Movie Mom

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Merchants of Doubt
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language
Release Date:
March 6, 2015

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic material
Release Date:
November 21, 2014

McFarland USA
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material, some violence and language
Release Date:
February 20, 2015

 

Foxcatcher
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some drug use and a scene of violence
Release Date:
November 21, 2014

The DUFF
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual material throughout, some language and teen partying
Release Date:
February 20, 2015

 

Horrible Bosses 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong crude sexual content and language throughout
Release Date:
November 26, 2104

(P)G is for Box Office Gold

posted by Nell Minow

madagascar2poster-60608.jpgMadagascar 2 (PG) made more than $63 million in its opening weekend. Just to put it in perspective, number 2 was the R-rated Role Models, at $19 million, which under normal circumstances would have been enough to make it number one. But $63 million puts “Madagascar 2″ in the top 50 opening weekends of all time, around the level of “Wall?E” and “Lord of the Rings.”
Last week’s number 1 was the G-rated High School Musical 3, for the second week in a row. This week, at number 3, it continued to do well, increasing its total to a domestic $75 million and over $160 million world-wide.
Why does Hollywood keep having to re-learn the lesson that there is an enormous and enthusiastic audience for family-friendly movies?

Hellboy 2: the Golden Army

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and some language.
Movie Release Date:July 11, 2008
DVD Release Date:November 11, 2008

hellboy2.jpg“Hellboy” is the “US Weekly” of comic book sagas. Superheroes are just like us! They squabble with their loved ones! They smoke cigars! They take pregnancy tests! When their hearts are broken they get drunk and sing along to Barry Manilow!
And then there are the other things they do, like confronting a kitten-eating a bag lady who is really a troll and battling a building-sized elemental plant guy who is trying to eat everything. And bursting into flames. And shooting people with very, very big guns and punching people very, very hard with a really, really big hand.
Hellboy (“Red” to his friends) is the big devil-looking red guy with one very large brick-like hand, two sawed-off horns, and a tail. Bad guys do not fluster him. He chews on a cigar, pulls out a gun with bullets bigger than a breadbox, lets out a sigh or a wisecrack, and goes after whatever it is, from a thousand bone-munching spidery-looking little creature to a large, slobbering, boar-shaped monster, and that plant guy. When Hellboy showers, clutching a beer can, we hear the Eels’ “Beautiful Freak,” and the warm acceptance of that song, similar to the “just like us” moments, is a nicely understated theme of the movie.
The creatures and CGI effects are a wonderfully inventive, with the exception of the flames that engulf Hellboy’s true love, Liz (Selma Blair), as lackluster as the “when will she tell him the real reason she is so upset” plotline they’ve given her. She needs to get some flame on pointers from Johnny Storm. But this is not a movie that takes females or their powers very seriously. The other leading lady is Princess Nuala (Anna Walton), a typically Stevie Nicks-type of ethereal beauty with intuitive palm-sensing ability who pretty much stands around when all the fighting is going on.
And what fighting it is. The visuals are sensationally imaginative. Director Guillermo del Toro is every bit as excited about the creatures in this comic-book saga as he was in his grown-up fairy tale “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Wonderfully imagined and intricately constructed, they often reflect the sensibility of a steampunk cracked version of “Lord of the Rings.” Hellboy’s new boss, reported to have an “open face,” turns out to be a clanking robot with a glass dome who speaks through an apparatus that looks like the workings of a Victorian typewriter. The clash and contrast of styles adds a lot of visual flair. A bad guy Prince has long blonde hair and seamed cheeks that make him look like the spawn of Legolas from “Lord of the Rings” and Sally from “A Nightmare Before Christmas.”
The fight scenes are inventively set up and staged. As Hellboy battles the plant guy he has to have one arm around a swaddled infant he is in the process of rescuing. He takes on Victorian typewriter-guy at one point and finds himself battling a barrage of swinging locker doors. When he fights the Prince, he has to be careful to defeat him without hurting him because of the psychic connection that imposes any injuries to him on his twin sister as well. The plot may not be much and the Golden Army of the title is the least interesting of his foes, but even the silly stuff is so imaginatively realized that Hellboy has a bit of a touch of comic book movie heaven.

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for sci-fi action violence throughout, brief language and momentary smoking.
Movie Release Date:August 13, 2008
DVD Release Date:November 11, 2008


Oh, George Lucas. Please stop diluting the franchise.

This latest all-animated iteration of “Star Wars” has a relationship to the original somewhere along the lines of the relationship of a homeopathic ingredient to the ultimate concoction. It has been diluted so that its atoms are barely detectable. The saga suffers in part because so many have taken what Lucas did in the 1970’s and 80’s and taken it further in terms of technology as well as story. All that remains here is from the weakest part of the original trilogy, especially the cardboard dialogue, without the screen charisma and acting ability of Harrison Ford and some of the others to make it work. The animation is below the level of most video games.

Worst of all, the movie diminishes the story arc of the original trilogies by taking the key character of Anakin Skywalker in a direction unrelated to everything we knew about him. What should enrich and expand on the stories just erodes further our sense of the original characters.

New Chaplin Bio from Stephen M. Weissman

posted by Nell Minow

Chaplin: A Life is a splendid new biography of one of the most brilliant performers of the 20th century by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Stephen M. Weissman.

chaplin.gif

It has received glowing reviews from both of the most prestigious publishing journals:

“A fresh entry in the evergreen field of works devoted to Charlie Chaplin. If ever an artist’s life lent itself to psychoanalysis, it’s Chaplin’s. . . . Weissman lends dimension to the classics . . . and demonstrates Chaplin’s ability to transform family heartbreak into film comedies. . . . With lean, energetic prose, Weissman brings this colorful theatrical period to life. . . . He offers vivid sketches . . .and carefully follows the confluence of several artists that lead to the creation of the Chaplin’s iconic Little Tramp. Throughout the book,the author caps exhaustive sourcing with an overlay of insightful observations about Chaplin’s creative process. Find space on the crowded Chaplin shelf for this perceptive, literate take on the great screen clown.”
-Kirkus Reviews

“Weissman uncovers the source for the “shabby gentility” of the Little Tramp, as well as the development of that extraordinary character. En route, he paints an engaging…portrait of how a cinema artist is created and how he practices his craft.”
-Publishers Weekly

But its most important review comes from Chaplin’s daughter Geraldine, who contributed an introduction that reads in part:

It is unlike anything that has ever been written about my father. Weissman weaves a psychologically astute narrative of Chaplin’s life and art, brilliantly exploring the relationships between experience and creativity….Weissman probes into the psychological explanation of the closest human bonds. It is uncanny how intuitively correct a trained outside investigator’s conclusions can turn out to be. This book, always provocative and at times heart-wrenching, is an enlightening read, an important addition to an understanding of my father’s genius and art, and a unique meditation on the mystery of creativity.

The book beautifully illuminates the sources and influences that inspired Chaplin’s unique combination of grace, humor, and poignancy. And Weissman has created a website about Chaplin that, like the book, is an extraordinary and insightful resource for fans and scholars. Its video clips, photo essays, and links enrich our understanding of an appreciation for this treasured icon.

Previous Posts

Merchants of Doubt
Do you remember the tobacco executives standing up before a Congressional Committee, their right hands raised, each of them swearing that they did not believe that tobacco caused cancer?  That was in 1994, three decades after the US Surgeon General's report showing the adverse health effects of cig

posted 5:30:43pm Mar. 05, 2015 | read full post »

MVP of the Week: Dev Patel
British-born actor Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, The Newsroom) is competing with himself this week as the star of two big releases. In the sequel "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" h

posted 3:38:30pm Mar. 05, 2015 | read full post »

A Tribute to Unlikeable Women in the Movies
I really enjoyed the recent series on "Unlikeable Women" from the folks at Bitch Flicks. I remember a panel of women filmmakers at Comic-Con all agreeing that the code word for making female characters meek and pliable (and giving all the tough dialogue and action to the male characters) was "relat

posted 3:50:31pm Mar. 04, 2015 | read full post »

WIN Tickets to "Danny Collins" With Al Pacino and Annette Bening
WIN tickets to a free showing of Al Pacino's new film, "Danny Collins," in Washington D.C. on March 11, 2015. Inspired by a true story, Al Pacino stars as aging 1970's rocker Danny Collins. But when his manager (Christopher Plummer) uncovers a 40 year-old undelivered letter written to him by John L

posted 11:00:21am Mar. 04, 2015 | read full post »

When Boredom Beats Mental Busywork
I love this tribute to boredom on car trips with children.  I well remember being in the back seat with my sisters, alternating games of GHOST and Botticelli with highway bingo and, yes, arguing with each other about who had to ride in the middle.  What will today's children remember about family

posted 8:00:55am Mar. 04, 2015 | read full post »


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