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Laggies
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, some sexual material and teen partying
Release Date:
October 31, 2014

 

Moms' Night Out
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, some sexual content and brief violence
Release Date:
October 24, 2014

 

Begin Again
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:

Release Date:
July 2, 2014

John Wick
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong and bloody violence throughout, language and brief drug use
Release Date:
October 24, 2014

 

Wish I Was Here
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

Laggies

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language, some sexual material and teen partying
Movie Release Date:October 31, 2014

Lynn Shelton is known for writing and directing small, intimate, independent films with a lot of improvised dialogue (“Humpday,””My Sister’s Sister,” “Touchy Feely”), often using the same small group of actors. With “Laggies,” she moves seamlessly to working with a more conventional screenplay, written by someone else (novelist Andrea Seigel), and with a higher-profile Hollywood cast, but the film maintains a nice indie sensibility that lets the characters speak for themselves.  For example, the only time the word “laggie” is used, it is not directed at any of the main characters and it is never explained, but we get the point.  The laggie is Megan (Keira Knightley), who has lagged behind her close-knit group of friends from high school.  Ten years later, all of them are established in careers and relationships.  You can tell they all have mortgages and 401(k)s.  But Megan, who has an MA in counseling, is currently working as a “sign girl” for her accountant father (Jeff Garlin), standing on the sidewalk twirling an arrow sign advertising his firm.  She is living with Anthony (Mark Webber), the boyfriend she has been with since sophomore year of high school.

At a bridal shower for her friend Allison (Ellie Kemper), her friends find her joking immature and she finds them stuffy.  And at Allison’s wedding (with a hilariously pretentious First Dance), two developments shake Megan badly.  Anthony proposes. And Megan sees her father kissing (and more) Allison’s mother.  Megan leaves the wedding and meets four teenagers hanging out in front of a convenience store.  They ask her to buy some booze for them and she reasons that since someone did it for her, she should do it for them.  “It’s a rite of passage,” she reassures herself.

With no interest in returning to her messy life, she spends some time with the kids.  They think she is cool, and she likes being thought of that way.  Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz) gives her a phone and asks her to stay in touch.  When Megan gets back to her apartment, she accepts Anthony’s proposal and agrees to elope with him in a week.  Before they go, she tells him, she wants to attend the week-long personal development seminar that made such a difference to him (he learned that his spirit animal was a shark and that made him realize he had to start making decisions in his life because if a shark doesn’t move, it dies).

She has no intention of attending the seminar.  She just needs time to think.  And then Annika calls and asks her to pretend to be her mother for a parent conference at school.  Megan puts up her hair and fakes her way through.  And then she asks Annika if she can stay at her house for a week without her father finding out.  One of the many nice touches in this movie is that of course he finds out immediately.  This is not a sitcom.  The set-up may be artificial, but the characters have real-life reactions.

Annika’s father is Craig (Sam Rockwell), a divorce lawyer and single dad.  Annika’s mother left them years ago and he spends his days working with unhappy, angry couples.  Annika thought she could hide Megan because Sam was supposed to be at a mixer, but he comes home early.  I loved the detail that his name tag was on his arm and his conversation with Megan about how women at mixers like that tap him on the arm to show that they are listening.  There are lies, and excruciating confessions, and lessons learned, but the progress is organic as everyone from the school counselor who thinks Megan is Annika’s mother to the real mother (the always-excellent Gretchen Moll) to Megan’s old friends from high school and even Craig seem to be carrying a message about growing up even though you don’t have it all figured out. Shelton has enough confidence in the story, the characters, and her outstanding performers to avoid the easy exaggerations of the genre and show us real people who are essentially decent struggling to find the courage to move forward, even when they don’t know where that will take them.

Parents should know that this film includes strong language, drinking by adults and teenagers, drunk driving, car crash, sexual references, some crude, and non-explicit situations, and infidelity.

Family discussion: What animal would you pick to represent your spirit? How can you tell when you’ve outgrown your friends?

If you like this, try: “Girl Most Likely” and Sam Rockwell films like “Galaxy Quest” and “The Way Way Back”

Middleburg Film Festival — Year Two

posted by Nell Minow

The paint was hardly dry at Middleburg Virginia’s swanky new Salamander Resort when the first Middleburg Film Festival kicked off last year, but it was a spectacular start for both the festival and the resort, with Bruce Dern appearing to introduce “Nebraska.” This year, the festival hits its stride with an impressive schedule and an award for Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (“Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Chicago,” “Silence of the Lambs”). The films featured at the festival include:

The Homesman, a frontier story based on the Putlizer Prize nominated novel by Glendon Swarthout, directed by Tommy Lee Jones, starring Jones, Meryl Streep, and Hillary Swank

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Mr. Turner is a Mike Leigh film, with Leigh regular Timothy Spall, who won the Best Actor award at Cannes, as one of the 19th century’s most important artists.

The Overnighters is a documentary about how technology made it possible to extract oil in North Dakota, which meant that in a recession economy all of a sudden there were high paying jobs, which attracted a lot of men from out of state, more men than jobs.

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The opening night film is “The Last Five Years,” the musical with Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick, with the romance told from both perspectives.

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Disney’s Headless Horseman, Sung by Bing Crosby

posted by Nell Minow

List: My Favorite Movie Ghosts

posted by Nell Minow
Copyright 1966 Universal Pictures

Copyright 1966 Universal Pictures

Happy Halloween! Here are ten of my favorite movie ghosts.  (NOTE: Some of these have inferior remakes — stick with the originals.)

Topper Cary Grant and Constance Bennett are the most sophisticated, witty, and glamorous ghosts ever in this delightful comedy about a young couple who are killed in a car accident and come back as ghosts to brighten the life of a shy banker.

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The Uninvited Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey play a brother and sister who move into a house on a Cornwall cliff. It turns out someone is already living there — a ghost. This movie introduced the jazz standard “Stella by Starlight.”

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir A ghost romance? Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison play the title roles in this story of a widow who moves into a house inhabited by the ghost of a handsome sea captain.

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The Canterville Ghost Margaret O’Brien teaches her distant cousin Robert Young about noblesse oblige when American troops are bivouacked a her family’s ancestral home. It turns out their mutual ancestor is staying there, too, a ghost (Charles Laughton) who has to show some courage before he can go to heaven.

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Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson battle a number of ectoplasmic manifestations in this classic comedy (soon to be remade with an all-female team).

13 Ghosts People often ask me if I’ve ever walked out of a movie. The answer is: just once, and it was this movie when I was 9. I was a little freaked out by the special glasses you had to wear to see the ghosts, but it was when the Ouija board pointer was lifted off the board by a ghost that I turned to my mother and said, “I have to go home now.” I’ve since developed real affection for all of William Castle’s films, including this one.

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is my favorite Christmas story and I love just about every version, but I think the best is the one starring Alistair Sim.

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Pirates of Caribbean: Curse of Black Pearl “You best start believing in ghost stories, Miss Turner… you’re in one!” Geoffrey Rush is the ghost captain of a pirate ship with a ghost crew in this rollicking adventure inspired by the Disney theme park ride.

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken Don Knotts is the nervous aspiring reporter assigned to spend the night in a haunted house. Or is it?

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The Haunting Julie Harris stars in this classic of psychological horror about investigators who spend the night in a haunted house.

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Copyright 1947 20th Century Fox

Copyright 1947 20th Century Fox

Previous Posts

Laggies
Lynn Shelton is known for writing and directing small, intimate, independent films with a lot of improvised dialogue ("Humpday,""My Sister's Sister," "Touchy Feely"), often using the same small group of actors. With "Laggies," she moves seamlessly to working with a more conventional screenplay, writ

posted 5:58:04pm Oct. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Middleburg Film Festival -- Year Two
The paint was hardly dry at Middleburg Virginia's swanky new Salamander Resort when the first Middleburg Film Festival kicked off last year, but it was a spectacular start for both the festival and the resort, with Bruce Dern appearing to introduce "Nebraska." This year, the festival hits its strid

posted 4:28:04pm Oct. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Disney's Headless Horseman, Sung by Bing Crosby
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ysNSKrH8hHo?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 1:39:39pm Oct. 30, 2014 | read full post »

List: My Favorite Movie Ghosts
Happy Halloween! Here are ten of my favorite movie ghosts.  (NOTE: Some of these have inferior remakes -- stick with the originals.) Topper Cary Grant and Constance Bennett are the most s

posted 8:00:42am Oct. 30, 2014 | read full post »

List: Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell is one of the most versatile leading me in Hollywood. This week, he stars with Keira Knightley in "Laggies," playing a single dad. Here are some of my favorite Sam Rockwell performances: Moon Rockwell takes on the biggest possible acting challenge -- he in alone on screen for the ent

posted 3:50:02pm Oct. 29, 2014 | read full post »


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