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Unfinished Business
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some strong risque sexual content/graphic nudity, and for language and drug use
Release Date:
March 6, 2015

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic material
Release Date:
November 21, 2014

Chappie
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for violence, language and brief nudity
Release Date:
March 6, 2015

 

Foxcatcher
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some drug use and a scene of violence
Release Date:
November 21, 2014

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:

Release Date:
March 6, 2015

 

Horrible Bosses 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong crude sexual content and language throughout
Release Date:
November 26, 2104

What Movies Do You Watch Over and Over?

posted by Nell Minow

A couple of weeks ago, “The Best Years of Our Lives” was on TCM and I decided to watch the first few moments to enjoy again scenes I have enjoyed many, many times. I promised myself I would go to bed after half an hour but found myself once again watching all the way to the end. There are lots of movies I seem unable to not watch, even if I’ve seen them a hundred times and even if I own the dang thing and can watch it any time I want. So I especially enjoyed this discussion by two of my favorite critics, Matt Zoller Seitz and Dana Stevens, talking to Professor Cristel Russell about the movies they can’t resist watching over and over.

Tribute: Documentary Pioneer Albert Maysles

posted by Nell Minow

We mourn the loss of film visionary Albert Maysles, who with his brother David, showed us a new way to see film and a new way to see the world.  They were the first Americans to create intimate, unstructured documentary storytelling without experts talking from behind their desks or extended narration.  This is “direct cinema,” the distinctly American version of French “cinema verité.”  The Maysles brothers were the first to make non-fiction feature films where the drama of human life unfolds as is, without scripts, sets, or narration.  In part, this was due to their way of looking at the world, which was open-hearted and non-judgemental.  But it was also due to changes in technology since the very earliest days of documentary.  In 1960, he said, “With the equipment we have today, which is directly descended from the equipment we made; you could go beyond the illustrated lecture for the first time. These innovations made it possible to get what was happening so clearly and directly that the person viewing the film would feel as though he was actually present at those events. For the first time, it was possible for someone watching a documentary to feel as though he was standing in the shoes of the person he was seeing onscreen.”

Maysles’ subjects had lives that were in some ways ordinary, like those of us in the audience. Salesman was about door-to-door Bible salesmen.  He said, “There are daily acts of generosity and kindness and love that should be represented on film.”

But he also made extraordinary films about extraordinary lives.  Perhaps his most famous was Grey Gardens, about “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” Beale, relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who continued to live in their crumbling East Hampton mansion with no money and very little contact with the outside world.  The movie was later adapted into a hit Broadway musical and a movie with Drew Barrymore.

He filmed Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Otis Redding, and the Mamas and the Papas.

He filmed the Rolling Stones.

He filmed Paul McCartney.

He said,

As a documentarian I happily place my fate and faith in reality. It is my caretaker, the provider of subjects, themes, experiences – all endowed with the power of truth and the romance of discovery. And the closer I adhere to reality the more honest and authentic my tales. After all, the knowledge of the real world is exactly what we need to better understand and therefore possibly to love one another. It’s my way of making the world a better place.

May his memory be a blessing.

 

Trailer: The Lady in the Van with Maggie Smith

posted by Nell Minow

Writer Alan Bennett (“The Madness of King George”) was not sure about the right way to respond when a near-homeless woman in a fragile mental state moved her dilapidated van in front of his house. He did not want her there but he could not bring himself to send her away. What began as a three week stay led to fifteen years, most of it parked in his driveway. It also led to The Lady in the Van, which The Village Voice called “one of the finest bursts of comic writing the twentieth century has produced,” Bennett recounts the strange life of Miss Shepherd, a London eccentric who parked her van (overstuffed with decades’ worth of old clothes, oozing batteries, and kitchen utensils still in their original packaging) in the author’s driveway for more than fifteen years. It is a sympathetic portrait of an outsider with an acquisitive taste and an indomitable spirit, drawn with equal parts fascination and compassion.

And now it is a movie, with Maggie Smith as Miss Shepherd, coming to the US in December 2015.

Unfinished Business

posted by Nell Minow
Copyright 20th Century Fox 2015

Copyright 20th Century Fox 2015

“Unfinished Business” is a story about three renegade renegades from bureaucracy going up against The Man and the importance of the individual in an era of soul-grinding corporatism. But the movie itself is clearly the product of institutional over-management, as though it was put together by a committee and then circulated for sign-off through a dozen different divisions. The result is a weird and sadly sour mash-up of wild, raunchy comedy, underdog triumph, and treacly family story about how much daddies love their children. Plus random switches of location, tired jokes about glory holes in gay bars, and stunningly off-kilter “humor” about developmental challenges. And much assumed hilarity about someone’s funny name, which is not even that funny. Vince Vaughn looks tired throughout and not just because his character is exhausted. The original title, “Business Trip,” would have better described the storyline. The current title better describes the film.

YouTube Preview Image

Vaughn plays Daniel, who in a “Jerry Maguire” moment begins the film by quitting his job as a salesman for some faceless conglomerate that sells something. His boss, Chuck (Sienna Miller, very funny and underused) has told him he has to take a pay cut. So he walks out, and two men come along. One is old and bitter (Tom Wilkinson as Timothy). One is young and naive (Dave Franco as Mike). But they have grit and dreams and determination. A year later, they have just one last chance to keep their enterprise going. The deal has been approved. They just need to fly to Portland, Maine for the handshake. Yes, a handshake is all it takes to shake that money tree. We won’t waste time on the sloppiness in the portrayal of “business” in this film, except to note that it is consistent with the lack of energy throughout. At first it seems there will be some connection between the bullying issues faced by Daniel’s children and his relationship with Chuck. Instead, we get to hear Timothy whine about his bad marriage and how much he wants to have sex, wheelbarrow style. Or another joke about Mike Pancake’s last name or his inability to master basic vocabulary (while somehow doing an excellent job putting complicated pricing figures together).

But before they can get to the handshake, they have to get through Chuck, who is there chatting up the client with jokes that are just smutty enough to make her look like a “cool girl,” and undercutting their prices to drive them out of business. This means they end up going to Germany for yet another meeting, so that lots of things can go wrong in ways that are supposed to be funny along the way. The car flips over. A crucial agreement cannot happen unless they track down a female colleague in a co-ed spa, who of course insists that Daniel remove his clothes to show his, uh, commitment or something. The guys end up at a gay bar, a youth hostel, an anti-G8 demonstration, and a very revealing art installation, as Daniel tries to re-do his numbers to undercut Chuck and keep up with some bullying problems his children are dealing with at home. At one point, he ends up walking (and then running) around in teal eyeshadow, and we perk up for a moment, thinking something that isn’t banal and formulaic is going to happen, but no such luck.  The storyline, like the comedy, is unfinished, too.

Parents should know that this movie includes constant very strong language, extended male and female nudity, very explicit sexual references and situations, drinking, drug use, bullying, and comic peril and violence.

Family discussion: Why did Daniel have trouble with the homework assignment? Should he have told his wife the truth? How did he help his children?

If you like this, try: “The Hangover” and “The Big Kahuna”

Previous Posts

What Movies Do You Watch Over and Over?
A couple of weeks ago, "The Best Years of Our Lives" was on TCM and I decided to watch the first few moments to enjoy again scenes I have enjoyed many, many times. I promised myself I would go to bed after half an hour but found myself once again watching all the way to the end. There are lots of mo

posted 3:32:21pm Mar. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Tribute: Documentary Pioneer Albert Maysles
We mourn the loss of film visionary Albert Maysles, who with his brother David, showed us a new way to see film and a new way to see the world.  They were the first Americans to create intimate, unstructured documentary storytelling without experts talking from behind their desks or extended narrat

posted 3:05:55pm Mar. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: The Lady in the Van with Maggie Smith
Writer Alan Bennett ("The Madness of King George") was not sure about the right way to respond when a near-homeless woman in a fragile mental state moved her dilapidated van in front of his house. He did not want her there but he could not bring himself to send her away. What began as a three week

posted 8:00:47am Mar. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Unfinished Business
"Unfinished Business" is a story about three renegade renegades from bureaucracy going up against The Man and the importance of the individual in an era of soul-grinding corporatism. But the mo

posted 5:59:57pm Mar. 05, 2015 | read full post »

Chappie
So, basically, no one here saw "Terminator." Or "Frankenstein." But maybe they did see "Robocop?" Or "Short Circuit?" Writer/director Neill Blomkamp likes sci-fi allegories of social and political conf

posted 5:59:11pm Mar. 05, 2015 | read full post »


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