The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Release Date: December 19, 2014
If you’re as old as I am, you remember the Mickey Mouse Club’s “Anything Can Happen Day.”
In that spirit, I’m going to have an anything-can-happen giveaway grab-bag. The first TEN people to send me an email at email@example.com with Anything Can Happen in the subject line will get a DVD from my collection. Let me know the ages of your children and any other preferences to help me decide, but I make no promises. At worst, you’ll get a DVD you can pass on to a more appropriate recipient. I’m not sending out anything awful, but some of this stuff is not exactly classic. That’s what anything can happen means! I look forward to hearing from you and good luck to all!
Arthouse Films, a terrific new company specializing in documentaries about art, has released an important documentary called Obscene: A Portrait of Barney Rossett and Grove Press. As was once said about another film, this one has “something to offend everyone.” Rossett published allegedly obscene books by everyone from William Burroughs, Allen Ginsburg, and Henry Miller to the “anonymous” works of Victorian pornographers. Many of these works are now considered classic texts, studied by scholars and appreciated by millions of readers. And of course, by today’s standards, they are by no means considered shocking or fringe. Jeannette Catsoulis wrote in the New York Times: Appropriately framed by Mr. Rosset’s raucous 1989 interview with Al Goldstein, the colorful publisher of Screw magazine and no stranger to litigation himself, “Obscene” is a warm, entertaining compendium of counterculture voices (including Jim Carroll and Amiri Baraka) and literary landmarks. It’s the story of a man who follows his own drummer — usually with rum and Coke in hand — and believes in “nourishing the accidental.” We should all be grateful that he does.
Rossett’s story is an integral part of the cultural tumult of the era and a precursor of the culture wars of today. He was a pioneer in publishing — and in First Amendment law. His courtroom battles are as important as the works he published. To paraphrase the words attributed to Voltaire, “We may not agree with what he said — we may find it disturbing, disgusting, or offensive — but I would defend to the death his right to say it.”
You are involved in such a wide range of projects as an actor, director, and activist. Why did you decide to play a supporting role in this movie for kids?
It’s nice to be in a movie that is not talking down to kids. I’ve had years and years of frustration as a parent with all the lowest common denominator movies. This one has a great heart to it. It is a larger example of the idea of hope for a new generation. Intrinsically, the new generation knows things need to be changed and they can find a way to do it. One of the things that is unusual about this story is that the children get no help from the grown-ups. In most movies with children as the main character at least one adult is there to give them some explanations and advice.
It has to be the new generation; if they listen to adults, they won’t do it. You are an experienced director but here you were directed by Gil Kenan, a young man with only one small animated film to his credit before taking on this enormous project. What made you trust him?
I was excited to work with him. I am always interested first in the script — is it a story? What I liked about him was that he had a very clear vision of what he wanted and the selling point was his optimism and spirit.
Any number of directors could have made this bleak and dark and foreboding. He constantly found he light. His objective was a world of hope in the eyes of the children. It is easier to make a story where everybody dies in the end. People think that is artistic or cool. But he transcended all of that and found the universal in the idea that was at the end of “The Shawshank Redemption” — there is a place on the beach for all of us, and if we hold onto the light in each of us, we’ll be there.
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