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Fading Gigolo
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some sexual content, language and brief nudity
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

Philomena
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references
Release Date:
November 22, 2013

Transcendence
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

The Nut Job
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Release Date:
January 17, 2014

Bears
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

Grudge Match
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language
Release Date:
December 25, 2013

A Dramatic Commercial for TNT

posted by Nell Minow

I love this commercial for TNT!

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Movie Stingers: Scenes After the Credits

posted by Nell Minow
YouTube Preview Image

Ferris Bueller had one.  Marvel superhero movies sometimes have two.  When did it become a thing to have a scene after the credits (sometimes called a stinger)?

New York Magazine’s Vulture column has the history of these extended post-credit scenes, starting with the original “Oceans 11″ (the one with the rat pack) and James Bond films’ teasers for the next chapter.

Today, post-credits scenes show up in both superhero and non-superhero movies (like Anchorman 2 and Now You See Me). The only difference now is that each frame is meticulously analyzed and studied after the fact. In fact, the post-credits practice has become so accepted that there are now two apps called MovieStinger and Anything After, which are dedicated to tracking these moments in new movies.

The website AfterCredits is also a good resource with what looks like a definitive list.  What’s your favorite post-credit scene?  I’m going with the shwarma.

Fading Gigolo

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for some sexual content, language and brief nudity
Movie Release Date:April 19, 2014

John Turturro wrote, directed, and stars in “Fading Gigolo,” a bittersweet meditation on the ways we seek and hide from intimacy, sometimes at the same time.

Turturro plays Fioravante, a florist who works part-time for Murray (Woody Allen), the third-generation proprietor of a used and rare bookstore.  But the bookstore is folding.  “Very rare people buy rare books.”

As they pack up the shop’s inventory, Murray tells Fioravante that his dermatologist said she was willing to pay for sex.  “Are you on drugs?”  “Apart from my Zoloft, no.”  The empty bookshelves suggest the sadness of anything or anyone who has something to give that is not being used.  Murray says he thinks the quiet, unassuming Fioravante would be just what this doctor ordered, and volunteers to act as the middle-man, or, to put it more directly, the pimp.

The subject matter and the presence of Allen suggest a broad comedy, something between “Deuce Bigalow” and “Deconstructing Harry.”  After an awkward start with female characters who are superficially drawn and some uneven tonal shifts, it becomes a thoughtful drama that gets much more interesting in the second half, when after encounters with gorgeous, successful, worldly women like the doctor (Sharon Stone) and her friend (Sofia Vergara), he takes on Avigal, a young widow from the ultra-Orthodox Satmar community (French singer Vanessa Paradis, in a performance of exquisite sensitivity).

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The same quiet, sensitive quality that makes Fioravante careful and tender in taking care of plants makes him very good at his new job.  He gently dances with one of his clients to make her feel cherished.  And he is respectful of Avigal, caressing her back and letting her weep.

The Satmar community has its own police force.  Liev Schreiber plays an Orthodox cop, who wears a tallit under his uniform and whose professional responsibilities come second to some strong feelings he has for Avigal.

But the most compelling character here is the city itself.  Turturro skillfully shows us the complications, juxtapositions, and unexpected connections of the city’s diverse populations.  Gorgeous music weaves through the story to bring it together.  By the final moments, we see it is as carefully tended as Fioravante’s flowers.

Parents should know that this is a movie about prostitution and it has explicit content and strong language.

Family discussion:  What difference did Avigal’s relationship with Fioravante make in her life?  Were you surprised by the decision she made?

If you like this, try: “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “Hester Street”

Transcendence

posted by Nell Minow

Transcendence2014PosterThink of it as “Her 2: The Revenge of Him.” Or Samantha infected by Heartbleed.

Just as in last holiday season’s Her, “Transcendence” is the story of an artificial intelligence contained in a computer program that becomes or is seen as human consciousness.  Instead of the warm, affectionate voice and bubbly laughter of Scarlett Johansson, we get the portentous monotone of Johnny Depp, as a scientist murdered by anti-technology activists, whose mind and memories and personality are uploaded to a mainframe before he dies.  Apparently he has time to read the Oxford English Dictionary aloud, too, so his voice can be preserved.

Cinematographer Willy Pfister, best known for working with Christopher Nolan, turns to directing for a story set in the world of the highest of high tech but grounded in hubristic themes that go back to Icarus and up through “Frankenstein,” and “The Unknown Known.”  Even with Nolan as producer, however, he is weak on narrative, pacing, tone, and working with his talented cast.  Morgan Freeman, Clifton Collins, Jr., Kate Mara, Paul Bettany, and Rebecca Hall have never appeared so toned-down and disconnected, just plain under-used.   Depp appears mechanical even when he is still human.  And the film has the unmistakable flavor of a recut following disappointing early audience responses.

A promising premise gets bogged down right from the beginning when Max Waters (Bettany) introduces us to a post-apocalyptic world where traffic lights no longer work and discarded keyboards are used to prop open the doors of bodegas that are out of more items than they have to sell.  The grid is down. It has been down for a long time.  And no one knows when it will be back.

We go back five years earlier to meet the brainy, gorgeous, and so-in-love couple Will and Evelyn Caster (Depp and Hall).  Here’s how adorbs they are; in her beloved garden (hmmm, Evelyn — is she Eve?) he is installing a copper canopy, to cut them off from cell phone signals and other technological intrusions).  They are on their way to present their work to donors, where he explains that she is the one who wants to change the world.  He just likes to work on cool stuff.

When he is fatally injured in an anti-technology attack led by Bree (Kate Mara) — we know she is up to no good because of the heavy eye liner) — Evelyn decides she can keep him alive in some sense by uploading his consciousness to the mainframe.  Max helps her, but when it works, he immediately sees that it is a problem, and Evelyn, furious, tells him to leave.  Evelyn is so happy to have Will back in any form that she is happy to follow his directions.  Soon, his intellectual capacity is increasing exponentially and she is following his directions to take over a remote, all-but-deserted town, install a football field-sized solar panel energy generator and a five-stories-below-ground lair a Bond villain would envy.  She walks through endless corridors like Beauty in the castle of the Beast.

“It’s like my mind has been set free,” the computer-Will tells Evelyn.  The combination of the human urge for learning and growth and the unlimited capacity of the computers leads to problems that are only evident when Will is too big to stop.  Somehow, even his infinitely magnified intelligence and endless capacity to snoop do not make him capable of understanding women.  “Your oxytocin and serotonin levels are off,” he tells her tenderly, if a bit robotically), “I’m trying to empathize.”  This becomes extra-creepy (as in “Her”) when he tries to come up with a way for them to be together physically,

Will figures out a sort of 3D printer of any kind of cell, including human tissue.  He is able to cure any illness, heal any wound.  Without asking or even telling the patients, he tweaks them all as well, inserting himself into their brains.  Those anti-technology activist/terrorists are looking pretty smart now, but perhaps not as smart as the government, who allies with them only so they will have someone to blame.

We know where this is going because we saw the beginning of the movie, just two hours earlier.  Just to remind us, we get to see the exact same images all over again, but instead it reminds us we have not seen very much in between.

Parents should know that this film includes bloody violence with guns and heavy artillery and some disturbing and graphic images, some strong language, and some sexual material.

Family discussion: Was the computer consciousness Will? Did it stop being Will? What is the significance of Will’s name?

If you like this, try: “Her” and “12 Monkeys” (rated R)

Previous Posts

A Dramatic Commercial for TNT
I love this commercial for TNT! [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIkPeZKP-d4[/youtube]

posted 8:33:40am Apr. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Movie Stingers: Scenes After the Credits
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRJ38y4Jn6k[/youtube] Ferris Bueller had one.  Marvel superhero movies sometimes have two.  When did it become a thing to have a scene after the credits (sometimes called a stinger)? New York Magazine's Vulture column has the history of these extended

posted 8:00:47am Apr. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Fading Gigolo
John Turturro wrote, directed, and stars in "Fading Gigolo," a bittersweet meditation on the ways we seek and hide from intimacy, sometimes at the same time. Turturro plays Fioravante, a florist who works part-time for Murray (Woody Allen), the third-generation proprietor of a used and rare books

posted 9:24:32pm Apr. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Transcendence
Think of it as "Her 2: The Revenge of Him." Or Samantha infected by Heartbleed. Just as in last holiday season's Her, "Transcendence" is the story of an artificial intelligence contained in a computer program that becomes or is seen as human consciousness.  Instead of the warm, affectionate voic

posted 6:00:39pm Apr. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Bears
This year's Disney Nature release for Earth Day is "Bears," the story of an Alaskan bear named Sky and her twin cubs, Scout and Amber, their trek from the den where they've hibernated all winter t

posted 6:00:05pm Apr. 17, 2014 | read full post »


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