HYTeenBeat: Swing Away, A Review

Sorry for the long delay in blogging! Hope everyone is doing well. 

Today’s post is about the feature film Swing Away, directed by Michael A. Nickles (written/produced by Paul R. LingasJulia Wall, and George E. Stephanopoulos), which I was able to see a special screening of at the 10th Annual NYC Greek Film Festival at the NYIT Auditorium in October.

For those who don’t already know, the NYC GFF is a really fantastic event that comes to New York every Fall; you get to meet and speak with directors and producers from all over Greece and the US whose work is being featured. Recommending you see when the 2017 NYC GFF comes around so you can see why I love it.

Getting back to the film, Swing Away captures a few things that Greek’s are typically known for (including baking, futbol, the cafe NEO, and the classic meltdown). The theme is resilience, and the moral of the story is that the strength to rebuild and come out of a bad situation stronger is found in simple things like going home, talking with friends, taking on a new project, or just taking the time to look at something from a difference perspective. Take time to step back… relax… rethink… rebuild. It’s a simple process that we often forget because we’re too trapped in one moment or problem or too busy stressing about what other people think or say.  

There’s also a big emphasis on reaching out and helping others. In the movie, Zoe (not me, Shannon Elizabeth, who plays the golfer and hero of the story) is trying to hide out and recover from a big failing moment when she meets young Stella (Viktoria Miller), who is determined to be an amazing golfer regardless of how impossible it seems based on her location and financial circumstances. Zoe becomes a major mentor to Stella and helps save the town’s major resource — a golf course — from an American developer resembling he-who-must-not-be-named (no, not a Harry Potter reference). 

It’s a great movie that does have a few romantic and comic twists to it and I strongly recommend it to you. In the current movie-rating system I’d call it G (Giagia approved) or the standard PG. 

The one question I have about the movie is WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE URN? No spoilers, but perhaps there’s a sequel in the making? I might have to ask Mr. Stephanolpoulos next Saturday at the Greek Legacies conference at the Alfred Lerner Cinema.



HYTeenBeat: Leap! A Review

As you can guess, I like movies about kids who are strong enough to build their way from nothing and live their dreams. The animated feature film LEAP! with the hit song “You Know It’s About You” (Magical Thinker ft. Stephen Wrabel) and music by Demi Levato, etc. was pretty great. 

The movie, written and directed by Eric Summer, Eric Warin and Laurent Zeitoun, focuses on a young girl, Felici (Elle Fanning) who has skill but is held to very low standards by society — first seen through very weak mentors, then later by financially privileged people — and taught that she is nothing and that her dreams are not worth pursuing.  She finds a good mentor in former-prima ballerina Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen!) and in the dance master, Louis Mérante (Terrence Scammell), who are both harsh-but-fair judges of her abilities, and the tides to change. Her true talent gets to shine through, but not without a lot of hard work and support. There’s a minor romantic twist or two, but that line in the movie is very weak; the focus is clearly on Felici’s path to the stage and spotlight.

The animation is well done and the level of humor is subtle at times but always on point (ahahaha). There are a few unfortunate gaps in the plot (like the unresolved emphasis on the music box or the anomaly of hipster shorts back in the age of an incomplete Eiffel Tower), and the antagonist’s mother is a bit much, but all in all it’s a nice feel-good movie with the aim of encouraging young people to live their dreams and not give up no matter who says otherwise. 

No spoilers! See the film for yourself if you get the chance. 


Transition & Identity

College students face many personal and professional challenges, and each one ushers in a new phase in the development of one’s personal, cultural and professional identity. Want to be a Fabulous Freshman? Clich the following link to read this month’s advisory article by our HYTeenBeat author Anthony MichaelidesTransition & Identity