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Tusk
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some disturbing violence/gore, language and sexual content
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

 

The Fault in Our Stars
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language
Release Date:
June 6, 2014

This is Where I Leave You
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

 

Think Like a Man Too
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material
Release Date:
June 20, 2014

The Maze Runner
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

 

Godzilla
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence
Release Date:
May 16, 2014

Fifty Years of Fiddler on the Roof

posted by Nell Minow

fiddler japaneseThe Yiddish-language stories of Sholem Alechim, collected as Tevye the Dairyman and The Railroad Stories (Library of Yiddish Classics), inspired one of the most successful, influential, and widely performed Broadway musicals of all time, “Fiddler on the Roof,” which opened fifty years ago this week. It set the then-record of 3000 performances and still is listed as the 16th longest-running Broadway musical in history. There has been hardly a day since this story about a Jewish community in czarist Russia opened that it has not been performed somewhere around the world. Its songs, including “Sunrise, Sunset” and “If I Were a Rich Man,” have become standards, performed and recorded by singers around the world.

The play establishes its setting with the opening number, “Tradition,” where the fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters sing about the roles established for them by their culture and religion. But the theme of the play will be the pressure of modernity as all of the assumptions and beliefs of the community will be challenged.Cannonball_Adderley's_Fiddler_on_the_Roof

The central character is Tevye (played by Zero Mostel on Broadway and the Israeli actor Topol in the movie). He is a poor milkman with five daughtersshmuel_rodensky_in-anatevka_-_fiddler_on_the_roof.  Tradition would give Tevye the role of selecting husbands for his daughters based on what would be socially and economically advantageous. He approves of the widower butcher for his oldest daughter. But she challenges tradition by asking for his approval for her to marry the shy tailor she loves. Tevye must bend because he loves her and wants her to be happy. Seeing her in love makes him question for the first time whether his wife of 25 years, chosen for him, loves him. But his second daughter asks him to bend farther. She loves a hot-headed revolutionary, and she says they will marry whether Tevye approves or not. He is worried, but he gives them his blessing.

And then the third daughter asks him to bend further. She is in love with a non-Jew. Tevye says that is something he cannot accept. It shakes the foundations of his beliefs to even consider it. But not as much as they will be shaken by an anti-Semitic pogrom, with the Czar’s men all but destroying their village. The title of the play comes from the image of a musician precariously trying to maintain his balance and stay safely on a roof. The play ends with Tevye following millions of Europeans over the late 19th and early 20th century — immigrating to America, under the lamp held high for them by the Statue of Liberty.fiddlerplaybill

Many years ago, my parents were visiting Tokyo and saw that a production of “Fiddler on the Roof” was on stage there. They bought tickets. Even though it was in Japanese, with Japanese actors, they recognized the story and music. And they enjoyed the enthusiastic response of the audience. When it was over, my father asked one of the Japanese audience members who spoke English why the play was so popular there. He smiled, “It’s very Japanese!” The details, including the style of the music, are very particular to one group. But the themes of balancing tradition with growing understanding about ourselves and the world, about struggles between parents and children, about what is best for the community and what is best for the individual, are universal.

Great Cinematographers on Instagram

posted by Nell Minow

Indiewire has a gorgeous array of Instagram feeds from Hollywood cinematographers. Be sure to talke a look so you can follow them.

De-fictionalizing Products in Movies and Television: Life Imitating Art

posted by Nell Minow

Fast Company has an article about Omni Consumer Products, a “de-fictionalizing” company that looks for products in movies and television that do not really exist and makes them available.

As the sole proprietor of Omni Consumer Products, [Pete] Hottelet is constantly scanning the pop culture zeitgeist for imaginary items that can be “defictionalized,” as he calls it, and offered to consumers as a tangible product. While prototypes like the crowbar or an audaciously morbid trash bag and knife set inspired by Showtime’s Dexter might invite class-action mayhem and are unlikely to see the light of day, Hottelet has nailed it in other venues. His carbonated beverage based on HBO’s recently wrapped True Blood was a huge hit; Sex Panther cologne, the fragrance favored by Paul Rudd’s news doofus Brian Fontana in theAnchorman films, is the kind of gift that might prompt an eye-roll if it weren’t so well-made. (The box actually growls when opened.)

“You’re not actually selling cologne,” Hottelet says of the reverse product placement. “You’re selling the connection people have with the film.” The trick for Hottelet is to try and anticipate which products will resonate with consumers, feeding nostalgia while avoiding tacky tie-ins. If Hottelet has his way, at least a couple of your friends should have a bag of Stay-Puft marshmallows or Fight Club bar soap on display.

The company’s name itself is de-fictionalized.  It’s from “Robocop.”  Other products include “Idiocracy’s” Brawndo drink and “Ghostbuster’s” iconic Stay Puft Marshmallows. What products from movies and television would you like to see them do next?

Tusk

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for some disturbing violence/gore, language and sexual content
Movie Release Date:September 19, 2014
Copyright 2014 SModcast Pictures

Copyright 2014 SModcast Pictures

You can make a good movie about slackers, for example “Slackers,” from Richard Linklater and “Clerks” from Kevin Smith. But you can’t make a good movie by a slacker, and Smith does not seem willing to be anything more. There are flickers of interesting possibilities in his latest film, his first foray into horror. Justin Long nails his early scenes as Wallace, a sort of Smith wannabe. We learn later in flashbacks that he was once a sweet, geeky guy who cried in “Winnie the Pooh.” He was conversant enough with literature to recognize quotes from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and Hemingway. But he found out he could make money and attract groupies by being obnoxious and outrageous. Wallace and his best friend Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) host a podcast something between Smith’s own SModcast, Tosh.0 and the skankier sub-reddits. It’s called “Not-See Party,” get it? In case you don’t, Wallace has a sign-off in a fake German accent. What, too soon?

We first see them helpless with laughter over a found video along the lines of the “Star Wars kid,” but this one is a “Kill Bill” wannabe who accidentally slices off his own leg at the thigh. A real laff-riot! This is such a bonanza of a topic for the Not-See Party duo that Wallace decides to visit the kid in person, at his home in Manitoba, Canada. But when he gets there (following a not-funny encounter at the border with an official who warns him not to be flippant about hockey in Canada), Wallace discovers that the despondent kid has committed suicide. Bummer for the podcast! Seeking some other poor slob to make fun of so the trip won’t be wasted, Wallace comes across an intriguing flier in a men’s room, a man named Howard Howe, a retired sailor, who says he has stories to tell. Wallace rents a car and drives two hours into Howard’s remote house (beautifully creepy interiors by John D. Kretschmer, a highlight of the film). He sips at the tea offered to him by the genially eloquent Howard (as he prefers to be called), at first condescending but thinly disguising his snark, then impressed in spite of himself with Howard’s stories of WWII and being shipwrecked, and then, suddenly, very, very, very, very sleepy.

The tea was spiked. Howard has something very gruesome in mind, which we discover along with the terrified Wallace.

The idea for this film came up in a SModcast conversation with Smith and friend and producer Scott Mosier discussing an ad placed by a homeowner who was offering a living situation free of charge, if the lodger would agree to dress as a walrus. Their can-you-top-this riffs on the possibilities suggested by the ad led to a twitter campaign with the hashtag #walrusyes. And that is why it feels at times as though the screenplay was pieced together by tweets. A major Hollywood star shows up in disguise for a stunt-ish, winking-at-the-screen turn as a Quebecois detective in pursuit of Howard Howe, not nearly as funny or charming as intended. While there are hints of something deeper — the conversation about how Wallace as devolved as a person, with his girlfriend missing the “old Wallace,” the similarities between “Wallace” and “Walrus” — the real possibilities of the storyline about humanity, inhumanity, and what separates us from the animals, are blithely bypassed for random detours and red herrings (maybe red mackerels). It is another disappointment from Smith, who may not write all of his scripts while stoned, but they sure feel like it.

Parents should know that this is a horror film with many graphic and disturbing images of torture and mutilation. Characters are injured and killed. It also includes strong language, drinking and smoking, and sexual references and situations, with brief male rear nudity.

Family discussion: Are we supposed to think that Wallace somehow deserved or asked for what happened to him? How do you interpret the final scene?

If you like this, try: “The Skin I Live In” and “Boxing Helena” — and Eugene Ionesco’s classic Rhinoceros

Previous Posts

Fifty Years of Fiddler on the Roof
The Yiddish-language stories of Sholem Alechim, collected as Tevye the Dairyman and The Railroad Stories (Library of Yiddish Classics), inspired one of the most successful, influential, and widely performed Broadway musicals of all time, "Fiddler on the Roof," which opened fifty years ago this week.

posted 8:00:47am Sep. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Great Cinematographers on Instagram
Indiewire has a gorgeous array of Instagram feeds from Hollywood cinematographers. Be sure to talke a look so you can follow them.

posted 8:00:27am Sep. 19, 2014 | read full post »

De-fictionalizing Products in Movies and Television: Life Imitating Art
Fast Company has an article about Omni Consumer Products, a "de-fictionalizing" company that looks for products in movies and television that do not really exist and makes them available. As the sole proprietor of Omni Consumer Products, [Pete] Hottelet is constantly scanning the pop culture z

posted 8:00:17am Sep. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Tusk
You can make a good movie about slackers, for example "Slackers," from Richard Linklater and "Clerks" from Kevin Smith. But you can't make a good movie by a slacker, and Smith does not seem wi

posted 5:59:40pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

This is Where I Leave You
A toddler carries his little potty out in front of the house so he can try out his new-found skill in public. Twice. Plus another time when the contents of the potty are first displayed for the

posted 5:59:39pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »


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