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

 

The Book of Life
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action, rude humor, some thematic elements and brief scary images
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

Mortdecai
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some language and sexual material
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

 

The Judge
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including some sexual references
Release Date:
October 10, 2014

Cake
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, substance abuse and brief sexuality
Release Date:
January 24, 2015

 

Fury
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

Love Actually

posted by rkumar
A
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for sexuality, nudity and language
Movie Release Date:2003
DVD Release Date:2004

“Love Actually” is as stuffed with goodies as the Christmas stockings for those at the very top of Santa’s “nice” list — and it is just as entertaining, too.

You say you like romantic comedies with gorgeous stars, witty dialogue delivered in swoon-worthy English accents, and oodles of happy endings? This movie gives you ten at once. And yet none of the stories ever feels hurried or incomplete.

The interwoven stories all take place in the weeks before Christmas and cover many kinds of love, touching, tender, sweet, charming, funny, and bittersweet. They include a Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) who is drawn to the outspoken girl who delivers his tea, an eleven-year old (Thomas Sangster) who wants to attract the attention of the coolest girl in school, a man in love with his best friend’s new bride, a waiter who is sure that all his dreams of romance will come true if he goes to America, a thoroughly married man (Alan Rickman) whose flirtatious secretary is making him wonder how thoroughly married he is, a rock star (Bill Nighy) angling for a comeback with a cheesy Christmas single, a heartbroken writer (Colin Firth) who can’t stop thinking about the woman who cleans his house, even though they don’t understand each other’s languages, and a couple who meet at work as movie stand-ins assigned to increasingly (and hilariously) more intimate poses.

Richard Curtis, who wrote Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill for the first time directs his own screenplay with heart and style. It helps, of course, that he has a dream cast, including newcomer Sangster, a real-life cousin of Hugh Grant and already a first-rate actor and a knock-out screen presence. Each of the actors creates complete, endearing, vivid, and vulnerable characters that we will remember long after we have forgotten most “stars” who spend two full hours onscreen in the latest multiplex fodder.

The movie begins with the Prime Minister musing on the arrivals section of the airport and the love everywhere as people are reunited with those who are most precious to them. This theme continues with a faded rock star (the magnificent Nighy) recording a silly Christmas version of “Love is All Around” (also featured in Four Weddings and a Funeral). But other themes just as important can be summed up somewhere between the words of W.S. Gilbert — “Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady” and a celebration of what one character not unhappily calls “the total agony of being in love.”

This is a movie about taking big chances (both hopeful and hopeless), about making big gestures to show our love, and about big, big feelings that may make us crazy and miserable but remind us that we are alive and why we are alive.

For one man and woman, the inability to communicate in words may be what allows them to sense how much they really belong together. We see in subtitles what they really want to say to each other, but more important, we see on screen what they say to each other with their eyes and the way their breathing changes when they look at each other. Other couples both speak English but still somehow cannot find the words to let each other know how they feel. One ardent soul reaches out through music. Another…just reaches out. Characters also grapple with non-romantic love, including parental, sibling, and deep friendship. They grapple with temptation and conflicting loyalties. And all of them carry our hearts with them.

In addition, any movie that manages to include a child dressed as a Nativity lobster, a Bay City Rollers song played at a funeral, love-emergency lessons in both drums and Portugese, and Hugh Grant dancing through the halls of 10 Downing Street to the Pointer Sisters is worth seeing at least twice.

Parents should know that the movie’s R rating comes from some very strong language, sexual references and non-explicit sexual situations, including prostitutes and adultery. There is humorous nudity when stand-ins for what appears to be a soft-core porn movie chat politely as they are posed in increasingly intimate positions. A character’s history of sex, drugs, and rock and roll is played for humor. There are some tense and sad scenes. Some audience members may object to the portrayal of the American President (Billy Bob Thornton) as a crude bully. One of the movie’s many strengths is its matter-of-fact portrayal of loving inter-racial friendship and romance.

Families who see this movie should talk about how the characters handle their feelings of loss, longing, and fear.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the other Curtis movies as well as classic romantic comedies with more emphasis on romance than comedy like “Moonstruck,” “Roman Holiday,” and “The Philadelphia Story.”

Interview: Scott Derrickson

posted by Nell Minow

Scott Derrickson is a rarity in Hollywood — a committed Christian director who openly admits that his films reflect his religious views and serve as a kind of testimony. I spoke to him about his latest film, the remake of the 1951 Cold War classic The Day the Earth Stood Still. He was nice enough to begin by saying that he is a fan of Beliefnet.
I am glad to be talking to a website about messages and ideas. I read the site and like it very much. I have an ever-growing feeling that movies should have messages that trust the audience and do not give all the answers. I am resistant to being told what to think or how to vote. This movie has a lot of things to say but it is less a message than a very American perspective about America and human nature itself. We have this dual side to our nature, destructive and creative and at the same time as individuals and as a nation and as a species we have to make mistakes and evolve and grow. If you can get something like that into a big Hollywood popcorn movie without sounding preachy, that is a great thing.
Did you see the original film as a child?
The first time I saw it was in college. It was very much a product of its times, the Cold War, the bomb, the U.N. This is the story for a new time and a new era; this is a post-September 11 movie, a movie that acknowledges being in a country that has experienced a bit of a disaster.
How does this movie address its moment in history?
I knew that the movie would come out when we would have elected a new President but before he took office. This campaign was different — no one made a big deal about the race issue until Obama was elected and then everyone on all sides agreed that it was something to celebrate, a step toward healing the deepest wound in American history.
I read something recently: “We’re now living in a time when we saved our banks but destroyed our biosphere.” The movie is a reflection of that idea, of these messes that we’ve gotten ourselves into, but it is not cynical or pessimistic, it has a refreshing sense of optimism, of radical change for the better coming to the world at large. Things have gotten bad enough that we are going to roll up our sleeves, start admitting our mistakes and start dealing with them.

The Best “Christmas Carols” — from “Bah humbug” to “God bless us everyone!”

posted by Nell Minow

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is my favorite Christmas story and I love it in just about any of its movie incarnations. “Bah, humbugs” have been muttered by Scrooges played by top-notch dramatic actors like George C. Scott and Albert Finney, former Miss America Vanessa Williams, former Fonzie Henry Winkler, and former Saturday Night Live star Bill Murray. I love them all. But here are my very favorites, the ones I try to watch every year.
5. Mickey’s Christmas Carol Who better to play Scrooge than his namesake Scrooge McDuck? And who better for the part of the unquenchable Bob Cratchit than Mickey Mouse? This compilation DVD includes other Christmas goodies “The Small One” and “Pluto’s Christmas Tree.”
4. The Muppet Christmas Carol has the distinguished actor Michael Caine as Scrooge and the equally distinguished Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit. Special mention of A Sesame Street Christmas Carol as well.
3. Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol. The voice talent is outstanding, with Broadway star Jack Cassidy (father of teen idols David and Shaun) as Bob Cratchit and of course Jim Backus as Mr. Magoo, in this version an actor playing the part of Scrooge. The tuneful songs were written by Bob Merrill and Jule Styne, who later went on to write “Funny Girl.” (The legend is that their song “People” was originally written for this movie.)
2. A Christmas Carol This MGM classic features the top stars of the 1930’s. Watch for future “Lassie” star June Lockhart as one of the Cratchit children — her real-life father Gene Lockhart played Bob. (He also appears in another Christmas classic, as the judge in Miracle on 34th Street.)
1. A Christmas Carol This is the all-time best, with the inimitable Alistair Sim as Scrooge. There has never been a more embittered miser or a more jubilent Christmas morning rebirth. When he orders that turkey for the Cratchits and walks into his nephew’s celebration at the end, everything Dickens hoped for from his story is brought to life.
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Women Critics Film Awards

posted by Nell Minow

As expected, the associations of female critics have a slightly different take on the best and worst films of the year than the male-dominated critic groups. One thing that makes them fun is the extra categories, like Most Offensive Male Characters, Most Egregious Age Difference Between Leading Man, and Love Interest and Actress in Need of a New Agent.
The Women Film Critics Circle Awards 2008
BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN
Changeling
BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN
Frozen River

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