Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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If I Stay
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence
Release Date:
May 2, 2014

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

Bears
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

When the Game Stands Tall
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material, a scene of violence, and brief smoking
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

Need for Speed
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language
Release Date:
March 14, 2014

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, pervasive language and drug use.
Movie Release Date:April 25, 2008

harold%20and%20kumar.jpgLike the effects of the marijuana laced with cocaine smoked by a world leader near the end of this movie, the sequel to Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle combines a literally dopey stoner comedy buzz with an electric sting of sharp satire. The first film was surprisingly popular with audiences and even more surprisingly popular with critics, who found that making the main characters minorities in an otherwise unambitious druggie comedy gave the interactions as the two stoned college students stumbled toward the fabled little square burgers a new freshness, even an edgy, satiric quality.

Plus, it had Neil Patrick Harris in a deliciously demonic role as “himself,” a ‘shroomed-out former child star.

Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) depart for Amsterdam, where Harold hopes to see the girl of his dreams (even though he does not know her last name or where she is staying) and Kumar hopes to enjoy legal marijuana. But on the plane, Kumar lights up, using a smokeless bong he invented for the occasion, and a passenger assumes he is a terrorist. “Bong” sounds like “bomb” and he has brown skin. Before you can say “I just wanted to join the other mile high club,” they are cuffed by air marshals and carted off to face a racist, power-mad, pea-brained US government official (Rob Corddry), who orders them put into orange jump suits and shipped to the prison at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay. This ain’t “Law and Order.” No right to a phone call, no lawyer, no passing Go and no collecting $200.

After some ugly encounters with real terrorists in the adjacent cell and sexually predatory guards, Harold and Kumar escape, get back to the US, and take off for Texas, where they hope to get help from a classmate who is conveniently both connected to the top levels of the Department of Defense and about to marry Kumar’s former girlfriend, the one he still loves.

The racial and political barbs are even more pointed this time as just about everyone’s bigotry is exposed. In one of the highlights, Harold and Kumar are taken in by a redneck who looks like an extra from “Deliverance.” He brings them to his broken-down shack and they go inside to find it decorated like a Manhattan co-op apartment, the redneck’s elegant wife at the computer complaining that the DSL line is not working properly. Just as they readjust their expectations, there is another twist. They also have a run-in with the KKK, who think they are Mexicans. No one seems to know or care what their ethnic backgrounds really are. The government interrogator insists on speaking Chinese to Harold’s parents — and insists that they are speaking some strange dialect he cannot understand, despite the fact that they are (1) Korean, (2) are speaking English, and (3) have lived in New Jersey for 40 years.

Cheerfully offensive, cheekily raunchy, happily outrageous, and often just plain disgusting, the movie avoids the usual sophomore slump by ramping up the political jabs while keeping it all unpretentious and moving quickly. We get a bit of a glimpse of Kumar’s backstory — his first girlfriend and his first joint. It is not for everyone; some audiences will consider it so morally bankrupt that they will not be able to enjoy it. But for its audience what makes this one appealing is that like its heroes, this series is growing up.

Tribeca Film Festival 2008

posted by Nell Minow

I am on my way to the Tribeca Film Festival and will be providing updates about my adventures there. Tribeca is the neighborhood of Manhattan that was literally in the shadow of the World Trade Center. The name stands for “triangle below Canal Street. Local residents Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal founded the festival just after 9/11 to revitalize and boost the morale of the community and it has now become one of the most popular festivals in the world with both audiences and critics. It was my very first festival two years ago and I am looking forward to seeing what they have to offer this year.

Interview: Karen Osborne talks about treating Asperger Syndrome through Second Life

posted by Nell Minow

Karen Osborne is a research clinician at the University of Texas Center for Brain Health. Her background is in speech pathology. She is now coordinating the project that works on social skills and spoke to me about a new project that works with children and adults who have disabilities that impair their understanding of social cues and interactions, including Asperger syndrome, high functioning autism, ADHD, traumatic brain injury, and schizophrenia. They are using the online community Second Life to create an environment that gives these patients a way to test their social skills that gives them better feedback than previous treatments. It has been in development for two years and has been used with patients since last summer.
Tell me a little bit about your program and how it got started.
second-life-topper.jpgIn the past, therapists have worked with autistic children through role playing, stories, and rules. But the brain changes not by learning rules but by engaging in activities. Sandy Chapman had the idea to use virtual reality to immerse the patients in the environments that are similar to real life. It is not really role playing because they become the character. It adds a little more realism to the therapy aspect. In role playing it is hard to get past the fact that you’re playing with the therapist, but in virtual reality it is more like meeting for the first time and building a relationship.
Second Life has some wild corners. How do you control the environment?
Right now we’re using a private and secure island on Second Life with only people we let in. Patients can log in and be part of it. They get to create a character that represents themselves as closely as possible.

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Charlie Wilson’s War

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong language, nudity/sexual content and some drug use.
Movie Release Date:December 21, 2007
DVD Release Date:April 22, 2008

charlie%20wilson.jpg It is not easy to take a wealthy socialite, a powerful Congressman, and a CIA agent, have them played by three Oscar-winners, two who are genuine box office gold, and make them look like the underdogs, but in this “extraordinary story of how the wildest man in Congress and a rogue CIA agent changed the history of our times” (as put in the unusually accurate book subtitle), that is what they are.

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Previous Posts

If I Stay
Hamlet asked it best. "To be, or not to be: That is the question." We struggle through, worrying about whether someone likes us or whether we will be accepted at the school of our choice

posted 6:00:09pm Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
If you want to not just see but hear an eyeball being pulverized, then see "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For."  If you want to see and hear it in the company of an audience who thinks that's

posted 5:59:27pm Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »

When the Game Stands Tall
This dreary assemblage of every possible sports cliché has one thing in common with the game it portrays. Every time it seems to be going somewhere, it stops. More frustratingly, it wastes the opportunity to tell a good story by trying to squeeze in too many great ones. There are too many crises

posted 5:59:00pm Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Christian Indie Films of 2014
This year has already seen a remarkable and perhaps unprecedented number of Christian and Biblically-based films, from big-budget epics like "Noah" and "Son of God" to small faith-oriented films like "God's Not Dead."  There is an excellent summary of four Christian independent films of 2014 on In

posted 3:59:03pm Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Frank: The Real Story of the Singer With the Paper-Mache Mask
One of the handsomest men alive spends almost the entire movie wearing a huge round paper maché head in "Frank," a moving film inspired by the real-life story of the late Frank Sidebottom.  Michael Fassbender plays Frank, a sweet-natured but very quirky musician who wears his big head mask even in

posted 9:10:16am Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »


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