Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Fading Gigolo
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some sexual content, language and brief nudity
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

Philomena
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references
Release Date:
November 22, 2013

Transcendence
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

The Nut Job
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Release Date:
January 17, 2014

Bears
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

Grudge Match
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language
Release Date:
December 25, 2013

Tarnation

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

Jonathan Caouette, “Tarnation’s” director/writer/producer/cinematographer/ composer/editor and leading man, took home movies and other family memorabilia, added some cultural flotsam and jetsam, ran them through a computer program, and made a searing and unforgettable documentary of love and loss.

It is primarily the story of Caouette’s mother, Renee, a lively and beautiful young girl whose parents authorized a series of shock treatments after she became paralyzed following a fall. From that point on, her life was one of mental illness and abuse. A brief marriage ended so quickly that her husband never knew she became pregnant with Caouette. She abruptly took her young son to Chicago, where she was raped as he watched. She was hospitalized and he was put in foster homes, where he was abused. Later he was adopted by his grandparents, Renee’s parents.

After he smoked two joints, not knowing they were laced with PCP, Caouette was diagnosed with a disassociative disorder, a sense that he was living outside himself. That is probably a significant factor in both his ability and his need for documenting his life. The film includes footage Caouette took of himself when he was still a child. At age 11, with a scarf around his head, he performs a Blanche Dubois-style monologue he wrote himself, compulsively touching his hair as he recounts his story, as though to reaffirm that he is still there.

He is still reaffirming his existance as he examines it. Caouette combines family photos and home movies with stock footage and simple special effects that splinter the images the way the events they depict shattered Caouette’s life. Fragmented story-telling mirrors fragmented lives (though it is jarring to be suddenly presented with a sibling we never heard anything about). Instead of a voice-over, background is provided by affectless, unemotional words that seem to float on-screen, adding to the sense of dislocation, of fractured fairy tale. Cauette does not tell us how he feels, but we see that he loves his mother deeply, even after the drug overdose leaves her brain-damaged. Her final scenes would verge on the grotesque, even exploitive, if not for the ferocity of his devotion to her.

It is already the stuff of legend that Caouette’s budget for this film was just $218. While that figure does not represent the many post-production costs (the licensing fees for the songs alone must have run thousands of dollars), the low-tech, modest quality of the film gives it a found art quality that suits its tone and source material.

Parents should know that this movie has extremely painful and mature material, with explicit and graphic sexual references including rape, mental illness, exceptionally strong language, drinking, smoking, drug use, a drug overdose, and harrowing mental and physical abuse. Strengths of the movie include its theme of commitment and survival despite the direst circumstances and challenges and its sympathetic portrayal of loving and loyal gay characters.

Families who see this film should talk about what kind of movie their own history and memorobilia would create.

Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate Crumb and Capturing the Friedmans.

The Polar Express

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2004

“Are you sure?”

This is a question asked several times during this movie, based on the exquisitely lovely Chris Van Allsburg book. It is a fitting question for a story about a boy struggling with his beliefs about Christmas.

It begins with a man remembering a Christmas Eve of long ago, when a boy whose name we never learn lies very still in his bed. It isn’t because he is too excited to sleep. He isn’t staying awake because he wants to hear Santa. He is afraid that he will not hear anything. He is getting older and better able to question what he has been told based on what he reads in newspapers and the encyclopedia. It is getting harder for him to believe.

The boy hears a sound and runs outside in the snow. An enormous locomotive pulls up in front of his house and the conducter invites him to board. He looks out the window and it appears that his snowman is waving goodbye.

The train is bound for the North Pole and our unnamed hero/narrator will have many adventures and find the answer to his questions before he wakes up in his own bed on Christmas morning.

The boy wants to believe. But he doesn’t want to be bamboozled, or “railroaded.” Seeing is believing. But he also doesn’t want to be a doubter, like Scrooge. Director Robert Zemeckis has done a fairly good job of maintaining the integrity of the brief story as it is expanded to feature length. The complications of the journey are well-paced and consistent with the story’s themes, though the know-it-all character becomes grating very quickly. It is less successful after the arrival at the North Pole, when the expasion starts to feel like filler, particularly when a nice selection of timeless Christmas standards on the soundtrack gives way to a lackluster rock song that brings the story to a standstill for no discernable reason. And the wonder of Christmas seems a bit too centered on the pleasure of getting gifts, particularly for the lonely boy, whose past neglect on Christmas — and present present — is never explained.

The animators have done their best to preserve the look of Chris Van Allsburg’s lovely illustrations. The result is attractive, if coarser and less graceful. There are moments of great beauty, especially the vertiginous ride as we watch a golden train ticket carried away by an eagle. And there are wonderfully imaginative images, dancing waiters pouring hot chocolate from silver pots with triple-spouts, Santa’s huge workshops with viewing screens for naughty-nice monitoring and pneumatic tubes for transporting toys, and sometimes people.

But the greatest challenge in animation, whether hand-drawn or computer-generated, is human beings. Humans are complex and unpredictable. And we know human faces so well that the slightest discrepancy in expression feels chilly at best and becomes a major distraction at worst. Here, director Robert Zemeckis, who pioneered new technologies with Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Forrest Gump oversaw the development of a new technique based on filming the actors in live action and then “capturing” their performances in computer animation. The result has a slightly chill and dreamy, even ghostly quality. To an extent, that suits the story’s mood and setting. It detracts from the story that the animators have not quite mastered facial expressions or the weight of people and objects. But the voice of Tom Hanks in six different roles, including the conductor, a mysterious hobo, and Santa, adds real warmth.

Parents should know that the movie may be too intense and frightening for the youngest children. There are roller-coaster-y action sequences with some close calls, but no one is injured. Some children who are grappling with their own beliefs about Christmas may find the movie unsettling, but most will find it reassuring.

Families who see this movie should talk about each of the lessons punched into the tickets given to the children. Why was each of those lessons the right one for that child? They should also talk about the difference between that which can be proven and that which must be believed without proof. When the conductor says, “Sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see,” what is is talking about? What is a “crucial year?” Why can’t some people hear the bell? Who is the hobo and why is he there?

Families who enjoy this movie should read the marvelous book, written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, and his others, especially Jumanji and The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. They will also appreciate other Christmas stories like Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And they will enjoy learning more about the Northern Lights.

Undertow

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

Being Julia

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

Julia (Annette Bening) is a star who craves an audience. She thrills the paying customers in the theater night after night, but that is not enough for her anymore.

Her husband, Michael(Jeremy Irons), a former actor turned manager, wasn’t paying enough attention to remember what she said the last night before bed, and he seems more interested in the box office than her performances. She needs an audience so badly she has conjured up the memory of her late acting mentor (Michael Gambon), so real to her that she can still hear his direction as a running commentary on everything she does. She even has a place set for him at every meal. He tells her that theater is the only reality and her son tells her that she is always performing, that even what she says is second-hand. He’s right — Julia tells two different men that each is the only one with whom she can be truly herself. In reality, the closest she comes to being truly herself is with her sympathetic dresser, Evie (a delightfuly dry Julia Stevenson).

Julia is sure she needs something more, something new. She just isn’t sure what that thing might be.

Perhaps it is just a new audience, giving her a new way to see herself — as adored and desirable. A young American named Tom (Shaun Evans) sees her that way, and they have an affair.

She feels re-energized, reborn. At first, her greatest pleasure is in making him happy. She even enjoys being his audience. She loves being seen by him so much that she begins to think she is in love with him, which might be a mistake, and she gives him money, which is certainly a mistake. As a friend advises her, the story of a middle-aged woman in love with a younger man is played as a farce.

But then Tom makes a mistake of his own, and Julia shows everyone that when it comes to audiences, she can still put on a better show than anyone.

Bening has a laugh like a musical instrument and she plays it like a virtuoso. She is positively incandescent, with all of the pure star quality of the character she is playing and then some. Her curls bounce, her eyes sparkle, and her voice is like bells rung by angels. This is a sensational performance. The rest of the movie doesn’t match it, but then there are not many that could.

Parents should know that the movie has very explicit sexual references and situations, including adultery and a discussion of a disappointing first sexual encounter. Characters drink, smoke, and use strong language. A strength of the movie is its sympathetic portrayal of a gay character.

Families who see this movie should talk about what Julia was looking for. What mattered most to her? Did she get it? They might also want to talk about the conversation between Julia and her son about his first sexual encounter.

Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy backstage classics like The Royal Family, inspired by the legendary Barrymores (Drew’s grandfather and his sister and brother), Kiss Me Kate, To Be or Not to Be, and the multi-Oscar-winning All About Eve. They might also like to read some of the short stories by W. Somerset Maugham, whose novella “Theater” inspired this film.

Previous Posts

A Dramatic Commercial for TNT
I love this commercial for TNT! [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIkPeZKP-d4[/youtube]

posted 8:33:40am Apr. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Movie Stingers: Scenes After the Credits
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRJ38y4Jn6k[/youtube] Ferris Bueller had one.  Marvel superhero movies sometimes have two.  When did it become a thing to have a scene after the credits (sometimes called a stinger)? New York Magazine's Vulture column has the history of these extended

posted 8:00:47am Apr. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Fading Gigolo
John Turturro wrote, directed, and stars in "Fading Gigolo," a bittersweet meditation on the ways we seek and hide from intimacy, sometimes at the same time. Turturro plays Fioravante, a florist who works part-time for Murray (Woody Allen), the third-generation proprietor of a used and rare books

posted 9:24:32pm Apr. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Transcendence
Think of it as "Her 2: The Revenge of Him." Or Samantha infected by Heartbleed. Just as in last holiday season's Her, "Transcendence" is the story of an artificial intelligence contained in a computer program that becomes or is seen as human consciousness.  Instead of the warm, affectionate voic

posted 6:00:39pm Apr. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Bears
This year's Disney Nature release for Earth Day is "Bears," the story of an Alaskan bear named Sky and her twin cubs, Scout and Amber, their trek from the den where they've hibernated all winter t

posted 6:00:05pm Apr. 17, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.