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

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

Pangea Day — sharing stories worldwide

posted by Nell Minow

The fist Pangea Day was every bit as heart-warming, inspiring, and thrilling as I had hoped. I was privileged to participate at the Epicenter Church, a new Christian Faith Community located in Rosslyn, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington DC. Pastor Paul Nixon and worship leader Ward Ferguson gave us a very warm welcome. We were a very small group, only nine of us, but through the huge screen we felt very much a part of the thousands world-wide who came together around the modern-day equivalent of a campfire to share our stories.
Pangea Day was like a cross between Live Aid, Woodstock, Oprah, and the Disney park ride “It’s a Small World After All.” It was the dream of film-maker Jehane Noujaim to bring people around the world together by allowing them to share their stories via film. Anthropologist Donald Brown spoke about his inventory of “human universals,” the things that connect all people in all cultures, from rituals and customs around meals, gift-giving, and life cycle events to sharing, insults, and the expression of feelings like mourning, competition, love — even tickling. There were live appearances, musical performances, and interviews, some a little awkward, cheesy, or glitchy, but all well-intentioned, and the four-hour presentation centered on the sharing of stories from film-makers around the world.
Each of the films is only a few minutes long and all are well worth watching. One of my favorites was “The Ball,” the first film shown, from Mozambique, about boys in need of a soccer ball. The funniest included “The Slap” and “Elevator Music,” but the one that provoked the biggest reaction from our group was “Laughter Club,” a mini-documentary about groups around the world who meet just to practice Laughter Yoga. The most poignant and moving films included “Dancing Queen” from India and brief segments from “Operation Homecoming,” with commentary from an American soldier serving in Iraq and Noujaim’s Combatants for Peace, with former soldiers from Israel and Palestine who are working together to find reconciliation and peace.
The most romantic included the wordless “A Thousand Words” and “Mutual Recognition,” an excerpt from Noujaim’s own film that includes an interview with a Sufi couple about what makes their marriage strong. Their message — through words and through their expressions as they look at and listen to one another — is deeply inspiring. Perhaps the film that best summed up the day’s message was “Wallyball,” a mini-documentary about a wall dividing a beach along the U.S./Mexican border. As helicopters and soldiers maintain national security by keeping these neighbors apart, the people enjoying their time on the beach develop a volleyball game across the divider. Be sure to watch for the ice cream truck. It reminds me of one of my very favorite short animated films, “The Hat,” by John and Faith Hubley.
Many of the stories affirmed the universality and connection of human experience. Topics like anger, love, and hope were addressed with brief comments by people all over the world. Some of the stories were about experiences so devastating most of us are unable even to begin to contemplate the devastation and trauma they inflict. Ishmael Beah
spoke of his two years as child soldier in Sierra Leone and his struggle to recover his humanity and transcend the experience, to “learn to transform the war experiences to they were no longer a burden but instructional tools.” Israeli Robi Damelin
and Palestinian Ali Abu Awwad held hands as they came on stage to talk about how the killing of their family members led them to forgive and seek forgiveness and to work for reconciliation and peace.
In a live interview with the former soldiers who appeared in the “Combatants for Peace” film, the Israeli veteran revealed that hours before his mother and brother were shot in a peace demonstration, a powerful reminder that there are daunting challenges ahead. But his appearance, even after that incident, with his new friend and former enemy was an even more powerful reminder that while it may be a long and difficult journey, we have taken the first steps.
Please take a moment to watch some of the films. And make some of your own to keep this conversation going.

Interview: Son of Rambow

posted by Nell Minow

Imagine Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn making a movie in 1970’s England. Add a touch of Peter Pan, “The Goonies,” and Sylvester Stallone and you begin to get the idea behind “Son of Rambow,” a completely adorable film about two young boys who are so dazzled by Stallone’s “Rambo” that they decide to make their own sequel. Based in part on the childhood of writer/director Garth Jennings, it is a completely charming love letter to movies, to childhood, and most of all to the power of imagination and the pleasure of story-telling. I spoke to Jennings and his long-time colleague and producer, Nick Goldsmith.

I’d like to start with how you found these marvelous young actors.

GJ: The kids are amazing and they’re the reason that it worked. It’s hard to find good young child actors. These had never acted or done anything before. It took us five months to find them. It was an instant decision when we found them. They were both self-confident but not arrogant, and just thought it would be fun to do. Putting them together was like a blind date. But kids find it easier to form friendships than adults. We got them together and made a short film with them in my back garden for them to meet us and each other. We knew from that day we were all going to get on.

The second day of the shoot we had to film the beginning and the end of the movie. I wondered how easy it would be for Will (Poulter, who plays Lee Carter) to show emotion. It was glorious. They had the best time. They spent their whole school holiday being action heroes in movies.

How did you first begin to work together?

NG: We met at art college in 1990 or 91. We took this art foundation course, when you get to try out all the different forms of art. It was the best year you’ll ever have, experimenting with everything. We both ended up doing graphic design, then started making music videos. It was three years before we set up as a proper company. We started writing film scripts, eight years ago.

GJ: I started making films when I was 11 and the first one I ever made was inspired by “First Blood. Rambo was so self-sufficient, so exciting; he sews up his own wounds and takes on 200 men. It was everything you ever wanted from a film. It was the beginning of my liking making movies.

What was it like to adapt that experience into a screenplay?

GJ: As we worked on it, it was clear we had to add more dramatic structure. Making Will a kid who was so isolated from media and giving both of the boys some family issues gave the story more momentum.

NG: It had a feel-good factor, one of those films where you go out with a smile on your face, just feeling good about something.

One thing I especially loved in the film is that from the very beginning you get this sense of confidence that the boys are protected by the power of their imagination and passion. We know they are going to take all kinds of crazy risks but they are going to be fine.

GJ: That is how we felt about the memories of that time.

NG: You don’t know that it’s going to cause you harm.

GJ: We made it just a bit over the top so that people say, “Ah,” where you look back and say “That shouldn’t have worked.” But it did.

NG: We both had similar experiences, that complete lack of fear for consequences.

GJ: There is one very indulgent joke, when Lee Carter says, “We’re losing light,” as a professional director would, even though he could not have known that. But you can sort of get away with it. When you’re a kid you try to speak like the grown-ups do. They’re always saying things that are slightly too big for them.

Another highlight of the film is the French foreign exchange student, Didier.

GJ: Again, that is a slightly heightened version of our real experience. He is an amalgamation of all of our French exchange student experiences. We all grew up being part of a French exchange program. We both remembered them being these exotic creatures that would step off the bus and looked older than us and had great clothes that fit them perfectly, the boys our age always had a little moustache and seemed so much older and more sophisticated. But his character was so big that it was very easy to get carried away. We had to make sure not to let him dominate the story. He had to serve the friendship of the two boys. He showed them something all movie-makers learn — what happens when you get a star on board. It was nice to get something in that we knew about!

Was it a challenge to deal with the conflicts created by the very restrictive religious beliefs of Will’s family in the context of a light film like this one?

GJ: I grew up next door to a Plymouth Brethren family and the kids went to my school. My wife’s uncle teaches at a Plymouth Brethren school. A number of former members have written books and done interviews.

NG: In our story it was initially very peripheral. We are not trying to make a comment on religion. We wanted to get across on film what it feels like to see a film like “First Blood” for the first time for a creative kid. To give it to someone who has never seen anything before gives us a chance to show the impact. We are not belittling the religion. It was an amazing tool for us because it gave him everything he needed to have in order to change.

GJ: It creates a lovely dynamic between the two, one streetwise and and one religious.

NG: The religion is not the issue, the guy (one of the church leaders) is not right.

What are you working on next?

NG: Our next project is a jingle for a biscuit advert. And we’re writing animated film. We haven’t done that before.

GJ: We really loved making “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” but have no intention of ever doing it again. It’s like a great wedding day, fantastic, but never need to do it again. We don’t want to do another children starring movie but who knows?

I Remember Mama

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:All Ages
MPAA Rating:NR
Movie Release Date:1948
DVD Release Date:2004

Kathryn Forbes’ memoirs of her Norwegian immigrant family are lovingly brought to life in this classic, often found on television on Mother’s Day. Mama is played by the luminous Irene Dunne, far from the sophisticated comedies and glossy romances she appeared in with Cary Grant, Charles Boyer, and Spencer Tracy. She presides over a large extended family with wisdom and good humor, and, in the best possible sense of the term, family values. A daughter’s adored cat who is injured, a roomer who skips out on the rent, a shy sister who wants to marry her timid gentleman friend, a gruff uncle who is not going gently into that good night, another daughter who wants to write—she handles them all so smoothly that it isn’t until the writer daughter sits down to tell her story that they see what she has done for all of them. i%20remember%20mama.jpg
This movie provides a good opportunity for a discussion of honesty. Mama bends the rules more than once. She pretends to be a washerwoman at the hospital when she is told that her daughter cannot have visitors. She gently blackmails two of her sisters so that they won’t tease the third about her fiancé. She doesn’t tell Dagmar the truth about her cat. And, she lies to her children about the bank account so that they will feel secure. Yet she has an essential honesty and all of her actions are grounded in her devotion to her family and her strong sense of values, lovingly communicated to her children.

P.S. I Love You

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual references and brief nudity.
Movie Release Date:December 21, 2007
DVD Release Date:May 7, 2008

gerard_butler7.jpg Hillary Swank does not have the chin for romance or the rhythm for comedy. Her two Oscars were for earnest, androgynous roles (“Boys Don’t Cry” and “Million Dollar Baby”) that made the most of her strong jaw and lanky figure. Romantic comedies, even bittersweet ones about perky young widows learning to go on with their lives, need twinkle. Her character wears twinkly dresses and does twinkly things, but Swank delivers her lines as though she is still slamming into that heavy bag.

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