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January 1970 Archives

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Soap Box Derby — Life Imitates Art

posted by Nell Minow

It bills itself as “The Greatest Amateur Racing Event in the World!” But the Soap Box Derby, once a popular event with racers, spectators, and sponsors, has, well, gone downhill. It began during the Depression and now has races across […]

Teach Kids About Advertising

posted by Nell Minow

The Federal Trade Commission has a terrific new online game for kids that will teach them to understand the difference between someone trying to tell them something and someone trying to sell them something. It’s called Admongo. The FTC’s message […]

What’s the Worst Toy of the Year?

posted by Nell Minow

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has announced its nominees for the TOADY award (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children). Anyone can vote to select the worst from candidates that include a Halo toy for children promoting a violent […]

Smile of the Week: ‘Werner Herzog’ reads Where’s Waldo?

posted by Nell Minow

The brilliant movie director Werner Herzog (“Grizzly Man,” “Encounters at the End of the World,” “Aguirre: The Wrath of God,” and of course “Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe”), here is gently spoofed by an actor for his inclination toward dark […]

Supreme Court to Rule on Limiting Sales of Violent Games to Kids

posted by Nell Minow

Is there a First Amendment right to sell violent video games to children and teenagers? The California legislature said no. They enacted a law imposing a fine of up to $1000 on retailers who sell violent games to anyone under […]

Nine

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual content and smoking
Movie Release Date:December 25, 2009
DVD Release Date:April 27, 2010
B
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content and smoking
Movie Release Date: December 25, 2009
DVD Release Date: April 27, 2010

High profile director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) has everything he needs to make his ninth movie and more. Much more. It is Italy in the early 1960’s and Guido is a glamorous celebrity, a name brand, a commodity. His production […]

It’s Complicated

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for some drug content and sexuality
Movie Release Date:December 25, 2009
DVD Release Date:April 27, 2010
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for some drug content and sexuality
Movie Release Date: December 25, 2009
DVD Release Date: April 27, 2010

Forget the accents. Forget the anguish, the steely resolve, the iambic pentameter. All hail Meryl Streep for what she is best at — comedy. She spins screenplay straw into movie gold, turning yet another fungible Nancy Meyers saga about a […]

Why We Love Roger — Ebertfest 2010

posted by Nell Minow

I am back home but still thinking about my spectacular trip to Champaign-Urbana for Ebertfest. You can get a glimpse of it here, with Chaz Ebert (Roger’s wife) introducing me as I introduce the film, “I Capture the Castle.” I […]

The Year of Goodbyes

posted by Nell Minow

The Year of Goodbyes: A true story of friendship, family and farewells is a beautiful book by Debbie Levy inspired by the “poesiealbum” kept by her mother as a little girl in pre-WWII Germany before her family escaped to the […]

Play the Game

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language
Movie Release Date:August 28, 2009
DVD Release Date:April 27, 2010
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language
Movie Release Date: August 28, 2009
DVD Release Date: April 27, 2010

The players get played in a romantic buddy comedy with one important distinction — one of those players is the resident of an assisted living facility who gets some assistance he was not expecting when a frisky fellow resident slips […]

News-Gazette Report on My Ebertfest Panel

posted by Nell Minow

Champaign’s News Gazette wrote a nice piece about our panel discussion on “Synecdoche, New York” with writer-director Charlie Kaufman. Reporter Melissa Merli called it “perhaps the liveliest post-screening discussion so far.” [Kafuman] said he explores themes in which he’s interested […]

Today at Ebertfest

posted by Nell Minow

I will be on stage following I Capture the Castle today. Unfortunately, the travel delays in Europe kept Bill Nighy from attending the festival as planned, but we will have a good audience discussion. Then, we will see Vincent: a […]

Lois Wilson, the Woman Behind Al-Anon

posted by Nell Minow

“When Love is Not Enough,” the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie about Lois Wilson, the wife of the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, will premiere this weekend starring Winona Ryder and Barry Pepper. Lois Wilson recognized that the friends and families […]

Today at Ebertfest

posted by Nell Minow

I will be on stage following I Capture the Castle today. Unfortunately, the travel delays in Europe kept Bill Nighy from attending the festival as planned, but we will have a good audience discussion. Then, we will see Vincent: a […]

Movies That Take Place in One Night

posted by Nell Minow

Rotten Tomatoes picked the five best movies that take place in one night. Some other one-night movies: “Can’t Hardly Wait” and “Dazed and Confused” — like “American Graffiti,” both stories of the celebration of the end of school/start of the […]

A New Gay Friend for Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead

posted by Nell Minow

There’s a new kid at Riverdale High School. Archie Comics has announced that this fall Kevin Keller will join the gang at the maltshop and become the series’ first openly gay character. “The introduction of Kevin is just about keeping […]

MVP of the Week: ‘Don’t Stop Believin”

posted by Nell Minow

The MVP for this week is not a person but a song. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” was first released in 1981. But it’s back in a big way and has been featured in movies and on television shows. It was […]

Why Are You Seeing That Trailer Before This Movie?

posted by Nell Minow

I often hear complaints from movie-goers who think that the trailers run before the movies they bought tickets to see are inappropriate. This has become even more important now that the MPAA has made the rules about content in trailers […]

My Thoughts On Success

posted by Nell Minow

The Washington Post has asked me to be a contributor to their “On Success” discussion page and I have enjoyed responding to questions about the importance of vacations, the challenges faced by a woman football coach, and the possibility of […]

Microsoft Withdraws Sexting Video

posted by Nell Minow

Good work from Common Sense Media, whose complaint led to Microsoft’s decision to pull an promotional video that seemed to endorse “sexting.” An ad for Microsoft’s new KIN smartphones showed a guy reaching the phone up inside his t-shirt to […]

I’m Going to Ebertfest!

posted by Nell Minow

I’m very excited about my return to Roger Ebert’s Film Festival on Thursday. I love this festival, organized by the leading film critic in the world because it is unique. Instead of the usual quirky indies and other unreleased festival […]

National Screen Free Week

posted by Nell Minow

It isn’t TV Turn Off week any more. It’s now National Screen Free Week. As Aria Wallace discovered, turning off all of our devices can be difficult, but it can open us up to truer, deeper, more nuanced and more […]

Opening this Week: ‘The Back-Up Plan’ and ‘The Losers’

posted by Nell Minow

It’s Mars and Venus time this week with a romantic comedy that brings Jennifer Lopez back to the screen for the first time since “Bordertown” and “El Cantante” in 2006 with “The Back-Up Plan” and the first big guns and […]

Avatar

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking
Movie Release Date:December 18, 2009
DVD Release Date:April 20, 2010
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking
Movie Release Date: December 18, 2009
DVD Release Date: April 20, 2010

NOTE: The DVD being released this week is a stripped-down 2D version. Later this year there will be another release with many more extras. Writer-director-producer James Cameron (“Titanic,” “Terminator”) spent a record-breaking $230 million on “Avatar,” and the good news […]

Tribute: Dr. Dorothy Height

posted by Nell Minow

“She led the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, and served as the only woman at the highest level of the Civil Rights Movement — witnessing every march and milestone along the way. And even in the final […]

Crazy Heart

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and brief sexuality
Movie Release Date:January 8, 2010
DVD Release Date:April 20, 2010
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and brief sexuality
Movie Release Date: January 8, 2010
DVD Release Date: April 20, 2010

Jeff Bridges does not portray Bad Blake, a broken-down, once-successful country singer; he inhabits the role, showing us not just what is happening to the man on screen but everything, every success and every failure, every love and every loss […]

The Young Victoria

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some mild sensuality, a scene of violence, and brief incidental language and smoking
Movie Release Date:December 18, 2009
DVD Release Date:April 20, 2010
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some mild sensuality, a scene of violence, and brief incidental language and smoking
Movie Release Date: December 18, 2009
DVD Release Date: April 20, 2010

“The Young Victoria” is the story of a teenager who became a queen. Before she reigned for a record 63 years and gave her name to an age, she was a girl who was sheltered to the point of claustrophobia. […]

The Lovely Bones

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving disturbing violent content and images, and some language
Movie Release Date:December 11, 2009
DVD Release Date:April 20, 2010
C
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving disturbing violent content and images, and some language
Movie Release Date: December 11, 2009
DVD Release Date: April 20, 2010

Peter Jackson, whose film versions of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy could be a textbook example of how to adapt a literary work for screen, could find his latest film, “The Lovely Bones” as the example on the next […]

Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:NR
Movie Release Date:2009
DVD Release Date:April 13, 2010
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: NR
Movie Release Date: 2009
DVD Release Date: April 13, 2010

Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh is a documentary about a woman of incalculable courage and honor. Senesh, an idealist who hoped to help create a Jewish state in Israel, escaped from Hungary to what […]

Smile of the Week: Tap Dancing!

posted by Nell Minow

Thanks to my friend Bob Elisberg for recommending this sublime video!

Interview: Derrick Borte of ‘The Joneses’

posted by Nell Minow

Derrick Borte, an artist-turned journalist turned producer/director of commercials, was watching a television news magazine one night when a segment about “stealth marketing” came on the air. We channel-surf during ads on television and use pop-up blockers to avoid ads […]

MVP of the Week: Aaron Johnson

posted by Nell Minow

British actor Aaron Johnson appears in two films that open this week. He plays the title role in Kick-Ass (featuring previous MVP Mark Strong) and he is very good both as the wimpy would-be superhero and the resilient, lithe almost-action […]

Secrets of the Mountain

posted by Nell Minow

Family movie night returns to NBC with Secrets of the Mountain, about an adventure that brings a family together in a search for hidden treasure, starring Barry Bostwick and Paige Turco. Somewhere between the demands of her career, her ex’s […]

The Greatest

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for sexual content, some language, and drug use
Movie Release Date:April 16, 2010
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual content, some language, and drug use
Movie Release Date: April 16, 2010

Two gifted young women whose best work will be in other films are the reason to see this one. Carey Mulligan, so enchanting in last year’s An Education, plays a pregnant teenager in “The Greatest,” written and directed by newcomer […]

The Perfect Game

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some thematic elements
Movie Release Date:April 16, 2010
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some thematic elements
Movie Release Date: April 16, 2010

Think of it as the “Good News Bears.” This sweet, sometimes sugary film is based on a real-life Little League team from Monterrey, Mexico who came to the United States to play in the Little League World Series of 1957 […]

Death at a Funeral

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language, drug content, and some sexual humor
Movie Release Date:April 16, 2010
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language, drug content, and some sexual humor
Movie Release Date: April 16, 2010

It feels like the world should come to a stop when someone dies, but unfortunately, it does not. And it feels like the confrontation with the eternal and the shock of grief should somehow make everyone behave, but unfortunately, it […]

Vogue — Glee Style

posted by Nell Minow

A preview of next week’s all-Madonna episode of “Glee” — with Sue Sylvester starring in “Vogue!” One thing I especially love about this show is is agnosticism about music — it makes no distinction between classic rock (“Somebody to Love”), […]

I Remember Better When I Paint

posted by Nell Minow

I Remember Better When I Paint: Treating Alzheimer’s through the Creative Arts is a documentary about the way that the arts can reach people struggling with severe dementia and other memory impairments. It is a touching and inspiring film that […]

Interview: Dr. Rick Hodes of ‘Making the Crooked Straight’

posted by Nell Minow

Dr. Rick Hodes is an Orthodox Jew who has devoted his life to “tikkun olam,” “healing the world. His motto is the Talmud’s statement that “He who saves one life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” […]

Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary

posted by Nell Minow

I loved Beverly Cleary’s books even more when we read them to our children than I did when I read them as a child. It’s because she has a unique ability to capture the way a child sees the world, […]

Storytime Live! — Interview with Director Sam Scalimoni

posted by Nell Minow

Sam Scalimoni is the director of Nickeoldeon’s new traveling “Storytime Live” show, starring its most popular characters, including Dora and Diego, the Backyardigans, the Wonder Pets, Kai-Lan, and more. What is it like to create a show for the most […]

List: Librarians in Movies

posted by Nell Minow

Celebrate National Library Week! This year’s chairman is “Coraline” author Neil Gaiman. Visit your public library to take a look at what’s available in books, DVDs, and audio — and to thank your librarian. A special thank you shout-out from […]

Yom Hashoah, Day of Remembrance

posted by Nell Minow

Today, all over the world, people of all faiths and cultures are observing Yom Hashoah, the annual Day of Remembrance for those who perished in the Holocaust. Yom is Hebrew for “Day” and Hashoah means “of Catasrophe” or “of Destruction.” […]

Interview: Matt Roloff of “Little People, Big World”

posted by Nell Minow

Matt Roloff is a businessman, entrepreneur, farmer, husband, and father of four, including teen-age twins. He and his family star on the TLC series Little People, Big World. Matt, his wife Amy, and one of the twins are little people, […]

Tribute: Dixie Carter

posted by Nell Minow

Dixie Carter, the lovely and elegant star of Designing Women, died yesterday at age 70. I am a huge fan of the show and its portrayal of successful, independent, outspoken women who shared a deep and loyal friendship as well […]

The Brat Packers Are In Their 40’s

posted by Nell Minow

A new book by Susannah Gora takes a look at the group of young actors who appeared in the John Hughes films that seemed to define a generation — and certainly changed the way teenagers were portrayed on screen. You […]

Replacing Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court

posted by Nell Minow

Justice John Paul Stevens is retiring from the Supreme Court and I am very proud that my sister, Harvard Law School dean Martha Minow, is one of the candidates currently under consideration as his replacement. She’d be a great justice […]

Interview: David Nixon of ‘Letters to God’

posted by Nell Minow

If you were desperately ill, what would you say to God? What would you ask for? A boy named Tyler had some things he wanted to ask God when he became ill with cancer, and now his story has become […]

Beliefnet’s List of Great Movie Marriages

posted by Nell Minow

Be sure to check out Ten Movies that Celebrate Marriage by Kris Rasmussen. There are a zillion movies that celebrate falling in love but relatively few take on the more challenging task of showing what happens next — what living […]

The Runaways — The Real Story

posted by Nell Minow

“Twilight‘s” Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning star as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie in the upcoming film about the pioneering all-girl rock group The Runaways. Before it opens on April 9, it might be fun to take a look at […]

Autism: The Musical

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Not rated
Movie Release Date:2008
DVD Release Date:2009
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Movie Release Date: 2008
DVD Release Date: 2009

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, families can watch Autism – The Musical, about five families dealing with autism as they prepare for a musical performance. The film is illuminating in its depiction of the very different kids with very […]

Five Movies about College Basketball

posted by Nell Minow

Now that most people’s NCAA brackets are blown up and they’re getting ready to enjoy the final game, it might be a good time to take another look at some fictional college basketball teams in the movies. 1. The Absent […]

Peepfest 2010

posted by Nell Minow

I am besotted with the annual Washington Post Peeps contest, where artists and craftspeople and peep-lovers of all kinds are invited to create dioramas featuring the pink and yellow and blue marshmallow bunnies and chicks that are sold every spring […]

‘Awesomely Lame’ After-School Specials of the 70’s

posted by Nell Minow

I admit to lingering affection for the cheesy after-school specials of the 1970’s. They started on ABC in 1972 and were known for their flimsy production values, cardboard characters, awkward efforts at social relevance, and stilted acting. ABC owned the […]

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