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Movie Mom

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New in Theaters
  New to DVD

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

 

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

I'll See You in My Dreams
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual material, drug use and brief strong language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015

 

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

Mad Max: Fury Road
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images
Release Date:
May 15, 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:
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
grade:
B+

I'll See You in My Dreams

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual material, drug use and brief strong language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015
grade:
B+

Mad Max: Fury Road

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images
Release Date:
May 15, 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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Tomorrowland’s Inspirations

posted by Nell Minow

Brad Bird’s gorgeously imagined “Tomorrowland” is not just inspired by an area in the original Disneyland, celebrating its 60th anniversary this week, it is a tribute to the sensationally imaginative work of the “imagineers” and artists who created it and an explicit invitation to everyone in the audience to bring their own ideas and creative energy to join in, and to help create a “great new beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day.” If it feels at times like the sunny introductory videos that set the stage while you’re waiting in line for an attraction at the theme park, well, that is part of the fun.

It is also very much in the spirit of the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City, with the theme “Peace Through Understanding.” Early in the movie a boy named Frank (Thomas Robinson) visits the fair, bringing his invention, a jetpack. I got a special kick out of that because I went to the fair with my family and remember very well being completely enchanted by my first time on the It’s a Small World ride, which premiered there and which plays a very important role in the film. I also remember the Carousel of Progress, and its theme song heard in the film. I check it out on every trip to Disney World to see how it is been updated.

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One scene in “Tomorrowland” features a diorama with four of the 20th century’s greatest “imagineers.” They are:

Nikola Tesla: This mysterious genius was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. 21st century imagineer Elon Musk named his electric car in Tesla’s honor.

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Thomas Edison: The most prolific inventor of his era, Edison was dubbed “the Wizard of Menlo Park” for his work on the electric light, the phonograph, and movie cameras and projectors. He had over 1000 patents, and his inventions established the foundation for enormous advances in industry and technology.

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Jules Verne: Before something can be invented, it must be imagined. Verne’s novels include Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, From the Earth to the Moon, and Around the World in Eighty Days. He not only inspired the entire genre of science fiction; he inspired the creation of some of the technology he imagined.

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Alexandre Gustave Eiffel: The man for whom the Eiffel Tower is named was a French engineer and architect. He also worked on the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France to the United States. The Eiffel Tower was also created for a World’s Fair, and it plays an important role in “Tomorrowland.”

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Trailer: Unexpected with Cobie Smulders

posted by Nell Minow

Samantha Abbott (“How I Met Your Mother’s” Cobie Smulders) is a dedicated and passionate teacher at an inner-city Chicago high school. Just as she is coming to terms with her school closing, Samantha faces some life-changing and unexpected news: she is pregnant. After breaking the news to her live-in boyfriend John and opinionated mother (Elizabeth McGovern), Samantha learns that one of her most promising students, Jasmine (Gail Bean), has landed in a similar but very different situation. As the women navigate their ambitions for the future, Samantha and Jasmine forge an unlikely friendship that will challenge their perspectives and leave a lasting impact on one another.

Tomorrowland

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language
Movie Release Date: May 22, 2015
Copyright 2015 Disney

Copyright 2015 Disney

It begins with an argument. Frank (George Clooney) is trying to tell us the story. But he is repeatedly interrupted by someone we will learn is Casey (Britt Robertson). “Try to be a little more upbeat,” she urges him. The only way he can do that is to go back to when he last felt upbeat, as a child in 1964, when he brought his not-quite-working-yet invention to the New York World’s Fair to submit it in competition. The judge (Hugh Laurie) rejected it, but a young girl who was watching them follows Frank, hands him a pin, and tells him to follow her without being noticed. She is Athena, played with saucer-eyed charm by Raffey Cassidy. That leads him to the “It’s a Small World” ride, which had its premiere at the 1964 World’s Fair, but in this version of the ride, there is a portal to a fabulous Oz-like city of the future.

We then meet Casey in the present day, where she is engaging in a little breaking and entering at a NASA facility in Cape Canaveral, trying to stop the machines that are tearing it down. Her father (a warm and wonderfully natural Tim McGraw) is a NASA engineer who has been laid off as his entire program is shutting down. Casey is caught and arrested, and when she is being released, among her things is the same pin. And when she touches it, she is transported to a wheat field with that same city in the distance. The shot is an homage to the iconic image of the Emerald City from the poppy field. She wants to get back there. She feels that she needs to get back there. And so she tries to track down the pin, which takes her to a store filled with sci-fi artifacts run by Kathryn Hahn and Keegan-Michael Key, who manage to be both very funny and surprisingly menacing. The store is called Blast from the Past, a name that turns out to be quite literal when some guys dressed in black with scary grins and big guns show up.

Athena shows up, looking not a day older than in 1964, and takes Casey to see Frank, now a grumpy recluse with a grizzly gray beard stubble and a holographic dog. When the guys in black show up, they are held back by Frank’s elaborate system of booby traps long enough for Frank, Casey, and Athena to escape. Eventually they make it back to Tomorrowland, which looks quite different from the pristine and joyful version Casey first saw.

Co-writer/director Brad Bird, working with “Lost’s” Damon Lindelof, combines some of the themes from his earlier films, “The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” and even “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” so that the story’s superbly staged action sequences and gorgeously imagined settings underlie ideas about creativity, optimism, and the power of ideas and imagination. It is all in the tradition and the spirit of the man behind the theme park area that inspired the film. Early on, Casey tells her dispirited father, who describes himself as “a NASA engineer without a launch,” the Cherokee story he used to tell her. Two wolves are fighting. One represents darkness and despair. One represents light and hope. Which one will win? The one that you feed. It is clear that Bird wants us to feed the wolf of light and hope, and this film gives that wolf some real nourishment.

Parents should know that this film includes sci-fi/action/fantasy peril and violence including weapons, characters injured and killed, themes of dystopia and destruction, and some mild language (hell, damn).

Family discussion: What made Casey special? What invention would you like to create to make a better future? Would you like to have a friend like Athena?

If you like this, try: Disney classics from the original Tomorrowland era like “Escape from Witch Mountain” and “Swiss Family Robinson”

I’ll See You in My Dreams

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual material, drug use and brief strong language
Movie Release Date:May 22, 2015
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual material, drug use and brief strong language
Movie Release Date: May 22, 2015
Copyright 2015 Bleeker Street

Copyright 2015 Bleeker Street

Blythe Danner gives a performance of exquisite sensitivity in “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” the story of a lonely widow. She plays Carol, a singer-turned teacher who retired 20 years ago after her husband died. Her friends in a nearby retirement community urge her to join them but she prefers to stay in her home, her primary companions her dog and her glass of white wine.

The movie begins by taking us through a day we surmise is just like hundreds of others. She plays cards with friends, she plays golf, she feeds the dog, she sips wine and watches television. She keeps busy and she is not unhappy. She has plans, and she has fun, but she does not have much of a sense of purpose. When a rat invades her home, it is unsettling. She asks her new pool cleaner for help.

His name is Lloyd (Martin Starr), and he is lost in a way that makes her feel able to talk to him.  Her feelings toward him are not maternal or romantic. But he is smart, and funny and self-deprecating and he was willing to help her with the rat.  And he is newly back in town and living with his parents, so he can use a friend, too.  When he tells her about going to do karaoke, she agrees to go with him.

A speed dating event with her friends is a hilarious disaster, but that may make an overture from a handsome stranger named Bill (Sam Elliott) seem more appealing.  Writer/director Brett Haley has a good sense for the way people who have no time for trivialities get to the point with each other, wasting little time on getting-to-know-you trivialities.  Carol’s conversations with Lloyd and Bill are direct without being intrusive, and especially without being judgmental.  When she is with her friends, there are easy exchanges that reflect the kind of connection based on the shared experience of being an older woman.  A scene where they all get high on one friend’s medical marijuana is completely charming.

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It is almost beyond belief that this is Danner’s first romantic lead in a film.  She is breathtaking.  Haley wisely just leaves the camera on her beautiful face as she sits with her beloved dog while he slowly stops breathing in the vet’s office.  Her grief is devastating.  Her devotion is deeply moving.  Her performance of “Cry Me a River” in karaoke is also magnificent.  The incandescence she brings to the story of a woman who is still struggling for connection makes this one of the most touching performances of the year.

Parents should know that this movie has strong language, drinking and drugs, sexual references and situations, and a sad death.

Family discussion: What do we learn about Carol from the karaoke scenes? Why did she become friends with Lloyd? How is dating different for older people than for younger people?

If you like this, try: “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and its sequel

Previous Posts

Tomorrowland's Inspirations
Brad Bird's gorgeously imagined "Tomorrowland" is not just inspired by an area in the original Disneyland, celebrating its 60th anniversary this week, it is a tribute to the sensationally imaginative work of the "imagineers" and artists who ...

posted 8:03:49am May. 22, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Unexpected with Cobie Smulders
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzq7dfZn31k Samantha Abbott ("How I Met Your Mother's" Cobie Smulders) is a dedicated and passionate teacher at an inner-city Chicago high school. Just as she is coming to terms with her school closing, ...

posted 8:00:48am May. 22, 2015 | read full post »

Tomorrowland
It begins with an argument. Frank (George Clooney) is trying to tell us the story. But he is repeatedly interrupted by someone we will learn is ...

posted 7:10:31am May. 22, 2015 | read full post »

I'll See You in My Dreams
Blythe Danner gives a performance of exquisite sensitivity in "I'll See You in My Dreams," the story of a lonely widow. She plays Carol, a ...

posted 5:55:53pm May. 21, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Brett Haley, Writer/Director of "I'll See You in My Dreams"
Brett Haley wrote and directed "I'll See You in My Dreams," a bittersweet romance starring the luminous Blythe Danner as Carol, a widow ...

posted 3:12:21pm May. 21, 2015 | read full post »

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