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For the 4th of July: Singing Founding Fathers in “1776”

posted by Nell Minow

Happy Independence Day!  Every year, I recommend the rousing musical about the Declaration of Independence. “1776” makes the Founding Fathers vivid, human, and interesting characters, and is so involving that you almost forget that you already know how it all turned […]

Would President Frank Underwood’s Plan Be Legal?

posted by Nell Minow

SPOILER ALERT If you’re watching the new season of “House of Cards,” you may wonder whether the trick now-President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) to create jobs and boost the economy has up his sleeve would be allowed in real-life politics. […]

Merchants of Doubt

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for brief strong language
Movie Release Date:March 6, 2015
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for brief strong language
Movie Release Date: March 6, 2015

Do you remember the tobacco executives standing up before a Congressional Committee, their right hands raised, each of them swearing that they did not believe that tobacco caused cancer?  That was in 1994, three decades after the US Surgeon General’s […]

Selma

posted by Nell Minow
A
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material including violence, a suggestive moment, and brief strong language
Movie Release Date:December 25, 2014
DVD Release Date:May 4, 2015
A
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material including violence, a suggestive moment, and brief strong language
Movie Release Date: December 25, 2014
DVD Release Date: May 4, 2015

“Selma,” director Ava DuVernay’s film about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital at Montgomery, to make the case for the right to vote, is superb as biography, as history, and as […]

Pride

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and brief sexual content
Movie Release Date:October 9, 2014
DVD Release Date:December 22, 2014
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and brief sexual content
Movie Release Date: October 9, 2014
DVD Release Date: December 22, 2014

The ingredients for this film were so irresistible that it is a unexpected bonus to find that it is so much better than it needed to be. It’s based on a true story of extraordinary kindness, generosity, and friendship and […]

Interview: Laura Poitras of the Edward Snowden Documentary “Citizenfour”

posted by Nell Minow

I normally begin my interviews by asking for permission to record the conversation for my notes.  But there was something eerily resonant about that routine request when I spoke to journalist Laura Poitras, director of the new documentary “Citizenfour,” about […]

Richard Nixon: The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly

posted by Nell Minow

Forty years ago today, Richard Nixon became the first and so far only President of the United States to resign from office. Elected easily just two years before, he was about to be impeached for his role in the Watergate […]

Citizen Koch

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Not rated
Movie Release Date:June 6, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Movie Release Date: June 6, 2014

The 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case opened the door — no, opened the floodgates — to unlimited and unaccountable political spending by corporations and wealthy individuals.  The case itself rose from a film about Hillary Clinton […]

The Unknown Known

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some disturbing images and brief nudity
Movie Release Date:April 3, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some disturbing images and brief nudity
Movie Release Date: April 3, 2014

Errol Morris turns his famous “interrotron” camera on two-time Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for something between a bookend and a counterpoint to his Oscar-winning The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. But this […]

American Hustle

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence
Movie Release Date:December 25, 2013
DVD Release Date:March 18, 2014
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence
Movie Release Date: December 25, 2013
DVD Release Date: March 18, 2014

“Some of this actually happened,” the movie’s opening shot deadpans.  It is true that the United States government both threatened and paid a con man to help them con some bigger fish and then accidentally ended up conning some of […]

Electoral Dysfunction — A New Documentary from Mo Rocca

posted by Nell Minow

Election day is coming next week, and Mo Rocca (“The Daily Show,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me”) has a new documentary about the state of elections in today’s America, with the backdrop of the 2008 Presidential election.  Rocca set […]

The Fifth Estate

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and some violence
Movie Release Date:October 18, 2013
B
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and some violence
Movie Release Date: October 18, 2013

In late medieval times, when people first began to divide each other into groups defined by status and power, they began to speak of a “first estate” (the clergy), a “second estate” (the nobility, which also at the time meant […]

Tonight on Discovery: The President’s Gatekeepers

posted by Nell Minow

Twenty former White House Chiefs of Staff tell their stories in this two-part documentary narrated by Kevin Bacon.

Closed Circuit

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and brief violence
Movie Release Date:August 30, 2013
DVD Release Date:January 7, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and brief violence
Movie Release Date: August 30, 2013
DVD Release Date: January 7, 2014

Terrorism has killed thousands of people, destroyed buildings and property, and caused seismic rifts in our notions of who constitutes “us” and “them.”   What is even more terrifying is the damage it has inflicted on our most fundamental notions […]

Elysium

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout
Movie Release Date:August 9, 2013
DVD Release Date:December 17, 2013
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout
Movie Release Date: August 9, 2013
DVD Release Date: December 17, 2013

The best science fiction acts like a narrative Rorschach test, taking specific elements of our current condition, extrapolating into the future (usually dystopically), and allowing the audience to project our assumptions — and our fears — onto it.  “Elysium” is […]

New On Discovery: All the President’s Men Revisited

posted by Nell Minow

Whether you’re a Watergate junkie like me or don’t know how a “third-rate burglary” toppled a President and changed the world of American politics — for good, for bad, and forever, be sure to watch the Discovery Channel’s “All the President’s […]

Greedy Lying Bastards

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for brief strong language
Movie Release Date:March 8, 2013
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for brief strong language
Movie Release Date: March 8, 2013

Greedy Lying Bastards is a documentary that takes on two problems — the pernicious impact of industry on the environment and the effect of those changes on communities and the even more pressing problem of the pernicious impact of a […]

Celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday!

posted by Nell Minow

Celebrate the birthday of our 16th President with some of the classic movies about his life.  Reportedly, he has been portrayed more on screen than any other real-life character.         Coming soon to theaters: Saving Lincoln. Still […]

The Abolitionists

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Not rated
DVD Release Date:January 21, 2013
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Not rated
DVD Release Date: January 21, 2013

The new release from the PBS series “The American Experience” is a three-part story called “The Abolitionists,” the story of the fight to end slavery in the United States.  They were called radicals, agitators, and troublemakers. They thought of themselves […]

Inauguration Day

posted by Nell Minow

With all good wishes to the President, Congress, and the Senate! Check out the Washington Post’s interactive guide to all of the previous inaugurations.

Broken City

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content, and violence
Movie Release Date:January 18, 2013
DVD Release Date:April 30, 2013
C
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content, and violence
Movie Release Date: January 18, 2013
DVD Release Date: April 30, 2013

Another January weekend, another dumb shoot-out. Last weekend, it was 1950’s Los Angeles.  This week, it’s contemporary New York.  It’s still about corruption, betrayal, and bang-bang.  Co-producer Mark Wahlberg plays Billy, a cop exonerated after he killed a suspect because […]

Hyde Park on Hudson

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for brief sexuality
Movie Release Date:December 14, 2012
DVD Release Date:April 9. 2013
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for brief sexuality
Movie Release Date: December 14, 2012
DVD Release Date: April 9. 2013

When Franklin Roosevelt’s sixth cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley (pronounced “sook-lee”) died at age 99, a cache of letters was found in a suitcase under her bed.  Everyone knew she had spent years working near Roosevelt, and most thought he had […]

Lincoln

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage, and brief strong language
Movie Release Date:November 9, 2012
DVD Release Date:March 25, 2013
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage, and brief strong language
Movie Release Date: November 9, 2012
DVD Release Date: March 25, 2013

The first question about big, prestige films like “Lincoln” is always where it falls on what I call the spinach scale.  Will I tell people to see it because it is entertaining or because it is good for them.  For […]

Argo

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and some violent images
Movie Release Date:October 12, 2012
DVD Release Date:February 18, 2013
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and some violent images
Movie Release Date: October 12, 2012
DVD Release Date: February 18, 2013

The movie within the movie, an outlandish space fantasy possibly named “Argo” for Jason’s vessel in the ancient Greek myth, may be more believable than the true and recently declassified story that surrounds it.  In 1979, when American State Department […]

The Campaign

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for crude sexual content, language, and brief nudity
Movie Release Date:August 10, 2012
DVD Release Date:October 30, 2012
C
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for crude sexual content, language, and brief nudity
Movie Release Date: August 10, 2012
DVD Release Date: October 30, 2012

“Freedom.” “Jesus.” “America.”  And whoever you are, you are “the backbone of this country.”  This attempted political satire feels as empty as the platitudes spouted by the candidates in this R-rated comedy that, like the political system it portrays, goes […]

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Trailer: "Risen," with Cliff Curtis as Jesus
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