Category Archives: Movies

Don’t Trust The Trailer

instant familyI had watched trailers for the movie Instant Family and decided I didn’t want to see it because it looked like it would be one of those romanticized, feel good films about foster families and foster care.  But when we were trying to decide on a movie to watch with friends on Monday night I checked out Instant Family’s reviews and found it had received a positive response from critics and audience members alike.   I discovered that contrary to the cutesy trailers I had seen the movie was based on a true story and that Sean Anders the writer and director of the movie had been a foster parent himself.   Most reviewers agreed the movie presesented difficult but realistic truths about the foster care system. 

They were right.  The movie was engaging and didn’t paint a rosy picture of what foster care is like.  I learned or was reminded of some things.  

  • There are 500,000 children in foster care in the United States.
  • Although older children and teens make up the largest percentage they are the hardest to find placements for in foster care. 
  • Siblings benefit from being placed in the same foster home. 
  • The goal of foster care is to reunite children with their birth parents and this will be the top priority when decisions are made about children’s futures. 
  • Foster parents are a very diverse group and most, but not all, genuinely want to help children. 
  • Foster parents take an intensive course before being approved for fostering. 

When the couple in the film has just about reached the end of their rope with their three difficult foster children they go and see another set of foster parents for advice.  That foster mom reminds them…….”things that matter are hard.” 

That might be the core lesson of the film and applies not just to foster parenting but to every kind of family relationship. 

grandma sandy meets her grandkids instant familyI can recommend this movie. It will make you laugh and cry.  My favorite character was Grandma Sandy! I bet you will like her too!

And remember you can’t always trust a movie’s trailer to give you a true picture of what the film is about. 

Other posts……..

That’s Not My Kind of God Either

An Evening At the Forks

She’s Gone


Filed under Movies

You Will Be Charmed and Enlightened

“Here’s a comb,”  says Ethel kindly. She picks up a comb from on her hospital nightstand and hands it to her son Raymond. Ethel is on her death-bed but true to form she can’t help expressing her discomfort with the longer, rather messy hairstyle of her middle- aged artist son. 

ethel and ernestThat is just one of the rather charming incidents in an utterly charming movie on Netflix called Ethel and Ernest.  You have probably heard of Raymond Briggs the British artist responsible for such children’s classics as The Snowman.  The movie Ethel and Ernest is based on a graphic novel Raymond Briggs wrote about his parents’ lives. 

Ethel and Ernest are ordinary, hardworking Londoners but through their eyes we see how World War II impacted normal everyday people in devastating ways. sending raymond offSome of the most heartbreaking scenes occur when Ethel and Ernest must send their five- year -old off to live in the country with strangers because of the bombing in London.

ernest and ethelWe also see political events of the 60s and 70s through Ethel and Ernest’s eyes, the rise of socialism and feminism. We watch as they cope with a son who is something of a hippie and becomes an artist instead of having the solid kind of professional job his parents dreamed of for him. 

ethel and ernest movieThe animated movie Ethel and Ernest reveals a slice of world history in the most intimate way by opening the doors to a snug working class home in London and letting the viewer inside to see a family’s everyday life.  It’s charming and enlightening.  Thanks to my friend Esther for recommending it!

Other posts…….

What’s A Bonus Family? 

Warms Your Heart and Makes You Laugh Out Loud

That’s Not My Kind of God Either


Filed under History, Movies


I saw the movie Green Book this week about a wealthy African American concert pianist and his Italian chauffeur. They are driving through the racially segregated southern United States in 1962.  The line in the movie that stayed with me was “the world is full of lonely people waiting to make the first move”.  

Dr. Don Shirley the musician in the movie is a wealthy man. He is incredibly talented, lives in a luxurious apartment  filled with fine art and beautiful furniture, and is cared for by a servant. He can speak eight languages, knows people in high places, and has been presented with two honorary university degrees.  

Yet he is a lonely man. He is estranged from his brother. He is divorced. He says he is too much a part of the white world to have many black friends and because he is black he nevers feels his white acquaintances truly accept him.  Will he make a move to get past his isolation and establish a bond with someone? 

The movie made me think of a music video recently released by my favorite Winnipeg band Royal Canoe. It is called RAYZ. The man in the video is also a performer- one of those living statue artists who poses for money.  Unlike Dr. Shirley he is poor, counting his pennies, living in a run down room, buying lottery tickets and going to bars alone. Sometimes he stares at people doing things together on the beach where he works.   Is he wondering what it would be like to make the first move to establish some kind of bond with one of them? 

There are lots of lonely people in our world.  Perhaps we should think about altering the movie quote from…. “the world is full of lonely people waiting to make the first move” to “the world is full of lonely people waiting for us to make the first move.” 

Other posts……..

Why Do We Still Like Dickens A Christmas Carol? 

Thanks Terry MacLeod

Time To Get Out of Our Holy Huddles

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Filed under Movies, Music

And The Moral Of The Story Is?

Along with a group of friends we saw the movie A Star is Born in St. George Utah where we were vacationing. After the film we went to eat supper at a Thai restaurant.  We had to wait for about ten minutes to get a table. We discovered another couple waiting for a table with us had just been at the same movie.  We chatted a bit about the film and then one of our new acquaintances asked, “What do you think was the moral of the film’s story?”

star is bornSomeone from our group quoted a line from the film about the importance of having something to say that other people want to hear.  The reason we are here on earth is share an important message in a way that will make people listen.  The other man reminded us that in order to do that you need talent. He didn’t think he had the neccesary kind of talent.  

Someone from our group countered saying everyone has talent but we don’t all cultivate our talents or use them to the best of our ability. Just as we were going into the restaurant the woman accompanying the man who said he had no talent told us that certainly wasn’t true.  He really was a very talented man. 

So there you have the moral of the film.  

We need to believe we are talented.  We should recognize and cultivate our talents. We need to use our talents to share a message we think is important.  

Other posts…….

Won’t You Be My Neighbour?

What If You Could No Longer Do the Thing You Love the Most?

What a Great Dad!


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Won’t You Be My Neighbour?

On Sunday I watched a new documentary film called Won’t You Be My Neighbour? Here are four interesting things I learned from the film about Fred Rogers the host of the long running children’s television program  Mister Roger’s Neighbourhood.  

The theme of Mr.Roger’s television program was that all children are worthy of love just the way they are.  In one episode of his show he explains why 143 is a special number to him because it reflects the number of letters in the phrase I LOVE YOU.   I- one letter, LOVE- 4 letters, YOU- 3 letters- 143. According to Fred’s wife Joanne her husband weighed 143 pounds for the last 30 years of his life.

Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister.  He studied theology at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and upon completion of his degree in 1962 was ordained.  He never served as a church minister but considered his career spent creating wholesome children’s television programming his religious mission. 

The show Fox and Friends on the Fox News Channel once described Mr. Rogers as an “evil, evil man.”  The documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbour includes an old clip from the show where the host of Fox and Friends said Mister Rogers was evil for having ruined a generation of kids by telling them they were special and making them feel entitled. 

As he was dying Fred Rogers asked his wife whether he thought God would consider him a sheep or goat when he got to heaven.  He was referring to a Scripture passage in Matthew 25 where Jesus says that when people are judged at the end of their life the goats will be those who did not show their love for God by helping others.  The sheep will be those who tried to see the face of Jesus in everyone they met and tried to help them.  Fred’s wife Joanne told him that if he wasn’t a sheep no one was. 

Other posts………..

What’s the Best Way to Raise Children

Thoughts About Children

Teaching Kids About Being Homeless


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Crazy Rich Asians

I enjoyed this movie throughly.  We went to the late show and the fact that I didn’t fall asleep or even close my eyes for a second attests to its entertainment value.  Just ask my husband!

I love a good romantic comedy and this was certainly a delightful one.  One of the reasons Crazy Rich Asians is being touted by critics and audiences alike is because all of the characters are indeed Asian.  I think its great to have a successful movie with so many actors from a group that has been underrepresented in Hollywood films.  

Here are some scenes in the movie that resonated with me perhaps because I lived and taught in Asia for six years and have visited Singapore where the majority of the film’s action is set. 

  1.  There is a scene where a group of unbelievably wealthy women are having a Bible study.  The Christian prosperity gospel certainly has its hold on Asia probably thanks to missionaries, particularly in former British cities like Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore. I met many a Christian millionaire in Hong Kong where I taught at a rather expensive private faith-based school, supported in large part by those millionaires’ generosity. 

    Nick, the hero of the movie introduces his girlfriend Rachel to his grandmother who has the final say on whether he can marry her

  2. There is enormous family pressure on children to do well in Asia, to succeed and to be loyal to the family. Grandparents play a major role in raising children and have a big say in their lives.  I had students in Hong Kong who would get scolding phone calls from grandparents living in other countries if they weren’t doing well in school.  Many of my students had names chosen by their grandparents. 

    Making Chinese dumplings

  3. Making dumplings as a family is a ‘thing.’  I’ve done it. There’s a key scene in the movie where a family makes dumplings and viewers learn a lot about family history and dynamics. 

    Dave and our friends enjoying street food in Singapore

  4. Singapore street food is world-famous.  I was so glad one of the scenes in the movie featured that food in a big way. 

Other posts………

The Sculptures of Singapore

Making Chinese Dumplings



Filed under Movies, singapore

What a Great Dad!

I was once an eighth grader myself and I parented two sons through that phase.  Those experiences however have little in common with what it is like to be an eighth grader today in a world dominated by technology, where navigating relationships on Instagram and Snap Chat is perilous and where trying to figure out who you are apart from your social media presence seems impossible. The movie Eighth Grade which I saw on Monday night with friends does an amazing job of taking you into the world of young teens and showing you just how strange and difficult and awkward it can be to find your way through that social milieu. 

The young girl at the center of the film Kayla lives with her father who has been her single parent since she was just a toddler.  He is such a good dad!  Concerned, caring, trying to give his daughter space to make choices but at the same time letting her know he is always there for her.  Kayla is at a point of such low self esteem but her father makes it clear he thinks she’s a great kid!

The father Mark Day played by Josh Hamilton clearly believes being a good father is the most important thing in his life.  He  has a job but he doesn’t appear to let work or his social life interfere with his clear priority to just ‘be around’ so whenever his daughter does want to talk or she is upset he’s there. 

The movie is great on many levels- from fifteen year old Elsie Fisher’s amazing performance as Kayla- to wonderful but cringe worthy scenes like the one where Kayla has a date with a loveable but totally nerdy boy she met at a party- to the truly scary scenes like the one where a highschool guy tries to take advantage of Kayla’s need to be liked and accepted. 

I’d recommend the movie first and foremost though for parents of young teens because the Dad in this movie although he is bumbling and gets it wrong sometimes, and can drive his daughter wild, is basically stoic and caring and provides a textbook example of how to parent an eighth grader with unconditional love and a reassuring presence. 

Other posts……


Why Adults Are Reading Teen Fiction

Why Do We Share Our Worst Selves With the People We Love the Most



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