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Zack Snyder tries to do for feathers what he did for abs and biceps in “300” in this 3D animated adventure based on three books from the 15-book series of Ga’hoole novels by Kathryn Lansky. Every snowflake, feather, and talon is vivid, arresting, and (apparently) literally in your face, but the story is not as clear. the striking visuals do not make up for a muddled story with too many characters and a plot that seems to be pulled together from the usual Joseph Campbell/George Lucas/J.R.R. Tolkien box of plots and characters.
Two owl brothers, Soren (a likable Jim Sturgess) and Kludd, not quite ready to fly, fall out of the nest and are captured and flown to the headquarters of Metal Beak (Joel Edgerton) and his wife (acidly voiced by Helen Mirren), where kidnapped owlets are assigned to be soldiers or drones. Look at those names again — any question about which one is going to have the heart, I mean force, I mean gizzard to lead the rebel forces and which one is going to buy into the whole “we’re the pure and the strong so we get to oppress everyone else” side of things?
Wait, you say — but where are the colorful sidekicks? Right over here, where we have a lute-playing warrior-poet and a snake nanny and a future-predicting echidna (an egg-laying spiked mammal that looks sort of like a porcupine) and more. Well, then, you add, there must also be a wise mentor. Step this way, and meet Ezylryb (voiced with asperity by Geoffrey Rush). There are storms and battles and betrayals and a secret weapon made from blue flecks pecked out by owls turned “moon-blinked” (think zombie) from coughed up owl pellets (undigested bits of mouse, we are helpfully told).
Those not familiar with the book will find it hard to follow, especially because of the strong accents of many of the Aussie voice actors. Those who are looking for what they enjoyed in the books may miss the narrator’s voice. There is some impressive sound and fury, but it does not signify much. “Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not real,” says the father owl. But, as this and too many other movies show, just because you do see something, even in sharpest 3D, doesn’t mean it is.

I loved “Babies” and I am very honored to be able to give away three copies of the Blu-Ray/DVD.

As I said in my review,

Until they make a movie entirely consisting of raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, Hallmark cards, and puppies in the window, this will hold the record as the most awwwwwww-inspiring movie ever made.

It’s about babies, but it’s also about families and about our common humanity.

The Blu-Ray and DVD have lots of great extras including an update showing the babies today with their families watching themselves.

BabiesBlueRay.jpg

BONUS FEATURES EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAYTM HI-DEF: Unleash the power of your HDTV with perfect picture and purest digital sound.
BD-LIVETM: Access the BD-LiveTM Center through your Internet-connected player to watch the latest trailers and more!
MY SCENES: Bookmark your favorite scenes from the movie.
pocket BLUâ„¢: USHE’s groundbreaking pocket BLU app uses iPhoneâ„¢, iPod® touch, iPad®, Blackberry®, Androidâ„¢, Windows and Macintosh computers to work seamlessly with a network-connected Blu-rayTM player and offers advanced features such as:
Advanced Remote Control: A sleek, elegant new way to operate your Blu-rayâ„¢ player. Users can navigate through menus, playback and BD-Liveâ„¢ functions with ease.
Video Timeline: Users can easily bring up the video timeline, allowing them to instantly access any point in their favorite film.
Mobile-To-Go: Users can unlock a selection of bonus content with their Blu-rayâ„¢ discs to save to their device or to stream from anywhere there’s a Wi-Fi network, enabling them to enjoy content on the go, anytime, anywhere.
Browse Titles: Users will have access to a complete list of pocket BLUâ„¢-enabled titles available and coming to Blu-rayâ„¢ Hi-Def. They can view free previews and see what additional content is available to unlock on their device.
Keyboard: Enter data into a Blu-ray player with your device’s easy and intuitive keyboard.

BONUS FEATURES (DVD and BLU-RAYâ„¢):
THE BABIES РTHREE YEARS LATER FEATURETTE: Director Thomas Balm̬s revisits all the babies Рwho are now four years old Рand their parents.
EVERYBODY LOVES… YOUR BABIES SWEEPSTAKES WINNERS: See the winning photos and videos from our fans – whether it was their first words, playing with siblings, or simply sleeping.

If you’d like to submit an entry, send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with “Babies” in the subject line. Include your address (used for prizes only, I promise) and tell me the cutest thing you ever saw a baby do. On Oct 2 I’ll pick three winners at random. And if you’d like to try for the grand prize, a Complete Air Convertible Car Seat, send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with Car in the subject line and give me your address and your favorite music to listen to with the baby in the car. Good luck!

Ushpizin is a quietly moving drama set in an almost-unseen world. It takes place in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem during the fall holiday of Sukkot, which falls this year on Sept 22-29. During Sukkot, families build tabernacles called sukkahs out of organic materials and decorate them with harvest fruits and vegetables to celebrate and give thanks for the bounty of the season. Observant Jews eat their meals and sometimes even sleep in these huts, which have their roofs open so that the people inside can see the stars.

“Ushpizin” was made by the formerly secular actor Shuli Rand, who is now a part of the community where it was made, and which has never been shown on film before. Because of the restrictions on male-female contact in the Orthodox community, Rand’s wife had to play his character’s wife. Even though she had not acted professionally before, her performance is one of the movie’s highlights. She immediately engages our interest and her sweet sincerity makes her utterly captivating.

Rand plays Moshe Bellanga, a Hasidic Jew who is married to Malli (Michal Bat-Sheva Rand). They are devoted to each other and to their religious practice, but very poor. They are not even able to pay their landlord. And then a miracle happens. Through an American charity, they receive a special grant of $1000. Moshe’s religious dedication is so passionate that instead of spending the money on their daily necessities, he wants to use it to realize his dream. A part of the celebration of Sukkot is the waving of the lulav (a palm frond) and the etrog (a lemon-like citrus fruit), and the freshest and most beautiful specimens are sought after. Moshe dreams of a truly magnificent etrog, and this money makes that possible.

Meanwhile, some friends from Moshe’s past life arrive. He warmly welcomes them and invites them to stay in his sukkah, not realizing, or not caring, that they are thieves running from the law. The title of the film is an Aramaic term for “guests.”

The glimpses of life in this community are as interesting as the story, which unfolds in a direction that differs from the usual movie conventions of order being confronted by chaos. It is a tender, touching, and inspiring story of love, faith, and genuine goodness.

michael-douglas-on-gordon-gekko.jpgOne of the most iconic movie figures of the 1980’s was Michael Douglas as “Greed is good” Gordon Gekko in the original “Wall Street,” written and directed by Oliver Stone. The sequel, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” opens this week, and one of the challenges for bringing the character 23 years forward was presented to the costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick. She spoke to Clothes on Film about how “the first Wall Street opened the door to encourage a man to exhibit his personal style.”

Over the past 23 years, Wall Street has come to symbolize a moneyed style. Always with a certain confidence; one’s own personality and panache. Whether it is as easy as jeans, a button-down, no socks and Gucci loafers or put together in a bespoke ensemble, the pieces are expensive and convey power…..The elements in this film are very rich and naturalistic. As wealth accumulated, during the aughts, the excesses blurred the boundaries of style, causing a gilded muscular appearance. But, when everything is gilded, one cannot discern the showiness or the colourfulness; it all appears to be the same until you get close and see the expense in the details.

Mirojnick talks about bringing Gekko’s look into the 21st century and about her surprising model in dressing James Brolin, who plays, in a way, the new Gekko, the wealthiest and most powerful (and financially voracious) character in the film.

Josh Brolin is a fetching Bretton James. He is all about presentation, money, power and conquering the world. Bretton is ruthless. This time, the stakes are much bigger than when Gekko originally played with similar ingredients back in the eighties.

When designing a look for a character, I always think about the actor playing the character. I break it down, to build it up. It is an assignment that is architecturally inspired. To think about Bretton, one thinks of Darth Vader.

Mirojnick also spoke to Esquire, explaining that she dressed the characters like movie stars, not like Wall Street financiers and what she said to Oliver Stone when he told her the wardrobe was not authentic.

I said, “It’s a movie, and they’re all going to look like it and we’re elevating the genre. It’s telling the story, Oliver. We’re not doing it to be 100 percent rooted in reality. We’re telling a story in a movie.”

Some costume designers prefer period films, but Mirojnick likes to work on contemporary stories.

People on the outside said to me, “Why do you want to do this movie? It’s about guys in suits.” And I said, “No, it isn’t. It’s about power, money, and seduction.” That’s what grabbed me.