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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Hail, Caesar!
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and smoking
Release Date:
February 5, 2016

 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
1937

The Choice
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some thematic issues
Release Date:
February 5, 2016

 

Freeheld
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements, language and sexuality
Release Date:
October 9, 2015

The Finest Hours
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of peril
Release Date:
January 29, 2016

 

Bridge of Spies
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some violence and brief strong language
Release Date:
October 16, 2015

New in Theaters

grade:
B+

Hail, Caesar!

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and smoking
Release Date:
February 5, 2016
grade:
B

The Choice

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some thematic issues
Release Date:
February 5, 2016
grade:
B

The Finest Hours

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of peril
Release Date:
January 29, 2016

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New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
A-

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Lowest Recommended Age:
All Ages
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
1937
grade:
B

Freeheld

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements, language and sexuality
Release Date:
October 9, 2015
grade:
A-

Bridge of Spies

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some violence and brief strong language
Release Date:
October 16, 2015

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Black History Month 2016

posted by Nell Minow

Be sure to take time during Black History month to watch movies the Civil Rights movement, (“Eyes on the Prize,” “Selma,” “Boycott”), and movies that are themselves a part of black history and film history (add to that list: “Killer of Sheep,” “Nothing But a Man,” “The Learning Tree,” “Bright Road,” and “Hollywood Shuffle”).  And there are many other good choices for exploring the history of race in America and the story of some of our greatest heroes.

We’re lucky to have a very good movie opening up this month that tells the true story of a very important figure in African-American history: Jesse Owens.  “Race,” starring Stephan James, opens on February 19, 2016, and it tells the story of one of the greatest athletes of all time.  As Hitler was trying to tell the world about Aryan superiority, Jesse Owens competed in the Berlin Olympics and provided the ultimate refutation with his brilliant achievements, winning the gold not only in the three events he registered for but in a fourth event where he was a last-minute substitute.

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PBS has a great line-up of programs, including Misty Copeland’s “A Ballerina’s Tale,” American Masters tributes to Fats Domino and B.B. King, and the superb documentary, “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.”

A Moving Tribute to a Father Through Movies

posted by Nell Minow

Jessica Ritchey wrote a touching essay for Rogerebert.com about the movies she watched in the year after her father died, and how watching them helped her to keep him close.

I’ve been published several times by the time I see “Crimson Peak.” I’m starting to feel like real writer at last. It haunts me, though, that so much good news can come with the bad. I can’t share my upturn in fortune with the person I want to most.
But that’s starting to feel like something that can be carried. There’s lots of space to think about this in the watery shadows that flicker over the film’s walls.

Hail, Caesar!

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and smoking
Movie Release Date:February 5, 2016
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and smoking
Movie Release Date: February 5, 2016

Copyright Mike Zoss Productions

Copyright Mike Zoss Productions 2016

The Coen brothers love old movies, and not just the classics. I remember reading an interview where they discussed their affection for “With Six You Get Eggroll,” which even Doris Day’s most fervent fans do not consider one of her best. With “Hail, Caesar!” they pay loving tribute to the final years of the golden era of the Hollywood studios, in part because it gives them a chance to tell a story about change, and choice, responsibility and irresponsibility, and in part because it gives them a chance to play studio heads themselves, overseeing not just one movie but five. And as Orson Welles said, that’s “the biggest electric train set any boy ever had.”

There really was an Eddie Mannix, the MGM executive who had various titles but who was pretty much a full-time fixer. Whether it was a starlet’s nude photos or a male star’s casting couch encounter with a male director, his job was to keep it out of the courts and especially out of the gossip columns and scandal magazines with names like “Confidential.” This was accomplished with bribes, intimidation, and trading of favors. A reputation would be saved by giving the reporter exclusive access or even a juicy story about a lesser star who could be sacrificed to save the day for someone the studio considered a major asset.

The Eddie Mannix played by Josh Brolin works at a studio called Capitol Pictures, but the issue of capital will arise as well. Eddie is under so much stress he goes to confession every day. He is responsible for keeping the entire studio running smoothly, and that begins before dawn, where he extracts an actress from a compromising situation (paying off the cops), and continues on the studio lot. There he assigns an amiable singing cowboy star named Hobie Doyle (a winning Alden Ehrenreich) to put on a dinner jacket and take over the lead in a high-prestige drawing room drama, even though he’s “a dust guy” and his dialog in previous films was pretty much limited to whistling for his horse, Whitey, and “Hold on, there, partner.” Cleaning him up and putting him in a dinner jacket is not a problem, but the intricate drama he is thrown into requires tricky lines like “Would that t’were so simple,” preceded by a mirthless laugh.

Mannix visits the set of a big-budget musical and sees a water ballet out of Busby Berkeley’s wildest dreams. But the star is pregnant but not married (a career-killer in those days). She’s played by Scarlett Johansson with enough wit and brio to power the massive flume of water that lifts her mermaid character up into the sky.

The biggest studio production is the epic “Hail, Caesar,” about a Roman centurion who becomes a follower of Jesus (oddly similar to the upcoming “Risen”). It stars the studio’s most valuable actor, with the manly name of Baird Whitlock (a wickedly funny George Clooney). Mannix thinks his biggest problem is going to be making sure that the movie does not offend anyone in the audience, and in a hilarious scene, he consults with a focus group of clergy, or tries to. But then a real problem arises. Baird Whitlock is kidnapped and being held for ransom by a group that calls itself “The Future.” They are a group led by the most improbable of 20th century scholars, accurately quoted if not accurately portrayed, and supported by…well, no more spoilers here.

It’s flat-out funny, whether you know the history or not, and I left wishing for a quadruple feature that would include all of the films we see in production (well, maybe not the other “Hail, Caesar”). What keeps it buoyant, even effervescent, is the pure affection for films and filmmaking in every one of what in the pre-digital days we used to call frames. (We see them up close and personal in a hilarious scene with Frances McDormand as an old-school film editor.) The movie touches lightly on issues of story-telling and the inherent chaos and frustration of trying to balance art and commerce, plus the skills and needs of a large group of people. But the love story here is between Mannix, as a stand-in for the writer/directors, and the movies.

Parents should know that this film includes kidnapping, out-of-wedlock pregnancy and paternity issues, some sexual references, drinking and references to alcoholism, and smoking.

Family discussion: Which real-life characters inspired this movie? Should Eddie take the job offer?

If you like this, try: some of the movies that inspired this one like “Million Dollar Mermaid,” “Anchors Aweigh,” “My Pal Trigger,” and “The Robe”

The Choice

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some thematic issues
Movie Release Date:February 5, 2016
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some thematic issues
Movie Release Date: February 5, 2016
Copyright 2016 Lionsgate

Copyright 2016 Lionsgate

Nicholas Sparks is one of the rare authors who has become a brand of his own, bigger than any of his movies. One reason is their predicability; fans know what to expect and they won’t be disappointed. The other reason is his genuine gift for creating characters audiences immediately like and want the best for.

In “The Choice,” we meet easy-going Travis (Benjamin Walker, last seen as the bad captain in “The Heart of the Sea”) as he meets his new neighbor, a peppery med student named Gabby (Teresa Palmer). In the midst of studying, already furious because of his loud music, she discovers that her dog is pregnant and she goes next door to let him know how angry she is. He is captivated by her because she is different from the other girls he has known, who came to him with little effort and left with little fuss. “You bother me,” he tells her, intrigued and a little surprised.

They both discover that their initial conclusions about one another may have been wrong, but the chemistry between them is increasing in intensity, even though Gabby has a serious boyfriend, a handsome doctor (Tom Welling). Gabby likes challenging Travis and he likes having to work to get her affection.

Their side-by-side homes both look out onto the water of North Carolina’s Inner Banks, and the images of sky, water, and coast are exquisite, somewhere between travel brochure and screen saver. Sparks has to be the MVP for the North Carolina tourism bureau. All of his stories are set in this spectacularly beautiful (if plagued by storms) region. And it is certainly easy to believe that the glow from this enchantingly glorious setting makes this a sublime place to fall in love. Director of Photography Alar Kivilo and the setting itself are as important to the film as the storyline, and more important than the dialogue. Some lines are arch or cheesy: “Look who’s sassypants!” “You’re a dork!” “There you go again, bothering me.” We never find Travis or Gabby as appealing as we are asked to believe they find each other.

Sparks seems to have taken in some complaints about the formulaic nature of his stories, or maybe he just wanted to try something different (but thankfully not as different as the awful “twist” in Safe Haven). We still have a body of water, a letter, and someone who has to be taken down a peg or two. The surprises are not as surprising to us as they are to the characters. But there is something gentle about the story that is undeniably captivating.

Parents should know that this film includes a serious auto accident and questions of when someone should be taken off life support, along with some strong language, mild crude references, social drinking.

Family discussion: What small choices in your life have made the biggest difference? Why does Travis like to be bothered?

If you like this, try: other Nicholas Sparks films like “Nights in Rodanthe” and “The Lucky One”

Previous Posts

Black History Month 2016
Be sure to take time during Black History month to watch movies the Civil Rights movement, ("Eyes on the Prize," "Selma," "Boycott"), and movies that are themselves a part of black history and film history (add to that list: "Killer of Sheep," ...

posted 3:55:11pm Feb. 05, 2016 | read full post »

A Moving Tribute to a Father Through Movies
Jessica Ritchey wrote a touching essay for Rogerebert.com about the movies she watched in the year after her father died, and how watching them helped her to keep him close. I’ve been published several times by the time I see "Crimson ...

posted 8:00:40am Feb. 05, 2016 | read full post »

Hail, Caesar!
The Coen brothers love old movies, and not just the classics. I remember reading an interview where they discussed their affection for ...

posted 5:59:12pm Feb. 04, 2016 | read full post »

The Choice
Nicholas Sparks is one of the rare authors who has become a brand of his own, bigger than any of his movies. One reason is their predicability; ...

posted 5:55:13pm Feb. 04, 2016 | read full post »

Trailer: LAIKA's Kubo and the Two Strings
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4-6qJzeb3A[/youtube] Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), ...

posted 8:00:59am Feb. 04, 2016 | read full post »

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