Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Lucy
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Noah
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

And So It Goes
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and drug elements
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Finding Vivian Maier
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

Wish I Was Here
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Sabotage
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

Haven

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language, drug use, sexual content and some violence.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

Director Frank E. Flowers’ full-length debut, “Haven,” is a study in sin. Set mostly in the Cayman Islands, the film’s
characters live in a world where the stakes are high and the people are higher. It could be written off as an amateur experiment with an erratic plotline and drama as conflicted as some of the characters, yet it’s difficult to let go of that easily.


Through the smoke of lust and greed shine two lights — the characters of Shy (Orlando Bloom) and Pippa (Agnes Brucker).


Young and impossibly innocent despite corruption all around them, they are two characters who never do quite what you
want them to. They hang with all the wrong people, make all the wrong choices, and yet are so genuine, so sincere and so real that you can’t help but want to stay by their side, even if it means suffering through the rest of the film.


It’s poised to offer maximum misfortune from the beginning. Two businessmen (Bill Paxton and Stephen Dillane) arrive fresh from fleeing the feds. Pippa, the
daughter of one, gets involved with the resident reprobate, a feisty island local named Fritz, and Shy (Bloom) and his love interest Andrea (Zoe Saldana) get caught spending the night together by one very forceful father and an equally angry brother. Money plus drugs plus sex equals drama to rival the most elaborate episodes of “The O.C.”


The plot itself mimics Shakespearean tragedy at times, but instead of allowing the characters to carry the film, Flowers can’t quite escape the sophomoric mistake of trying to include everything
he ever wanted to say about love, sex, drugs, family and his life into the brief running time he has to chew everything he’s bitten.


The result is an intriguing glimpse into life on an island that brims with beauty and passion, but unfortunately, in this film at least, just as easily lends itself to banality. With a plot of teenage
romance and adults who should know
better, leaving too much time to ”develop” the story really becomes leaving too much time to dwell on the story’s most obvious
shortcomings – predictability, uninventiveness, and unfulfilled
potential.


It is the director’s hungry aspirations, sadly, that keep “Haven” stuck as another contrived drama of debauchery, as opposed to the artful exploration of love, loyalty, family and greed it could
have been.


Parents should know that this film has very strong language and many graphic scenes of sex and drug use. The plot involves
beatings and murders, and issues such as rape and revenge are extensively explored. Although not completely amoral, some characters seem driven solely by motives such as greed and hatred, and many
adolescents as well as adults in this film are portrayed as very misguided at best.


Families who see this movie will have much to talk about. A good starting point is to explore the motivations of different
characters. Pippa’s father is a corrupt businessman — what might have driven him to repeatedly make such unprincipled choices? Pure greed, a desire to provide for his daughter, pressure from others to
succeed, frustration at an inability to stop the momentum of lies? This film could be seen as a film about choices; families might discuss which choices characters have at certain points in the film, and what factors each character might consider when making his or her choices. Are there things each character could have considered at
critical points that might have lead to better, more ethical and careful choices? How can we take strong emotions into account while making decisions, without letting them dictate our actions?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet, as “Haven” shares a similar editing style (choppy and manic at times, with a very saturated color
palette) and the two have many plot themes in common. Families might also consider Steven Soderbergh’s Oscar-winning film Traffic, an exploration of America’s drug culture through four interweaving stories.

The Science of Sleep

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language, some sexual content and nudity.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

Stephane (Gael Garcia Bernal of The Motorcycle Diaries) lives across the hall from Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), though for some reason he goes to elaborate lengths to have her think he lives on the other side of town. They share more than their names and location. Both are multi-lingual, not just speaking more than one language of words, but also speaking more than one layer of reality. Their shared sense of wonder and wistful whimsy is this film’s most irresistibly endearing feature.


It’s very hard to get whimsy right. It’s like a soap bubble; touch it and it disappears. But writer-director Michel Gondry’s light touch

Parents should know that this film, despite its fairy-tale quality, has some mature material, including very strong language and sexual references and situations.

Families who see this film should talk about what Stephane wanted both at work and with Stephanie and what prevented him from trying to get it. And they might want to talk about what might happen if their dreams started to become mixed up with their realities.

Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy Amelie and the brilliant Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Daydreams and night dreams have been a theme of many movies, including Dream Girl and Buster Keaton’s silent classic, Sherlock Jr.. Perhaps film’s most provocative dream sequence is the one staged by Salvadore Dali for Hitchcock’s Spellbound.

Jet Li’s Fearless

posted by jmiller
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for violence and martial arts action throughout.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

It does not have the ravishing images of Hero but it does not have the cheesy plot of Cradle 2 the Grave, either. For his last action film, Jet Li has decided to give us a reverential biopic about Huo Yuanjia, hero of the Chinese people and founder of a school of martial arts.


Action films need to get us on the side of the hero quickly so they can get to the good stuff — the action. The quickest way is revenge, as Tarantino showed with Kill Bill. It can help to give us a reluctant hero who tries to avoid violence and is drawn into it, a theme brilliantly tweaked in A History of Violence. That gives us the best of both worlds because the violence is forced upon the hero, so we can enjoy it without guilt. And once in a while we get a hero who begins violent and then learns a better way. And then gets violent again, but in the more in sorrow than in anger variety. That way, we get to enjoy the angry violence and the righteous violence, too.


It is this last category that Jet Li has chosen; perhaps he is saying that like the hero he plays, he has decided that there are more important things than fighting. Huo begins as an arrogant, hot-tempered, impetuous man who fights out of pride. But after he causes great tragedy in his own family and another, he learns that martial arts are about honor, discipline, and concentration, and that winning is not what he thought it was.


The movie begins in 1910. Huo (Jet Li) walks into the ring. Everyone in the audience knows that this fight represents more than a contest between two people. It is a fight for the honor of the Chinese culture, under assault from Westerners who think that no one in China has the strength or intelligence to defeat their champions.


Huo is scheduled to take on not one but four champions from the other side. In three thrilling bouts, he defeats the challengers. Then, as he gets ready for the fourth, we go back in time to see what brought him to this place.


The middle section sags, as Huo takes on a bigger entourage than MC Hammer, refusing to acknowledge that they only follow him because he buys them drinks. And then Huo goes off and learns about the Meaning of Life from Simple Country Folk who know enough to stop planting rice and feel the breeze. Yes, the blind girl in the hat is the only one who truly sees, get it?


Without the sweep and scope of the great Chinese films, this rests on the fight scenes, which are beautifully staged but never transcend the kicks and punches to power the story.

Parents should know that this movie has intense and graphic scenes of violence. Characters are injured and killed, including a woman and a child. There is brief strong language. Characters drink and there are scenes in a bar and references to abusing alcohol.


Families who see this movie should talk about what the last fight shows us about the combatants’ ideas about honor. Why was what Huo learned about planting rice important? What did he mean about learning from the best?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Hero and House of Flying Daggers.

Flyboys

posted by jmiller
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for war action violence and some sexual content.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

Has this script been in a drawer somewhere since 1942?


It sure seems like it. It’s “inspired” by the absorbing true story of Americans who enlisted with the French armed forces in World War I, flying aircraft that were more like orange crates than planes, in a style of combat that was being invented moment by moment. The flying scenes are thrilling but the screenplay stalls.


It was just 13 years after the Wright Brothers flew 120 feet at Kitty Hawk, long before the use of airplanes for mail or commercial transport. Hardly anyone knew how to fly and no one knew how to use this new technology in war. This was before planes were equipped with parachutes or made from steel. Top speeds were about 100 miles per hour. There was no such thing as reconnaissance. And, as one of the characters tells the new recruits, the life expectancy for the pilots is three to six weeks.


A group of Americans arrives for training, each with something to prove. One is a rich kid whose father thinks he can’t do anything. One is a maverick who’s never belonged anywhere. One is a black man who had to leave America to be treated with respect. The guy with the great cheekbones will meet a pretty girl in a brothel and assume she is a prostitute, but it turns out she is a nice girl who just happened to be there that day and even though they don’t speak the same language they fall in love and even though he is ordered not to he takes a plane so he can rescue her. It all plays out as cardboard as the dialogue, as drearily predictable as a quadrille and embarrassingly jingoistic as well.


And that is a shame, because it does evoke the thrill and terror of those early days of inventing a new style of fighting. While below them men were shooting at each other from trenches, in the sky the men looked straight into each other’s eyes and developed the kind of honor and respect that reflected their shared bond as the pioneers of a new era. Like these characters, the movie is at its best in the air.

Parents should know that this movie has a great deal of graphic battle violence. Many characters are killed. Soldiers and civilians, including women and children, are in dire peril. There are some sexual references, including scenes in a brothel. Characters drink and smoke and use some strong language. There are references to the racism of the era and racist behavior, though a strength of the movie is the portrayal of a man who will not allow himself to be diminished by racism.


Families who see this film should talk about what led these men to fight for another country. They should also talk about the way that even those who loved flying could not imagine how airplanes would transform the way we live and the possibilities of some of today’s new technologies. They should also talk about the origins and consequences of the first world war (then just called The Great War) and why the hopes that it would be the last war were not realized.


These early air skirmishes so captured the imagination of the Americans that another brand-new technology, the movies, had more hours of dogfight footage than actually occured in the war. One example was the very first film to win an Oscar, Wings. Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy other movies about air combat, including Memphis Belle and Only Angels Have Wings. They can find out more about the era here and at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

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