Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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

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

 

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

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content
Release Date:
February 13, 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

Towelhead

posted by Nell Minow

Alicia Erian’s semi-autobiographical novel about a young girl coming of age has been brought to the screen by writer/director Alan Ball, whose “American Beauty” and “Six Feet Under” explored the darker side of sunny suburban streets. This is the story of Jasira, the daughter of divorced parents, an American mother and a Christian Lebanese immigrant father. When Jasira begins to go through puberty, her mother’s live-in boyfriend responds inappropriately. Jasira’s mother packs her off to go live with her father in a sterile Houston suburb. Jasira has to cope with a range of reactions to her changing body from the bratty boy next door she babysits, who calls her ugly names, to his father (Aaron Eckhart), who treats her both as seductress and prey, her father, who seems horrified and angry but spends most of his time with his girlfriend, and a classmate who wants to be her boyfriend.

Summer Bishil gives a lovely, nuanced performance as Jasira, showing us that she is not just a passive victim but someone who is intrigued by the sense of power she feels from the effect her womanhood has on people. She is drawn to the photos in her neighbor’s Hustler magazine not because she is gay but because she sees in them a strength and freedom that intrigues her and makes her want to explore for herself. It is good to see a young girl in a movie who is allowed to be complicated and have complicated relationships. At least this film respects the power Jasira has as a person and a young woman. It also raises the cultural and racial clashes more thoughtfully than most films. There’s a nice moment when a confused staffer from Jasira’s Texas high school can’t understand why this brown-skinned girl does not speak Spanish. But It is very hard to watch at times, and there are moments when you can’t help wondering if the act of filming and watching is not itself exploitative or abusive.

As we expect from Alan Ball, the performances are breathtaking in their courage and sensitivity, especially Peter Macdissi as Jasira’s father and Aaron Eckhart as the neighbor, whose status as a reservist about to be called to the Gulf War lends an individual and societal element of being on the brink of chaos. In smaller roles, Maria Bello as the narcissistic mother, Lynn Collins as the father’s warm-hearted girlfriend, and Toni Collette as a concerned neighbor with some experience in crossing cultural borders create characters who feel completely real within the context of a story that tries and often succeeds in transcending its particulars for a story about the personal and political struggle to come of age.

‘The Outsiders’ 25th anniversary

posted by Nell Minow

Last week, I wrote about movies with all-star casts. Some movies have all-star casts — retrospectively. When they are made, the actors are not well known but soon afterward many or most of them become superstars. One classic example is a movie that is (incredibly) celebrating its 25th anniversary, “The Outsiders.”
One of three movies based on books by teen favorite author S. E. Hinton to be filmed in 1982-83, “The Outsiders” is the story of rival gangs the Greasers and the Socs (for “socials”). Director Francis Ford Coppola, who also cast a group of future superstars in “The Godfther,” put together an extraordinarily talented collection of young actors including Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Maccio, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estavez, and Diane Lane. Hinton herself appears briefly as a nurse and Coppola’s daughter Sofia, who would become famous behind the camera for “Lost in Translation,” appears as a child.
outsiders1.jpg

Forbidden Kingdom

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of martial arts action and some violence.
Movie Release Date:April 19, 2008
DVD Release Date:September 9, 2008

forbidden%20kingdom.jpgIt’s not a good movie, but it is a lot of fun. It’s a fantasy with three things going for it: it does not take itself too seriously, it does take the action scenes seriously, and it includes both of the most popular martial arts movie stars working today, Jackie Chan and Jet Li.

Michael Angarano plays Jason, a generic loner-teen role that does not give him a chance to show off the impeccable comic timing he displayed as Elliot in “Will and Grace.” He seems to spend most of his time hanging out in Chinatown, renting kung fu movies and talking to Old Hop the ancient proprietor of the pawnshop (Jackie Chan under old-age make-up). When some bullies attack them, Hop hands Jason the mysterious staff and asks him to return it to its rightful owner. And Jason wakes up in ancient China. He quickly figures out how to understand Chinese, and meets up with Lu Yan, a tipsy immortal (Chan, in a nod to his early “Drunken Master” hits). They embark on a journey to return the staff to its owner, the Monkey King (Jet Li), who has been turned into a statue by the evil Jade Warlord. And they are joined by Golden Sparrow (Liu Yifei), who plans to kill the Jade Warlord to avenge the death of her parents, and Silent Monk (Li again), who first has to fight Lu Yan just because that is why we all bought tickets. “We can kill each other when it’s over,” they agree, deciding to work together to help Jason return the staff to the Monkey King.

Contest: Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre

posted by Nell Minow

sleeping beautyjpgFrom 1982-1987 actress Shelly Duvall produced and hosted a series of fairy tales on Showtime, starring some of Hollywood’s top performers. Christopher Reeve and Matthew Broderick played very charming princes, and princesses included Bernadette Peters as Sleeping Beauty, Susan Sarandon as Beauty, and “Flashdance’s” Jennifer Beals as Cinderella. The costumes and sets were low-budget but very creative, inspired in part by the classic fairy tale illustrations of Maxfield Parrish and Howard Pyle. Beautyandthebeast.jpg
The series has just been re-released on DVD and I have FOUR copies to give away! This is such a special prize I want to make sure everyone has a chance to participate. So post a comment, telling me which is your family’s favorite fairy tale and why. The most imaginative and creative responses submitted by the end of the day Sept 30 will win the box set of the complete Faerie Tale Theatre series. U.S. addresses only, please. I look forward to hearing from you!
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