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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity
Release Date:
July 31, 2015

 

Far from the Madding Crowd
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and violence
Release Date:
May 1, 2015

Best of Enemies
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
July 31, 2015

 

True Story
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some disturbing material
Release Date:
April 17, 2015

Vacation
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:

Release Date:
July 29, 2015

 

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some language and suggestive comments
Release Date:
March 6, 2015

New in Theaters

grade:
B+

Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, and brief partial nudity
Release Date:
July 31, 2015
grade:
B+

Best of Enemies

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
July 31, 2015
grade:
D

Vacation

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Release Date:
July 29, 2015

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New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
B+

Far from the Madding Crowd

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and violence
Release Date:
May 1, 2015
grade:
B

True Story

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some disturbing material
Release Date:
April 17, 2015
grade:
B+

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some language and suggestive comments
Release Date:
March 6, 2015

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Movie Mom on BDK’s Radio Show: Saw, High School Musical, and Kevin Smith

posted by Nell Minow

Thanks to BDK/Kevin McCarthy for another great radio chat! (I come on after the “favorite ‘Saw’ death” call-ins.)
Oh, and I was on last week, too!

Meet Me in St. Louis

posted by Nell Minow
A
Lowest Recommended Age:All Ages
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:1944
DVD Release Date:2000
A
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating: G
Movie Release Date: 1944
DVD Release Date: 2000

This episodic story of the Smith family in the St. Louis of 1903 is based on the memoirs of Sally Benson.  Its pleasures are in the period detail, the glorious songs (including standards “The Trolley Song” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”) and the loving and nostalgic look at a time of innocence and optimism, where a long-distance call was almost as thrilling as having the World’s Fair come to your very own city.  We see the family over the course of a year, celebrating Halloween and Christmas, riding the ice truck in the summer and building snowmen in the winter.  They face the prospect of having to leave St. Louis so that  Mr. Smith can accept a promotion.  They wonder whether the older girl’s two boyfriends will propose.  They treat each other with great loyalty and affectionate tolerance.  And then they live happily ever after.

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The Smith’s older daughters are Rose (Lucille Bremer) and Esther (Judy Garland).  Rose is attracted to Warren Sheffield, and a bit impatient because he has not proposed.  Esther has decided to marry “the boy next door,” John Pruitt (Tom Drake), even though they have not yet met.  When the girls have a party, their two little sisters (Joan Carroll and Margaret O’Brien as Agnes and Tootie Smith) creep downstairs.  Tootie is allowed to do one song with Esther (the cakewalk “Under the Bamboo Tree”) before being sent back to bed.  Esther asks John to help her turn out the gas lights before he leaves, to have some time alone with him.  The next day, he joins her as she and her friends ride on the trolley, and when he catches up with them, she sings “The Trolly Song.”  Later, Warren escorts a visiting out-of-town girl (June Lockhart) to another party, and Esther and Rose conspire to fill her dance card with the least appealing partners at the dance.  When she is revealed to be so friendly and tactful that she gets Rose and Warren back together, Esther has to take all of her dances.  Tootie is heartbroken about moving to New York, and while the rest of the family tries to hide it, they are, too.  Mr. Smith gives up, they stay in St. Louis, and when the fair opens, they are there.

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One of the movie’s most evocative scenes is Halloween, celebrated very differently in those days, but like today the one night of the year where children have the power to frighten the grown-ups.  Agnes and Tootie dress up in rags and “kill” the people who answer the door by throwing flour at them.  Director Minnelli skillfully shows how spooky and at the same time thrilling it is for the girls to be out after dark.  When Tootie is successful at “killing” the grouchy neighbor, she is heralded by the other kids, and blissfully announces, “I’m the most horrible!  I’m the most horrible!”

This is one of the most loving of all movie families.  Everyone in it treats all of the other members with trust and affection, even, when it comes to Tootie, indulgence.  They are interested in each other and take each other’s concerns seriously, whether it is the seasoning of a sauce or choice of a future spouse.  Only the poor father is rather left out. He is not told about the long distance call, and no one is pleased with his promotion.  But in a way, that is just a reflection of the family’s devotion to him and to the life they have together in St. Louis.   And the lovely duet he sings with his wife, “You and I,” shows that it is their relationship that is the foundation of the family.

Minnelli began as an art director and designer, and his use of color is always fresh and fun — there isn’t another director in history who would have thought to put Esther in purple gloves for the trolley ride, but once you see it, you can’t imagine any other color.

Return from Tallgrass!

posted by Nell Minow

Many, many thanks to Susan Moneypenny and everyone at B98 for a sensational trip to Wichita and the Tallgrass Film Festival. I had a blast!
IMG_0126-1.jpgOpening night was the work-in-progress screening of What’s the Matter with Kansas, a documentary from Laura Cohen and Joe Winston that they say is a “sequel” to the best-selling book by Thomas Frank that shares its title. Both explore Kansas as the the heart of Middle America, which twice helped elect George W. Bush. The documentary includes a range of fascinating and stereotype-busting characters, several of whom were in the theater. There was what we in Washington call a “free and frank exchange of ideas” with the film-makers following the screening.
I spent Friday morning in the studio with my beloved Brett, Tracy, and Kathy. I had a tour of the stunning Warren Theater, an art deco masterpiece with white-gloved ushers and a balcony with heated Tempur-pedic loveseats to cuddle in and a full-service menu delivered to you as you watch. And then we had lunch at the best place in town, the Old Mill Tasty Shop. Trust me, it’s worth the trip to Kansas to taste the tomato bisque, chicken salad, and hot fudge sundae brownie.
We saw the documentary shorts:
* Springed Migration (a six-mile portage of a trampoline through the streets of Austin)
* For Tomorrow, The Toms Shoes Story (TOMS shoes gives away a pair of shoes to a poor child for every pair purchased — 65,000 given away so far)
* From My Hands (Fulbright scholar Jessica Tibbits shows us a school for the deaf in Yemen)
* If a Body Meet a Body (the LA coroner’s office has to identify a dead body)
* I See the Music: Baron Wolman The Rolling Stone Years (interview with the man who photographed Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and others for the then-new Rolling Stone)
IMG_0128-1.jpgI got to host the family film screenings, which included <a href="http://www.jumpmovie.com

Jump!, a sensational documentary about the intensely competitive international jump rope athletes, and the marvelous Alice Upside Down, based on the books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. It stars Camp Rock’s Alyson Stoner along with Penny Marshall, Luke Perry, and High School Musical’s Lucas Grabeel. Look for more about that film, which came in second for the festival’s audience award, in an upcoming DVD pick of the week.
It all went by too fast!

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:July 2, 2008
DVD Release Date:October 28, 2008
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: G
Movie Release Date: July 2, 2008
DVD Release Date: October 28, 2008

“Kit Kittredge” is remarkable for what it is and just as remarkable for what it is not. It is wholesome but it is not sugary. It is family-friendly but it does not gloss over economic realities and family stress. It is true to the spirit of the 1930’s but respectful of all we have learned since that era about respect and tolerance for differences of race and gender. And it is a good movie with important lessons but it is not one bit dull or preachy. Three cheers for Kit and for producer Julia Roberts for making this movie everything the devoted fans of the American Girls series hope for.

Abigail Breslin (of Little Miss Sunshine) plays Kit, a 1930’s heroine very much in the spirit of spunky 1930’s and 40’s female journalists like Dorothy Thomson and those portrayed in films by Rosalind Russell (His Girl Friday) and Jean Arthur (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington). In a nod to those classic movies, this one begins with Kit striding into a Cincinnati newspaper office to ask the editor to print her story. And the editor (Wallace Shawn) is every bit as choleric as newspaper editors in 1930’s movies always are.

But Kit will soon have bigger challenges than being underestimated by a grumpy newspaper editor. All around her, families are struggling because of the economic problems. Fathers are losing their jobs and her friends are losing their homes. Kit’s own beloved daddy (Chris O’Donnell) has to leave to try to find work in Chicago. And she and her mother (Julia Ormond) have to open up their home to boarders to make ends meet.

Some of the people around her become fearful and suspicious but Kit and her mother maintain their sense of optimism and generosity, sharing what little they have. A courageous pair of young hobos insist on working for the food they get from Kit’s mother and they introduce Kit to a community of homeless people who help each other any way they can.

Kit enjoys the boarders, especially a lively dancer (“30 Rock’s” Jane Krakowski), and a friendly magician (Stanley Tucci). She takes comfort in some small distinctions — unlike her friends, she has not lost her house or had to sell eggs or wear dresses made from a flour sack. And her father has promised to keep writing. But then things get tougher. And they get toughest of all when every penny her family has is stolen and it looks like the thief is her friend.

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