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Movie Mom

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New in Theaters
  New to DVD

San Andreas
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense disaster action and mayhem throughout, and brief strong language
Release Date:
May 30, 2015

 

American Sniper
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
R for strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references
Release Date:
January 16, 2015

Aloha
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some language including suggestive comments
Release Date:
May 30, 2015

 

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

Tomorrowland
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015

 

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

New in Theaters

grade:
C-

San Andreas

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense disaster action and mayhem throughout, and brief strong language
Release Date:
May 30, 2015
grade:
B

Aloha

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some language including suggestive comments
Release Date:
May 30, 2015
grade:
B+

Tomorrowland

Lowest Recommended Age:
4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015

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New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
B+

American Sniper

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
R for strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references
Release Date:
January 16, 2015
grade:
C

Strange Magic

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

Mortdecai

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

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Contest: Reading Rainbow DVD — If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

posted by Nell Minow
Copyright PBS Kids 2015

Copyright PBS Kids 2015

Levar Burton and Reading Rainbow present four classic episodes on this new DVD from PBS Kids. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie read by Beth Howland, Owen read by Matthew Broderick, Two OId Potatoes and Me read by Jordan Puryear, and Mr. George Baker read by Wayne Brady. I’m especially fond of the last one, the story of a 100-year-old man and a first grader who are both learning to read for the first time.

Send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with Rainbow in the subject line and tell me your favorite book for beginning readers. Don’t forget your address! (U.S. addresses only). I’ll pick a winner at random on June 7, 2015. Good luck!

Reminder: My policy on conflicts

The New Yorker’s Actress Profiles: Tilda Swinton, Angela Bassett, Katharine Hepburn, and More

posted by Nell Minow

The New Yorker has created a section with some of its best profiles of actresses, including Angela Bassett, Julia Roberts, Diane Keaton, Tilda Swinton, and Katharine Hepburn. They are a treat to read and will inspire you to check out or revisit some of their classic performances.

Anthony Lane on Julia Roberts in 2001: “The essence of Julia Roberts’s appeal is that she is more lovable than desirable, and that, even when love is off the menu, she cannot not be liked. There is no more flattering illusion in movies: here is a goddess, and she wants to be your friend.”

Claudia Roth Pierpont on Katharine Hepburn in 2003: “With her starved, whippetlike grace and overbearing intensity, Katharine Hepburn appeared slightly mad. But the same characteristics also made her seem a distinctly new type of woman, poised between the nervy and the nervously overwrought.”

Hilton Als on Angela Bassett in 1996: “While she has yet to account for a film’s financial success, her dignified, alert, and earnestly emotive screen presence does generate audience sympathy. And she appeals especially to that segment of the moviegoing public (black women, white housewives, lesbians, and married men) who are not just fetishizing her striking upper-body musculature but are responding to the subtext of her performances—a subtext that includes her struggle to reinvent Hollywood’s view of black women as something other than wisecracking or doleful martyrs, their hair stiff with brilliantine and the funk of subjugation.”

Exclusive Clip: Wish You Well

posted by Sharon Kirk

Ellen Burstyn, Mackenzie Foy, and Josh Lucas star in Wish You Well, a coming-of-age tale based on the best-selling novel by David Baldacci, who also wrote the screenplay. Foy plays 12-year-old Louisa, who moves with her brother from New York City to live with their grandmother in Virginia. A coal company tries to steal their land and Louisa finds herself having to fight for their land, home and future. It will be available on DVD and VOD June 2, 2015.

San Andreas

posted by Nell Minow
C-
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense disaster action and mayhem throughout, and brief strong language
Movie Release Date: May 30, 2015
Copyright 2015 Warner Brothers

Copyright 2015 Warner Brothers

Another summer blockbuster-by-the-numbers, another dad who needs redemption and re-connection with his family, and the only way he can get it is via massive, catastrophic disasters lovingly created via CGI that feels more real than the emotions, characters, or dialog. For those who have not found news footage of the floods in Texas enough of a thrill ride, we have “San Andreas,” the latest in schlock disaster porn.

This time, it’s an earthquake. Before the tectonic plates start to shift, we get quick intros to our two heroes, the brain (Paul Giamatti as Lawrence, a Caltech seismologist) and brawn (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Ray, a military rescue specialist turned LA Fire Department rescue specialist). This job is easier, because “no one is shooting at us.”

These scenes give the professor a chance to lecture his class and establish the scale of damage a quake inflicts and the impossibility of predicting when one will occur (until….). And it gives Ray a chance to rescue a pretty girl whose car has been knocked off a cliff, accompanied by a TV news reporter (“The Good Wife’s” Archie Panjabi) and cameraman. This is also the only clever twist in the film as the pretty girl is speeding along a narrow mountain road, reaching behind her for her water bottle and checking a text, either of which we assume are going to cause an accident. But this is not a Driver’s Ed cautionary video. Her car is knocked off the mountain by boulders, crushing it and wedging it precariously between rocks on the side of the cliff.

Fortunately, Ray and his wisecracking crew arrive to save the day, explaining what they are doing to the reporter so we can power through some more exposition and see the reporter’s notes on one of the team: “Cute but not smart.” Yep. That prepares us for what is coming all right. Except it’s not that cute. Example: two characters crash land in a baseball field and she says to him: “It’s been a while since I got you to second base!” How hilarious and quippily romantic in the midst of the entire state falling into the ocean!

We quickly establish Ray as a devoted father and estranged husband. Final divorce papers arrive in the mail and his ex, Emma (Carla Gugino — please get a better agent) is moving in with Richie Rich, I mean Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd), who has a mansion and a private plane and says that the skyscrapers he builds are his children. To sharpen Ray’s sense of being displaced, Daniel offers to fly Ray’s daughter Blake to her volleyball tournament in San Francisco, instead of driving with her dad.

As if to manifest Ray’s internal upheavals, the earth begins to shake, first in Nevada, where the Hoover Dam collapses, and then on the West Coast, when the fault line of the title, overdue for a major quake after more than a century, seizes, shifts, and heaves.

The special effects are so extensive that it amplifies their unreality. The movie is more concerned with the individual windows exploding out of the buildings than it is about the underlying mechanics of what is actually happening. It is preposterous enough that the professor not only predicts the second quake but hacks into the television networks. Wi-fi, electricity and broadcast channels are still operating, apparently, which is a long shot, but also people are actually watching the television news to find out what is happening, which is even more unlikely. And then, odds fast plummeting below zero, San Francisco is evacuated in a pretty orderly fashion (some folks stopping to loot flat-screens — why it it always flat-screens?), presumably so we can relish all the destruction without worrying too much about the people, the opposite of the neutron bomb. This is PG-13 “action violence,” designed to be exciting, not terrifying.

Goodbye, Golden Gate Bridge, cables swinging vertiginously. Goodbye Coit Tower. All those pretty pixels and algorithms, so cleverly arranged. California is shredded with the same glee the boys who played at our house used to have in wiping out the Sims with every possible kind of catastrophe.

What is terrifying is the Randian twist that has Ray abandoning any duties he has in LA to rescue just two people, both of whom are in his family. And in the middle of Armageddon, he somehow finds time for a heart-to-heart with his ex, after the scales drop from her eyes to understand what a selfish monster Daniel is. For all the literal flag-waving and reference to rebuilding at the end, this is a curiously sour portrayal of disaster as family therapy.

Parents should know that this film concerns a major earthquake affecting Nevada and California, with many collapsing buildings, roads, and bridges, fires, floods, looting, fighting, gun, characters injured and killed, references to death of a child, some disturbing images, and some strong language.

Family discussion: What does this movie teach us about skills and plans we should have for emergencies? What did Emma and Ray learn about one another and why did it take an earthquake for them to reach that understanding?

If you like this, try: “The Towering Inferno” and “The War of the Worlds”

Previous Posts

Contest: Reading Rainbow DVD -- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Levar Burton and Reading Rainbow present four classic episodes on this new DVD from PBS Kids. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie read by Beth Howland, ...

posted 3:49:25pm May. 29, 2015 | read full post »

The New Yorker's Actress Profiles: Tilda Swinton, Angela Bassett, Katharine Hepburn, and More
The New Yorker has created a section with some of its best profiles of actresses, including Angela Bassett, Julia Roberts, Diane Keaton, Tilda Swinton, and Katharine Hepburn. They are a treat to read and will inspire you to check out or revisit ...

posted 8:00:38am May. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Exclusive Clip: Wish You Well
[jwvideo vid='sTOlso40' pid='GvkPWNBE'] Ellen Burstyn, Mackenzie Foy, and Josh Lucas star in Wish You Well, a coming-of-age tale based on the best-selling novel by David Baldacci, who also wrote the screenplay. Foy plays 12-year-old Louisa, ...

posted 10:24:09pm May. 28, 2015 | read full post »

San Andreas
Another summer blockbuster-by-the-numbers, another dad who needs redemption and re-connection with his family, and the only way he can get ...

posted 5:55:26pm May. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Aloha
Writer/director Cameron Crowe presents us with an attractive and talented but messy and compromised hero in "Aloha," and asks us to root ...

posted 5:37:27pm May. 28, 2015 | read full post »

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