Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some mild language and rude humor
Release Date: December 19, 2014
The Maze Runner
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images
Release Date: September 19, 2014
Magic in the Moonlight
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for a brief suggestive comment, and smoking throughout
Release Date: August 1, 2014
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
Of course Richard Gere is going to fall in love with Diane Lane in this movie. How could he resist her and why would he try? Certainly the audience will fall in love with her, too. There is no actress who conveys so much with so little. The subtlety and complexity of her performances is one of the wonders of cinema. Close-ups were invented for Lane’s rare beauty, inside and out. We feel that it is her spirit as an actress and a character illuminating this story.
And we cannot help but feel a sense of completion in seeing the two of them together, after two previous films that showed their palpable connection. This film, based on the book by chronicler of the grown-up romance Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Message in a Bottle) puts their relationship center stage. Lane is Adrienne, a devoted single mother who is watching her best friend’s bed and breakfast for a weekend. Gere is Paul, the only guest. Adrienne’s husband, who left her for another woman, wants to come back home. Paul has come to the Outer Banks of North Carolina not to enjoy the coast but to have a conversation with someone who feels damaged by him. A storm hits the coast and (metaphor alert) Paul and Adrienne shore up the inn as they begin to open up to each other.
It is lovely to see a mature romance and this one is beautifully played by Gere and Lane, with Scott Glenn as a widower whose story provides poignant counterpoint. Viola Davis is superb as always in the thinly written role of the best friend, Christopher Meloni is fine as Adrienne’s maddening ex-husband, and an unbilled James Franco makes the most of his brief appearance as Paul’s doctor son. But it is Lane who simple honesty and luminous spirit keep us watching and believing that some day we, too, might find love and meaning and forgiveness on a stormy night in Rodanthe.
“Green Band” trailers begin with a notice that says that while the movie has been rated something else, the trailer itself has been approved for all audiences by the MPAA. I am sure that sometimes the people who make trailers have a tough time finding two or three minutes of clips for the trailer that don’t have bad language, sex, or violence. As a result, despite the warning, the trailer often gives a misleading impression of the movie’s content. R-rated movies have red band trailers, which can only be shown before R-rated movies because they include R-rated content. These were quite rare until recently because most theaters did not allow them.
And then came the internet. Red band trailers are available online and any 12 year old who knows the birth date of an adult can easily get access to them. Slate’s Josh Levin writes about the sharp rise in red band trailers: R-rated trailers–known as “red bands” on account of the red, “Restricted Audiences Only” warning that precedes them–have become omnipresent. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, nearly 30 restricted-audience trailers have been approved so far in 2008, already matching the number accepted between 2000 and 2006… Given the popularity of movie trailers on the Web, the potential audience for a red-band preview has gone from minuscule in the Showgirls era to virtually limitless in the time of Pineapple Express and Zack and Miri. Compared with an R-rated trailer that’s screened in theaters, a Web-based red band is more likely to get talked up and to reach a target audience of (possibly under-17) fan boys who’ll line up for a screening on opening weekend.
Trailers are still subject to tighter restrictions than the feature films themselves due to the intensified impact of the short form. But because they are quick to watch they are especially potent and viral and are now an indispensible and fast-growing element of movie marketing. As Levin notes, these trailers may give a more accurate idea of what is in the movie but they are also more likely to give away more of the good parts of the movie. For parents, they create yet another challenge in a media minefield already filled with too many traps.
The faith-based film Fireproof, starring Kirk Cameron, is enjoying impressive advance ticket sales this week according to Harry Medved of Fandango. It is the story of a firefighter who finds that his most difficult challenge is finding a way to give his wife the love and intimacy necessary to keep their relationship strong. It is not until he turns to God for help that he begins to find a way to let her know how much she means to him.
It opens in more than 800 theaters this Friday, small in Hollywood terms but an extraordinary achievement for a film that cost only $500,000 and was made mostly by amateurs from a film-making ministry in Albany, Georgia. “No one is expecting it will rule the box office,” Medved told me, “but it has made an impressive beginning.”
Church-based “action squads” have been buying tickets in bulk, a powerful reminder to Hollywood that an under served audience will respond positively to a film like this, even without a lot of ad support. “It’s a great couples’ movie,” said Medved. “When’s the last time a movie improved your marriage? We get a lot of movies about falling in love or about temptations away from marriage but this is a film about making a marriage work.” Couples can learn from this film about how to give fully of themselves for a strong and lasting relationship, no matter what their religious beliefs.
“For moviegoers who plan to see a smaller release on opening weekend, online ticketing is the way to go,” says Fandango Chief Operating Officer Rick Butler, who adds that advance ticket sales for “Fireproof” continue to be “healthy.”
A little-seen 1933 film called “Gabriel Over the White House” has some themes that are particularly resonant in this time of unprecedented economic uncertainty and this historic Presidential campaign. Walter Houston (father of director John Huston and grandfather of actress Anjelica Houston — three generations of Oscar winners) plays the newly elected President of the United States, a cynical and apathetic man who has an affair with his private secretary and refuses to meet with the leader of the homeless. But then he has an automobile accident and is seriously injured. When he comes out of his coma, he is transformed. As he becomes an outspoken advocate of integrity and economic justice, he makes some powerful enemies. But it becomes clear that he has been inspired by a visit from the angel Gabriel.
This has been a controversial film since it was made for its frank acknowledgment of political policies based on scripture and for its association of policies some people consider “liberal” with religious beliefs some people consider “conservative.” Audiences have argued about whether the President is a visionary or a dictator. But it seems astonishingly prescient in its portrayal of the failures of Wall Street and government and its sincere commitment to Biblical principles is still fresh and appealing.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb Fans of the first two "Night at the Museum" films will like this one because it is pretty much the same film. They go to another museum, this time the British Museum in London, and the exhibi
Listen to People's Lives: David Plotz's Working Podcast Former Slate editor David Plotz, now at Atlas Obscura, says that he is a big fan of Studs Terkel's classic book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. He has paid tribute to that great work in the best possible way, by updating it with his podcast seri
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