I recently visited the new Museum of Science and Curiosity (MOSAC) in Sacramento, California. The museum is informative and educational. Destination Space and Multiverse Theater are exhibits for anyone interested in space exploration. The Water Challenge and Powering Change exhibits inform visitors of how precious water and our environment are and what we can do to protect them.
Overall, I recommend Sacramento's Museum of Science and Curiosity because it is a family-friendly environment and as new technologies are discovered, the museum will be updated. The scientists are dedicated to keeping visitors educated about how science affects their lives. You can visit the MOSAC Web site here: https://visitmosac.org/.
In I MADE IT, Rena is raised and lives in San Francisco. After getting married, she realizes she chose the wrong man and must gain strength to live with her decision or find a way out of the situation. Along the way, she raises two children and experiences challenges in finding a job that is a good fit for her.
I MADE IT is also available in large print (book size is 8.5 x 0.3 x 11) and there is a Kindle Edition (digital):
This blog post about LUCAS (1986) is the third of three posts
that discuss unique movies about the sport of American football.
The romantic comedy and drama movie LUCAS stars Corey Haim
as a precocious child named Lucas. Lucas appreciates nature and classical
music. He is intelligent but prejudged by others because of his appearance. He
is small in stature and on the surface unpretentious. Because of these qualities,
aside from students in the school marching band, other teenagers do not
socialize with him.
Maggie (Kerri Green) is new in town and meets Lucas during
the summer break before school starts. Lucas introduces Maggie to bugs and
classical music. Maggie introduces Lucas to tennis and gives him a ride in her
convertible car. One-on-one these friends make a great pair, but Lucas desires
Eventually, Maggie meets other teenagers in the community, including
Cappie (Charlie Sheen). Maggie develops feelings for Cappie, who Lucas calls “superficial,”
and Cappie is attracted to Maggie, but has a cheerleader girlfriend named Alise
(Courtney Thorne-Smith). When Cappie suggests Maggie become a cheerleader, Alise
gets angry at him.
Lucas thinks cheerleading is as superficial as football. However, he puts energy into capturing Maggie and joins the school’s football team.
He makes this decision based on observing Maggie’s admiration for football
player Cappie. Ironically, Lucas focuses on football and Maggie, but does not
notice his marching band classmate Rina (Winona Ryder) likes him.
The football coach (Guy Boyd) obviously does not want Lucas
on the team, but Lucas shows up to practice in uniform quoting laws about how
he is supposed to be given a fair opportunity. No one takes Lucas seriously and
he ends up in Principal Kaiser’s (Garrett M. Brown) office, creating his own
superficial circumstances by telling the principal his father is a lawyer. Truthfully,
Lucas’ father is an alcoholic and he does not live in the affluent neighborhood
he takes Maggie to during summer break. Rina already knows these aspects about
Lucas’ life, but he does not spend time with her outside of band class. Instead
he chooses to impress cheerleader Maggie whom he has no chance of romancing.
LUCAS is not just about football, but the sport does
represent a fair portion of the story. In Lucas’ perspective football players
and cheerleaders are superficial, yet he uses the sport to get what he wants. Unfortunately,
Maggie never returns his affections, but his bravery in playing the sport,
risking physical injuries garners him respect from his peers.
This blog post about FACING THE GIANTS (2006) is the second
of three posts that discuss unique movies about the sport of American football.
The drama movie FACING THE GIANTS features an extremely
popular scene, even if one has not seen the entire film he or she has watched
the scene of one football player carrying another player on his back all the
way across a football field. This scene is shown at conferences by workshop
presenters and at schools by teachers. Attendees and students are told the
message that they can do whatever they put their mind to if they are willing to
prepare by working hard and never giving up. FACING THE GIANTS is unique
because the message is presented from a Christian perspective. In addition to
preparing, working hard, and never giving up one must have faith in God because
all outcomes are His will.
Alex Kendrick plays Grant Taylor, head football coach at
Shiloh Christian Academy. The team consistently loses and the players’ parents
want Taylor fired. In addition to coaching a non-championship team, Taylor has
several other problems he is dealing with, including being the reason why his
wife is unable to conceive a child.
Difficult times are often what lead people to pray. Taylor
prays, reads the Bible, and is inspired by his former football coach. His faith
allows him to accept winning a game or losing a game, and he encourages his
players to focus on their attitudes. As a result, the team starts winning games,
makes the state playoffs, and surprisingly plays in the state championship game
against the three-time championship team, the Richland Giants. Furthermore,
Taylor’s personal circumstances improve, and he keeps his job.
In addition to playing Taylor, Alex Kendrick is also
co-writer, co-producer, and director of FACING THE GIANTS. Bob Scott, a veteran
cinematographer for NFL Films, is the film’s director of photography. Rob
Whitehurst, a NFL Films technician, records the movie’s sound.
Most sports films are inspirational, and it is exciting
watching the underdog achieve championship status (however, the movie FRIDAY
NIGHT LIGHTS put a spin on that idea). The Christian perspective of FACING THE
GIANTS shows viewers an even deeper inspiration by not limiting Taylor’s faith
to wanting to win football games. His focus on attitude makes it possible for
him to live his life in an even more positive way and develop character by
accepting God’s will, regardless of what may happen. This is an exceptional
lesson for everyone. Lastly, it relates to the quote by Greek philosopher Epictetus:
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. When
something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you
can either accept it or resent it. Men are disturbed not by things, but by the
view which they take of them.”
Several great films are made about American football. Even
if one is not a football fan, the movies are enjoyable. My next three blog
posts discuss unique movies about the sport of football.
Goldie Hawn plays Molly McGrath in the comedy WILDCATS
(1986). McGrath is a girls’ track coach at the affluent Prescott High School.
She desires a position as a football coach because her father was a well-known
football coach. It is significant McGrath wants to coach football because no
woman had ever done it before, not even at the high school level.
In real life Jen Welter was introduced as the first woman
National Football League (NFL) coach in July 2015. Just this year Katie Sowers was
the first female to coach in a Super Bowl. So far only 10 women coached professional
football and three coached high school football.
WILDCATS is a unique movie about football because Molly
McGrath is given the opportunity to coach football at Central High School in
Chicago. Unfortunately, the position is given to her as a joke by the male
football coach of Prescott High School, Dan Darwell (Bruce McGill). The job
offer is solid, but Darwell has no faith McGrath can truly coach football. In
addition, it is noted that no one else will take the position at Central High
School because of where it is located. McGrath is a white woman who will be
coaching football at a school where mostly students of color attend.
At first the boys on the Wildcats team at Central High
School give McGrath a difficult time. She firmly tells them no one else will
take the job so they are stuck with her. Over time, McGrath grows on the team
and the team grows on McGrath; a mutual respect is cultivated.
WILDCATS presents the concept of a female football coach
that is 29 years ahead of its time. It is a fun comedy that does not take itself
seriously, even though the idea of a woman in McGrath’s position might have
inspired many young girls watching the movie. The film may have also inspired
videos that were produced by real life professional football teams. The end
credits of WILDCATS features the Wildcats team and McGrath performing a rap:
“It’s the sport of kings, better than Diamond Rings, That’s why we’re here to
The most popular video was by the Chicago Bears Shufflin’
Crew performing “The Super Bowl Shuffle.” Other NFL teams that made videos in
the 1980’s were the San Francisco 49ers, the Los Angeles Raiders (“Silver and
Back Attack”), the Seattle Seahawks (“Locker Room Rock”), the Dallas Cowboys
(“Livin’ the American Dream”), the Philadelphia Eagles (“Buddy’s Watching
You”), the Cleveland Browns (“Masters of the Gridiron”), the Miami Dolphins
(“Can’t Touch US”), and the Los Angeles Rams (“Ram It”). WILDCATS probably got
the idea from one of these teams. Whether the movie inspired real life or the
real teams inspired the movie, the rap during the end credits of WILDCATS is
very entertaining and keeps viewers engaged.
blog entry about the movie SUMMER SCHOOL (1987) is the fourth of four entries
discussing movies about school, teachers, and education.
the comedy film SUMMER SCHOOL Freddy Shoop (Mark Harmon) is a physical
education (P.E.) teacher who must teach summer school when another teacher, Mr.
Dearadorian (played by the film’s director Carl Reiner), at the fictional Oceanfront
High School wins the lottery and quits at the last minute. Mr. Shoop is in the
parking lot literally putting a suitcase in his car for a trip to Hawaii when
Vice Principal Phil Gillis (Robin Thomas) approaches him about teaching
remedial English for summer school. Amusingly his girlfriend, Kim (Amy Stock), goes to
Hawaii without him instead of postponing the vacation until summer school ends.
SCHOOL presents some serious issues in a humorous manner. On the first day of
class it becomes apparent that the reluctant Mr. Shoop should not be teaching a
group of underachieving students. They are easily distracted and one of the
students is dyslexic. But reality sinks in when Vice Principal Gillis reminds
Mr. Shoop he is up for tenure and can lose his job. Most jobs have a probation
period. For teachers in California the probation period is two school years of
satisfactory performance. On the first day of the third school year the teacher
is tenured. It is difficult to fire a teacher who earns tenure.
Mr. Shoop is forced to teach, he realizes he does not know how to teach. He receives
help from Robin Bishop (Kirstie Alley), a teacher who instructs an honors
class. Today at many schools students can only attend summer school if they,
like Mr. Shoop’s students, fail a course. This is due to budgetary reasons;
however, in the 1980’s students were certainly able to attend summer school for
only way Mr. Shoop gets his students to study is by negotiating with them:
Denise (Kelly Jo Minter) needs driving lessons so Mr. Shoop becomes her driving
instructor. Rhonda (Shawnee Smith) is pregnant so Mr. Shoop becomes her Lamaze
partner. Kevin (Patrick Labyorteaux) plays football so Mr. Shoop gives him
lessons. Pam (Courtney Thorne-Smith) needs a place to live so Mr. Shoop lets
her move in with him. Dave (Gary Riley) has a party at Mr. Shoop’s house with
Mr. Shoop’s permission. Larry (Ken Olandt) sleeps in class so Mr. Shoop has a
bed in the classroom. Chainsaw (Dean Cameron) gets to arrange a screening of THE
TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE in class.
the wackiness, the students improve academically. SUMMER SCHOOL is a fun movie
that serves as an escape because no school would allow much of what happens in
the story. If you need to laugh SUMMER SCHOOL may be a good movie to put on
your watchlist, even if you have seen it before.
blog entry about the movie THE BREAKFAST CLUB (1985) is the third of four
entries discussing movies about school, teachers, and education.
BREAKFAST CLUB is a comedy-drama film that showcases high school very well. The
writer, producer, and director John Hughes chooses to focus on one non-school
day with five students in a confined space: Saturday detention in the school
library. The audience does not see regular school days and students sitting
inside classrooms. Instead the focus is on how five students are affected by
the high school experience.
story takes place at fictional Shermer High School in Shermer, Illinois, which
is supposed to be a suburb of Chicago. The suburban setting is apparent, as the
cast is not racially diverse. It would be interesting to watch how the Saturday
detention experience could differ in an urban setting or if Hughes had created
one or two characters of color out of the five.
five characters are Brian Johnson, the brain (Anthony Michael Hall); Allison
Reynolds, the basket case (Ally Sheedy); John Bender, the criminal (Judd
Nelson); Claire Standish, the princess (Molly Ringwald); and Andrew Clark, the
athlete (Emilio Estevez). The character development is exemplary. Hughes does
not stop at the stereotypes; he provides depth to each character.
enduring themes of peer pressure and parent pressure are revealed as what the
five characters have in common. On the surface they all seem so different, but
it turns out teen angst does not discriminate. Today teenagers still struggle
with these same concerns. Therefore, for many years teenagers will relate to
THE BREAKFAST CLUB. They will even associate the displeasure of being disciplined
by a school administrator like Assistant Principal Vernon (Paul Gleason) with
their own experiences.
the relatable themes are what make THE BREAKFAST CLUB the ultimate high school
movie for its audience. Teenagers connect. School faculty and staff are made aware of what
students are managing in addition to their studies and why they behave the way
they do. Moreover, parents are given a realistic perspective of their teen’s
life and admit to a keen understanding.
This blog entry about
the movie TEACHERS (1984) is the second of four entries discussing movies about
school, teachers, and education.
TEACHERS is a comedy-drama
film about John F. Kennedy High School, an urban school in Columbus, Ohio that is
being sued by a recent graduate who claims he is unable to read or write, yet
he received a diploma. JoBeth Williams plays Lisa Hammond, the lawyer in charge
of taking depositions, and who also happens to be a graduate of John F. Kennedy
High School. The film realistically displays the superintendent (Lee Grant) and
school lawyer (Morgan Freeman) trying to avoid bad publicity from the lawsuit.
Nick Nolte plays Alex Jurel,
a well-liked Social Studies teacher who serves as an example of teacher burn
out. Alex, like most teachers, brings energy and optimism to the position. But after
many years of working with unruly students and dealing with the demands of the
administration, he becomes cynical. However, TEACHERS shows how a teacher like
Jurel is able to reach students and how they trust him with personal issues
they go through, such as when a student named Diane Warren (Laura Dern) becomes
pregnant and confides in him. He also mentors a reticent student named Eddie
Pilikian (Ralph Macchio).
John F. Kennedy High
School has a few teachers who are peculiar characters. In one class students
know to walk in, pick up a handout from the teacher’s desk, quietly go to their
seats to complete the worksheets, and when the bell rings they get up, put the
handout on the teacher’s desk and leave the classroom. During the entire class
period, the teacher holds up a newspaper and falls asleep. Students sit with
their backs to him and do not observe his slumber. One day unbeknown to
everyone, the teacher dies. Even though he has expired, when the bell rings
students get up, turn in the worksheets, and leave the classroom. A full day
goes by before anyone notices the teacher is not sleeping, but dead. This
scenario supports the point of the lawsuit the school is facing from the
graduate who claims he attended the school but is illiterate. This teacher does
not teach. Instead he gives students busy work.
On the other hand, Richard
Mulligan plays Herbert Gower, a mental institution outpatient who wanders into
someone’s home and answers the telephone. A school secretary mistakes him for a
substitute teacher, so he goes to the school. He becomes students’ favorite
U.S. History teacher because he dresses in period clothing and acts out historical
scenes. It takes the school a while to realize he is not the correct substitute
teacher. This is hilarious and, surprisingly, could probably happen.
The balance of comedy
and drama in TEACHERS works well. The comedic situations help ease the audience
for bearing with the serious lawsuit storyline. Overall, the film, which is set
in the 1980’s, makes the valid point that schools should be reorganized. By the
early 1990’s, state education standards were created in the United States,
which provide teachers and schools with structured curricula guidelines. Now there are
Common Core State Standards, which were launched in 2009.
This blog entry about
the movie LEAN ON ME (1989) is the first of four entries discussing movies
about school, teachers, and education. In addition to being a writer, I am a
school administrator and teacher. When I first watched these films, I was not
an educator, so my perspective of certain aspects in them has evolved.
LEAN ON ME is a
biographical drama based on Joe Louis Clark who was a principal at Eastside
High School in Paterson, New Jersey. Morgan Freeman plays the controversial
disciplinarian. One of the unconventional methods he uses in the movie is
putting chains and padlocks on all the doors to keep gangs and drug dealers out
of the school. Eastside High School is in an urban community and,
unfortunately, certain activities that take place outside the school are
brought inside. Students, faculty, and staff are happy about the chains and
padlocks on the doors, but a parent, Leonna Barrett (Lynne Thigpen), is
distressed by the approach and that her son is expelled, so she resolves to get
Mr. Clark fired.
The school also grapples
with students receiving low scores on a basic skills test and is in danger of
the state taking control of it, which is why school district superintendent Dr.
Frank Napier (Robert Guillaume) suggested hiring Mr. Clark, a former teacher at
Eastside High School. Since students realize Mr. Clark cares about their
well-being and education, they are motivated to study, learn, and raise the
school’s basic skills test scores. One student, Thomas Sams (Jermaine Hopkins)
who is expelled because of drug use, even begs Mr. Clark to allow him to return
LEAN ON ME shows what
several schools throughout the United States struggle with, but not all of them
are in urban areas. There are also rural and suburban schools that have issues
with gangs and/or drugs and receive low scores on state exams. This becomes
clear once one has worked in schools and the movie takes on a different
meaning. Most viewers see Mr. Clark as an inspirational figure who makes a
positive impact on a school. Educators recognize that, but also take away from
the story that certain tactics may or may not work at their schools for
administering student discipline and teaching academic standards for a state
A similar movie to LEAN
ON ME is the biographical made for television movie, THE GEORGE MCKENNA STORY
(1986) starring Denzel Washington. For the video release the title is HARD
LESSONS. The movie is based on McKenna, who was a principal at George
Washington Preparatory High School in South Los Angeles, California.
Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, movie theatres are closed. As a result, I have not written about movies. I am considering going to a drive-in theatre, but unsure whether independent films are screened or not.
Lately, I have been watching movies on satellite television and video on demand (VOD). Maybe I will blog about those films. They are not new releases, but film is timeless.
Honesty is usually best. It saves time and one does not need to remember a fantasy narrative. However, some choose to master in manipulation for personal gain. This is the plot of the crime thriller movie, THE GOOD LIAR, starring Helen Mirren (Betty) and Ian McKellen (Roy). It is based on the novel of the same title written by Nicholas Searle.
Roy is a con artist. Betty is a widow with millions. Roy enters Betty's life with the intention of taking all her savings. Watching Roy play out his scam makes viewers feel sympathy for Betty.
The story takes an alternate route, providing unexpected circumstances. It is unpredictable and the audience observes Betty's courage. THE GOOD LIAR could serve as a cautionary tale. The movie is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is https://www.goodliarmovie.com/.
You are not defined by what you do or how others identify you. This is the theme of the new family drama film, OVERCOMER. OVERCOMER is directed by and stars Alex Kendrick. Alex is also co-writer with Stephen Kendrick.
Hannah (Aryn Wright-Thompson) is a 15-year old girl who lives with her grandmother. She has been told her parents passed away. She is a loner and kleptomaniac. Fortunately, being the only runner on her school's cross country team gives her a sense of purpose. She discovers her identity with help from the school's principal (Priscilla Shirer), her coach, John, (Alex Kendrick) and his wife, Amy, (Shari Rigby). John and Amy discover something special about Hannah, and lead her to it, allowing her to receive answers to questions she had about her parents. As a result, she makes positive changes in her life.
OVERCOMER is an inspirational Christian film and does an excellent job of having its audience think about the question: What is your identity? OVERCOMER is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is http://www.overcomermovie.com/.
THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO is a movie that is presented as a play. Well, some viewers will have that reaction. Overall, it is very artistic and there are some exceptional performances.
Jimmie Fails plays Jimmie Fails, a man who is determined to reclaim the Victorian home his grandfather built. His best friend Montgomery Allen (Jonathan Majors) is supportive and assists Jimmie in his efforts. The highlight of the story is watching their friendship. The narrative is pure.
Eventually, the movie takes an unexpected turn. It is bittersweet. The audience cheers for Jimmie, but reality sets in and destiny has other plans. It is true that the ones who sincerely care about you will shield the painful truth from you, or may choose to reveal it to you.
POMS is a fun movie. It is nice watching a story written by screenwriters (Zara Hayes and Shane Atkinson) who clearly know their audience. And all the actors are perfectly cast.
If you want to laugh out loud and like the film BOOK CLUB, you will enjoy POMS. As an added bonus, Diane Keaton is also the star of POMS. She plays Martha, a woman who sells her business and moves into a retirement community like the real-life Sun City. Her intention is to live out her final days in peace, especially since she is ill and knows she is dying soon. Instead she forms unexpected bonds with neighbors who become friends and fulfills a life-long dream of being a cheerleader.
The cheerleading tryouts are hilarious. And scenes with the cheerleading squad are equally amusing. POMS is currently playing in theatres. The official Web site is http://www.stxfilms.com/poms/.
HOTEL MUMBAI is an exceptional dramatic thriller that is based on a true story. Dev Patel plays Arjun, a waiter at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India. One night a group of terrorists raid the hotel and 11 other locations in Mumbai. Employees and guests are trapped in the hotel for several hours as they wait for special forces to arrive from New Delhi. The movie is intense and definitely keeps its audience on edge.
HOTEL MUMBAI also stars Armie Hammer as David, an American married to a Muslim Iranian-British heiress named Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi). The film ends by showing the actual people who endured the horrific events. They have reunited at the renovated Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
I saw HOTEL MUMBAI at a theatre in April. Now you may watch the movie on various Web sites, including YouTube, Amazon Prime, Vudu, and Google Play.