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Kit Kittredge


Overstreet
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I just received a promo from Grace Hill Media about the upcoming film Kit Kittredge: An American Girl.

This was a curious invitation. Usually, marketers seek to engage me with exciting information about the movie itself. Not this one.

I just wanted to let you know I have a potential interview opportunity for you.

Brieanne Jansen, an eleven-year old devoted Christian, is debuting in this summer’s FANTASTIC family film KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL (Rated-G) starring Abigail Breslin. Brieanne hopes to use her newfound spotlight to spread God’s word; she is willing to talk openly about her faith and how she enacts it in her everyday life.

Attached please find two letters from Brieanne that illustrate just how devoted she is to spreading God’s word – she is even starting a major food drive in her community.

For more details about KIT KITTREDGE, http://www.kitkittredge.com/, or to set-up a possible interview with Brieanne, please give me a shout.

Remember, KIT KITTREDGE opens nationwide July 2 and in select markets June 20.

I look forward to speaking with you soon!

So, I guess the idea is that if we spread the news about this movie, then little Brieanne Jansen will have more chance to spread God's word.

Here's the letter:

A Word from Brieanne Jansen on Faith

My faith in God has brought me far in this world.

All my life, I have never stopped trusting Him – even when I was held hostage in summer of 2001.

Since then, I have learned to put all my faith in Him, and to completely surrender to His ways – even when I don’t know why He brings me to some places.

Trusting God led me to audition for Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. Wanting to audition was very out of character for me at the time. I believe that God used this opportunity to not only bless me but to help me grow as a person.

My mom asked me if I would like being interviewed about my faith – I would be more than happy to be interviewed, because God is the one that is leading my life, and I wish that everyone knew Him.

My favorite book is the Bible, and my favorite book in the Bible is Psalms. There is m much to be told in those verses.

I want to serve God for the rest of my life – as He is the on who leads me.

I will do my best to be faithful and to always trust him.

I put my life in His hands when I was 7 – my first year at my church’s Sports Camp.

Since then, I have learned, and am still learning, more of His ways. I don’t think I will ever be “finished” learning about Him, but when I get to Heaven, I’ll be sure to ask Him a lot of questions.

God has blessed me with more than I could have ever asked for; a loving family, fantastic friends, the opportunity to be in the Kit Movie, and a voice I can use to sing praise to Him.

One of my favorite verses of all time is “With God All Things Are Possible” – Mark 10:7.

I asked my Mom to make a copy of the video from this Sunday. I had the opportunity, for the very first time to sing a solo in church. Maybe you would like to see it – I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed singing!

Blessings,

Brieanne

So, by "All my life, I have never stopped trusting Him" she must mean from when she was 7, four years ago, to the present. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding.

Aw, it's just my avatar... making me feel like a grouchy old codger who picks on 11-year-olds...

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Yeah, you're just getting grouchy.

I just met Brieanne at the junket today, in the same panel with three other regular ole girls who were selected to appear in speaking roles in the film. I asked the four girls, essentially, "Why 'American Girls'?" And the response was, essentially, "It's not Barbie or Bratz."

The movie's actually pretty decent, for a live-action family film, and I'm certainly up for anything that's not Barbie or Bratz.

Julia Ormond talked about her work with FilmAid project, and Wallace Shawn talked about how funny it is to him how people see him as so funny and jolly when he's actually a very bitter and angry man. Interesting stuff.

It's an odd thing, but this crassly and openly commercial project has so many people passionately attached because of the traditional values being touted, and compassion for the poor. And they were talking about all this stuff at a junket.

btw: Grace Hill has recently had a complete turnover in office staff, and G.G. hasn't really fully learned the ropes. That email went out to a different list than her previous emails about Kit Kittredge. I think she's still learning which list is which, and meant that email as a follow-up to earlier ones...

Edited by Greg Wright

Greg Wright

Managing Editor, Past the Popcorn

Consulting Editor, Hollywood Jesus

Leader of the Uruk-Howdy, Orcs of the West

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So...does this mean that you guys (in the sense of "guys") are not familiar with the gigantic American Girl marketing empire? It starts with one doll, and rapidly expands to many more, plus books, accessories, etc. Now owned by Mattel, just like Barbie. Wikipedia says

The pricing of the American Girl products has been a consistent issue. Dolls themselves cost $90 American dollars, and most outfits cost around $26, with furniture sometimes costing over $100. However, the prices have held steady with minimal increases over the company's 20+ year history.

Yes, it's wholesome, but at a ridiculous price--including the dumbed-down books. I find the whole thing cringeworthy. If I had daughters, they'd read Caddie Woodlawn and L.M. Montgomery, and either make their own dolls out of bark, or learn how to make their own Barbie clothes. I'm only sort of kidding.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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Wow.

Slate's Ed Gonzalez:

If it wanted to, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl could get away with childishness, told as it is from the point of a view of a young girl and adapted from a popular series of children's books. But the film doesn't have to stoop so low, delivering insight into the effects of the Great Depression with more thoughtfulness and sophistication than pabulum like Seabiscuit and Cinderella Man. A little girl with ambitions of becoming a reporter, Kit (Abigail Breslin) lives a privileged life in Cincinnati, Ohio in the '30s until the Depression finally comes knocking at her door, forcing her father to move to Chicago to look for work and her mother to take in borders in order to avoid foreclosure on their home, and what she does to save her family and community

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I just realized this film is directed by Patricia Rozema (I've Heard the Mermaids Singing, When Night Falls..., Mansfield Park, etc.). I don't suppose Grace Hill was offering any religious media outlets the opportunity to speak to a lesbian Calvin College grad, were they? :)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Sure, they were. Rozema was part of the roundtables. But everyone was split up into assigned rooms. There was no "God Room" this time out -- thought that's not always the case.

Beth: yes, I am painfully aware of the American Girl juggernaut. What was odd was the extent to which none of the talent we interviewed saw the paradox.

Greg Wright

Managing Editor, Past the Popcorn

Consulting Editor, Hollywood Jesus

Leader of the Uruk-Howdy, Orcs of the West

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No one here but me likes Rex Reed as a critic, but I do think he's worth quoting from time to time:

Kit Kittredge begins as lightweight fare, but the scope of a colorful time and period in America

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Y'know, it's been over 20 years since I saw it, but reading these reviews (and why are they running so early? the IMDb says the film doesn't come out until July), I find myself wondering how this film would compare to The Journey of Natty Gann, in terms of its combining family-friendly entertainment with Depression-era realism.

Whoops, never mind re: the release date. I just double-checked. The IMDb's main page for the film says July 2, but if you click on "release dates" it says the film opens limited June 20.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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FWIW, Dirty Harry, the conservative Catholic who used to write the bulk of the posts at Libertas:

The best thing about Kit Kittredge: An American Girl is that Abigail Breslin is not Dakota Fanning. That may sound small and snarky, but it wasn

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I didn't see this film advertised locally, and sure enough, turns out it's a small, platform release.

The good news: It did bang-up business this weekend.:

The American Girl industry of books, clothing, et al came to the screen with Kit Kittredge and peeked industry eyebrows with its $46,800 screen average. The film's limited exposure and planned slow roll out surprised observers in light of the franchise's built-in appeal and whispering ensued that the approaching October absorption of distributor Picturehouse into big WB may have curtailed close scrutiny on the release.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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  • 2 weeks later...

No sooner does Kit Kittredge open in D.C. then Stephen Hunter sends it packing. And he's not "monkeyin' around":

The movie with this unusual pedigree is, alas, not unusual in the slightest. In fact it is so usual it deserves some kind of an award for obviousness as it telegraphs every development, traffics in stereotypes and cliches, and merrily appends 21st-century political correctness onto the 20th century's hardest and grimiest decade. The tweener girls for whom it is aimed deserve better. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

It also re-creates a lost genre. The doll movie? "Baby Doll"? "Valley of the Dolls"? "Guys and Dolls"? "Dolly Parton in Concert?" No: the rooming house movie. You know, like, "Miss Susie Slagle's." You've never heard of "Miss Susie Slagle's"? My point, exactly. That 1946 movie was: med students, boardinghouse, Baltimore, 1910, every guest a zany or a zinger. "Kit Kittredge": travelers, boardinghouse, Cincinnati, 1934, every guest a zany or a zinger including . . . a guy with a monkey!

The issue of the first part of the film is watching the Depression -- first represented by scrawny hobos slouching along the street -- erode the sanctity of the Kittredges' middle-class security. Dad (Chris O'Donnell, overmatched) loses his car dealership and can't find work; gradually the family makes the decision to take in boarders, to sell eggs, grow veggies, to somehow get through it. Dad, meanwhile, like so many others, hits the road, looking for better times and places. In what seems like 10 minutes -- wait, it is10 minutes! -- Mom (the beautiful English actress Julia Ormond, who looks like she could use Chris O'Donnell for kindling) and the kid are sharing the abode with zanies, wackos, crazies and that guy with a monkey!

For God's sake, ladies and gentlemen, can we not agree on one thing: No more guys with monkeys!

It's tough to stop quoting the review, which goes after director Patricia Rozema and the film's polished, polite view of the Depression with a vengeance.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I knew Hunter's review would hurt the movie in the D.C. market, but I had no idea it would be such a complete misfire nationally.

Kit Kittredge, sad to say for Picturehouse/NewLine, is a flat-out disaster. It did about $1.1 million on Wednesday in 1700 theatres, averaging $600 a theatre. And it $900,000 on Thursday for a $500 per theatre average. Complete wipe-out.

I don't remember a similar case of movie doing such bang-up numbers in limited release, then completely collapsing upon its national rollout. I'm not sure there are strict parallels to other films -- this was an odd choice as a limited-release film to begin with -- but man, what a tank.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Saw it tonight.

Liked the opening bits; was moved by the father-daughter relationship in a way that I might not have been just a couple years ago.

Found the relentless romanticization of hobo life increasingly annoying, especially when the film began to suggest that

ALL the crimes in the various cities had been committed not only by non-hobos, but by a single man (or, rather, by two men and their accomplice)

. I mean, c'mon. The whitewashing here was vaguely reminiscent of how Obama's grandmother was scared off once by an aggressive panhandler, and then Obama, in his now-discredited "race speech", ignored the panhandling and the aggression and said his grandmother had expressed her "fear of black men who passed by her on the street". Really? It's all just prejudice? There's nothing that anyone should actually be concerned about here?

Can there be diamonds in the rough, and should children's films depict them? Sure, of course, bring 'em on. But you kind of need "the rough" to make that point. And if you're saying "the rough" doesn't exist in the first place, then you're lying.

For that matter, I'd be happy to entertain a story that went the Les Miserables route and generated sympathy for someone breaking a window pane to steal bread for himself and his family, etc., etc. But no, even THAT would be too complicated for this film (even if it DOES feature one or two token lines of dialogue to the effect that Robin Hood may have been doing a "good" thing by robbing the rich and giving to the poor).

Didn't know quite what to make of the

gender-bending

; a part of me got a kick out of that, another part of me thought back to how the director had reportedly added

quasi-lesbian elements

to Mansfield Park that were not in Jane Austen's original novel.

Speaking of possible anachronistic elements, did people really say things like "I'm just playing" back in 1934? (As opposed to, "I'm just kidding", or, "I'm just playing with you", etc.) I honestly don't know the answer to this, but the film got me curious.

I didn't think this was a BAD film by any stretch. It's enjoyable enough, in a light, frilly way, and at times it works on a deeper psychological level, too, especially where the nature of honour and shame are concerned, as felt by adults AND by children. I wouldn't complain if my children saw it. But I WOULD feel a need to let them know that the film is a fantasy and has little connection to the real world, its depiction of foreclosures etc. notwithstanding.

BTW, did Ed Gonzalez really use the word "borders" to mean "boarders", and did he really write "one in the same" instead of "one and the same", all in the same sentence? And in a review praising a film for its supposed "profound insight" and lack of "childishness"? Now that's funny. I bet Kit Kittredge, herself a young writer, would never have made those errors. ;)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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We saw this film with a theatre half full of little girls. When the theater was over their little hands clapped appropriately but didn't seem that excited. I share their view. The author of this book removed much of reality in order to "educate" her "American Girls." That makes for poor cinema - and even 10 year-olds recognize that.

In my review I state in part:

The

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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