Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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Fury
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

 

Moms' Night Out
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

St. Vincent
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 For mature thematic material including sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use, and for language
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

 

Earth to Echo
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and peril, and mild language
Release Date:
July 3, 2014

Dear White People
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, sexual content and drug use
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

 

Snowpiercer
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for violence, language and drug content
Release Date:
July 2, 2014

The Guardian

posted by jmiller
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action/peril, brief strong language and some sensuality.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

“Have you learned the lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learned great lessons from those who braced themselves against you, and disputed the passage with you?” Like Walt Whitman, we love to remember our toughest teachers, and we love to see movies about them, too. Even when they’re not that good.


There’s a lot wrong with this film. It shamelessly steals some of the best moments from better movies and even more shamelessly dilutes their power and our memories by not doing them nearly as well. But it delivers on three things: powerful special effects, appealing performers, and, most of all, evocative memories each of us have of the one teacher who showed us we could be — had to be — more than we thought we could.


This is a movie about guys (there are some women here but we don’t see much of them) who save people, guys who go to very scary places to get people out of very scary trouble. But mostly it is a movie about how we make peace with all that is terrible around us and inside us.


Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) is the grizzled veteran whose long list of records at the Coast Guard’s training facility for rescue divers still stand. The unofficial number people only whisper, though, is the number of people he is said to have saved. Temporarily assigned to return to “A School” to train the next generation.


For every grizzled veteran, there has to be a cocky hotshot, and this movie’s is high school swim champion Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher). Cue the montage as Jake makes a bet with his friends in a bar that he can pick up a pretty girl (the screenwriter of Top Gun may want to call his lawyer), gets into trouble and nearly gets thrown out and has to prove his commitment (the screenwriter of An Officer and a Gentleman may want to call his lawyer), and then has to apply all that he has learned and all that he has become and all that he wants to be when it comes to the real thing (no lawyers needed here, that one has been used by everybody).


It begins with a terrible chaos above, and then an even more terrible stillness below. It is a rescue operation at sea. Ben does not follow the rules. Sometimes that results in a heroic save. But after it results in terrible tragedy, he is taken out of the water and sent to train the next generation. He is lost in a sea of the spirit. His wife (Sela Ward) has finally had enough of his saying things like, “I’m sorry saving lives doesn’t fit your social calendar” and she has left him. Out of the water, he is not sure who is is.


In Jake and the others, he sees something of himself, maybe a way to rescue someone, maybe a way to rescue himself.


It all rolls out smoothly, if predictably. Costner inhabits the role comfortably and Kutcher shows some movie star sparkle. But Jake’s romance with a pretty teacher has a lot less charm than intended and we never feel a real connection, as we did in the movies it steals from. The last two rescues are muddled and the ending unforgiveably maudlin.

Parents should know that this film has many scenes of intense peril and emotional confrontations. Characters are injured and killed. There are some bar fights. Characters use some strong language. There are sexual references and non-explicit situations, including casual sex between people who do not know each other and do not plan to know each other.


Families who see this movie should talk about why the characters wanted to be rescue divers.


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Top Gun, Men of Honor (with Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the true story of a Navy diver who returned to service after losing a leg), and An Officer and a Gentleman.

Jackass: Number Two

posted by jmiller
F-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for extremely crude and dangerous stunts throughout, sexual content, nudity and language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

Anyone unfamiliar with the Jackass collection (a prior feature-length “movie” -– really a collection of skits –- and a series on MTV) will definitely not want to go into the boys’ second film, “Jackass: Number Two” (get it?), without first consulting these past works to ensure they’re mentally prepared. Being physically prepared wouldn’t be a bad idea either; if you absolutely must go, bring that little plastic trashcan from your office, maybe grab a blindfold, and please, for your own sake and that of everyone in the theatre, go on an empty stomach.


Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O and others from the Jackass crew return, this time as repeat offenders, offering the same brand of “humor” that has been grossing out anyone who cares to watch since the TV series started in 2000. They abuse their bodies in ways so cruel they would be imprisoned if they committed the same acts against anyone but themselves, and even the scenes of nakedness (of which there are many) are painful, if only because one can’t help but wince at all the red, purple, yellow and black bruises their bodies have sustained as side-effects (or are they the primary goal?) of the stunts.


This second film is arguably more elaborate, more shocking, more repulsive, sensationalist and gag-inducing than the first. The boys haven’t grown up at all in the time from their first film to this one, and their personalities seem perpetually fixated on trivializing danger and shunning responsibility. Indeed, when Knoxville dresses as an old man and guest Spike Jonze dons an old woman bodysuit (both delighting in surprising unexpected viewers with vulgarities), it simply drives home the point that the Jackass crew uses their stunts to test their immunity -– to skull fractures, to deadly infections, to permanent damage, and, most importantly, to growing up.


Parents should know that this is a documentary-style movie about a real-life series of disgusting and extremely dangerous behavior, including obtaining and drinking animal ejaculate (weirdly, the one item in the film x-ed out to ensure an R rating), being bitten on the genitals and the arm by snakes, putting a fishhook through a lip and being used as human shark bait, and being gored by a bull. There is explicit nudity, explicit excretory humor (human and animal), and graphic violence. Characters use strong language.

Haven

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language, drug use, sexual content and some violence.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

Director Frank E. Flowers’ full-length debut, “Haven,” is a study in sin. Set mostly in the Cayman Islands, the film’s
characters live in a world where the stakes are high and the people are higher. It could be written off as an amateur experiment with an erratic plotline and drama as conflicted as some of the characters, yet it’s difficult to let go of that easily.


Through the smoke of lust and greed shine two lights — the characters of Shy (Orlando Bloom) and Pippa (Agnes Brucker).


Young and impossibly innocent despite corruption all around them, they are two characters who never do quite what you
want them to. They hang with all the wrong people, make all the wrong choices, and yet are so genuine, so sincere and so real that you can’t help but want to stay by their side, even if it means suffering through the rest of the film.


It’s poised to offer maximum misfortune from the beginning. Two businessmen (Bill Paxton and Stephen Dillane) arrive fresh from fleeing the feds. Pippa, the
daughter of one, gets involved with the resident reprobate, a feisty island local named Fritz, and Shy (Bloom) and his love interest Andrea (Zoe Saldana) get caught spending the night together by one very forceful father and an equally angry brother. Money plus drugs plus sex equals drama to rival the most elaborate episodes of “The O.C.”


The plot itself mimics Shakespearean tragedy at times, but instead of allowing the characters to carry the film, Flowers can’t quite escape the sophomoric mistake of trying to include everything
he ever wanted to say about love, sex, drugs, family and his life into the brief running time he has to chew everything he’s bitten.


The result is an intriguing glimpse into life on an island that brims with beauty and passion, but unfortunately, in this film at least, just as easily lends itself to banality. With a plot of teenage
romance and adults who should know
better, leaving too much time to ”develop” the story really becomes leaving too much time to dwell on the story’s most obvious
shortcomings – predictability, uninventiveness, and unfulfilled
potential.


It is the director’s hungry aspirations, sadly, that keep “Haven” stuck as another contrived drama of debauchery, as opposed to the artful exploration of love, loyalty, family and greed it could
have been.


Parents should know that this film has very strong language and many graphic scenes of sex and drug use. The plot involves
beatings and murders, and issues such as rape and revenge are extensively explored. Although not completely amoral, some characters seem driven solely by motives such as greed and hatred, and many
adolescents as well as adults in this film are portrayed as very misguided at best.


Families who see this movie will have much to talk about. A good starting point is to explore the motivations of different
characters. Pippa’s father is a corrupt businessman — what might have driven him to repeatedly make such unprincipled choices? Pure greed, a desire to provide for his daughter, pressure from others to
succeed, frustration at an inability to stop the momentum of lies? This film could be seen as a film about choices; families might discuss which choices characters have at certain points in the film, and what factors each character might consider when making his or her choices. Are there things each character could have considered at
critical points that might have lead to better, more ethical and careful choices? How can we take strong emotions into account while making decisions, without letting them dictate our actions?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet, as “Haven” shares a similar editing style (choppy and manic at times, with a very saturated color
palette) and the two have many plot themes in common. Families might also consider Steven Soderbergh’s Oscar-winning film Traffic, an exploration of America’s drug culture through four interweaving stories.

The Science of Sleep

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language, some sexual content and nudity.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

Stephane (Gael Garcia Bernal of The Motorcycle Diaries) lives across the hall from Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), though for some reason he goes to elaborate lengths to have her think he lives on the other side of town. They share more than their names and location. Both are multi-lingual, not just speaking more than one language of words, but also speaking more than one layer of reality. Their shared sense of wonder and wistful whimsy is this film’s most irresistibly endearing feature.


It’s very hard to get whimsy right. It’s like a soap bubble; touch it and it disappears. But writer-director Michel Gondry’s light touch

Parents should know that this film, despite its fairy-tale quality, has some mature material, including very strong language and sexual references and situations.

Families who see this film should talk about what Stephane wanted both at work and with Stephanie and what prevented him from trying to get it. And they might want to talk about what might happen if their dreams started to become mixed up with their realities.

Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy Amelie and the brilliant Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Daydreams and night dreams have been a theme of many movies, including Dream Girl and Buster Keaton’s silent classic, Sherlock Jr.. Perhaps film’s most provocative dream sequence is the one staged by Salvadore Dali for Hitchcock’s Spellbound.

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