Here at Small World Cinema we are keen to share our favourite films with you. Most of these you can watch at home (try the various online platforms like Apple TV, Amazon and Netflix), and some can only be seen at our events or upcoming festivals. The films listed below are a taster, recommended and reviewed by our young, in-house film critics.
Leo is a young boy diagnosed with a serious illness and is admitted to hospital at the start of the film. But Leo has a secret: he can leave his body and fly across the city unseen. Whilst in hospital he meets injured police officer Alex, and when New York City gets hacked by an unknown criminal named “the face”, they join forces and use Leo’s power to try and save the city from being destroyed.
I love this film for its style of animation and the exciting plot; it is action packed and really tense at times. Although it incorporates something as serious as cancer it was never overtly sad and, like its predecessor ‘A Cat in Paris, it showed that even if you have some kind of impediment, you can still be the hero of the story.
Set in the mid 1600s, WOLFWALKERS follows the story of young Robyn, the daughter of the city’s wolf hunter. In the beginning her desire to hunt and kill wolves is what gets her in trouble, and she ends up lost in the forest, where she meets young Mebh, (pronounced Maeve) who is a wolf walker, a magical creature who turns into a wolf at night. As Robyn finds herself pulled into this magical world, she risks becoming the very thing her father is tasked to destroy.
Although it is aimed at children, the film is not childish at all and it gets quite dark at times. The beautiful animation fits the fairytale style of the film and together with the amazing music it really transports the viewer to a mythical time where humans and nature were living side by side. This was my favourite film at the Oscars last year and I was sad it didn't win.
SON OF RAMBOW
SON OF RAMBOW is a brilliant coming of age film from 2007 about two boys who escape their dysfunctional families through their shared love of film.
It tells the story of shy William who lives in a strict evangelical household, which contrasts highly with that of rebellious Lee. William has never even been allowed to watch television, so when Lee shows him the film ‘Rambo’ he has some kind of spiritual awakening. The two boys become unlikely friends and decide to make their own action film. I had actually never heard of the film Rambo so I felt I missed a bit of information, but I did really enjoy the film. The characters were very unique but believable and I especially liked Lee, played by a young Will Poulter.
A CAT IN PARIS
I chose this as my first film review because it's an adventure and crime movie which is my favourite genre. The animation is really beautiful and atmospheric, probably because it is hand-drawn and not digital like so many films. The story is about a girl, Zoé, who has stopped speaking ever since her dad died. Her cat, Dino leads a double-life as a burglar's cat (cat-burglar, see?) and brings her presents to cheer her up. When following Dino one evening she becomes involved in a complicated crime that is taking place across the city which leads her to face the vicious criminal who killed her father. This film is rated PG and can be watched with the whole family.
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
This is an absolutely hilarious film about a troubled teen named Ricky who has just come out of foster care and is placed with a nice couple called Bella and Hector who live in the New Zealand 'bush'. I won't spoil the plot but sudden events mean that Hector and Ricky go on the run from social services and hide in the wilderness. They are constantly bickering and the language can be a bit rude but it is also very funny and ultimately heartwarming. This film is rated 12 although I watched it when I was 10.
FANTASTIC MR FOX
This is director Wes Anderson's first animation and it might even be better than the book by Roald Dahl. The film has so many jokes and one-liners that you can watch it over and over again and discover something new every time. You probably know the story already about the clever fox who steals from his grumpy neighbours Boggis, Bunce and Bean but Wes Anderson adds new characters and storylines which make the story much more human and complex. The moral of the story comes when Mr Fox encounters a wolf, and has to face his phobia for this wild animal. In the end he has to accept his savage side and use it to save his family and friends. The soundtrack is awesome too.
THE KID BY CHARLIE CHAPLIN
If you have never watched a silent movie I recommend you watch this one. It is so good that you completely forget that there is no dialogue in it. Charlie Chaplin plays a tramp who finds an abandoned baby and cares for him as if it were his son. Fast forward five years and the boy and his stepfather are living happily together. But when a doctor finds out about the unofficial adoption, he tries to send the boy to an orphanage. In true Chaplin style there are many slapstick moments that are very funny and despite some tense and emotional scenes the film is upbeat and there is never a dull moment. Watch this film with your grandparents!
I watched this film recently and really enjoyed it because it is live action and fast paced and the main character is great. Binti is a girl from Congo who lives with her dad as illegal immigrants in Antwerp, Belgium. Life is hard when you don't have papers but Binti has big dreams of being a vlogger and when she meets Elias, a boy who is trying to save the Okapi's from extinction she sees an opportunity to help each other. But Elias doesn't realise that Binti is planning a crazy matchmaking scheme between both their parents. Watch this film with your siblings and your friends here. Suitable for 8+
Our list wouldn't be complete without a Studio Ghibli film. Even though there are many other Ghibli films that I like, I have chosen Ponyo because it is such a feel good movie and I have not met anyone who doesn't like it. Ponyo is a little fish who falls in love with a human boy, Sosuke, who lives with his mum in a lighthouse. One day Ponyo escapes her father's protective bubble and swims towards the shore where she gets stuck in a jam jar. Sosuke frees her but in the process he cuts his finger. Ponyo licks his finger to heal the cut but by tasting blood she develops into a human girl. The natural world goes mad and, before her father can rescue her, the moon descends and the oceans rise with grave consequences for humanity. The only way to restore balance is for Sosuke to prove his love for Ponyo. You can watch this film (and lots of other Studio Ghibli films) on Netflix.
THE PRINCESS BRIDE
This is an old classic that is still really good. I did turn on the subtitles because they talk so fast and it is easy to miss the jokes. The Princess Bride is a film within a film (if you know what I mean). The first film is about a young boy whose granddad is reading him a story whilst ill in bed : 'The Princess Bride'. He hates anything soppy so the film sometimes comes to a halt when he orders his granddad to skip the kissing bits which is funny. The main story is a modern fairytale about a young woman who refuses to marry an evil prince because she is longing for her one true love. There are many great characters and I especially like the sword fighter Inigo Montaya who keeps saying: "My name is Inigo Montoya, you've killed my father, prepare to die". Watch this film with your parents. You can find it on Amazon.