Archives for July 2022

Fire of Love * Superb Film Exploring The Dynamic Relationship Between Volcanologists And Their Passion For Volcanoes

Katia and Maurice Krafft loved two things — each other and volcanoes. For two decades, the daring French volcanologist couple roamed the planet, chasing eruptions and documenting their discoveries. Ultimately, they lost their lives in a 1991 volcanic explosion, leaving a legacy that forever enriched our knowledge of the natural world. Director Sara Dosa and the filmmaking team fashion a lyrical celebration of the intrepid scientists’ spirit of adventure, drawing from the Kraffts’ spectacular archive. FIRE OF LOVE tells a story of primordial creation and destruction, following two bold explorers as they venture into the unknown, all for the sake of love.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “A superb film for nature-lovers and a great film to study for budding documentarians, Fire of Love explores a dynamic relationship between volcanologists, with beautiful editing and archival footage; however, its pace somewhat undermines the beauty of the film.” See his complete review below.  

Fire of Love

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

A superb film for nature-lovers and a great film to study for budding documentarians, Fire of Love explores a dynamic relationship between volcanologists, with beautiful editing and archival footage; however, its pace somewhat undermines the beauty of the film.

In Fire of Love, we are introduced to Katia and Maurice Krafft, Alsatian French volcanologists and spouses. From the beginning, it is evident that Maurice is the one who jumps in with abandon, and Katia is the one who takes calculated, measured risks. Through footage and some interviews, director Sara Dosa shows the Kraffts in their daring exploits, filming, photographing and recording volcanoes—and getting within feet of lava flows.

The National Geographic documentary team behind this film has evidently spent a sizable portion of time collecting stunning natural footage and archival video and sound to tell the story of this legendary duo. They team successfully assemble a great audiovisual gallery…. But the film needs something more. There are times where inserted music and natural footage seems to take over the storyline and bring things to a halt. We get heartwarming glimpses of the couple’s dynamic with one another—for the majority of the Fire of Love, we see the Kraffts at work, discussing their pursuits—but it would have been great to see more of them talking to one another, reflecting one-on-one. The film seems to waver between their relationship and their work, without discussing the intersection of both very clearly.  For example, a question I wish was answered better by the film was how the two maintained a work-life balance. The most compelling, moving part of Fire of Love is the couple’s blazing end—they died in a 1991 volcanic explosion in Japan—and it was captured with such deep emotion that I was left speechless.

Fire of Love is all about companionship, teamwork, and following your passion. There are of course some daring stunts performed in the film—the Kraffts, after all, are in a dangerous line of work.

I give Fire of Love 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Fire of Love is available in theaters now.

Trailer:

The Gray Man * A Classic Spy Movie With Elaborate Action Scenes, Sizeable Cast And Charismatic Lead Actors

The Gray Man is CIA operative Court Gentry (Ryan Gosling), aka, Sierra Six. Plucked from a federal penitentiary and recruited by his handler, Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton), Gentry was once a highly-skilled, Agency-sanctioned merchant of death. But now the tables have turned and Six is the target, hunted across the globe by Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), a former cohort at the CIA, who will stop at nothing to take him out. Agent Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas) has his back. He’ll need it.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “The Gray Man is, first and foremost, a classic spy movie. The draw of its elaborate action scenes, the size of its cast and the charisma of its lead performances keep it afloat in the pool of familiarity.” See his full review below.

The Gray Man

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

The Gray Man is, first and foremost, a classic spy movie. The draw of its elaborate action scenes, the size of its cast and the charisma of its lead performances keep it afloat in the pool of familiarity.<p>Court Gentry (Ryan Gosling) is a CIA operative who carries out killings of whomever they desire, as part of a deal he made decades ago to dodge prison time. On a job in Bangkok, as he dies, his target reveals the unexpected kinship he holds with Court and gives him a drive containing damning information about the people Court works for. These two discoveries force him to drop everything and go on the run with the intel. Back at the CIA, Court’s boss (Regé-Jean Page) is furious about the intel leak and Court’s betrayal. In response, Court’s boss calls in a former operative named Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans). Rejected by the CIA for his violent, psychotic methods and his lack of concern to amend them, Lloyd has no qualms about eliminating whoever stands between him and his mission’s objective. And so, a cat and mouse chase begins between Court and Lloyd, a battle of wits and ability that tracks the entire globe.

The Gray Man has a lot going on besides Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling, but they are absolutely the reasons to see this movie. Ryan Gosling tones Court down— you really believe he was nurtured in his line of work, not born into it. Gosling is eternally tired in the role. Every obstacle, every adversary gets the same tossed off  “Are we really doing this?” look from Gosling. Yet there’s also an eternal spark: his wit, as if the opportunity to fire off a quip is what keeps him going through stab wounds and raining gunfire. The quipping brings something new to this spy archetype—the sense that this is just a particularly tough day on the job for Court and Gosling communicates that really well.

Every performance has its equal opposite reaction; so the yin to Gosling’s yang is Chris Evans as Lloyd Hansen. Where Gosling is just barely limping his way from explosion to explosion, Evans is confidently striding after him. He walks into this movie with a prominent mustache on his lip, or “trashstache,” as Court calls it, and a smile on his face, ready to do his thing. Lloyd enjoys his job. He waxes poetic about the joys of improv in torturing and the opportunity to kill the prized asset of his former employee only sweetens the deal and raises his spirits. Evans is whistling and skipping as he inflicts government-sanctioned mayhem. It’s fun to watch him play a character this unraveled and unafraid of any repercussions for his psychotic actions.

The Gray Man also features setpiece upon setpiece of impressive action. It’s not always the best-presented, and the editing can be discombobulating, but there are points where directors Russos find their footing. And the magnitude of some of the confrontations between Court and enemy forces also make seeing this movie worthwhile. A tram racing through the streets of Prague with Ryan Gosling dodging enemy fire, for example, or a fistfight in the middle of a firework launcher with fireworks erupting all around—there are moments in The Gray Man that are undeniably cool.

There is no real lesson to The Gray Man other than maybe staying out of the hitman industry. However, there are moments of action in The Gray Man where scale and invention and starpower all line up for something that feels truly thrilling. Even if it doesn’t reinvent the wheel and it feels as if The Gray Man lacks an “X-factor” to set it apart from other cinematic spy fare, it’s a reminder of why the genre is so irresistible: the stars, the scope,and elite operatives with big personalities and shifting allegiances.

I give The Gray Man 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults, for language, intense action, and multiple instances of torture. The Gray Man is in theaters for a brief period starting July 15, 2022, and launches on Netflix globally on July 22, 2022.

My favorite lip tints this Summer are from Eco Lips –  Brazilian Vegan Lip Tint Collection!

National Lip Stick Day was July 29th and these are my new faves!

I recently had the opportunity to check out this collection from Eco Lips and they are now my new favorites! What is really cool is that are different ways to use them! Here are some of the fun ways to try them!

1. Contouring –Glide the nude or pink along cheek bones, jawline and between the inner eye and nose for a contoured look

2. Highlighting –Use nude for a subtle highlight on your cheekbones for a catwalk-ready look. Or if you just want a glowy complexion.

3. Lip Color –Looking for just the right pop of lightweight color? Try pink or red on your lips for a smooth, lip nourishing look. This is my favorite!

4. Cheek Color –Glide some red or pink on the apples of your cheek and rub in with your fingers! It goes on smooth, never cakey!

5. Eye Shadow –Try a bit of pink on your eye lids for subtle color. Nude could also work as a primer!

Check them out here: https://ecolips.com/products/brazilian-vegan-lip-tint-blessed

Self Disclosure: I received free samples to facilitate this post. Images were also provided.

Why Moms are Choosing to Homeschool

Photo by sofatutor on Unsplash

Homeschooling means giving your kid an opportunity to be educated from the comfort of home. It has been embraced by many parents to give access to their kids while in the comfort of their homes and are within an environment that they feel is conducive. However, before deciding to do homeschooling, it’s important to understand what’s making you choose homeschooling for your child. It’s never an easy choice to opt to enroll your kid in homeschooling. Many reasons can lead to you homeschooling your kids. 

Whatever’s making you decide to do homeschooling you need to first weigh the benefits that come with it. There are many benefits of homeschooling, some of which include flexibility and efficiency. That is why it’s important to find a team of educational professionals to support you and help make your kids’ homeschooling experience more educational and fun. Get more information on Homeschooling NT about homeschooling in the Northern territory.

Below let’s take a look at why moms are choosing to homeschool.

Children can learn at their own pace

Allowing your child to learn through homeschooling makes it flexible for you as a parent to handle other tasks without having to worry about following up on your child at school. It also allows you to monitor their progress back at home and adjust depending on what your child needs. For example, if your child is good at a certain subject, they can learn what they would have otherwise learned in a year in school in fewer months. Your child does not have to wait on his classmates to move forward with their learning. Individualized attention allows your child to understand what they are taught at their own pace without having to keep up with other children.

Reduces stress and anxiety

Oftentimes, children get stressed especially when they lag in their studies and other children are moving forward first. This demoralizes the kid, resulting in stress and anxiety, affecting their performance in school. Homeschooling reduces children’s stress and anxiety due to the more relaxed atmosphere. It also protects them from bullying which can be quite common in public and private schools.

Schedule your own time

Homeschooling allows you to schedule your own time each day and month to fit whatever activity you’ll be engaged in. The flexibility is convenient for parents with tight or shifting schedules that might need to be regularly adjusted. For example, a parent working during night shift can schedule evening classes allowing them to spend time with their family when they are not working. This allows them to interact and engage in activities at a time when everyone is present. You can also schedule smaller breaks for vacations or allow your child to connect more with the family depending on what’s best for your family.

Life changes

Homeschooling works best for parents who are facing major life changes like relocating. Before your child adjusts to their new neighborhood or you can locate the best school for them to attend, homeschooling might be the best option to prevent them from being behind in the curriculum.

Homeschooling works but similar to any other life change, it has its challenges. Your child can either adjust fast or it might take a while for them to get used to learning within the home environment. The experiences and outcomes vary and it’s always best to monitor how your child adjusts.

Are you celebrating Shark Week?

Great White Shark Stuffed Animal – 8”

This week is Shark Week! It started on July 24th and runs through the 31st, Shark Week is an annual broadcast event designed to uncover the secrets of the ocean creature. It airs in 220 countries and territories around the world. I love all Sea Animals so I am excited to post about this cute Great White Shark Stuffed Animal!

What ways can you integrate Shark Week in your home? With Wild Republic’s Aquatic line! From Whale Sharks, to Hammerhead Sharks, along with other ocean wildlife, Wild Republic offers a line of plush, eco-friendly animals that’ll make Shark Week feel like it’s right in your living room. 

Part of the Wild Republic Ecokins line, this aquatic adorable plush line is so soft and so cuddly you would never believe they are made of 100% recycled water bottles, but they are. From head to tail, inside and out these sweet stuffed animals are made completely out of recycled materials certified by Global Recycled Standard (GRS).

Living Ocean stuffed animals use a special print on fabric process to achieve vibrant, life-like colors and designs on super soft fabrics. You’ll love the realism and the softness of this great white shark stuffed animal. MSRP: $12.99 Available at Wildrepublic.com

You have to check out all the other stuffed animals too!

What are other things to do this week?

It’s also fun to read books about Sharks this week and make craft sharks with your children this week!

Happy Shark Week!

Self Disclosure: I received a free sample to facilitate this post. The image was also provided.

Nepal Tea Collective

Photo Credit: Nepal Tea

 Nepal Tea Collective, an award-winning public benefit corporation that distributes fresh organic teas worldwide, now includes QR codes on all product labels.  When scanned with smart phones, the QR codes offer information on the farm where the tea leaves were grown and when the particular bag of tea was plucked, packaged and shipped. The QR codes are part of Nepal Tea’s pledge to bring more traceability and transparency to the tea and herb industries. 

Nepal Tea Collective currently offers a selection of organic black, green, oolong and white teas, as well as gift boxes and bundles.  All teas are packed at origin in biodegradable bamboo pouches, which are locally handmade. I had the opportunity to try the Tea and loved their black Tea.

About Nepal Tea Collective

Nepal Tea Collective is a public benefit corporation that distributes fresh teas, organically grown and packed at origin in Nepal, throughout the United States and worldwide.  Teas are from four different small-holder farms in Nepal.  Nepal Tea Collective aims to bridge the gap between tea farmers and customers by moving past the middlemen and working directly with producers.  Nepal Tea Collective makes the tea farm to table supply chain traceable and transparent.  Each package is labeled with a QR code that can be scanned for info about where, how and when the tea was produced.  For more information please visit https://nepalteacollective.com/ Follow Nepal Tea on Facebook @nepalteacollective.

Self Disclosure: I received free samples to facilitate this post. Images were also provided.

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank * An Action Comedy Movie That Captivates You From The Beginning

A down-on-his-luck hound Hank (Michael Cera) finds himself in a town full of cats who need a hero to defend them from a ruthless villain’s (Ricky Gervais) evil plot to wipe their village off the map. With help from a reluctant teacher (Samuel L. Jackson) to train him, our underdog must assume the role of town samurai and team up with the villagers to save the day. The only problem… cats hate dogs! Also starring Mel Brooks, George Takei, Aasif Mandvi, Gabriel Iglesias, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Yeoh, Kylie Kuioka, and Cathy Shim.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Maica N. comments, “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is a new action comedy movie that will have you captivated from the beginning. With a star-studded cast, and a simple plot, the audience will be able to relate to the movie and enjoy the story.” Kendall B. adds, “This movie is hysterical. There are way too many cat jokes to count. I love the animation in the flashback scenes, it looks like a comic book!” See their full reviews and interviews below.

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank

By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 14

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is a new action comedy movie that will have you captivated from the beginning. With a star-studded cast, and a simple plot, the audience will be able to relate to the movie and enjoy the story.

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is about a loveable dog named Hank (Michael Cera). All Hank wants is to become an incredible samurai. When he finds himself in a town desperate for one, he thinks he’s going to get what he’s always wanted. But there’s a problem–it’s a town full of cats, and he doesn’t know how to be a samurai. After receiving help from an ex samurai named Jimbo (Samuel L. Jackson), he has to find a way to save the town and prove to everyone–including himself–that he can be great.

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is a very lighthearted and enjoyable movie. Something that impressed me about this film is the animation of the cats. Each cat has its own distinctive look and personality, which makes it easier to tell them apart. For instance, Ichiro (Aasif Mandvi) and Chuck (Gabriel Iglesias) are best friends whose characteristics complement each other. Ichiro is a long-haired, black and white cat, while Chuck is a chubby, white and orange cat. We would never mistake one for the other due to their unique appearances. One reason that Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is so comedic, is because of the pairing of Michael Cera with Samuel L. Jackson as Hank and Jimbo. The banter between the two is very sarcastic and their delivery is very fast paced. The scenes with both of them move the story forward, while also making the audience want more from them. The training montage, when Jimbo is helping Hank, is sure to be a fan favorite as it showcases the harsh but humorous personality Samuel L. Jackson is known for. Casting director Debra Zane certainly picked the perfect actors for these roles. Having such well-known and talented actors in the film makes it increases its appeal.

The message of Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is that everyone deserves the chance to be successful. No matter who you are or what you look like, everyone should be treated fairly. For example, even though Hank is a dog, he still deserves to be taken seriously as he attempts to become a samurai.

I give Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 14, although anyone can enjoy this film. Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank releases in theaters on July 15, 2022. So make sure you check it out!

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank

By Kendall B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is a hilarious animated film that the whole family will love! It has an all-star cast, hilarious one-liners, and very clever cat jokes.

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank follows Hank (Michael Cera), a dog who travels across the border with dreams of becoming a samurai. After almost being killed, he is offered a job defending a town in need of a hero to defend them, but the cat-filled town hates dogs. He is quickly taken under the wing by Jimbo (Samuel L. Jackson) a once great samurai who is now addicted to catnip. The storyline is all about friendships and learning to love people that are different from you.

This movie is hysterical. There are way too many cat jokes to count. There isn’t much music in the film, but there is one sad scene that has music that matches it perfectly. I love the animation in the flashback scenes, it looks like a comic book! This cast is great! Every voice fits the character perfectly. I especially love the character of Emiko (Heavenly Joy) because her character is so sassy and she really voices her well. Samuel L. Jackson is hilarious as Jimbo, and never disappoints us. My favorite part of film is when Ika Chau is about to be pushed into a giant toilet bowl and says, “Wait, I have something to tell you,” and proceeds to say, “Luke, I am your father.” Then, he laughs it off and says he was joking.

The message of Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is to follow your dreams. Hank worked so hard to become a samurai, and in the end, everything works out for him because he never gives up. 

I give Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. It releases in theatres July 15, 2022.

Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song * Captivating Documentary Showing The Origins And Evolution Of Leonard Cohen’s Iconic Song “Hallelujah”

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song is a definitive exploration of singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen as seen through the prism of his internationally renowned hymn, “Hallelujah.” This feature-length documentary weaves together three creative strands: The songwriter and his times; the song’s dramatic journey from record label reject to chart-topping hit; and moving testimonies from major recording artists for whom “Hallelujah” has become a personal touchstone. Approved for production by Leonard Cohen just before his 80th birthday in 2014, the film accesses a wealth of never-before-seen archival materials from the Cohen Trust including Cohen’s personal notebooks, journals and photographs, performance footage and extremely rare audio recordings and interviews.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “This captivating documentary shows the origins and evolution of the iconic song “Hallelujah,” written by poet, author, singer/songwriter and musician Leonard Cohen. A song that transcends generations, ‘Hallelujah’ is more than music; it is a work of art and this film is an immersive exploration of this iconic song.”  See her full review below.

Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

This captivating documentary shows the origins and evolution of the iconic song “Hallelujah,” written by poet, author, singer/songwriter and musician Leonard Cohen. A song that transcends generations, “Hallelujah” is more than music; it is a work of art and this film is an immersive exploration of this iconic song.

The documentary narrates how Cohen started his music career back in the ‘60’s. Disappointed by his lack of success in the literary world, Cohen decided to explore a career in music, despite not intending to sing or play an instrument. In fact, Cohen didn’t start writing songs until age 30. The narration in the film explores his early success in music and other aspects of his life, including his Jewish roots, politics, relationships and more. He was a spiritual seeker and his oeuvre constantly gravitated around spirituality. “Hallelujah,” his most renowned song, was released in 1984. The song is a moment of realization—a revelation—about love and loss, and it touches the listener in so many different ways. The song is so larger-than-life it’s almost its own person, and we see how it has become an anthem.

As of today, there are over 300 cover versions of “Hallelujah.” Originally 150-180 verses were written for “Hallelujah” until the perfect edition of the song was written. More popular versions have come from artists Eric Church, Jeff Buckley and John Cale. Through many different interviews, the documentary shows how most people know the song through Jeff Buckley and many thought he wrote it. It was really interesting to me to see how a lot of the film is devoted to Leonard’s spirituality. One of my favorite clips was the 2009 Coachella concert where Cohen sang “Hallelujah,” and you could really feel how moved and captivated the audience was. The visuals, the archived interviews and footage are all nicely arranged. I particularly enjoyed listening to the interviews with various artists, reporters and people that were close to Cohen and to witness the warmth that emanated from him. One I found very interesting was with Vicky Jenson, where she talks about how “Hallelujah” was used in the movie Shrek. Another washow singer Judy Collins remembers when she first met him how he didn’t believe in his own music. Cohen’s work was not always praised as some music labels rejected his albums, but his talent has proved to be immortal.

The message of the film is that music is cross-generational, and it establishes an emotional connection that unites people in a powerful way.

I give Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for audiences 12 to 18, plus adults. Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song opens in select theaters July 15, 2022

Trailer: