Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

A Will for the Woods
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
August 15, 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

The Expendables 3
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language
Release Date:
August 15, 2014

 

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

Let's Be Cops
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including sexual references, some graphic nudity, violence and drug use
Release Date:
August 15, 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

Gender — and Genre — bending in “CJ7″

posted by Nell Minow

“CJ7″ is the story of a little boy named Dicky who struggles with school bullies, extreme poverty, tough homework, a girl who likes him, a different girl that he likes, problems communicating with his father (writer-director Stephen Chow), and an uncooperative extra-terrestrial super-pet. Dicky is played by the very talented Jiao Xu, who was selected after Chow auditioned nearly 10,000 children for the role. It did not concern Chow that Jiao Xu had almost no professional experience. And it did not concern him that Jiao Xu is a girl.
cj71.bmp
Some directors in that situation would rewrite the part to make the character a girl. Chow just cut off Jiao Xu’s hair and dressed her as a boy.
The performing arts have a long tradition of gender-switching. There are female-to-male gender disguises in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” “As You Like It,” and “The Merchant of Venice.” The top two on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 best American comedies of all time are about male-to-female gender-switches, “Tootsie” and “Some Like it Hot.” But these are based on letting the audience in on the secret. The fact that the viewers know something that the characters do not is the essence of the story’s appeal. Because we know who and what the characters really are, the story can explore some of our assumptions and expectations about gender roles. And because we are experiencing it vicariously we enjoy the pleasure of watching the complications that arise from the misunderstandings and embarrassments.
But Jiao Xu is not playing a girl pretending to be a boy. Her real-life gender has nothing to do with the story-line. Chow expects that no one will notice and that we will just believe she is a boy the same way we believe her character is poor and has an outer-space pet. Nor is he making a statement about gender and identity as Todd Haynes did by casting six different actors, male, female, young, old, white, and black as his Bob Dylan character in “I’m Not There” or as Todd Solondz did in “Palindromes,” where eight different performers of different ages, genders, and races all portrayed a 13-year-old girl.
It may be that Chow did not want to change Dicky into a girl character because he thought audiences would react differently to some of the humiliations Dicky suffers in the film. But that is our issue, not his. Chow is not trying to break through boundaries; he is just ignoring them.
cj7maggie.jpgTo make things even more complicated, there is the character of Maggie, the schoolgirl who has a crush on Dicky. Maggie is played by very large adult male with tiny little barrettes in his hair. Even though no one in the audience will miss the fact that actor Han Yong Wua is neither a child nor female, everyone will accept him as Maggie the way we accept Jiao Xu as Dicky, Meryl Streep with an accent, Ellen Page pretending to be pregnant, or Tyler Perry as Medea. Chow wanted Maggie to be big because her size makes a striking visual image and because it emphasizes Dicky’s subjective view of the scary prospect of the girl with a crush enlarged for comedic effect. To him, she appears to be the size of an ATM and the ground literally shakes when she walks. When she pushes the school bully, he snaps backwards as though he was fired from a slingshot.
Chow enjoys tweaking and even subverting familiar formulas. As in his previous films, “Kung Fu Hustle” and “Shaolin Soccer,” Chow creates a dizzying mash-up of sentiment and slapstick that some audiences will find unsettling but others will find refreshing. Although it is a story about a child with an inter-galactic pet, it is not the usual cozy heart-warmer. It is rated PG but it includes an epithet not permitted on broadcast television, “rude humor” that has Dicky pelted with space poop, and “thematic material” like corporal punishment and [spoiler alert] what appears to be the devastating death of a child’s only surviving parent.
Dicky’s first venture away from home with his new friend from outer space plays charmingly into the kind of magical empowerment we expect, with some delightfully imaginative special effects, only to turn into a “gotcha” moment as we and Dicky find out that the powers and motives of a space creature may not be what we thought.
Perhaps Chow’s central theme is elasticity, whether of the material world, with his cartoonishly exaggerated bending of physical reality or of what we think of as the parameters of genre and narrative. Or, more likely, he just thinks a very large girl who happens to be played by a man standing next to a very small boy who happens to be played by a girl makes a very funny sight.

Miss Bimbo: As Bad as it Sounds and Then Some

posted by Nell Minow

“Miss Bimbo” is an online site popular with little girls in England, France, and Japan that bills itself as the “first virtual fashion game.” It encourages them to “Become the most famous and beautiful bimbo in the world.” They can accomplish this by having their personal “bimbo” diet (until recent protests, this included the “purchase” of diet pills) and get cosmetic surgery or a wealthy boyfriend. This game makes Barbie and the Bratz look like Hillary Clinton. Parents should exercise caution to make sure that Webkins-savvy children do not wander over into this site.

Many thanks to the Jezebel site for bringing this to my attention.

Raising Victor Vargas

posted by Nell Minow

Two of the best performances of the year so far were given by Victor Rasuk in “Stop Loss” and Melonie Diaz in “Be Kind Rewind.” Both got their start in a little-seen independent film called a “minor miracle” by Salon movie critic Stephanie Zacharek, “Raising Victor Vargas.” The young actors share their names with their characters, and the film has an intimate, improvised, documentary feel as it explores their struggles to find themselves and make connections. Watch for another supremely natural performance from first-timer Altagracia Guzman as the grandmother. Winner of Independent Spirit awards for direction and first screenplay, this is a quiet gem of a movie. I am delighted to see Rasuk and Diaz continuing to grow as performers and look forward to seeing what they do next.

And the good sportsmanship award goes to…Chicago newspapers!

posted by Nell Minow

Chicagoans are furious about the plans of new Chicago Tribune owner Sam Zell to sell the naming rights to Chicago’s hallowed ground, Wrigley Field. The Chicago Sun-Times had a video competition for those who wanted to object, and the winner was…an intern at the Chicago Tribune!

The Sun-Times announced that they’d been punk’d, but responded cheerfully with a headline expressing their delight in learning that the Tribune had a sense of humor. The Tribune’s triumph was bittersweet (not the comment about vacating the building that has been their home going back almost to the days of Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable (okay, since 1925). The video is adorable.

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posted 3:59:35pm Aug. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Tribute: Don Pardo
Don Pardo's face was not familiar.  But his voice was instantly recognizable.  We mourn the loss of one of the great announcers in broadcast history, who died on Monday at age 96. The cast of "Saturday Night Live," where he served as announcer from the beginning, celebrated his 90th birthday.

posted 12:44:03pm Aug. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Gayle Forman of "If I Stay"
Gayle Forman is the author of If I Stay, the source for this week's movie starring Chloë Grace Moretz as Mia, a talented young cellist in a coma following a car accident.  As she hovers between life and death, she remembers incidents from her life with her family and with her rock musician boyfrie

posted 8:00:16am Aug. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Popcorn Update....Maybe
Remember when I explained how movie theater lobbyists created a loophole in the rules requiring places that serve food to let you know the calories and fat content of your purchase

posted 3:49:14pm Aug. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Exclusive Clip: Home is Where the Heart is
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posted 7:00:56am Aug. 18, 2014 | read full post »


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