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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity
Release Date:
July 31, 2015

 

Far from the Madding Crowd
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and violence
Release Date:
May 1, 2015

Best of Enemies
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
July 31, 2015

 

True Story
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some disturbing material
Release Date:
April 17, 2015

Vacation
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:

Release Date:
July 29, 2015

 

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some language and suggestive comments
Release Date:
March 6, 2015

New in Theaters

grade:
B+

Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity
Release Date:
July 31, 2015
grade:
B+

Best of Enemies

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
July 31, 2015
grade:
D

Vacation

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Release Date:
July 29, 2015

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New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
B+

Far from the Madding Crowd

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and violence
Release Date:
May 1, 2015
grade:
B

True Story

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some disturbing material
Release Date:
April 17, 2015
grade:
B+

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some language and suggestive comments
Release Date:
March 6, 2015

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Interview: Martha Williamson of ‘Touched by an Angel’

posted by Nell Minow

It was a special treat to talk with Beliefnet’s own Martha Williamson about her beloved and groundbreaking television series, this week’s DVD pick: Touched by an Angel: Inspiration Collection
NM: What is it like to be an open believer in Hollywood?
MW: It has always been a challenge to be a person of faith in Hollywood for a number of reasons. One is that up until Touched by an Angel Hollywood has not considered spiritual programs to be especially commercial. It’s “show business,” not “show fun.” If they don’t see an upside for it, then they’re not interested. Also, you can’t afford to get sentimental when you’re making television. And people often equate spiritual matters with sentiment or fantasy and weakness. It was always a challenge to show that I am a person of faith and a good producer and writer.
You always have to find a good balance for keeping that line between your personal life and your work. What I discovered was that it all came crashing into each other when I was asked to do “Touched by an Angel.” When I was being interviewed by the LA Times even before the show began the first words out of his mouth were, “What do you believe in? What is your faith?” And I’d been interviewed all kinds for other shows and no one asked me “What do you believe in?” Suddenly people were asking and I realized I had to stand up and say I am not making a Christian show but I am a Christian making a show about angels, and I cannot compromise my beliefs.
NM: Is there an episode that is especially precious to you?
MW: The “151st Psalm” is one of my favorites. It was very tightly written. It was about a boy who made a list of things he wanted to do before he died. He was more reconciled to his dying than his mother was. His mother had a real journey of faith and learning how to praise God at the most difficult of times. TV Guide had a survey and that was the favorite episode. There are others I am really proud of. We did one about slavery in the Sudan. We actually screened that one for Congress before they introduced the Sudan Peace Act. Those are times when you look back and see we had an opportunity to be used for good. If this series is successful, there will be more and I would love to do those that are particularly dear to my heart from a personal level. When my father passed away I basically re-created the last episode and it was so powerful that when we shot we kept having to stop because everyone was crying. With some of those episodes I was working out my faith in fear and trembling before 20 million people.
NM: Do you feel that you do with the shows what the characters are doing? The shows, like the angels in them, bring a message of hope, grace, inspiration, and honor.
MW: You put your finger on it! I was raised by a man who was born in 1901, rather Victorian values, a Baptist from Southern Illinois, a loving, kind man, who made honor and integrity and grace and sacrifice the paramount values in our family. I can’t say I always successfully lived up to those, who has? But those are the standards we reached for and I wanted to encourage other people to walk that journey, too, that it’s worth it, that “whatsoever is good and true, think on these things.”
NM: What feedback did you get from viewers?
MW: One of my favorite examples is a fellow who was in prison for murder. He wrote to me to say that everybody in the cell block would gather around the TV that was nailed to the wall and watch “Touched by an Angel” because it was the only time they ever heard that they were loved. And I actually had the opportunity to visit him just to say, “You are loved.” I want to send these DVDs to him and say, “You are not forgotten.”
NM: You’ve touched on what I think is the heart of the show. This is not someone waving a wand and fixing things. It’s not “Fantasy Island” or “Bewitched.” This is about angels delivering a message of hope and support.
MW: That’s exactly what I said to CBS. They wanted to categorize it as a fantasy. I said “This is a one-hour drama based on something I believe is true.” I have to approach it with the same responsibility and accuracy as a medical show or a legal show. I’m not going to play fast and loose with what I believe to be true. I literally had the Bible and Billy Graham’s angel book. These are not recycled dead people. They don’t have to wiggle their noses or do tricks or turn into something else or do three good deeds before they can get their wings. We want to replicate as closely as possible what a real angel experience might be.
NM: Do you have a favorite movie angel?
MW: There are bits here and there, Wim Wenders is one. But I like “The Bishop’s Wife” with Cary Grant. He was attractive and sexy without being sexual, he was responsible. His job was to mend this marriage and to bring love back. I did not base our angels on anything but my own experience of what I would do or say if I were an angel or what I would want an angel to be like. But when I look back, there is a connection to that movie. And with Roma Downey and Della Reese, there was such chemistry. Roma was like what I want to be and Della was like my mother. And John Dye was like my dad. I wrote for my family, literally.

Upcoming interviews: Zac Efron and ‘New Moon!’

posted by Nell Minow

OMG. Tomorrow I will be interviewing both Zac Efron (for his new film, “Me and Orson Welles”) and two of the stars of the upcoming “Twilight” sequel, “New Moon.”

I think it’s fair to say I am VERY EXCITED. Stay tuned.

Gentlemen Broncos

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some rude humor
Movie Release Date:November 6, 2009
C
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some rude humor
Movie Release Date: November 6, 2009

“Gentlemen Broncos” is about the fantasies of a 15 year old boy and it has some of the charm but all of the failings of those stories. The charm is its unguarded purity of emotion and unchecked enthusiasm for its powers of imagination. The failings are all of that plus the resulting incoherence and absence of insight.
Benjamin (Michael Angarano) is a shy, repressed boy who lives with his single mother (Jennifer Coolidge). He writes elaborate fantasy sci-fi stories filled with flying battle stags, aliens, and drastic body functions and fluids. Breasts emit laser beams. Projectile vomit erupts like a volcano. And a hero has to sew back is own body part after it was removed for examination by his captors.
At an overnight writing workshop, Benjamin meets his idol, Chevalier (Jermaine Clement of “Flight of the Concords”), a massively self-important author who wears a Bluetooth earpiece like an accessory. And he meets Tabatha, (Halley Feiffer) a supremely confident girl who has mastered the art of mastering shy boys. Both end up appropriating Benjamin’s story, and the movie’s best moments are the variations reflecting each of their perspectives and abilities. Chevalier steals the story and publishes it under his own name. And Tabitha gets Benjamin to agree to let her sidekick film the story. As many an author has learned before him, Benjamin finds that the translation to film distorts his original vision.
Of course, the original vision may not be such a good idea, and that is the problem here. The Hesses are trying to make fun of juvenile behavior but there’s a very fine line between the level of humor they are portraying and the level of humor in the way they portray it. It is the very essence of juvenile humor to overestimate the comedic value of bodily fluids and functions, to go for the knowing snicker rather than the more-knowing laugh.

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The Box

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some violence and disturbing images
Movie Release Date:November 6, 2009
C
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some violence and disturbing images
Movie Release Date: November 6, 2009

I loved “Donnie Darko” and was eager to listen to the DVD commentary by writer/director Richard Kelly. But I had to turn it off after the first ten minutes. Kelly explained too much, and his explanations were so mundane they detracted from the film’s intriguing ambiguities. After the fascinating but incoherent “Southland Tales,” Kelly shifts back toward explaining too much in “The Box, based on a short story by Richard Matheson and its adaptation as an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

Amid the meticulously re-created details of the 1976 Richmond, Virginia setting (harvest gold, maxi coats), a loving couple feeling some financial pressure are presented with a moral dilemma. Early one morning just before Christmas, a plain brown package is left on their doorstep with an elegant note informing them that Mr. Steward (Frank Langella) will be there at 5. Inside the package is a box with a red button covered by a locked glass dome.

Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur (James Marsden) go to work, where each receives bad news. Norma teaches English at a private school. Just after her class on Sartre’s “No Exit,” she is informed that the school will no longer be able to subsidize her son’s tuition, a severe financial blow. And Arthur, who (like Kelly’s father) designs lenses for a Mars explorer, learns that his application to the astronaut program has been turned down.

Norma is home alone when Mr. Steward arrives. His appearance is shocking. The lower left quarter of his face has been sheered off by some massive trauma, so devastating we can see not only sinew but teeth through what once was his cheek. His message is shocking, too. He gives Norma a key to open the glass dome and tells her that if she pushes the red button within 24 hours someone she does not know will die and she will receive one million dollars in cash, tax-free.

“Maybe it’s a baby,” says Arthur. “Maybe it’s a man on death row,” says Norma. Arthur, the engineer, takes the box apart. There’s nothing inside. Rationally, it seems impossible that the offer could be real. They go back and forth. And then, as much to end the agony of uncertainty as anything else, one of them impulsively hits it. And then things really go haywire in the lives of Arthur and Norma and pretty much in the movie, too.

Kelly knows how to create a mood of claustrophobic dread and how to create stunning images. Back in those pre-Google days, people had to do research in the stacks of a library, and Kelly makes those scenes look both retro and chilling. But there is nothing to approach the best moments in “Donnie Darko,” the Sparkle Motion dance number to “Notorious,” the motivational speaker, the controversy over the story taught in school, the riff on the Smurfs. Like the box with the button, it is enticing on the surface but inside it is empty.

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