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Black Sea
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, some graphic images and violence
Release Date:
January 30, 2015

 

The Book of Life
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action, rude humor, some thematic elements and brief scary images
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

Strange Magic
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and scary images
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

 

The Judge
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including some sexual references
Release Date:
October 10, 2014

Mortdecai
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some language and sexual material
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

 

Fury
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

Black Sea

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language throughout, some graphic images and violence
Movie Release Date:January 30, 2015
Copyright 2015 Focus Features

Copyright 2015 Focus Features

Two comments made by characters in this film summarize what it is that makes submarine stories so instantly compelling. “Outside is just dark, cold, and death,” says one. “We all live together or we all die together,” says another.

Submarines are the setting for the ultimate locked room story, the purest form of human interaction, with a small group of people (usually all men), cut off from everyone else. You can’t call the cops, appeal to higher authority, or run away.

This submarine story ramps up the conflict. In most cases, the crew may have some conflicts about how to proceed but everyone is literally on board with the task, whether exploration or military action. But “Black Sea” adds the most divisive element of all: greed. This crew, half British, half Russian, is going in search of lost Nazi gold at the bottom of the Black Sea, with 40 percent going to the rich guy who financed the expedition and the rest to go to everyone on board. None of these people are American, but just to make sure we get the message about the value of a huge pile of gold bars, Captain Robinson (Jude Law, with receding hairline and Scottish brogue) counts it up in dollars.

It’s “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” with a bit of “Moby Dick” and “The Towering Inferno,” plus some Occupy Wall Street thrown in for good measure.

We first see Robinson getting laid off. It has nothing to do with his performance, he is assured. It’s just that they don’t need sub captains or even subs any more. They have better ways of doing marine salvage. They give him a paltry £8000 and the job he has had all his life, the one he lost his wife and son by being away too much, evaporates.  “They want me to flip burgers,” he says. Everything he has devoted his life to seems lost.

Then a friend tells him “I think I knew a way not to be like this.” He knows about missing gold, and puts Robinson in touch with the representative of the wealthy man who will fund the operation, at least to the extent of a rusty old tub of a Russian submarine, in exchange for 40 percent.

Robinson assembles the crew, understanding that it is a volatile mix. “He’s a psychopath, but he’s an incredible diver, half man, half fish,” he says about one member of the crew. When the one who told him about the gold commits suicide, Robinson replaces him with an 18 year old who has never been to sea. They also bring along the man who negotiated the deal on behalf of the wealthy American (Scoot McNairy), who has no experience at sea and suffers from claustrophobia. Also arrogance and a highly questionable sense of integrity.

Director Kevin Macdonald (“The Last King of Scotland”) skillfully navigates the narrow corridors of the decrepit submarine as the tension builds, though equipment problems, crew battles, and the overheated impact of all that money. Suddenly, people who would think themselves wealthy with thousands of pounds are calculating how much more their share of the gold would be with a smaller number to divide it among. The political overlay and flashbacks to Robinson’s (possibly imagined) idyll with his family are heavy-handed and at least one of the plot twists is preposterous, but the fundamentals of the story and that irresistibly cramped and isolated setting keep the tension level high.

Parents should know that this film includes constant very strong language, extended and peril and violence with many characters injured and killed, fighting, knives, guns, some very disturbing images, and mild sexual references.

Family discussion: Why was Robinson so protective of Tobin? Do you think he was a good captain?

If you like this, try: “The Hunt for Red October,” “U-571,” “K-19: The Widowmaker,” and “Crimson Tide,” and, for a change of tone, “Operation Petticoat”

Interview: Ira Glass Talks to “Boyhood’s” Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane

posted by Nell Minow

“Boyhood” writer/director Richard Linkater and star Ellar Coltrane talk to “This American Life’s” Ira Glass about making the film over a twelve year period that began when Coltrane was six years old.

Super Bowl Commercials 2015: Highlights and Previews

posted by Nell Minow

Which one are you looking forward to?

For the First Time at Sundance: A Panel on Faith and Films

posted by Nell Minow
Copyright 2014 Paramount

Copyright 2014 Paramount

The acclaimed Sundance Film Festival, where ground-breaking films and indie favorites often premiere, will have its first-ever panel discussion of faith and films this week. “Hollywood reflects society, society reflects Hollywood, and each needs the other,” Tim Gray, founder and president of Gray Media said of unprecedented panel discussion. “Years in the making, this conversation will challenge storytellers’ notions of faith in films and inspire filmmakers to next levels.”

Copyright 2014 Sony Pictures

Copyright 2014 Sony Pictures

On January 29, 2015, the 4 p.m. panel will open in a one-on-one with Devon Franklin, now president/CEO of Franklin Entertainment. At MGM and as SVP of Columbia Pictures, Franklin produced “Pursuit of Happyness,” “The Karate Kid 2,” “Heaven is for Real,” and “Annie.” He is the author of Produced by Faith: Enjoy Real Success without Losing Your True Self.  This will be followed by a panel moderated by Gray, featuring Franklin along with Adam Hastings, Pure Flix Entertainment director of marketing and operations, whose 2014 “God’s Not Dead” earned more than $60 million domestic box office; Bill Reeves, founder of Working Title Agency, behind faith-market groundbreakers “Fireproof,” “Courageous,” “Soul Surfer,” “Heaven is for Real” and more; and Julie Fairchild of Lovell-Fairchild Communications, whose film work ranges from “Fireproof” to “Get Low,” “20 Feet from Stardom.” and “Heaven is for Real.”

This is an important step forward, and I hope it becomes an annual tradition — and, unless they want to change the name to “Some Sects of Christianity and Films,” that future panels include a broader range of faith traditions.

Previous Posts

Black Sea
Two comments made by characters in this film summarize what it is that makes submarine stories so instantly compelling. "Outside is just dark, cold, and death," says one. "We all live together or

posted 3:51:06pm Jan. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Ira Glass Talks to "Boyhood's" Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/D6mwbnSIk4c" frameborder="0"] "Boyhood" writer/director Richard Linkater and star Ellar Coltrane talk to "This American Life's" Ira Glass about making the film over a twelve year period that began when Coltrane was six years old.

posted 9:59:48am Jan. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Super Bowl Commercials 2015: Highlights and Previews
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/P6K0siUb5Ts?rel=0" frameborder="0"] Which one are you looking forward to?

posted 9:41:33am Jan. 29, 2015 | read full post »

For the First Time at Sundance: A Panel on Faith and Films
The acclaimed Sundance Film Festival, where ground-breaking films and indie favorites often premiere, will have its first-ever panel discussion of faith and films this week. “Hollywood reflects soci

posted 3:37:53pm Jan. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Nancy Spielberg and Roberta Grossman of "Above and Beyond"
In 1948, a group of World War II pilots volunteered to fight for Israel in the War of Independence. As members of "Machal" (volunteers from abroad), they not only turned the tide of the wa

posted 1:26:49pm Jan. 28, 2015 | read full post »


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