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More Portland 2014 90-Second Newberys: Holes, Frankweiler, and Sarah Plain and Tall

February 26, 2014

The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is coming to the Pacific Northwest this weekend! We’re doing a screening in Portland on Sunday, March 2 with co-host Amber Keyser, and in Tacoma on Saturday, March 1 with a mystery co-host. Check out the events page for details on places, times, and reservations. All screenings free.

In honor of the upcoming 90-Second Newbery in Portland this Sunday, I’d like to share a few more standout movies I’ve received from there (I’ll do a similar post for Tacoma later this week).

For instance, check out Kieran’s great adaptation of Louis Sachar’s 1999 Medal winner Holes, above! There’s a lot to like here, and one thing I particularly appreciated, although it seems small, is how everything was clearly explained at the beginning. So often these short movies are so abbreviated and chaotic it’s hard to tell what’s going on. But I was able to follow everything quite clearly. That’s hard to pull off!

And Kieran pulled it off with style! I especially liked the two great fight scenes: when they attack Mr. Sir in order to escape, and the lizard attack. Everyone was acting with such confidence and humor. It was ingenious to tilt the camera for the mountain-climbing scene, and it made it all the more funny when they said the line “Oh so we’re about halfway there? oh look, we’re there.” And I love how Stanley’s natural first reaction, upon finding lots of money, is to fling it away into the wind as quickly as possible. The bit at the end where they’re “making it rain” by fluttering down the dollar bills was quite amusing. Well done, Kieran and friends!

The next selection from Portland is by the Gresham Teen Council, a group of 15 middle- and high-school students who volunteer at the Gresham library. They adapted E.L. Konigsburg’s 1968 Medal winner From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler:

Very entertaining! I especially enjoyed all the careful little touches and details, like how at the beginning, Claudia is holding the book of the very story they’re experiencing. Postmodern! The music was effective and well-chosen. The eating-the-gum-out-of-the-fountain was funny and gross. The script zipped quite effectively and amusingly through the story. Solid work!

And finally from Portland, Claire, Dalya, Kayra and Will return to the 90-Second Newbery, after their triumph last year, with a new adaptation of Patricia MacLachlan’s 1986 Medal winner Sarah, Plain and Tall:

Looks great! Again, a nice tight script that hits all the necessary plot points with swiftness and verve. It’s harder than it looks! The singing at the beginning was an engaging way to introduce the movie, and the “beard” that the Dad was wearing at the start was pretty awesome too (and the prememptory way Pa says “I didn’t like it much anyway, it itched” after he shaves it off had just the right gruff bashfulness). I liked how the “beach” scene was shot in the bathroom, too. Resourceful! Overall, a great job (And of course I laughed at the WHAT’S THIS, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE?! tag at the end, followed by a pratfall . . . )

I’ll proudly screen these movies, and many other spectacular entries, at the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival in Portland this Sunday, March 2, from 3-5 pm at the Da Vinci Arts Middle School. Admission is free, but I encourage you to reserve your seat anyway. See you there!

Next post: Tacoma . . .