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The Woman in Gold
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and brief strong language
Release Date:
April 1, 2015

 

The Imitation Game
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking
Release Date:
November 21, 2014

The Wrecking Crew
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for language, thematic elements and smoking images
Release Date:
March 27. 2015

 

Wild
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, drug use, and language
Release Date:
December 5, 2014

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

 

Interstellar
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some intense perilous action and brief strong language
Release Date:
November 7, 2014

Political scandal and The Politician’s Wife

posted by Nell Minow

Once again a politician is in disgrace and once again his wife appears at his side at the press conference. While he admits his mistakes, she stands there in silent support. What is she thinking? Of the sacrifices she made over the years, the time spent smiling, shaking hands, pretending to be interested, wishing she was alone with her family or pursuing her own interests? Of the humiliation of seeing her family’s most personal information dissected by pundits and cackled over by people who have never contributed to the public good?

An excellent BBC miniseries starring Juliet Stevenson explores what might be on the mind of one such woman. It is called, of course, “The Politician’s Wife.”

No Country for Old Men

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong graphic violence and some language.
Movie Release Date:November 9, 2007
DVD Release Date:March 11, 2008

“I’m fixin to go do somethin dumbern hell but I’m goin anyways. If I don’t come back tell Mother I love her.”
“Your mother’s dead Llewelyn.”
“Well I’ll tell her myself then.”
For the Coen brothers’ first-ever adaptation of another writer’s work, they found an author whose terse, wry, gritty dialogue is a perfect match. Cormac McCarthy’s book about a man who finds a case full of money at the scene of a drug deal gone very, very wrong is ideally suited for the Coen brother’s understated talk and striking visuals.

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Nancy Drew: Mystery in the Hollywood Hills

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild violence, thematic elements and brief language.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:March 11, 2008

Part of the appeal of Nancy Drew through the decades has been the way she has continually been updated while remaining essentially the same. The problem with this movie is that the updates are poorly chosen, awkwardly inserted, and inappropriate for its intended audience.

In the original books, Nancy’s mysteries were usually about lost lockets, secret codes, maybe a kidnapping or some attempted harm that Nancy was able to prevent just in time. In this film, the central puzzle is the murder of a film star, and the plot centers on an out-of-wedlock pregnancy kept secret even from the father. This is an incomprehensibly poor choice in a movie intended for children. It also a poor dramatic choice, undercutting the movie’s plot, tone, and style and throwing its story off-balance.


In the opening scene, Nancy (Emma Roberts) crisply captures a couple of bad guys (watch for “Saturday Night Live” alum Chris Kattan). They may think they have captured her, but she soon turns them over to the grateful local cops, who have come to rely on her for their toughest cases. But all of that is coming to an end. Nancy’s father (Tate Donovan) has to go to Los Angeles for several months on business and she is going with him. And after solving that last mystery had her dangling off a rooftop, Mr. Drew makes Nancy promise that she will take a break from crime and just be a normal high school girl in their new city.


She does not tell him she selected their new home because it had a mystery for her to solve. Many years ago, a beautiful and successful actress was murdered there and left some clues behind. And there is a caretaker who may know something as well.


All of this is much more important to Nancy than lesser mysteries like how to make friends in her new school. But that retro attire she whipped up from her mother’s old patterns pretty much acts as a classmate-repellent, so she has to find a way to make some friends who like her the way she is.


Roberts (daughter of Eric and niece of Julia) has a natural elegance, poise, and focus. She fits well in the role and she looks sweetly chic in her classic wardrobe. As in the books, Nancy is a clever, determined, and spunky detective who can be fascinated by crime and still have an air of innocence. When it comes to boyfriend Ned Nickerson (Max Thieriot), she is barely aware that he might feel anything more than friendship or expect her to make him a priority. This makes her focus on the illicit romance of a long-dead movie star all the more awkward. So is a possible jealousy subplot involving Ned and an annoyingly precocious 12-year-old named Corky (Josh Flitter). A surprise cameo from a big star is just a distraction, adding nothing to the sleuthing or new kid in school storylines.


Young detectives serve as inspiration and metaphor for children trying to puzzle out the mysteries of the adult world. Seeing someone their own age understand and explain what is going on to grown-ups is highly satisfying for children. But here the uncertain shifts in tone from sincerity to almost-camp and the inappropriate subject matter make the unsolvable mystery just who this movie’s audience was intended to be.

Parents should know that although handled in a low-key way, the themes of this film include murder and out of wedlock pregnancy. There are some scary moments, including what appears to be a ghost. Nancy also takes some risks and breaks some rules.

Families who see this movie should talk about why some of the other girls thought Nancy was strange and how that affected the way they treated her. How should we treat people who are different? What made them change their minds? Who in the film was jealous, and why? They might like to think about the changes Nancy has had to make over the years. Even in the constantly-reissued books, Nancy does not drive a blue roadster anymore. She uses the internet in her sleuthing. Vestiges of racial and gender stereotypes have been eliminated. What other changes do you think they have made or should make?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy reading the books. Nancy Drew now appears at different ages in separate series designed for ages eight to early teens (with more mature material than the original series). She even appears in video games.

For more background on the history of Nancy Drew, try Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her and Bobbie Ann Mason’s The Girl Sleuth. They will also enjoy Agent Cody Banks and an earlier version, The Original Nancy Drew Movie Mystery Collection, played by Bonita Granville.

August Rush

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some thematic elements, mild violence and language
Movie Release Date:November 21, 2007
DVD Release Date:March 11, 2008

Those who are willing to open their hearts to this urban fairy tale will find its pleasures, as long as they they don’t think about it too hard.
august%20rush.jpg

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Previous Posts

The Woman in Gold
The very title is a form of theft. When Gustav Klimt painted the portrait that gives this film its name, he called it "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer." She was a warm, vibrant young woman

posted 5:58:01pm Mar. 31, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: The Woman in Gold's Simon Curtis and E. Randol Schoenberg
Director Simon Curtis told me, "My last film was My Week with Marilyn, and this one is my century with Maria."  He is referring to "The Woman in Gold," with Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann, who brought a lawsuit to get back the portrait of her aunt Adele, painted by Gustav Klimt, which had been stole

posted 3:37:47pm Mar. 31, 2015 | read full post »

Faith-Based Movie Picks -- The Today Show
In honor of Easter and Passover, the Today Show has some good suggestions for faith-based movies, from the very serious and respectful to the light-hearted.

posted 3:13:29pm Mar. 31, 2015 | read full post »

Another "Star is Born" Movie? Possibly, with Bradley Cooper as Director and Beyonce to Star!
A movie that's already been done three times (at least) may just get yet another remake if the rumors are true that Bradley Cooper will direct and Beyoncé will appear in "A Star is Born."  The original 1937 version, said to be inspired by (among others) the marriage of aging vaudeville star Al Jol

posted 3:54:02pm Mar. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Exclusive Clip and Contest: What Would Jesus Do -- The Journey Continues
We are honored to present an exclusive clip from "WWJD (What Would Jesus Do): The Journey Continues," inspired by the best-selling classic book In His Steps. WWJD: The Journey Continues is availab

posted 3:40:29pm Mar. 30, 2015 | read full post »


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