Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Annie
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

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language
Release Date:
December 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

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Release Date:
August 8, 2014

Interview: Jonathan Levine of ‘The Wackness’

posted by Nell Minow

Writer/director Jonathan Levine has been getting great reviews for “The Wackness,” the story of the friendship between a teenage drug dealer (Josh Peck) and his customer/therapist (Ben Kingsley). I spoke to him about what inspires him and about what it feels like to direct an Oscar-winning actor with a “Sir” title.

One thing everyone who sees the movie talks about is the specificity of period detail. It is set in 1994, a time so recent that we don’t really remember how much has changed. It wasn’t that long ago that everyone had to use pagers and pay phones instead of cell phones and Nintendo Game Boys instead of PSP.

It’s a fine line. We didn’t want it to become “I love the 90’s” but to have audiences bring their own nostalgia to it it brings an energy. The nostalgia I put in there interacts with yours — that’s all part of it. As long as you’re aware of it and polling when it gets too much then you’re okay. You can see where it becomes a little too much, and we cut some of it out.

You worked with actors from a wide range of backgrounds and your two leads in particular could not have been more different — one a classically trained Oscar-winner with a very long, distinguished career and one coming from a Nickelodeon sit-com. And then there’s Mary Kate Olson who grew up on television. How do you work with them?

I have to figure out how they like to work. It’s almost akin to throwing a party and you want the right people sitting next to the right people. I have to make sure everyone is as comfortable as possible and working in the mode they like to work in. With Olivia (Thirlby) and Josh (Peck), they are closer to my age and I can intuit what they’re going to dig. With Sir Ben I had to ask him how he likes to work and he knows. He knows what environment he flourishes in. He said, “You have to tell me when you’ve got it and then we can play around with a few more.” In the movie frequently it’s one of his first two takes and frequently some of the others. He said to tell Josh that he’s going to be leading our scenes. That made everyone kind of comfortable, empowered us in a way, and it mirrors the dynamic the two characters have in the movie. He told Josh that, then as everyone got more and more comfortable sometimes Sir Ben would take the lead. Working with smart actors makes everything a lot easier. No matter what your kind of background it works as long as you have a shorthand, and it is much easier to communicate with intelligent people. This group was all very easy communicating, even with Mary Kate.

Take Josh, his show is so broad and big and he’s like this Jackie Gleason character. But he has an acting coach he’s worked with for a while and so he has serious training. I had looked him up on YouTube, too, and saw Mean Creek. He’s not afraid to go where he needs to go. He embraces the entire character, foibles and all. There was nothing that had to be taught or learned. We talked about what of his experiences were relevant. Sometimes I would say, “Bring it back a little bit,” or “Do it again.” All I wanted was the most naturalistic thing possible.

Now I see Drake and Josh all the time, it seems to be on whenever I turn on the television. And he’s into some wacky hijinks! To me the one thing after working with him that may have helped him or informed his work here is that he has an accessibility and vulnerability and ability to empathize, and that is what appealed to me. He is not afraid to be vulnerable, to show the all sides of the character good and bad.

I wish I could take credit for his performance, but it’s all him. I can only take credit for casting him.

What were some of the movies or performances that influenced you in thinking about telling this story?

The references I watched during the screenwriting process were looking at May/September buddy movies like Harold and Maude, Rushmore, Wonder Boys, but movies I didn’t watch that were so much a part of who I am and growing up, the ones I tried to capture their spirit, were films by Cameron Crowe and John Hughes. We did watch Almost Famous. I didn’t have to rewatch it because it is so much a part of my memory of growing up. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is Hughes’ “Citizen Kane.” The real heart of the movie is Cameron, that’s where the movie’s heart is. The scene in the museum is beautifully done. It is all about these characters and the things they’re going through. Even though what you remember is the music and the clothes, those movies influenced me more than I knew.

I’m sure everyone wants to know about Mary Kate Olson!

We offered her the role and it was a small role and she thought she could have fun with it. I was really impressed with how down to earth she was. I’d be looking for her between takes and find her in craft services, eating grilled cheese with the grips. And she’s got this amazing charisma! Considering that she’s had such a crazy strange life, it has to be so hard for her. Walking down the street in Sundance, we had this strange group of people, everyone noticed the other guys but they were tripping over snowbanks trying to get her picture. I was glad to show her in a new light. I like the fact that in independent cinema you can take people who have preconceived notions about them and show everyone something new.

Was there a moment in this film that was your starting point for thinking about the story?

The first scene in the film is the first one I wrote, the one where everything began. I started with it four years ago in film school. As everything else was rewritten and edited, this therapy session drugs with exchanged for therapy was the center, and we built the layers around that.

How did the actors change or enlarge your ideas of the characters?

Working with Josh and Olivia was incredible because they brought such realism and a natural grounded feeling to their scenes, something the actors of the John Hughes movies had, the bravery, the willingness to embrace going to every place that you need to go to show a three-dimensional character. Olivia’s character — I don’t claim to understand women. It was incumbent upon her to fill in the blanks, to make her sympathetic in spite of the fact that what she was doing was not very nice. She gave me a new empathy for all the girls in my life, and I am very grateful for that.

Country Sings Disney

posted by Nell Minow

Some of country’s brightest stars sing some of Disney’s most hummable tunes on this new release. It’s a pleasure to hear soundtrack hits like Rascal Flatts’ “Life is a Highway,” from “Cars” and Tim McGraw’s “Wherever the Trail May Lead” from the under-rated “Home on the Range,” but it is the unpredictable choices that make this CD worthwhile. Faith Hill sings Ariel’s “Part of Your World” from “The Little Mermaid” and the wonderful “Dumbo” soundtrack is represented with “When I See an Elephant Fly” from Josh Gracin and “Baby Mine” from SHeDAISY. This is one for kids and parents to enjoy together.

1. Ready, Set, Don’t Go – Billy Ray Cyrus featuring Miley Cyrus
2. Life Is a Highway – Rascal Flatts
3. Wherever the Trail May Lead – Tim McGraw
4. Through Your Eyes – Martina McBride
5. Blue Beyond – Trisha Yearwood
6. You’ll Be in My Heart – Bucky Covington
7. Can You Feel the Love Tonight – Phil Stacey
8. Will the Sun Ever Shine Again – Bonnie Raitt
9. There Is Life – Alison Krauss
10. When I See an Elephant Fly – Josh Gracin
11. Baby Mine – SHeDAISY
12. We Go Together – Little Big Town
13. Part of Your World – Faith Hill
14. Find Yourself – Brad Paisley
15. Real Gone – Billy Ray Cyrus

Dr. Horrible — This Weekend Only!

posted by Nell Minow

Until midnight tomorrow you can watch a new three-act musical from Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly”) online. It is the story of Dr. Horrible (a sensational Neil Patrick Harris) and his nemesis, the very manly Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion of “Firefly” and “Waitress”). And of course there is a girl, Felicia Day as Penny.

Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon says:

So you’ll have to forgive me if I lapse into slavish overpraise here for Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, the utterly brilliant singing, dancing, Web-only action-adventure you and your brothers have cooked up. I hope it doesn’t sound like hyperbole when I say that Dr. Horrible is better than kittens and sunshine and cheese. Doled in three tantalizing, quarter-hour-long nuggets (the first two went up earlier this week, the conclusion debuts July 19), “Dr. Horrible” stars an impeccably dorky Neal Patrick Harris as a would-be supervillain who pines for his lovely laundromat crush, Penny (a luminous Felicia Day), while battling nemesis and rival Captain Hammer, a musclebound jerk played with idiot bravado by “Firefly’s” Nathan Fillion. Will Horrible create his freeze ray and earn his way into the Evil League of Evil? Will he get the girl? Tuneful, hilarious and, in typical Whedon fashion, unabashedly tender, the only thing wrong with Dr. Horrible is that the damn thing isn’t a regular series.

It has already inspired responses like this one from a would-be sidekick:

After Sunday night, it will be available only on DVD, so watch it online while you can! (NOTE: Brief mature material)

Teen Ink: Online Magazine for Teens

posted by Nell Minow

Teen Ink is a great resource for teens and a great opportunity, too. Published for teens by teens, it is

a national teen magazine, book series, and website devoted entirely to teenage writing and art. Distributed through classrooms by English teachers, Creative Writing teachers, Journalism teachers and art teachers around the country, Teen Ink magazine offers some of the most thoughtful and creative work generated by teens and has the largest distribution of any publication of its kind. We have no staff writers or artists; we depend completely on submissions from teenagers nationwide for our content.


We offer teenagers the opportunity to publish their creative work and opinions on the issues that affect their lives – everything from love and family to teen smoking and community service. Hundreds of thousands of students have submitted their work to us and we have published more than 25,000 teens since 1989.

Bylines are first name and initial to preserve privacy. Current pieces include fiction and poetry and real-life experiences as a would-be model, an experience with bigotry at school, and celebrity interviews with Alicia Keys, Tony Hawk, George Lucas, and Laura Bush. The site offers an online writing class. There is information about colleges and college applications and there is a section for teen art, photography, and videos. One of the most fascinating aspects of the sight is the option to read the submissions in “raw” or edited form.
Teens who have something to say can submit their work according to Teen Ink’s very flexible guidelines.

Previous Posts

Wild's Cheryl Strayed Has a New Advice Podcast
Before Wild, Cheryl Strayed was the pseudonymous "Dear Sugar" advice columnist for The Rumpus. Her columns were collected in Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. Writer Steve Almond (Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America) also wrote as Dear Su

posted 3:59:40pm Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Actors Of Color Discuss Racial Stereotypes In Hollywood
Film Courage produced this excellent and very compelling film with actors of color talking about the challenges they face in Hollywood. If we did a better job of representing diversity in film, we would not just tell better stories and tell stories better, we would make better progress toward under

posted 8:00:49am Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Annie
The story of the plucky little Depression-era orphan with the curly red hair has been not just re-booted but re-imagined into the world of rent-a-bikes, viral videos, DNA tests, YOLO, corpora

posted 5:59:13pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

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

posted 5:23:46pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

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

posted 3:59:23pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »


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