Garrett Hedlund stars as Jonathan in this uneven but moving drama about a family facing the loss of a husband and father. The performances are excellent, especially Richard Jenkins as the father and “Downton Abbey’s” Jessica Brown Findlay as Jonathan’s sister.
I have two copies of the DVD to give away. To enter, send me an email at email@example.com with Lullaby in the subject line and tell me your favorite movie family. Don’t forget your address! I’ll pick a winner at random on Augut 4, 2014.
Here’s what’s at Comic-Con, which means here’s what’s coming everywhere else: affordable 3D printers with hand-held scanners that transmit 360 degree images to your tablet or laptop instantly. GoPro cameras. Google glasses. Even Oculus Rift, the totally immersive virtual reality headset invented by a teenager and sold for $2 billion that is said to be a literal game-changer (its first commercial use will be in gaming) and could change everything from movies and television to medical imaging.
And, once again, even more fan involvement in everything, the line between creator and consumer of content almost dissolving completely. When you have your photo taken with an alien chasing you, you don’t just get a print-out. You are directed to a console so you can post it to all of your social media. The new Ships of the Line Star Trek calendar will have fan art as well as the official renderings. And the new USA television miniseries from “Heroes” helmer Tim Kring, “Dig,” starring Jason Isaacs, has a virtual scavenger hunt set up at Comic-Con. If you discover the rune-like symbol they have hidden all over the area, you post a photo to Snapchat with their hashtag, you can win a chance to chat with someone from the show. And you can see prequel footage and engage with the writers via Wattpad.
I attended a press event featuring the people behind the new “Madagascar” animated series spin-off, “Penguins of Madagascar,” including writers/directors Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith (reuniting for the first time since “Antz”), Tom McGrath (director of the earlier films and voice of Skipper) and John Malkovich, who provides the voice of the villain, an evil octopus. The film also features Benedict Cumberbatch as a dashing, James Bond-style secret agent. It takes place just after the end of the last film (not the television series), as the penguins need some rest after the excitement of the circus adventure. “What starts as a birthday romp turns into a world tour.” Like the Bond films, they wanted to have a series of exciting locations.
McGrath says he always envisioned Robert Stack as the voice of Skipper, and tries to channel him when he performs the part. I asked Malkovich what was fun about playing a bad guy. He said that “this one is quite fun because he seems happy, he’s lazy, not particularly profound or remorseful, and that’s always a pleasure.”
“Dig” looks very impressive, and the chase scenes they showed us from the first episode really highlighted the locations in Jerusalem. (They will continue filming in New Mexico.) Isaac said he took the part because “I get to run around and pretend to be cooler, tougher, sexier, and smarter than I am.” Anne Heche plays his boss (and sometimes more). “We wanted to make it cinematic, multi-layered, epic,” said the cinematographer. They used a 90-year-old lens to “embrace the golden light” in Jerusalem, and an up-to-the-minute lens for the “calmer, cooler, beautifully crisp” light of Norway to achieve the maximum contrast. Because it is a limited “event” series, they know where it is going to end from the beginning, no “art of the stall.” They warned us that no one in the series is what he or she seems and that we should “look out for the color red,” which is almost another character in the story.
As we observe the 50th anniversary of the War in Vietnam, here are ten of the best of the movie and documentary depictions of the war and its impact on history and culture in the United States. The best-known films about Vietnam include “Apocalypse Now,” “Full Metal Jacket,” “Platoon,” “The Deer Hunter,” “Coming Home,” “Good Morning Vietnam.” But over 2000 films have touched on or portrayed the Vietnam war and there are sure to be many more to come as we continue to grapple with the strong feelings about the conflict. These are others I think are well worth watching.
1. We Were Soldiers The very first U.S. military involvement in Vietnam is explored in this somber portrayal of military honor and politicians’ hubris.
2. Gardens of Stone James Caan and James Earl Jones star in this poignant story of the war at home and in Southeast Asia, focusing on the Arlington Cemetery’s “Old Guard.”
3. Hearts and Minds This documentary was made in 1974 so it is as much an artifact of its time as it is an accurate depiction of events as we have come to understand them. But it is a powerful film with some important footage of the era.
4. China Beach This beautifully acted television series is a rare look at the war through the eyes of women.
5. Hamburger Hill The story of the 101st Airborne’s attempt to take a single hill in one of the most brutal engagements of the war stars Dylan McDermott and Don Cheadle.
7. Little Dieter needs to Fly Werner Herzog made a documentary about a German immigrant fell in love with planes and became an American naval pilot in the Vietnam War, where he was captured and then escaped, and then made it again as a feature film called Rescue Dawn with Christian Bale.
8. Vietnam – A Television History The PBS series about the Vietnam war has been re-edited and updated. It is still a thoughtful, balanced history of the conflict and its context.
9. In Country Bruce Willis stars in the story of a girl who wants to find out what happened to her father, who never returned from Vietnam.
10: Remembering Vietnam: The Wall at 25 Maya Lin’s memorial to the Americans who died in Vietnam is one of the most powerful spaces in Washington D.C. Vietnam veteran Jan Scruggs was determined to build a Vietnam memorial. Maya Lin was the Yale undergraduate whose etched granite memorial was selected by the judges but was considered insulting by some in the veteran community. The site has become a place for thousands of visitors to pay their respects. Many of them leave tokens with deep personal connections, and that is now a part of the memorial as well.
I always enjoy Luc Besson’s stylish car chases and shootouts. I like his use of locations, his strong female characters, and unexpected flashes of sentiment in the midst of mayhem. While I found much to like in this story about a young woman who gains superpowers through a new drug, it was a mistake to have her show less emotion as she becomes physically and emotionally stronger. Instead of sentiment, this time Besson inserts some preachy ruminations on the meaning of life. I’m not opposed to existential ponderings in the middle of a crashes and explosions film. But they need to be a little less silly and a lot less intrusive.
For a moment, I thought we were back on the Planet of the Apes or perhaps picking up some deleted scenes from “Tree of Life” as we returned to the dawn of time with the earliest hominids. But no, this is just some sort of context for what is to come. Our heroine, you see, shares a name with the skeleton of the oldest human remains, thought of as the first woman.
We then meet our present-day Lucy, standing on the sidewalk, arguing with her boyfriend of a week, who is trying to persuade her to deliver a briefcase for him. She may not be very focused, but she is sharp enough to know that he and the deal he is proposing are both very sketchy. But she is not smart enough to walk away before he can handcuff her to the case and shove her toward the door. She has no choice. She walks into the building. The boyfriend gets shot. And she is hustled upstairs but a lot of very scary-looking guys in black suits.
She is soon knocked out, and awakens to find that a pouch of a powerful new drug has been sewn into her abdomen. She is one of four mules to be sent to cities across Europe to deliver the drug. But before she leaves, a thug kicks her in the belly, the pouch opens, and the drug, a synthetic version of a chemical essential in fetal development, goes into her bloodstream and she is suddenly super-smart, super-powerful, and super-mad. Also, she can time-travel, sweeping eras to the side like Tinder rejects.
For a while it is fun to see her think, kick, punch, stab, and, yes, levitate the bad guys. But there are too many returns to Morgan Freeman lecturing a group of students about what would happen if we used more than ten percent of our brains (by the way, that old myth has no more basis in reality than this movie does) and the decision to make Lucy increasingly robotic in demeanor as she gets more cerebrally enhanced lessens the narrative propulsion and emotional heft to the storyline. I like Luc Besson. But I think he was using less than ten percent of his brain when he wrote this one.
Parents should know that this film includes extensive action-style violence with many characters injured and killed, lots of guns, knives, surgery, car chases and crashes, fights, threat of sexual assault with some grabbing, explicit scenes of animal and brief human sex and childbirth, sexual references, brief strong language, theme of drug dealing and effects of illegal drugs
Family discussion: If you could access more of your brain capacity, what would you use it for? Why did Lucy become less emotional as she got smarter?
If you like this, try: “The Transporter” and “Limitless”
Comic-Con 2014: Day One
Here's what's at Comic-Con, which means here's what's coming everywhere else: affordable 3D printers with hand-held scanners that transmit 360 degree images to your tablet or laptop instantly. GoPro
Remembering the Vietnam War: 10 Movies As we observe the 50th anniversary of the War in Vietnam, here are ten of the best of the movie and documentary depictions of the war and its impact on history and culture in the United States. The best-known films about Vietnam include "Apocalypse Now," "Full Metal Jacket," "Platoon," "The Deer Hun
Movie Mom's Archives
Movie Mom's full archives of more than 2,500 reviews (including her 200 best films for families), 400 interviews with filmmakers and 4,000 blog posts is now on Beliefnet for searching.