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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

 

Home
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor
Release Date:
March 27, 2015

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

Vacation
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:

Release Date:
July 29, 2015

 

The Longest Ride
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality, partial nudity, and some war and sports action
Release Date:
April 10, 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+

Home

Lowest Recommended Age:
Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor
Release Date:
March 27, 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
grade:
C

The Longest Ride

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality, partial nudity, and some war and sports action
Release Date:
April 10, 2015

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Blind Activists Protest “Blindness”

posted by Nell Minow

“Blindness” is the story of unnamed characters in an unnamed community who all suddenly lose their sight with just one exception, a doctor’s wife played by Julianne Moore. The newly blind citizens, along with Moore’s character, who pretends to be blind, are quarantined and quickly confront a series of tragic choices and heart-wrenching moral compromises and violations as they struggle to survive. The movie, like the novel that inspired it, is an allegory along the lines of “Lord of the Flies” or “28 Days Later.”
The National Federation of the Blind has criticized the film, saying that it portrays blind people as monsters. That is not true; it portrays human beings as monsters, or at least as animals who cast off the thin veneer of civilization when their infrastructure and external controls were removed. They also say it perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes, portraying the blind as unable to care for themselves and navigate. Again, that is not true. It portrays people who suddenly become blind and have no support services or training as having a very difficult adjustment. Indeed, there is one character who was blind before the epidemic, and the movie makes it clear that he does have the skills to use a cane and a braille machine.
Once again, misplaced activism attacks the most superficial details of a movie without taking time to understand that it is on their side.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

posted by Nell Minow

There is no question that Nick (Michael Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings) are destined for True Love. For one thing, they have the same taste in music. Nick is still making mixes for the girl who dumped him (Alexis Dziena as Tris, who doesn’t want Nick but REALLY doesn’t want him to want anyone else) because that is the best way for him to express how he feels. He does not know that Norah snags them because she may not know who he is, but she knows he is her musical soulmate. When Tris threw the most recent one into the trash (“Road to Closure: Volume XII”), Norah retrieved it and loved it.

And they share names with the most adorable couple in the history of movies, Nick and Nora Charles, played by William Powell and Myrna Loy in the “Thin Man” series. Powell and Loy, who appeared together more than any on-screen team in the sound era, were always magic together (I am especially partial to “I Love You Again”), but what made their “Thin Man” couple so unusual was that they were already married when they began. The original Nick and Nora made marriage look like fun; they were better evidence that there is such a thing as happily ever after than a hundred movies that end with a wedding.

This Nick and Norah have a way to go to get to happily ever after, but it is a journey we enjoy taking with them. First, the characters are played by two of the most endearing young performers in films today, Michael Cera (from “Juno” and “Superbad”) and Kat Dennings (“40 Year Old Virgin” and “The House Bunny”). Second, the script is fresh, funny, and real, and third it is superbly directed by Peter Sollett, whose Raising Victor Vargas showed great skill at telling stories about teenagers that feel true, immediate, and intimate.

It all takes place on one night in the small town that is New York City, or at least the part of New York that is cool for high school seniors, who cruise around and run into each other pretty much constantly except when they are trying to find each other. Nick, Norah, Tris and her new date, Nick’s kind-hearted gay bandmates, and Norah’s very drunk friend Caroline (Ari Graynor, whose dazzling smile almost completely de-tawdrifies her character’s situation, even when she’s barfing into a bus station toilet that was already plenty disgusting enough).

The film adroitly sidesteps the expected teen movie cliches. Nick and Norah are tentative about their feelings for one another but they each know who they are and they both have a level of confidence about interacting in the world and understanding what is important to them. I liked the way Norah talked about “tikkun olam,” the Jewish imperative to heal the world.” It is very nice to see a movie character, especially a young one, who draws something meaningful from religion and to see something Jewish in a movie that is not “oy vay,” bagels, or guilt. The movie also draws from the emerging world of cuddle puddles and technological omni-connectedness to move the story forward without being intrusive or showy or trying too hard to be hip. And it beautifully catches the way that falling in love at the same time transforms us and makes us our most authentic selves.

Hollywood’s Inaccurate Portrayal of Religious Practice

posted by Nell Minow

E! Online has a column about Hollywood’s inaccurate portrayal of religious practice. A reader wrote in to complain about the treatment of Mr. Eko, who pretends to be a priest in “Lost.”
According to E!, Tod Tamberg, communications director of the Los Angeles Archdiocese is the man who usually answers Hollywood’s questions about Catholicism ritual, belief, and practice, but no one checked with him about Mr. Eko.
Pretty much every religion offers at least one consultant to keep pertinent films honest. One of them happens to have served as Hebrew coach for an A-list star…But unless Hollywood actively reaches out to such people–and not at the last minute, either–there’s little that religious consultants can do to ensure authenticity.
It was heartening to see the faith-group-produced “Fireproof” do modestly well last weekend, but accurate portrayal of religious practice and sincere faith is rare in Hollywood movies. I was pleased to that in this week’s light teen romantic comedy, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” a character briefly but movingly explains the Jewish tradition of tikkun olam (“healing the world”) as the spiritual purpose of life. It is nice to see something Jewish in a movie that is not bagels, oy vey, or guilt!
For more about the portrayal of religion in the movies, see this bibliography and this religious studies syllabus.

A Month of Halloween Horror from The Movie Boy

posted by Nell Minow

The Movie Boy Dustin Putman knows horror, and he salutes it this month with a new review every day.
For the entirety of October, TheMovieBoy.com will be updated daily with all-new content, including at least thirty-one full-length reviews of horror pictures–a collection of classics, lesser-known gems, and longtime favorites–that I have never previously covered; an additional smorgasbord of fresh (but not necessarily positive) capsule reviews; and an ongoing blog where I will tackle any number of horror-related subjects. Maybe I can help readers come up with ideas on what’s worth watching this October. Or maybe I can help them get in the mood for a holiday filled with ghosts, goblins, costumes, candy, and things that go bump in the night. Either way, the goal is to entertain and inform both die-hard horror fans, as well as the heretofore uninitiated who are interested in taking that first dip into a too-frequently underappreciated category of cinema. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll all (myself included) learn a little something, too.
I am not a horror fan, but Putman’s first choice is perfect, the silent classic Nosferatu. As he says, it may not be the first horror film, but it is the first influential one. It is essentially “Dracula,” but director F.W. Murnau did not want to pay royalties, so they changed the names. The mysterious Max Schreck starred (there is an urban legend that he really was a vampire — amusingly explored in “Shadow of the Vampire” with Willem Dafoe as Schreck) and it is every bit as creepy as any CGI-enhanced state-of-the-art special effects horror movie made today, nearly 80 years later.

Previous Posts

Tom Cruise Runs -- Supercut
I love this supercut of Tom Cruise's best running scenes, first because it shows the range of films he's worked in over the decades, and the different ways different directors and cinematographers shoot the scenes (and some similarities), and ...

posted 10:17:54pm Aug. 01, 2015 | read full post »

You Can Help Support This new Ed Asner Film on Indiegogo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAY_sMucKl4 Ed Asner stars in this new film about a young man who finds a book at his grandmother’s memorial, with a series of fantastical tales that his grandfather wrote for his grandmother. Each is a ...

posted 4:18:09pm Aug. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Opening this Month: August 2015
August is usually one of the slowest months of the year for major movie releases, but this year we have some prospects that could include both ...

posted 3:15:47pm Aug. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: On Beauty
[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/110407707[/vimeo] ...

posted 8:00:06am Aug. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Rent This Instead: A Better Ed Helms Raunchy Comedy (that isn't "Hangover")
"Vacation" is a gross, dumb disappointment. If you want to see Ed Helms in a much better raunchy comedy, try the neglected gem Cedar Rapids. Helms plays a mild-mannered, small town insurance guy who is tapped at the last minute to go to the ...

posted 3:05:56pm Jul. 31, 2015 | read full post »

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