Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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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

 

If I Stay
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

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

 

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

Rosewater
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including some crude references, and violent content
Release Date:
November 14, 2014

 

Into the Storm
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense destruction and peril, and language including some sexual references
Release Date:
August 8, 2014

List: Science Fiction Movies With Accurate Predictions

posted by Nell Minow

When people think of the future we often — influenced by sci-fi movies — picture silvery jumpsuits, rayguns, and flying cars. Very often, the movies project the extremes of Utopian or distopian civilizations. But sometimes the movies get it right. Popular Mechanics has put together a list of The 10 Most Prophetic Sci-Fi Movies Ever, with the hits and misses in classics from “2001” (space tourism) to “The Truman Show” (reality TV), “Minority Report” (touch screens — and, I would add, Patriot Act-era surveillance, though not quite at the “precognition” stage), and “Gattaca” (designer genes).
The comments are as worthwhile as the list. We’ve come a long way from The Trip to the Moon, where the space travelers returned to earth by jumping off.
gattaca_ver1.jpg

Interview with Arie Kaplan of “Speed Racer: Chronicles of the Racer”

posted by Nell Minow

Arie Kaplan writes the new series of Speed Racer comic books, called “Speed Racer: Chronicles of the Racer.” Separate from the big-budget movie coming out later this year, the comics provide Speed Racer with a wider range of settings and a deeper backstory than he has had before. I talked to Kaplan about Speed Racer and his other projects, including his three-part series for Reform Judaism Magazine about the Jewish origins and themes of comic books and comedy performers. Kaplan also writes for Mad Magazine, speaks often on subjects relating to Judaism and comedy, and has a new book coming out later this year: From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books. Speed_Racer-chroniclesRI.jpg

How did you get involved with Speed Racer?

My series for Reform Judaism Magazine about the the influence of Jews on the comic book industry gave me a lot of contacts in the comic book world. I went to Wondercon and talked to IDW about Speed Racer. I had to go back and catch myself up on what was going on in comics. If you haven’t been reading comics for a while and then read the One More Day series, you think, “What the Hell has been going on?” The quality of the writing is getting stronger. It is more like TV shows, but there are things you can only do in comics.

I wrote a horror screenplay a while back. Even though it had a horror element the special effects had to be pretty low key. It couldn’t be like Transformers; it had to be low budget. For this Speed Racer series, each issue if they filmed it would cost like $300 million. In comics, you can do a story where it doesn’t feel self-indulgent but you can have pirate ships, giant transforming robots, not too grandiose or too loaded or over the top, but make it work. It costs the same amount of money to draw people having a conversation as having an action sequence, that’s the difference between comics and movies. Anyone who wants to draw Speed Racer likes to draw action sequences, racing, blowing stuff up, but it won’t take a special secret expensive pen. Your imagination is honestly the only special effect; the budgetary limits are met.

But you don’t want to put too many story twists; you don’t want to pack the story too much. You do burn through story quite a bit because Speed finds out he is the last of a long line of racers. His last name used to not be the family name, but the occupation. There is a chosen one in each generation, the one to outrace the evils of the world. He is a crime-fighter but instead of super powers or a utility belt he has the Mach 5.

How did you come up with your interpretation of Speed Racer?

I wanted to make him more iconic, more comic-booky, more kinds of stories. I wanted him to be more of a teenager, and I wanted to bring in some of the The Hero with a Thousand Faces themes.

The name was one of the inspirations for this series. I wanted some explanations about why the goofy characters would have such on the nose names. I thought about my own name. Arie means lion, Kaplan means religious leader. A lot of names come from occupations – what if Speed’s family was like that?

Alvin and the Chipmunks

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some mild rude humor.
Movie Release Date:December 14, 2007
DVD Release Date:April 7, 2008

alvinandthechipmunks.jpg

Novelty songwriter Ross Bagdasarian noticed that speeding up the audio recordings creatd a high-pitched sound in 1958, and used that technique in his song “The Witch Doctor.” It was a hit. And so, he created the singing chipmunks, Simon, Theodore, and AAAAAlvin. Their record-breaking Christmas song sold four and a half million records in seven weeks — a record not broken until the Beatles — and won two Grammy awards. The high pitch of the voices was the novelty, but what made the record a hit was the relationship between Bagdasarian, who chose the stage name Dave Seville after the Spanish town he had been stationed in during the second World War, and the chipmunks, scholarly Simon, cheery Theodore, and especially mischievous Alvin. It became a franchise, with more records, an animated television series, product endorsements, and “appearances” with real-life rock stars. What was left? A feature-length movie, inspired by the origin story. But any charm in the original idea has been diluted and all that remains is packaging. It is 9/10 product placement, 1/10 filler.

Parents fret over appropriateness of movies for kids (Appleton Post-Crescent)

posted by Nell Minow

Cheryl Sherry’s column in the Appleton Post-Crescent discusses a new survey showing that PG movies with strong language sell fewer tickets than those with other kinds of parental concerns like violence or sex.

“The reality is that profanity, within PG, is the big demarcation between box office winner and box office loser,” research and marketing director Dan O’Toole told attendees at ShoWest, a conference where studios unveil upcoming movie lineups. “Parents are choosing PG films for their kids that have very, very low levels of profanity. We’re talking one-third the level of the average PG film,” he said.

Sherry called me for comment, and her column describes my background and approach and some of my thoughts on the rating system:

Minow, who has testified before the Federal Trade Commission on the MPAA’s rating system, said “overwhelmingly its biggest failing is they will give material a pass in a comedy they’d give a much higher rating to in a drama. So you have these movies like the Austin Powers movies getting a PG-13 rating, which have really, really raunchy humor. … Just because the MPAA is ratcheting down it’s system, doesn’t mean I have to follow suit.”

PG-13 has become the no-man’s land of the rating system, [Minow] added. “Many parents will shrug their shoulders and say, my 10-year-old is bright and can handle a PG-13. … But you do not know what you are getting. There can be PG-13s that are almost PG and there can be PG-13s that should be Rs.”

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