Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

McFarland USA
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material, some violence and language
Release Date:
February 20, 2015

 

Big Hero 6
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for action and peril, some rude humor, and thematic elements
Release Date:
November 7, 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

 

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

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

 

Beyond the Lights
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual content including suggestive gestures, partial nudity, language and thematic elements
Release Date:
November 14, 2014

Do All-Star Casts Live Up to Their Billing?

posted by Nell Minow

Loyal reader jestrfyl left a provocative comment about my post on the 1939 and 2008 versions of “The Women.” He’s a skeptic about all-star casts. He writes:

There is no Constellation that is made of all first magnitude stars, and I wonder if that lesson from nature should apply to films. However, if they can gel as a company and not only work with each other, but encourage and embolden each other, it could be an amazing experience. Are there any other films that are good examples of many combined super-celebrities?

It is sometimes called “stunt casting” when the point of selecting a particular actor relates not to talent or fitness for the part but to what the audience knows outside of the movie that they bring with them when they watch. As that suggests, it can be a distraction. And stars used to, well, star treatment can have a clash of egos that can lead to scene-stealing. But there’s a reason stars are stars and those who are truly talented and committed love to work with people who can challenge them to do their best.

Some good, bad, and ugly examples of all-star casts:

1. Oscar-winners Shirley Maclaine, Sally Field, and Olympia Dukakis are joined by force-of-nature Dolly Parton and all of them are eclipsed by then-newcomer Julia Roberts in one of the great weepies, “Steel Magnolias”

2. One of the first high-profile all-star casts was in 1956 Best Picture Oscar-winner “Around the World in 80 Days.” Mike Todd (who was married to Elizabeth Taylor until his tragic death in an airplane crash) produced and used his considerable charm to get extra publicity by coaxing just about everyone in Hollywood to appear in the film. For example, when a honky-tonk piano player turns around for a moment we see that it’s Frank Sinatra. Todd made it seem like a tiny part was not disrespectful. On the contrary, it was something special and highly coveted. He even coined the word for a brief appearance by a big star, using the name of a small, valuable piece of jewelry: a cameo. (And Shirley Maclaine is in that one, too!)

3. One of the most popular recent all-star casts was “Oceans 11″ and its sequels. Just like the original, which had “the Rat Pack” (Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis, Jr., etc. — and Frank Sinatra), this one was filled with big-time Hollywood names. It was like a People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” reunion with winners George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Brad Pitt. (And Julia Roberts is in that one, too, with joke billing “introducing” her.)

4. One of the most prestigious all-star casts was in “Glengarry Glen Ross,” with Oscar-winners Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Alan Arkin, and Al Pacino, and equally brilliant work by Alec Baldwin, and Ed Harris.

5. One of the smallest all-star casts was a film, recently remade with one of the original stars. The original is the only movie with the entire cast nominated for Oscars. Any guesses?

6. “How the West Was Won” and other episodic or compilation films like “O. Henry’s Full House” or “Zeigfield Follies” have all-star casts. Disaster films like “Airport” and “The Towering Inferno” also frequently have all-star casts.

7. “Murder on the Orient Express” had a train car full of suspects, every one of them played by a star.

8. “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World” had a big big big big big big cast of almost every comedian in Hollywood, including Mickey Rooney, Phil Silvers, Ethel Merman, Jimmy Durante, the Three Stooges, Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar, Jonathan Winters, Milton Berle…and Spencer Tracy.

9. “Bobby,” about the night Robert Kennedy was killed, stars Sharon Stone, Anthony Hopkins, Lindsay Lohan, Laurence Fishburne, Martin Sheen, Helen Hunt, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, and Elijah Wood.

9. And then there’s the ugly. Some all-star casts have no-star scripts. Stay away from the original “Casino Royale,” with David Niven, William Holden, Ursula Andress, Deborah Kerr, Orson Welles, and Woody Allen.

Pastor’s Parables Taken from Movies

posted by Nell Minow

The Washington Post Metro section has an article about a pastor who uses movies to bring spiritual lessons to his congregation.
For a special series of sermons this summer, Senior Pastor Rob Seagears at Christ Chapel Mountaintop in Prince William County tied his sermons to whatever movie was top at the box office that week, often appearing in costume. This presented him with a daunting challenge as the summer was filled with blockbusters featuring a lot of violence and bad language.


“It’s kind of risky to be watching to see what the number one movie is going to be and figuring out how to flip this thing for God,” he said.

Sometimes, as with “Tropic Thunder,” he was able to tie the movie to an important message but sill ended up recommending that the congregation stay away from the film. For that movie, by the way, he appeared in church as Kirk Lazarus, the white actor portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr. who has medical treatment to darken his skin so he can play a black man on screen. Pastor Seagears began with a joke about being a black man pretending to be a white man pretending to be a black man. While there have been some objections, the pastor’s series proved to be very popular with the parishioners and a draw for new worshipers as well. And it was especially appreciated by teenagers.


If there were an Oscar for sermons, Seagears would be a contender. There’s his “Dark Knight” performance, when he roared up to the pulpit astride a Suzuki motorcycle, dressed like Batman. And his whip-cracking Indiana Jones, and his green-suited Hulk.
Perhaps most memorable was when he bumbled out wearing a ratty wig and a blood-red smile across his face, ranting like a maniac.
“When I went into the church as the Joker, there was complete silence,” Seagears recalled fondly. “People were stunned because I was acting as if I was evil.”

For those who complain,

Seagears responds that preaching through movies allows him to meet people where they are and is similar to Jesus’s use of parables.
“It’s all about engaging your audience,” he said. “That’s what Jesus did, telling stories.”

Ballet at the Movies: The Red Shoes, Ballet Shoes, and More

posted by Nell Minow
red shoes.jpg

The Sunday New York Times had a great tribute in honor of the 60th anniversary of one of the most lyrically lovely movies ever made, The Red Shoes. As the title indicates, it is inspired by the classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about the enchanted shoes that cannot stop dancing even after the person who wears them becomes exhausted, even if it kills her. It is the story of Victoria (played by the exquisite ballerina Moira Shearer), a dancer who is torn between her love of dance and the longing for a life outside of the demands of this most demanding of professions and obsessions. She is cast in the lead of a ballet called “The Red Shoes” and its story and its exhausting steps echo and underscore the conflicts she feels. Despite this bleak portrayal of the life of a ballet dancer, the movie inspired a generation of girls, including future prima ballerinas and other professionals, to study dance. And despite its melodrama, the movie transcends its storyline to become a poetic meditation on all of our conflicting desires, thanks to the skill of writer-directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

And I am so pleased to find that one of my favorite books, Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, has been filmed in a fine BBC production, starring “Harry Potter’s” Emma Watson. I love all of Streatfeild’s books (remember Meg Ryan talking about them in “You’ve Got Mail?”) but my favorite is Skating Shoes. I am hoping the BBC decides to film that one and go on to do them all.

My other favorite ballet movies include Robert Altman’s The Company, a neglected gem starring Neve Campbell, who also produced the film, and of course The Turning Point, with Shirley MacLaine, Anne Bancroft, and real-life dancers Mikhail Baryshnikov and Leslie Browne. As with “The Red Shoes,” ballet is a powerful symbol of the demands of love.

Tribute: Don LaFontaine

posted by Nell Minow

I was very sorry to hear of the passing of Don LaFontaine. Few people knew his name but everyone knew his voice. He did the narration for more than 5000 movie trailers. You’ve heard him say it dozens of times: “In a world….” The trailers were not always enticing, but his voice always was, familiar, inviting, almost intimate. I will miss having him adding so much excitement to the anticipation of coming attractions.

I love this spoof with LaFontaine and his colleagues.

And here is a clip about LaFontaine and his work.

Previous Posts

Tribute: Leonard Nimoy
We mourn the loss of Leonard Nimoy, who created one of the most iconic characters of all time, "Star Trek's" half-Vulcan, half-human Mr. Spock, with pointed ears and angled eyebrows perfectly designed to convey a wry sense of irony.  The storylines of the original "Star Trek" were provocative polit

posted 12:00:09pm Feb. 28, 2015 | read full post »

New from Daniele Watts: Muted
Actress Daniele Watts stars as missing teenager Crystal Gladwell in Muted, winner of the 18th annual American Black Film Festival short film competition, showing on HBO throughout March 2015. Muted fol

posted 8:00:46am Feb. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Smile of the Week: Uptown Funk from Alex Boye and the Dancing Grannies
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rjRlJvOxIY0?rel=0" frameborder="0"] "Uptown Funk," from Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, is covered in a sensational new video from longtime Mormon Tabernacle Choir member Alex Boyé and back-up performers ranging in age from 65-92.

posted 9:16:46am Feb. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Like Sunday, Like Rain with Debra Messing and Leighton Meester
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B28IHhaQXCE?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:29am Feb. 27, 2015 | read full post »

List: The Best Movie Con Games and Grifters
In honor of this week's release of "Focus," here are some of my favorite movies about con games and grifters. Remember that "con" comes from "confidence." A con man (or woman) makes you believe in them and have confidence in their schemes. And cons make great movies. If you haven't seen these, crank

posted 3:45:21pm Feb. 26, 2015 | 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.