Archive for the ‘Movie Recommendation’ Category

Six Million Paper Clips

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Have you come across an award-winning documentary, Paper Clips, which documents the Paper Clips Project begun by an eighth grade class studying the Holocaust in rural Tennessee?  To better understand the magnitude of 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust, the students decided to collect paper clips after discovering that Norwegians wore a paper clip on their lapels in silent protest to the Nazi occupation of their country.

Begun in 1998, the Paper Clip Project gained traction when German journalists covering the White House began to write about it in German newspapers.  I remember seeing mention of this project on the nightly news.  The earnestness of the students and the poignancy of a single, mundane paper clip representing one life lost brought tears to my eyes.  Jews from all over the world began to send letters with photos of family members lost in the Holocaust.  Enclosed were one or more paper clips.  One person in Germany sent a 40’s era leather suitcase with mementoes of lives lost.  Soon millions of paper clips arrived at the school. 

As the Project grew, the German journalists felt that it would be fitting to find a boxcar in Germany, one of the actual boxcars that transported Jews to the camps.  This boxcar would be a museum housing the paper clips, letters and photographs sent by millions round the world.  At the inauguration of the museum, Holocaust survivors came to the ceremony.  As you watch the film, be warned that you will cry when the survivors speak of their heartfelt gratitude to the students.

Paper Clips is a beautiful, moving, poignant documentary.  Six million is too large for our minds to grasp. When represented by millions of ordinary paper clips, we comprehend the enormity of this number.  If you have children in middle school or high school, be sure to have them see this film.

Waiting for Superman

Saturday, October 9th, 2010
Child in Waiting for Superman

Child in Waiting for Superman

Have you seen Waiting for Superman, a documentary on the lamentable state of our public education system?  This documentary has ignited a debate in the editorial pages of our newspapers. This week Rupert Murdoch of The Wall Street Journal praised the film and called for reform in our public education.

geoffrey-canada7If you watch the news, you may have seen Davis Guggenheim, the director, discuss this documentary or Geoffrey Canada, CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, one of the heroes of this film. In the late ‘90’s, Geoffrey Canada proved that children from the most blighted and drug-infested areas of Harlem could not only succeed in his charter school but go on to graduate from college.  So remarkable and inspirational is his story that 60 Minutes interviewed him, so too have Charlie Rose and Oprah.

Stop to consider the social consequences of high schools whose drop-out rate is 60 per cent.  These high schools in our inner-cities are nothing but factories for failure.  It is time for education reform in our country.  It is time for the teachers union to weed out ineffective teachers and improve their ranks.  Bad teachers make it difficult for the good teachers to their job as they must spend so much time  doing remedial work with students taught by these teachers.


Parents must demand accountability from the schools.  At the same time, they must provide an environment at home which fosters learning.  As I’ve said time and time again, a parent is a child’s first and primary teacher.  Make sure homework gets done,  Monitor television viewing.  There should be NO tv in a child’s bedroom.  The distraction is too great.  Teachers must be accountable but so must parents.


I urge you to see this film and join in the debate.





Movie Recommendation: Precious, A Story of Triumph

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Because of its gritty subject matter, I initially resisted seeing Precious.  As you no doubt know by now Precious is the story of an illiterate African-American teen-ager, abused physically and mentally by her own mother and sexually by her father. 

Pregnant with her second child at sixteen, Precious is sent to an alternative high school  where she is placed in a small class of troubled young teen-age girls. Precious is saved  from a life of  despair and alienation by a caring teacher who asks Precious and the other students to keep a journal, each day writing their thoughts, feelings and events in their lives.  In a very real sense, the class is group therapy.   “I’m gonna break through or someone’s gonna break through to me,” Precious says early in the film.  The class is the catalyst for her breakthrough/transformation.

By writing her life,  Precious, in fact, “rights” her life.  She not only learns to read and write but creates a network of friends that love and support her.  After giving birth to a son and reunited with her daughter, she  now has her own family.  While working on a  GED, she and her children live in a half-way house.  Precious’ story  is a story of triumph. 

How many illiterate children are there like Precious?  If they are illiterate, they are likely to be innumerate as well.  Illiterate/innumerate teen-agers drop out of school.  They take low paying jobs.  They populate our prisons. The consequences to society are great.

 We need alternative high schools especially for pregnant teen-agers.  At risk teen-agers not only have children when very young but have more children, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and despair. 

This is a breakthrough film.  Mo’Nique is fearless in her depiction of the abusive mother.  She says she accepted the role to raise awareness of sexual abuse.  A victim of sexual abuse herself, she said playing this role was therapeutic.  Gabourey Sidibe inhabits Precious to such a degree that you feel as though you’re watching a documentary rather than a film.  Extraordinary performances by both!