Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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Believe Me
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:

Release Date:
September 26, 2014

 

The Fault in Our Stars
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language
Release Date:
June 6, 2014

Tracks
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some partial nudity, disturbing images and brief strong language
Release Date:
September 26, 2014

 

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo
Release Date:
June 27, 2014

The Boxtrolls
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for action, some peril and mild rude humor
Release Date:
September 26, 2014

 

Neighbors
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

High Tension

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2005

This French gore-fest is two-thirds ripe and one-third rot, resulting in an initially promising but ultimately disappointing horror movie that is not for sensitive or discerning audiences of any age. Dripping with tension both violent and sexual, “High Tension” (“Haute Tension” in the original) strains to trick the horror trap of predictability and, by severing all pretext of consistency, instead lands with a thud when audience disbelief can be suspended no more.

The majority of the movie is solid classic horror. Two attractive young law students, Alexia or “Alex” (Maïwenn Le Besco) and Marie (Cécile De France), head out to the countryside where Alex’s family lives amid the corn fields. The two young women banter about their upcoming exams, the parties they frequent, how Alex sleeps around, and how Marie never seems to meet the right guy. These light scenes are interlaced with ones of impending menace; a beaten-up van parked in corn fields where a bloody-fingered man appears to receive a sexual favor from what turns out to be a dismembered head.

By the time Alex and Marie reach the farmhouse, it is dark and there is just enough time for Alex’s mother, father, and young brother to meet Marie before retiring to bed. When the lights go out only Marie, awake in her attic guest room, hears the van pull up outside and sees the bloody-fingered man force his way into the house. Marie witnesses the ensuing, extremely explicit deaths of Alex’s family –- mother, father, brother and pet — while hiding from “le teuer” (the Killer), and she sees Alex, chained and gagged, taken out to the van for further attention. Stowing away in the back of the van with Alex, Marie tries to find ways to save Alex, as the Killer drives toward his mysterious destination.

The ultimate rescue, however, comes when the credits roll and the lights come up. That is when the audience can try to fit the scenes of the movie together in a way that makes some sense of the last thirty minutes. “High Tension” could be a memorably good horror movie but it strives to be something even better than that and, in throwing everything behind an unworkable ending, comes up short at just mediocre. The trick of the movie is not a perfectly packaged albeit predictable Hollywood twist, but instead it is a heavy-handed tire-iron blow to the head, one that ultimately leaves only blood and bewilderment.

Parents should know that this is an extremely scary movie with constant peril and the violent deaths of almost all on-screen characters. A family is slaughtered and even teens who are fans of the horror genre might be disturbed by the nonchalant violence. Parents should know that a little boy is chased and shot, kindness is rewarded by violence, terrible acts are committed in the name of love, and the deaths are explicit and bloody. Characters swear, smoke, drink, masturbate and refer to casual sex. There is a brief shower scene of frontal nudity. A gay character is portrayed as dangerously obsessed.

Families who see this movie might talk about the character of Marie and her dual role as observer and attempted rescuer. They might discuss how “love” is treated in this movie as a motivator and whether the Killer’s callousness is a mask for stronger emotions. Most likely, though, they will ask each other “but…?” and if they figure out how to make the last thirty minutes make sense, then hearty congratulations from this movie-goer.

Families who like scary, French movies might like “Crimson Rivers” (detective story with Jean Reno) or “Malfique” (prison movie whether the Killer’s callousness is a mask for stronger emotions. Most likely, though, they will ask each other “but…?” and if they figure out how to make the last thirty minutes make sense, then hearty congratulations from this movie-goer.

Families who like scary, French movies might like Crimson Rivers (detective story with Jean Reno) or Malfique (prison movie with supernatural themes).

Rize

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2005

In West Side Story, Anita says that the boys dance like they’re trying to get rid of something. There is no trick photography in this film. It begins by advising the audience that the movie has not been sped up in any way. The people in the movie really do dance as fast as it appears on screen.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Freestyle, a documentary about extemporaneous rap, and OT: Our Town, a documentary about a high school production of Our Town in a Compton high school that has not put on a play in 20 years.

Bewitched

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2005

This update of the 1960′s television series that is still running on TV Land is as cute as the magical twitch of Samantha Stephens’ nose. Director and co-writer (with her sister Delia) Nora Ephron have given us more than the usual retro-infused with a wink of irony-style updates of the television shows loved by the kids of the 1970′s who are now working in Hollywood like Starsky and Hutch and Charlie’s Angels. The Ephrons have given it a bit of a meta-tilt. The television series about a witch who marries a mortal has been turned into a movie about an update of the beloved series, starring a has-been movie star (Will Ferrell) and a newcomer who has never acted before but who happens to be, in real life…a witch.

Isabel (Nicole Kidman) doesn’t know very much about what it means to be “normal,” but she knows she wants to try it. She wants to debate the color of the walls and make popcorn in the microwave. “I want to have days when my hair is affected by the weather!”

Over the objections of her father (Michael Caine), she moves into a suburban house, buys some groceries, and settles in, dreaming of finding someone who will need her.

So, of course she runs into the neediest guy alive, Jack Wyatt (Ferrell), a movie star whose combination of professional and personal disasters has left him professionally and personally vulnerable to the point of complete desperation. He agrees to be in an updated television series based on the classic “Bewitched,” as long as this time it is his role — Darren the mortal husband — who has the lead. For that reason, the part of Samantha the witch must go to an unknown.

At first, Isabel is delighted to go along with this plan. Her unfamiliarity with the human world leads her to accept whatever people say without looking for attempts to mislead her — intentional or not. Things get complicated, and like the character Isabel plays, she finds herself unable to resist using her powers.

There are some sharp and clever takes on the differences between the sexes (especially the interest of older men in younger women) and on the similarities between being a witch and being a star — in both cases, “you snap your fingers and pretty much anything you want happens.” There are even sharper takes on the similarities between being a witch and just being a woman. Jack finds out that the most powerful “hex” isn’t when Isabel twitches her nose but when she puts her foot down.

Kidman makes Isabel’s innocence fresh and beguiling as nose-tickling champagne bubbles. Ferrell’s reliable cluelessness works well for his spoiled baby of a movie star: “Make 20 cappucinos and bring me the best one!” he bellows. Fans of the series will appreciate the tweaks and salutes of the original (which still looks pretty good in clips from the first episode, even in black and white). Just like the original Samantha, Isabel and Jack learn that real magic is no match for falling in love.

Parents should know that this movie has some mild language and sexual references and a non-explicit sexual situation. There is some social drinking and some comic, pratfall-style violence.

Families who see this movie should talk about why someone with the kind of powers Isabel had would want to be “normal.” Why was it important to her to be needed? When you have a problem, how do you decide whether to “put up with it, quit, or just get mad?”

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the original Bewitched television series. As shown in this movie, the first season was filmed in black and white, so avoid the colorized DVD and stick with the authentic version.

Fans of the series will also enjoy this book about the show, with a foreward by series director (and former husband of Elizabeth Montgomery) William Asher. Where the Girls Are is a fascinating book about the movies and television of the Bewitched era, with a thoughtful assessment of the difference between the powers of Samantha Stevens and Jeannie, both, according to the author, responses to some of the cultural controversy over the changes in expectations and opportunities for women.

Families will also enjoy movies with similar themes, including the classics I Married a Witch and Bell, Book, and Candle. And they will enjoy the movies written by the screenwriter parents of Nora and Delia Ephron, especially Desk Set.

The Deal

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2005

There is an amateur quality to this film that might be endearing if it was not so self-righteous and almost deliberately ignorant. Though written by a former investment banker, it has been dumbed down to Hollywood’s idea about Wall Street as interpreted by 1960′s “issue” television programs. It plays like a very special episode of “The Name of the Game” or “Mannix.” But dumber.

Tom (Christian Slater) is an honest investment banker with a Wall Street firm that has an impeccable reputation but no revenues (those two items may be connected). And he is catnip to the ladies — they all go for him in a big way. Christian Slater is also the movie’s executive producer, and those two items are most certainly related.

He persuades idealistic Abbey (Selma Blair) to join his firm instead of working for a public interest group. He tells her she can do more to achieve change from Wall Street and her kindly professor tells her that she may be going into a nest of vipers, but she will be a mongoose. Unless she succumbs to being a viper. Yes, that is the way people talk in this movie. The dialogue is so heavy with exposition that it is like asking the actors to chew rocks.

When Tom’s best friend is mysteriously murdered, Tom is given a chance to work on the friend’s project, a deal involving oil drilling in one of the former Soviet republics. The friend’s boss hopes that Tom will be so overwhelmed by data outside his specialty that he will not realize that the deal is not all it seems — or that he will be so dazzled by the $20 million fee that it won’t matter to him.

Tom is distracted by dalliances with a woman who says something to him about research and hangs up on him all the time (Angie Harmon) and with pure-hearted Abbey. Blair is given so little to build a character with here that all she can manage is an earnest knitting of the brow and a peppy little wave. Betrayal, corruption, bad guys with accents, blah blah blah and everyone is shocked, shocked, to find profiteering and lies in the worlds of finance and politics.

There are small but genuinely bizarre tangents, including a surreal appearance by a real-life Congressman, and a villain who suddenly starts speaking with an accent halfway through the story. But there is not one moment that is authentic or, even, what’s that word? Interesting.

Parents should know that the movie has very strong language and some peril and violence (guns, characters killed). There are several scenes in bars and characters drink to socialize and to deal with stress. There are sexual references and non-explicit sexual situations.

Families who see this movie should talk about the conflict Tom had to resolve. What was the best way for Abbey to achieve her goal of pursuing alternative sources of energy? What does it mean to be a mongoose in a nest of vipers?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Rollover.

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