I think this is a new genre that they're all sort of working their way through it and haven't got all the kinks worked out yet but it's a genre that works for me.
The film never slows down or bores, plunging from one harrowing sequence to the next.
The film is about a ten year old girl in Greenwich Village in New York City named Max. Her parents are played by Ralph Maachio and Janeane Garofalo. They're working class people. Her father is a building superintendent and the mother is a chef at a restaurant. Her grandmother was played by Academy Award winner, Olympia Dukakis who rarely gets to play Greek-American roles. Max gets accepted into a private school uptown where she tries to fit in. The film has a lesson about life through the game of chess. F. Murray Abraham played the unlikely older man who helps Max learn the game and rules about life. The film looks like it was shot entirely on location in New York City.
My 4 year old son loved this movie so much, he wanted to learn how to play chess because of it! It captured his attention, as it was the first full length movie that held his attention from beginning to end. He now plays chess...at four! In addition, the way the main character carried herself and responded to opposition, meanness and being different was a good example for my son to see. The story was heart-warming, innocent and fun. It's a wonderful family movie. Disappointed to see IMDb relegate the main character to the 19th spot on their listing of characters (even after the bully of the movie). Shame on you. You should revise that IMDb. Makenna Ballard did a wonderful job and deserves the credit for her work. We loved this movie!
We found this nice small movie on Netflix streaming. It is set and filmed in Manhattan, it centers on a very bright and grounded 10-yr- old girl named Max. During the first 15 minutes or so my wife wondered out loud if this is a good movie, setting the stage for everything else took a bit of time. But once it got going there was never a dull moment. Well-written and well-acted, it is very entertaining and has a great message about living the life you are in and not worrying too much about what happens after. Or 5 Billion years into the future when the Sun is supposed to destroy the Earth.The star is newcomer Makenna Ballard as Max Kuftinec. Her acting style and delivery of lines reminded me of a miniature Shailene Woodley. Her dad is the building superintendent and her mom is a chef at a nearby restaurant. She also has a very cute younger sister. She is very bright and her parents want her to be challenged so they make arrangements for her to enter a new, more prestigious school. It is more expensive than her public school and the parents have to make sacrifices.The chess theme comes in when a teacher suggests that since Max is a Math whiz she would probably be good at chess, but Max knows essentially nothing about it and obviously can't play. But one day walking home from school she notices the chess players in the public square and enters into a deal for one of them to teach her.Played by F. Murray Abraham, his method is unique. Instead of simply telling Max how to play the game he has her go into the city and seek clues. His point is the game isn't just played on a board, it is a metaphor for the city and you have to use chess strategy the same way you use strategy to get around the city.This is a very satisfying movie and the young actress that plays Max is really good in this role.
This movie is such a delight. I love playing this "little game"! I also play the Chinese version (not checkers) of this "little game" as well.Makenna Ballard played her character as though she has been living in front of the camera. I adore all of the relationships between her and her surrounding characters, especially irresistible with YaYa (Olympia Dukakis).A game taught in such a way puts someone in a different state of mind, rather than focusing on what is going on in this wonderful story of growing up and dealing with "inevitable change", one might start to drift off thinking and reflecting upon his/her own experiences in life.The other relationship, with the teacher, Norman (F. Murray Abraham) who teaches us about being curious. Though I must say that he drives me impatient. But then, I think of swimming. What is to be able to swim? Is it simply "by constantly moving in any sort of motion, one would surely be able to stay afloat, and eventually get across to the other side"? One stroke at a time... one breath at a time.Like R B mentioned, the relationships at school and at home are all rather familiar, however some of the fantasies have a tendency to take away a certain intellect.To put readers in further curiosity, and perhaps even confusion, here's a metaphor for you: "the unforgettable flight of stairs".I recommend this movie for most of the messages to both children and adults.