Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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The Wrecking Crew
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for language, thematic elements and smoking images
Release Date:
March 27. 2015

 

Unbroken
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for war violence including intense sequences of brutality, and for brief language
Release Date:
December 25, 2014

Home
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor
Release Date:
March 27, 2015

 

Into the Woods
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material
Release Date:
December 25, 2014

Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean 3D
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
March 20, 2015

 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

Fanboys

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for pervasive crude and sexual material, language and drug content
Movie Release Date:February 20, 2009

“Fanboys” has less of a sense of humor about its subjects than they do about themselves. It is so afraid of offending the demographic that it cannot decide if it is making fun of passionate fans of popular culture or making fan of everyone who is hasn’t spent hours debating the abilities of Boba Fett. Four high school buddies, now estranged, get together for one crazy mission — they want to break into George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch to get a look at the new “Star Wars” movie, “The Phantom Menace,” before anyone else. And the result is just another teen road trip movie, crammed with cameos and many many jokes about body parts and their functions, about mastery of minutiae and saying things like “It’s been parsecs since I’ve seen you” and name-checking things that are oh, so 1998 (Great big Palm Pilots! Chumbawamba!). And isn’t it hilarious that these guys don’t have girlfriends? Yeah, I didn’t think so, either.

The trailer gives away most of the movie’s best surprises including cameos from stars identified with a series of fanboy call signs. Billy Dee Williams is identified as Lando Calrissian, and Carrie Fisher is of course identified as Princess Leia. The real fanboys in the audience will also recognize Ray Park (Darth Maul) and will also appreciate the appearance of the now-indispensable slob comedy utility players Seth Rogan (in three parts), Danny McBride, and Jay and Silent Bob. There are some amusing confrontations between the “Star Wars” geeks and the Trekkers and Kristen Bell (whose brunette bob makes her look like Parker Posey) gives some snap to her lines and wears a Leia harem girl outfit. Someone needs to give the talented Pell James a better job. In her brief and thankless role as a Las Vegas “escort” she lights up the screen with obvious warmth and intelligence.

That is not enough to make up for way we keep getting pulled back to the four bland characters and even blander storylines (you think that conflicts will be addressed? is someone going to find true geek love? will we learn what life is all about?) at what passes for the heart of the movie. It could have been a lot of fun if they hadn’t cheesed it up with a character suffering from Movie Disease — you know, the one where you only have a short time to live but appear and act perfectly healthy — and another character who is struggling with whether he should “grow up” and behave responsibly. It is a shame that a movie about the people who are most passionate about edgy, imaginative stories is itself slipshod and formulaic.

Must Read After My Death

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Not Rated
Movie Release Date:February 20, 2009

A generation ago the technology first became widely available to allow families to document their lives with home movies and audio recordings. The use of these artifacts has transcended the “can you believe I used to look like that” and “remember that trip” family viewings and provided the materials for extraordinary films like Capturing the Friedmans, Tarnation, exploring the chasm between the sunny footage of birthdays and beach visits and the longing, failure, betrayal, and loss that was going on inside.

Film-maker Morgan Dews is the grand-son of a woman named Allis, who left behind a suitcase of home movies, ten hours of dictaphone letters sent to her husband on his annual four-month business trips to Australia, and tapes recorded for herself or for therapists consulted by the family. And there was a file of tape transcripts and notes labeled Must Read After My Death.

That became the title of a film assembled from these recordings, opening today in New York and Los Angeles and available everywhere via Gigantic Digital. The haunting images of Allis, her husband Charley, and their children, Chuck, Doug, Bruce, and Anne flicker on screen as we hear the recordings. The juxtaposition is artfully done and utterly heart-rending, the cheery footage of children playing as we hear the family fall apart.

At first, the words fit the “Leave it to Beaver” images of life in the tony Connecticut suburbs of the 1950’s and 60’s as Allis and the children make records tell Charley how much they miss him and he responds by telling them he loves them. But then, so matter-of-factly we wonder if we hear it correctly, Charley tells Allis about his involvement with other women and even asks for her help. And by the time the recording device has switched to reel-to-reel magnetic tape, the kids are beginning to reflect the anguish at home. Halfway between a time capsule and a Cheever story, we see the particularly of this family’s dysfunction and disintegration but it is the elements of its era make it so powerful. The suffocating restrictions on Allis as she tries to find a way to hold onto a sense of herself at a time when therapists were handing out tranquilizers and telling her to let her husband be the boss. In one tape we hear her decide that while she would like to work it would be better for her son for her to stay home — for another ten years.

Movies like “Revolutionary Road” and “American Beauty” cannot come close to the art and authenticity of this one in portraying the tragedy behind the manicured lawns and shiny appliances of the suburbs. The urgency of Allis’ message to us — not “please” but “must read” — is most honorably discharged by her grandson and the story she left behind lets us hear the voice that was almost silenced.

If you like this, try: Capturing the Friedmans, Tarnation, Five Wives, Three Secretaries and Me, Tell Them Who You Are, and This American Life’s superb episode of found audio, including tapes found in a thrift store that were recorded by parents to send to their son in medical school. And this interview with Morgan Daws has more information about the film and the family and how they feel about using Allis’ recordings.

List: Black History Month

posted by Nell Minow

Every family should observe Black History Month and movies like these are a good way to begin discussions and further study.

amistad_movie_poster_1997.jpg

1. Glory The true story of the US Civil War’s first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices of their own Union army and battling the Confederates, with brilliant performances by Denzel Washington (who won an Oscar), Morgan Freeman, and Matthew Broderick as the white officer who truly believed all men were equal.

2. Something the Lord Made The obstacles to education and professional advancement kept Vivien Thomas (Mos Def) from medical school, but he was a pioneer in heart surgery.

3. Roots Writer Alex Haley told the story of his own family going back to the capture of one of his ancestors from Africa to be sold into slavery in this historic miniseries.

4. Amistad A slave rebellion led to an historic Supreme Court case that addressed fundamental notions of personhood and inalienable rights.

5. With All Deliberate Speed This documentary about the Brown v. Board of Education case that transformed American schools and culture has interviews with lawyer Thurgood Marshall (who later became the first black Supreme Court justice) and others involved in the case.

6. Malcolm X Denzel Washington is mesmerizing in this story of the incendiary leader and his journey from complacency to activism to understanding.

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7. Eyes on the Prize This PBS documentary covers the Civil Rights movement from the murder of Emmett Till to the march in Selma.

8. The Rosa Parks Story Angela Bassett stars as the Civil Rights activist whose refusal to give up her seat on the bus electrified the nation.

9. Introducing Dorothy Dandridge Halle Berry is dazzling as the pioneering performing artist.

10. A Great Day in Harlem This documentary tells the story of photographer Art Kane’s 1958 iconic photograph of all of the great jazz musicians of the era.

Contest: Mary Poppins!

posted by Nell Minow

Are you ready for a jolly holiday with Mary Poppins?

Take this quiz about everyone’s favorite nanny! Send your answers to me at moviemom@moviemom.com with “Mary Poppins” in the subject line before midnight on February 25 and three random entries will win a copy of the new 45th anniversary edition DVD. Good luck!

Mary_Poppins_large.jpg

1. Who is the author of the original book about Mary Poppins?

2. When the children sing about their requirements for a nanny, what do they say she mustn’t smell like?

3. What is so unusual about Mary’s uncle?

4. What does Michael want to do with his money instead of putting it in the bank?

5. Dick Van Dyke plays another role in this film in addition to his appearance as Bert. What is it?

6. What does the measuring tape say about Mary Poppins?

7. What animal does Bert dance with in the film?

8. What are the two things you can do with a chimney sweep to get good luck?

9. What happens to the other nannies who are applying for the job?

10. What helps the medicine go down?

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The Wrecking Crew
Maybe you like Frank Sinatra and your friend likes the Mamas and Papas. Maybe you've argued about who is better, the Beach Boys or Simon and Garfunkel, or maybe you prefer Elvis. Each of those monumen

posted 9:48:37pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Home
"Home" is a cute and colorful movie about an alien invasion with an important safety tip concerning one of the most destructive forces in the universe, something devastating to every known life form.

posted 5:59:44pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »


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