Movie Review: Twice Born

MPAA: USA – Rated R
Canada – Rated 18A.

See IMDP Parental Guide for more info.

twice-born Twice Born is a romantic drama that switches between present-day and approximately twenty years in the past using flashbacks to tell the story. Using this technique, it tells the tale of Gemma (Penélope Cruz) who fell in love with an American photographer named Diego (Emile Hirsch) in 1984 in Sarajevo, Bosnia. As Gemma revisits Sarajevo with her teenage son an overwhelming amount of emotion and past memories overcome her. As the trip progresses, she slowly pieces together how her past experiences shaped her current beliefs and reality. Switching between the past and present allows this film to quickly reveal information about the characters and develop the story at a captivating pace.

The story starts out as Gemma discovers that an exhibition of Diego’s photographs will be going on display shortly in Sarajevo. This intrigues her and she plans a trip to the city with her teenage son to visit the exhibit and to show him the beauty and culture of the city. Her relationship with her son is struggling, and she hopes that the trip will bring them closer together. As they arrive in the city and get off the airplane, the story uses flashbacks to give further details of Gemma and Diego’s past.

Gemma and Diego are two young professionals who have an idealistic and naive view of the world. The two are deeply in love and as their relationship progresses, Gemma expresses her desire to become a mother to Diego. Unfortunately, they struggle to have a child together, and shortly after this discouraging discovery they are both thrust into the middle of a dangerous conflict as civil war breaks out across Bosnia. The film explores how this tragic event affected their relationship, the people around them, and even the growth of Gemma’s son. Castellitto is careful to ensure that the civil war doesn’t overshadow the story that he is trying to tell. He maintains a good balance between the events of the war and the development of the characters.

While the story, based on Margaret Mazzantini’s best-selling novel of the same name, uses a concept that many authors and directors have used before, the performance by the actors is what brings this film to life. Penélope Cruz and Emile Hirsch deliver stunning performances that make the film exciting to watch. In a film like this where the focus is on the characters, it’s absolutely crucial that the performers are able to carry the story and keep it fascinating and alluring. This is the second time that Castellitto and Cruz have worked together on a film and Cruz delivers a strong performance like usual.

Sergio Castellitto, who is married to Mazzantini, also helps make this movie great. His masterful ability to use flashbacks never disrupts the flow of the film. Instead, it works to flawlessly blend together the story of Gemma and Diego, the war in Bosnia, and the coming-of-age of Gemma’s son while maintaining a balance and never letting a particular arc overshadow the theme. Castellitto started as an actor in 1983 and won numerous awards for his performances.Twice Born is the Italian director’s third film that he has worked on. His last film, “Don’t Move,” was also based on a novel written by his wife Mazzantini and also starred Penélope Cruz.

Primarily filmed in Italy, the visual effects are quite nice and add to the captivating effect that this movie has. Gianfilippo Corticelli was in charge of cinematography and his great work is evident throughout the film. While this film deals with the tragedy of war, heartbreak, and loss, some of the scenes will bring a smile to your face due to the stunning beauty. Corticelli does a wonderful job bringing the story to life and helps contribute to its powerful, heartfelt effect.

The music selection, courtesy of Eduardo Cruz, is slightly unorthodox, but is actually a strength of the film. It works extremely well with the scenes and never feels out of place. Some of the musical choices include Bruce Springsteen and Nirvana.

Clocking in at just over two hours, Twice Born doesn’t rush the story that it’s telling. Castellitto works very hard to create a visual representation of the best-selling novel by Mazzantini. He adds his personal touch to make the movie unique, and the visual effects and sound help bring the story to life in a different way than the novel. The high-quality actors he recruited and the chemistry between them makesTwice Born an emotional film that will capture your attention from beginning to end.

Review © 2014 Christian Faith-Based Community, Inc. All Rights reserved.

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Movie Review: The Hunger Games – Catching Fire

Reviewed by Constance Bourg

Millions of fans have been waiting for more than eight months for the second installment of the popular book series The Hunger Games to appear on the big screen. The big question is of course: is part two as good as part one? The answer is mostly “yes”, but also a little bit “no.”

It takes guts to make a sequel of a successful movie like The Hunger Games. In part one director Gary Ross managed to bring the complex world of Panem to life in a very convincing way. Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence expanded on his predecessor’s work and, above all, added depth to all of the characters. He was helped by screenwriters Simon Beaufoy, writer of Slumdog Millionaire, and Michael deBruyn, writer of Little Miss Sunshine.

In case you haven’t read The Hunger Games or seen the first movie, it is helpful to know that Katniss Everdeen won the 74th Hunger Games in part one. The Hunger Games is a bloody game in which teens are made to slaughter each other until just one remains. In what is an extraordinary exception, Katniss won together with her fellow District 12 buddy Peeta, a boy who has been infatuated with her for many years. Their blossoming romance, which Katniss faked to increase her chances of survival, proved popular with the wealthy inhabitants of the Capitol, who were following the Hunger Games on television. Katniss and Peeta became crowd favorites.

In part two, the two reluctant victors are taken on a victory tour through the districts. The fact that the two winners are both from a poor district creates a lot of anxiety and social unrest. Many see Katniss as a symbol of rebellion against oppression. The dictatorial President Snow wants to get rid of her, so he decides with the Gamemakers that all recent Hunger Games winners must take part in an especially dangerous and deadly game.

The Hunger Games is known for addressing themes, such as celebrity culture, rich versus poor, the game of politics, and of course love. So, how you will rate the movie depends on your personal taste. If you like to see a lot of background information about the districts, this movie might not be for you. You won’t find much history on the screen. There is no mention or explanation of the various backgrounds of characters, like coach Haymitch, Peeta, or President Snow. Fortunately, there is still plenty left to enjoy. The new characters are very well cast, especially Jena Malone as Johanna Mason and Sam Claflin as Finnick. Jennifer Lawrence is still convincing as Katniss, and Josh Hutcherson is an even nicer Peeta than in part one. In this movie you get the feeling that you really get to know the characters so much better.

This film deserves a score of eight out of ten. The main appeal is that the characters are much more real than in the first movie. The main drawback is that fans of the books will miss the history that makes the story matter.

Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Toby Jones, Woody Harrelson, Jena Malone, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amanda Plummer, Lynn Cohen, Patrick St. Esprit, Meta Golding, Bruno Gunn, Alan Ritchson, E. Roger Mitchell, Maria Howell, Stephanie Leigh Schlund, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright

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Movie Review: Disney’s “Bears”

(Reviewed by Taylor Roberts)

Disneynature has come a long way since it was first launched as a division of Walt Disney Studios back in 2007. The first documentary released under the emblem–aptly titled Earth–rehashed old footage taken from the BBC series Planet Earth and overlaid new narration by James Earl Jones. Every year or two since 2008, the studio has released a new original feature-length nature documentary in theaters to coincide with Earth Day. This year’s movie, titled Bears, opened around the country on April 18th and was almost universally lauded as the best Disneynature film to date.

Bears follows a year in the life of a mother grizzly bear named Skye as she tries to protect her two newborn cubs (Scout and Amber) in the wilds of Alaska. Beginning at the end of winter as the snow begins to melt and the bears emerge from hibernation, the film traces the family’s journey down from the mountains to the coast–where Skye needs to be able to eat hundreds of pounds of salmon throughout the summer if she wants her babies to survive the next winter. It quickly becomes clear, however, that life isn’t easy for a bear with cubs, and Skye has to defend her babies from threats that include an avalanche, two imposing male bears, and a hungry wolf.

A family film at heart, this documentary never ventures into territory that is too scary for kids. Even though it’s pointed out early on in the movie that only about 50 percent of bear cubs survive their first year, you can be pretty confident that the odds will be a little better for Scout and Amber. Still, in spite of being a little formulaic, the movie never becomes saccharine, and it relies on the beauty of its nature photography to carry the story.

As in most nature documentaries, the direction, editing, and narration truly have the ability to make or break the film, and Bears profits from the talents of directors Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey (who previously teamed up on the Disneynature feature African Cats). The narration provided by actor John C. Reilly is excellent and provides the perfect mixture of playful one-liners and educational information. The movie never talks down to its audience, but kids and adults alike will enjoy Reilly’s charm.

It becomes easy to take for granted just how difficult it is to film a nature documentary in a wild environment like Alaska–especially because all the shots in this film are so seamless and make viewers feel like we are truly along for the journey. The end credits, however, break the fourth wall via a “making of” featurette that shows the lengths filmmakers went to while filming Bears. From sweeping helicopters trolling overhead to cameramen draped in camouflage and standing mere feet from these massive creatures, this set of clips allows audiences to truly appreciate how difficult this movie was to make.

On the whole, Bears is a sweet movie that is fun for the whole family to watch. It’s admirable both because of its filmmaking achievements and because of the story it tells–that of a mother bear who will do anything to protect her cubs. Animal-lovers of all ages will be entranced.

Review © 2014 Christian Faith-Based Community, Inc. All Rights reserved.


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Movie Review: Noah

A quick review of the movie “Noah”. We encourage you to weigh in with your thoughts, and post your comments and reviews of this movie below.


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Movie Review: The Fantastic Mr. Fox

When Ronald Dahl wrote The Fantastic Mr. Fox, chances are that he never guessed just how famous his story would become or how popular the accompanying movie would be. Ronald Dahl, whose other works include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda, awes audiences in this sweet, family-friendly film. Whether you have kindergartners or teenagers, this film has something for everyone to enjoy.


If you aren’t familiar with the story, the premise of the movie is simple. Mr. Fox wants adventure. Before Mr. Fox and his wife started a family, the two were chicken thieves. Mr. Fox swore to give up his life of crime, but finds that he is bored with his office job as a journalist. Mrs. Fox agrees to move to a new place in order to try to make Mr. Fox happy, but he uses their new proximity to local chicken farms to start up his thieving ways. Throughout the story, Mr. Fox loses his tail and his nephew is kidnapped, but Mrs. Fox stays by his side the entire time.


Keep in mind that while this movie is rated PG, it does have some content that could overwhelming to younger children. Instead of swear words, Mr. Fox and his friends say “cuss” throughout the film. There is also some smoking and brief violence, so younger kids will want their parents close. The farmers are the antagonists in this film and use guns throughout the movie to try to kill the foxes and other animals.


Despite the brief aggression in the film, there are some wonderful lessons that you’ll walk away with. Mrs. Fox never abandons her family, despite her husband’s broken promise to her. Mr. Fox’s nephew stands up to a bully when another kid from school picks on his cousin. Mr. Fox also is willing to sacrifice himself to save his friends and neighbors, reminding viewers that loyalty truly is important.


Overall, families will enjoy this film. There are jokes, music, and songs throughout the film, as well as one-liners that will have you in stitches. This movie is perfect for a family movie night or when you’re going on a road trip and want something interesting to watch during the drive.

Review © 2014 Christian Faith-Based Community, Inc. All Rights reserved.

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