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The Wrecking Crew
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for language, thematic elements and smoking images
Release Date:
March 27. 2015

 

Unbroken
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for war violence including intense sequences of brutality, and for brief language
Release Date:
December 25, 2014

Home
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor
Release Date:
March 27, 2015

 

Into the Woods
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material
Release Date:
December 25, 2014

Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean 3D
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
March 20, 2015

 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

The Wrecking Crew

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for language, thematic elements and smoking images
Movie Release Date:March 27. 2015
Copyright Lunch Box Entertainment 2015

Copyright Magnolia 2015

Maybe you like Frank Sinatra and your friend likes the Mamas and Papas. Maybe you’ve argued about who is better, the Beach Boys or Simon and Garfunkel, or maybe you prefer Elvis. Each of those monumentally talented performers had a highly distinctive sound but each of them was backed by the same group of astonishingly talented and remarkably variable studio musicians known as “The Wrecking Crew.” Like other behind the music documentaries 20 Feet from Stardom, Only the Strong Survive – A Celebration of Soul, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, and Muscle Shoals, this is a riveting look at the people just outside spotlight. They may be every bit as good as the performers they stand behind, but for some reason — less charismatic, less determined, less in need of attention, less lucky, they do not get to be stars.

The Wrecking Crew backed up Bing Crosby, Glen Campbell (who was a Wrecking Crew member before he moved to the front of the stage), Herb Alpert, Cher, Nancy Sinatra, and the Monkees.  The list of iconic albums that they didn’t play on is shorter than the one they did.  Just as unforgettable as the timbre of the voices of superstars are the deedle-deedles or doot-doots (and the dum-dum-dum dum of the “Mission Impossible” theme song) and other musical cues and curlicues that make a song a hit.  This movie has the pure joy of creating unforgettable music, but it also has loss and betrayal and secrets.

This is a love letter from filmmaker Danny Tedesco to his late father, one of the Wrecking Crew musicians, and those like him, who gave their best and were loved all over the world by fans who had no idea who they were.  It is also a story that speaks powerfully to all of us who feel that our contributions are not as valued as they should be.  And of course, it has some of the greatest music ever made, now to be listened to more carefully and appreciated more than ever.

Parents should know that this movie has some sad stories, some strong language, and smoking.

Family discussion: Would you rather be a star or a studio player and why?

If you like this, try: 20 Feet from Stardom, Only the Strong Survive – A Celebration of Soul, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, and Muscle Shoals

 

Home

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor
Movie Release Date:March 27, 2015
Copyright Dreamworks 2015

Copyright Dreamworks 2015

“Home” is a cute and colorful movie about an alien invasion with an important safety tip concerning one of the most destructive forces in the universe, something devastating to every known life form. Yes, it is hitting the dreaded “send to all.”

This is the catastrophe that strikes Oh (Jim Parsons), part of an alien invasion by the Boov, a civilization known for their primary cultural attribute — running away from danger, from problems, and from learning that some of what they believe about the universe may not be right. They are led by the egotistical Smek (Steve Martin), never in doubt and always willing to cut off any disagreement by smacking his fellow Boov with his “susher,” a staff topped by a rock he grabbed during his last unsuccessful negotiation with a terrifying armored alien Commander of a race called Gorg. The Gorg want to destroy the Boov, so the Boov are constantly seeking planets where they can hide. Earth seems homey, so they vacuum up all of the humans and send them off to Australia and settle into their new domicile.

The Boov are not much for socializing, but Oh wants to make friends. He sends out invitations to a housewarming party, but accidentally hits “send to all,” and “all” somehow includes the Gorg. Oh has just alerted their worst enemy to their location. This is one too many mistakes for him (Boov are allowed just three and he is well over that), so he runs away. And that is how he meets Gratuity “Tip” Tucci (Rihanna), a plucky middle-schooler with a cat named Pig. Tip was missed by the Boov vacuums because Pig was on her head so she was not identified as human.

When Oh fixes Tip’s car and promises to help her find her mother, the two of them (plus Pig) go off on a wild ride that includes an upside-down floating Eiffel Tower, plugging themselves into the Boov brain trust network (with a very funny joke about passwords), and, of course, learning a little bit about each other and themselves.

It’s nice to see a person of color as the lead in an animated film and Rihanna gives a warm, spirited vocal performance as Tip, who shares her West Indies heritage.  The character design is cute but uninspired. Same for the storyline. But it is bright and colorful — literally. The Boov turn a crayon box of colors to show their emotions. And the briefly glimpsed Gorg add some zingy sharp angles. Playful touches start right at the beginning, with Oh fishing off the Dreamworks logo. The Slushious car, decked out with convenience store staples, is a hoot. And kids will enjoy seeing Oh learn about life on earth, something they know a little about.

Parents should know that this film has some potty humor, mild peril, and cartoon-style violence, and some sci-fi-style scary images.

Family discussion: When do you feel “sad-mad?” Why did Tip decide to be friends with Oh? What was the best thing about the Slushious car?

If you like this, try: “Monsters vs. Aliens” and “Megamind” and the book that inspired this film, The True Meaning of Smekday, by Adam Rex.

Ebertfest 2015

posted by Nell Minow

Passes are on sale for Ebertfest 2015!  I’ll be there!  From Chaz Ebert’s blog:

We are opening with Jean-Luc Godard’s silent opus in 3D, “Adieu Au Langage” (“Goodbye To Language”). Some have complained that you were against 3D films, but we know that you were against 3D when it was used only as a gimmick to charge more money, or when it wasn’t done well. Indeed you praised 3D in “Avatar“, “Hugo” and “Cave of the Forgotten Dreams.” I daresay you would find Godard’s use of 3D here refreshing. It creates 3D imagery that adds to the movie-going experience. And actressHeloise Godet will experience it with us.

We are also presenting a tribute to Harold Ramis, that Renaissance man who was as meticulous about other aspects of his life as he was about building his comedies. The beloved director and actor passed away in February 2014. Displayed at his funeral was a violin that Harold had made by hand and taught himself to play. It was on a table. But Harold had to first teach himself to build the table in order to have a surface on which to construct the violin. That’s the kind of man Harold was. We will welcome Harold’s widow, Erica Ramis, andTrevor Albert, the producer who worked with Harold on several of his masterpieces, including “Groundhog Day,” which has been adopted by a Buddhist organization as a template for life (reliving it over and over again until we get it right).

Ramis also wrote the scripts for such classic hits as “Animal House,” “Stripes” and “Ghostbusters,” and directed  comedy classics including “Caddyshack” and “Analyze This.” We will celebrate his life with never-before-seen clips and other remembrances from surprise guests. One of the last conversations you and Harold had was about the transcendent nature of Charlie Kaufman’s movie “Synecdoche, New York.” You both saw a higher meaning in every frame. We get to glimpse some of the inner workings of Ramis’ mind when we analyze the profound life lessons he secretly embedded in some of his most entertaining movies.

On the heels of gaining a well-deserved reputation as one of the hottest tickets on the festival circuit, James Ponsoldt’s “The End of the Tour” will screen at Ebertfest, marking the director’s second visit following his appearance a few years ago with actress Shailene Woodley for his film much-admired by you, “The Spectacular Now.” “The End of the Tour” features a richly anticipated performance by Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace, and co-stars Jesse Eisenberg, Anna Chlumsky and Joan Cusack.

The highlights in Segel’s career are numerous: starring in Judd Apatow’s cult classic sitcom, “Freaks and Geeks”; earning raves for his boldly comedic nude scene in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall“; crooning the Oscar-winning tune, “Man or Muppet,” in 2012’s hit, “The Muppets“; and winning the hearts of viewers during all nine seasons of “How I Met Your Mother.” Segel can now add another achievement to this formidable list, when he accepts the Golden Thumb at this year’s festival, along with Ponsoldt.

Another returning guest this year is Ramin Bahrani, who dedicated his latest film, “99 Homes,” to you. Michael Shannon, Andrew Garfield and Laura Dernheadline the impressive cast of this timely drama, a film you would have loved to review.

After all, it was you who declared Bahrani “a great American director,” and indeed he has earned multiple awards, including the FIPRESCI prize in Venice for “Goodbye Solo” (which screened at last year’s Ebertfest) and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Accompanying Bahrani onstage will be one of the film’s stars, accomplished 13-year-old actorNoah Lomax, who has appeared in everything from “The Walking Dead” and “The Middle” to “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.” Lomax is one of the first child actors to attend the festival, and we are eager to view the filmmaking process through his perspective.

Like Bahrani, former Chicagoan Alan Polsky has dedicated his career to making and supporting films of exceptional quality.

His company, Polsky Films, which he created with his brother, Gabe (director of last year’s celebrated documentary, “Red Army“), has produced several important pictures. One that you absolutely loved was Werner Herzog’s spectacularly entertaining  “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” starring Nicolas Cage in one of his most unforgettable performances.

In 2013, Alan and Gabe co-directed a fine character study, “The Motel Life,” pairingStephen Dorff and Emile Hirschas brothers on the run. The film also stars Dakota Fanning. We look forward to welcoming Alan to our festival.

Apps for Movie Fans

posted by Nell Minow

Geek Dad has a great list of apps for movie lovers, including MoviePass, which gives you unlimited movie tickets for one set fee.  I’d add Flixter from Rotten Tomatoes and of course my favorite, IMDB.

Previous Posts

The Wrecking Crew
Maybe you like Frank Sinatra and your friend likes the Mamas and Papas. Maybe you've argued about who is better, the Beach Boys or Simon and Garfunkel, or maybe you prefer Elvis. Each of those monumen

posted 9:48:37pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Home
"Home" is a cute and colorful movie about an alien invasion with an important safety tip concerning one of the most destructive forces in the universe, something devastating to every known life form.

posted 5:59:44pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Ebertfest 2015
Passes are on sale for Ebertfest 2015!  I'll be there!  From Chaz Ebert's blog: We are opening with Jean-Luc Godard's silent opus in 3D, "Adieu Au Langage" ("Goodbye To Language"). Some have complained that you were against 3D films, but we know that you were against 3D when it was used onl

posted 3:49:39pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Apps for Movie Fans
Geek Dad has a great list of apps for movie lovers, including MoviePass, which gives you unlimited movie tickets for one set fee.  I'd add Flixter from Rotten Tomatoes and of course my favorite, IMDB.

posted 12:15:35pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Pretty Woman -- 25 Years Later
The cast and director of "Pretty Woman" reunited on the Today Show to reminisce about the movie that, improbably, made us root for a predatory finance guy and a prostitute to live happily ever after. They d

posted 1:33:04pm Mar. 25, 2015 | read full post »


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