leave than he thought and surprises them with second row seats (behind Sammy Sosa’s dugout) in a major league game refusing to gamble anymore. His relationship with Wilkes grows; he gets new uniforms for the players (sponsored by one of his bookies); and he assumes a fatherly role to lead the team to the championship game (called, “going to the ship” by the boys).
Having just dropped the kids at home after winning the pre-championship game, G-Baby is struck and killed by a stray bullet in a gang fight which leads Conor to want to forfeit the championship game.
After an emotional funeral service, the team rallies together to win the championship game in the name of their fallen teammate.
Plots taken from: http://www.wikipedia.org/