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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Monkey Kingdom
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 17, 2015

 

Wild Kratts: Shark-Tastic
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating:
NR
Release Date:

Ex Machina
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for graphic nudity, language, sexual references and some violence
Release Date:
April 17, 2015

 

Big Eyes
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong language
Release Date:
December 25, 2014

True Story
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some disturbing material
Release Date:
April 17, 2015

 

Wild
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, drug use, and language
Release Date:
December 5, 2014

New in Theaters

grade:
B+

Monkey Kingdom

Lowest Recommended Age:
Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 17, 2015
grade:
A-

Ex Machina

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for graphic nudity, language, sexual references and some violence
Release Date:
April 17, 2015
grade:
B

True Story

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some disturbing material
Release Date:
April 17, 2015

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New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
B+

Wild Kratts: Shark-Tastic

Lowest Recommended Age:
All Ages
MPAA Rating:
NR
Release Date:
grade:
B+

Big Eyes

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong language
Release Date:
December 25, 2014
grade:
B+

Wild

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, drug use, and language
Release Date:
December 5, 2014

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The Dark Knight

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace.
Movie Release Date:July 18, 2008
DVD Release Date:December 9, 2008
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace.
Movie Release Date: July 18, 2008
DVD Release Date: December 9, 2008

“Dark” is right. Christopher Nolan’s sequel to his Batman Begins is not only dark; it is searing and disturbing. The bad guys are very, very bad. These are not guys who do bad things because that is the only way for them to get what they want. These are bad guys who do bad things because they enjoy them. As the Joker (Heath Ledger, in his last completed performance) says early on, “That which does not defeat us makes us…stranger.”

joker.jpg

But what is more unsettling about this ambitiously epic film is the way that it shows us how even the good guys are perilously close to being bad. We like duality in our superhero sagas, but we like the meek or ineffectual character with the hidden strength and ability — Clark Kent as the incorruptible Superman and Bruce Wayne as the eternally honorable Batman. But this movie is an exploration of the way that none of us, not even heroes, not even ourselves — none of us know exactly where our boundaries are drawn. Over and over in this film people find themselves crossing lines they once were certain that nothing could tempt or force them to breach, with the most fundamental elements of identity and integrity revealed as ephemeral.

In the last episode, we saw how billionaire Bruce Wayne, a damaged man, found his deepest essence expressed as a masked avenger, Batman. The pull of turning himself into a creature of the night to protect the innocent and put the guilty in jail was so powerful that he risked losing the woman he loved, his childhood sweetheart Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes in the first film, Maggie Gyllenhaal in this one). But as this movie begins, the clean-up efforts by Batman and district attorney Harvey Dent have infuriated Gotham’s criminals, who are escalating their efforts and working together to spread corruption throughout the community so that no one trusts anyone. A man with a mask can be anyone — or more than one. Copycat Batmans (Batmen) are showing up with something the real Batman never carries — guns. “That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I said I wanted to inspire people,” Wayne says. The line between justice and vengeance is blurring.

Blurring of lines is one of the themes snaking through this film. Characters slide in and out, over and across lines of identity, principle, and purpose. This is a comic book movie and it has chases and crashes and fight scenes, including a astonishing somersaulting truck, but when it is over it is the wrenching choices, the internal confrontations, that reverberate. The most stunningly unforgettable moment concerns a choice made by a character who is on screen for less than five minutes. But because we know so little about him (far less than we think we know, as it turns out) and because the decision he must make is so heart-rending, his choice becomes ours.

And Batman’s time and place becomes ours, too. The setting is less stylized than previous Gothams, recognizably Chicago. This is a real city with windows opening up on sun light that is always on the other side of glass and steel. We, like the characters, are relegated to the shadows, the underground passages, the airless buildings, a kind of architectural mask.

The sense of dread, of corruption, of dissolution of structures permeates the film. A bad guy who is ruthless in pursuit of money or power is not nearly as scary and unsettling as one who cares about nothing — not even his own life — as long as he is messing with everyone’s head. Like the bad guy in “Saw,” the Joker likes to expose moral weakness and exploit hypocritical pretense to honor and integrity. “Some men aren’t looking for anything — just to watch the world burn,” says loyal retainer Alfred (Michael Caine). “They can’t be bullied, negotiated, or reasoned with.” And the greatest damage this kind of terrorism inflicts is that it no longer allows us to be the trusting, decent people we like to think we are.

Ledger, in his last completed performance, is mesmerizing. His tongue flicking like a lizard, there is a wetness to his speech that makes us feel as well as see the nerve-slashing wounds that give his face the grotesque rictus that imitates a smile. Instead of the careful clown-like make-up of previous Jokers, Ledger’s is smashed and smeared, chaos upon chaos. Bale continues to make Batman and Wayne compelling and Freeman and Michael Caine as Alfred are watchable as ever. “You complete me,” the Joker says to Batman. Ledger completes this film and his loss is just one more reason to walk out of it a little sad and dazed.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:1951
DVD Release Date:2008
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: G
Movie Release Date: 1951
DVD Release Date: 2008

In the 1951 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, a spaceship landed in front of the Washington Monument to warn the people of earth that they were on the path to destruction. The problem then was the Cold War and nuclear arms race. In 2008, the remake has a space orb land in New York City and once again a humanoid-looking creature from another planet comes to earth because of another impending doom. “If the Earth dies, you die,” he says. “If you die, the Earth survives.”

Jennifer Connelly, who seems to enjoy sharing the screen with super-smart crazy guys (“A Beautiful Mind,” “Hulk”), plays Helen, a scientist brought in to try to help assess the threat level from the two beings to come out of the orb. The first would have done better to have had a scientist to assess his own threat level because as soon as it stepped out of the orb someone shot him. The second is a silent, colossus-like giant of a robot with an ominous glow through the eye-slit, standing as sentry.

Klaatu has assumed human form (Keanu Reeves) so that he can speak to the world leaders at the UN. But a suspicious Secretary of Defense (Kathy Bates) decides to treat him like a galactic terrorist, so soon Klaatu, Helen, and her stepson (Jaden Smith, the son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith), are on the run. They make the obligatory visit to the Wise Man in the Woods (John Cleese, terrific as a Nobel award-winner for “altruistic biology”) and try to evade the efforts of military and law enforcement to capture them while Helen tries to demonstrate that humans are worth saving.

Director Scott Derickson is a committed Christian, and he has given the original story themes of sacrifice and redemption that will resonate with those who are open to a spiritual message. There is a reference to Noah’s Ark. Klaatu has the power to heal. He brings a dead man back to life and even walks on water. The most important themes are deeply spiritual as well, stewardship, respect for the interdependence of all things, and hope.

Best of the Best from Blogs About Movies

posted by Nell Minow

One of my very favorite movie critics is writer/speaker Desson Thomson, whose wonderful new website has an archive of reviews, blog posts, clips from his NPR commentaries, and contact information for groups who’d like to have him do a presentation or workshop. Be sure to read his thoughtful post on the way the faces tell the story in “Refusenik,” a documentary about dissident Jews in the Soviet Union.
Film blog He Shot Cyrus has a “best of” compilation from other movie blogs that is a terrific introduction to some lively and insightful writing about movies just for the pure love of it. It includes a link to the marvelous series on “triple crowners” (performers who have won an Oscar, a Tony, and an Emmy) from pseudonymous blogger J.J. (NOTE: Some strong language and mature content)
LAMB stands for the Large Association of Movie Blogs and is a great place to go to get acquainted with the range of voices and resources.
Two movie blogs I read regularly are Christian Toto’s What Would Toto Watch? and Keith Demko’s Reel Fanatic. And I never miss the witty and illuminating reviews from my friends Willie Waffle, Dustin Putman, and Brandon Fibbs.
Enjoy!

Washington Film Critics Pick ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

posted by Nell Minow

The Washington Area Film Critics have announced our awards for 2008. “Slumdog Millionaire,” the story of an orphan in India whose correct answers on the local version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” lead to suspicions he was cheating, won not only the top prize for best movie but also awards for direction, screenplay, and the “breakthrough” performance of its young star. Other awards went to the comeback performance by an actor whose troubled past mirrors the struggles of the character he plays (Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler”), to Hollywood’s most distinguished actress (Meryl Streep in “Doubt”), and to the late Heath Ledger in this year’s biggest money-maker, “The Dark Knight”).
Best Film: Slumdog Millionaire/Fox Searchlight
Best Director: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Actor: Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
Best Actress: Meryl Streep (Doubt)
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Best Supporting Actress: Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married)
Best Original Screenplay: Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Animated: Wall?E/Disney&Pixar
Best Documentary: Man on Wire/Magnolia Pictures
Best Foreign Film: Let the Right One In/Magnolia Pictures and Magnet Releasing
Best Ensemble: Doubt/Miramax
Best Breakthrough: Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button/Paramount

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