Beliefnet
Movie Mom
New to Theaters
C

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual material, full frontal nudity, language throughout, and drug and alcohol content Release Date: July 29, 2016
C

Lowest Recommended Age: High School MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief strong language Release Date: July 29, 2016
B+

Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School MPAA Rating: Release Date: July 15, 2016
New to DVD
Pick of the week
A-

Sing Street

Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including strong language and some bullying behavior, a suggestive image, drug material and teen smoking Release Date: April 22, 2016
B+

Barbershop: The Next Cut

Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual material and language Release Date: April 15, 2015
C

The Boss

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual content, language and brief drug use Release Date: April 8, 2016
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Please take moment in this holiday season to send a free card to a serviceman or woman who is away from home to let them know how grateful we are. Xerox has set up a wonderful let’s say thanks website with great kid-designed cards. It takes just a few seconds and will make someone who might be a little lonely right now feel appreciated. And thanks to my mom for suggesting this!

Han Solo hugs Chewbacca? Fat Albert meets a baby in a sort of urban manger? He-Man learns about Christmas from two annoying little kids?

But bad Christmas specials can inspire good responses. This is a classic from Tom Shales of the Washington Post about a Kathie Lee Gifford special he did not find so special.

What’s the difference between the 24-hour flu and a Kathie Lee Gifford Christmas special? Twenty-three hours. The actual title for this year’s exercise in false piety, faked sentiment and aerobic grinning was “Kathie Lee Gifford: Christmas Every Day,” an appalling prospect any way you look at it. This is the kind of television to be watched not from the couch, as it were, but while peering out from behind it and using it as a shield, as if perhaps an air raid or some other sort of massive bombing were in progress.

“Kathie Lee: Home for Christmas,” Kathie Lee Gifford’s second annual CBS Christmas special, is perhaps even worse than her first — a sickeningly saccharine vanity production that should really have been titled “O Come, Let Us Adore Me.” That ghastly Gifford grin, ear to ear and back again, seems steeped in self-esteem and almost blinding in its show biz phoniness.

Kathie Lee Gifford sings songs like she’s mad at them. What did they ever do to her? Maybe she was frightened by a song as a child. And by Christmas, too, because each year on television she wreaks a bit more revenge.

I am truly honored and blessed to be invited to vote on the Black Reel Awards, and very proud of our nominees:
Best Actor
Quinton Aaron | The Blind Side
Jamie Foxx | The Soloist
Morgan Freeman | Invictus
Souléymane Sy Savané | Goodbye Solo
Denzel Washington | The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
Best Actress
Nicole Beharie | American Violet
Taraji P. Henson | I Can Do Bad All By Myself
Sophie Okonedo | Skin
Maya Rudolph | Away We Go
Gabourey Sidibe | Precious
Best Supporting Actor
Charles Dutton | American Violet
Chiwetel Ejiofor | 2012
Lenny Kravitz | Precious
Derek Luke | Madea Goes to Jail
Anthony Mackie | The Hurt Locker
Best Supporting Actress
Mariah Carey | Precious
Mo’Nique | Precious
Paula Patton | Precious
Zoe Saldana | Avatar
Alfre Woodard | American Violet
Best Director
Lee Daniels | Precious
Bill Duke | Not Easily Broken
Spike Lee | Passing Strange
Scott Sanders | Black Dynamite
George Tillman, Jr. | Notorious
Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted
Brian Bird | Not Easily Broken
Geoffrey Fletcher | Precious
John Lee Hancock | The Blind Side
Scott Sanders, Michael Jai White and Byron Minns | Black Dynamite
George Tillman Jr. | Notorious
Best Film
American Violet | Samuel L. Goldwyn
The Blind Side | Warner Bros.
Invictus | Warner Bros.
Precious | Lionsgate
The Princess and the Frog | Walt Disney
Best Breakthrough Performance
Quinton Aaron | The Blind Side
Nicole Beharie | American Violet
Souléymane Sy Savané | | Goodbye Solo
Gabourey Sidibe | Precious
Jamal Woolard | Notorious
Best Ensemble
American Violet | Samuel Goldwyn
Notorious | Fox Searchlight
Passing Strange | Sundance Selects
Precious | Lionsgate
The Princess and the Frog | Walt Disney
Best Song, Original or Adapted
Almost There | The Princess and Frog (Anika Noni Rose)
Down in New Orleans | The Princess and the Frog (Anika Noni Rose)
I Can Do Bad | I Can Do Bad All By Myself (Mary J. Blige)
Keys (Marianna) | Passing Strange (Stew, de’dre Aziza and Daniel Breaker)
Never Knew I Needed | The Princess and the Frog (Ne-Yo)
Best Documentary
Good Hair | Roadside Attractions
Michael Jackson’s This Is It | Columbia
More Than a Game | Lionsgate
Passing Strange: The Movie | Sundance Selects
Tyson | Sony Pictures Classics
Best Voice Performance
Keith David | Coraline
Keith David | The Princess and the Frog
Delroy Lindo | Up
Anika Noni Rose | The Princess and the Frog
Forest Whitaker | Where the Wild Things Are
INDEPENDENT
Best Independent Feature
Blue | Ryan Miningham
Mississippi Damned | Tina Mabry
Sugar | Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden
The Tenant | Lucky Ejim
This is The Life | Ava Duvernay
Best Independent Mini Feature
Life on Earth | Jeffrey Keith
(Mis)leading Man | Morocco Omari
The Rowe Effect | Kiel Adrian Scott
Best Independent Documentary
Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness | Llewellyn Smith
Without Bias | Kirk Fraser
Still Bill | Alex Vlack & Damani Baker

Is anyone as bothered by the Target Christmas commercials as I am?

They have a series of commercials reflecting tighter economic times by emphasizing their low prices. Great, I’m on board with that. But these commercials would be sour and tawdry at any time of year and seem even less so at a time that is supposed to be about generosity and family closeness. The theme of these commercials is that someone is unhappy with a gift because he or she thinks it cost too much and so feels uncomfortable and unworthy. Take a look at this thoroughly un-charming family tableau:

This is very unusual; typically, a commercial is a 30-second story with a happy ending. Someone gets good advice on a laundry detergent or insurance policy and is grateful — a bonding experience in half a minute. Christmas commercials usually show people thrilled to receive wonderful gifts that perfectly communicate connection and intimacy. Target’s commercials, though intended to be humorous, leave the characters feeling awkward and estranged, and I suspect the audiences as well. They certainly leave me wanting to stay as far away as possible from Target and promote the idea that bargains lead to bad feelings, not good ones.

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