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New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Hail, Caesar!
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and smoking
Release Date:
February 5, 2016

 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
1937

The Choice
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some thematic issues
Release Date:
February 5, 2016

 

Freeheld
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements, language and sexuality
Release Date:
October 9, 2015

The Finest Hours
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of peril
Release Date:
January 29, 2016

 

Bridge of Spies
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some violence and brief strong language
Release Date:
October 16, 2015

New in Theaters

grade:
B+

Hail, Caesar!

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and smoking
Release Date:
February 5, 2016
grade:
B

The Choice

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some thematic issues
Release Date:
February 5, 2016
grade:
B

The Finest Hours

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of peril
Release Date:
January 29, 2016

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New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
A-

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Lowest Recommended Age:
All Ages
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
1937
grade:
B

Freeheld

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements, language and sexuality
Release Date:
October 9, 2015
grade:
A-

Bridge of Spies

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some violence and brief strong language
Release Date:
October 16, 2015

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Oscar Thoughts from Three Top Critics

posted by Nell Minow

Jeannette Catsoulis tells us the Oscars should embrace the lowbrow in Las Vegas CityLife:
[S]tudios spend all year milking dollars from young people only to turn around at Oscar time, overcome with shame and a newly minted commitment to quality, and nominate a bunch of old-lady favorites. (Only one of this year’s nominees is even set in this century.) Am I — gasp! — arguing for award by populism? Damn right I am: If Hollywood wants support for its sickeningly expensive, annual display of onanism, it needs to be proud of what it does best. Leave the recognition of Art to the Independent Spirit Awards and the Director’s Guild and give Oscar back to the people who keep him in business: average Americans.
She makes a compelling argument that the movies overlooked by Oscar like “Dark Knight” and “Quantum of Solace” are not just bigger at the box office — they are better.
In the future, the organizers should give Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin co-hosting duties (with no restrictions on the jokes), have Matt Stone and Trey Parker write the intros, give Stan Lee as many awards as possible and invite Miley Cyrus and the Jonas clones to sing the nominated songs.
Christopher Orr also objects to stuffiness of the nominees at The New Republic, which he describes as “the mushy middle, a showcase of high-toned, politically palatable films meticulously engineered to approximate art.”
“WALL-E,” for my money the best film of the year, was relegated to the animated-film ghetto from which only “Beauty and the Beast” has ever emerged. “The Dark Knight”–which, for all its flaws, was an ambitious, fascinating work of pop mythology–will have to content itself with whatever technical awards it can scrape up. (Best Visual Effects! In your face, “Iron Man!”) And even as the Academy ignored the summer’s big mass-cultural phenomena, it simultaneously managed to skip over the fall and early winter’s quieter, more thoughtful indies–“The Wrestler,” “Rachel Getting Married,” and the bleak, bewildering “Synecdoche, New York.”
Dana Stevens in Slate finds the “aestheticization of Indian poverty unsettling” in “Slumdog Millionare” and is bothered by the “icky premise” of “The Reader.” She wistfully hopes for more “weirdness,” not just in the movies but from the actors, to make it more fun to watch.

The Spirits and the Razzies

posted by Nell Minow

Just before the Oscars every year, two other important awards are announced. The Razzies (named for the rude noise called a “raspberry”) are given to the worst of the year from Hollywood. This year the recipients are:
Worst Picture: The Love Guru (which I also picked as the year’s worst in my essay for Rotten Tomatoes)love guru.jpg
Worst Actor: Mike Myers in “The Love Guru”
Worst Actress: Paris Hilton “The Hottie and the Nottie
Worst Screenplay: “The Love Guru”
Worst Supporting Actor: Pierce Brosnan in “Mamma Mia!”
Worst Supporting Actress: Paris Hilton again in “Repo! The Genetic Opera”
Worst Couple: Paris Hilton again with either Christine Lakin or Joel David Moore in “The Hottie & The Nottie”
Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off, or Sequel: “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”
And by the way, anyone can vote on the Razzies for a modest fee.
The Spirit Awards (formerly called Independent Spirit) are given out by Film Independent, a resource group for independent film-makers. Its annual awards ceremony is broadcast on the Independent Film Channel and it is always hilarious, outrageous, and lots of fun (warning: very strong language and provocative material).
This year’s Spirit winners include:
“The Wrestler” (best feature, best actor Mickey Rourke, best cinematographer)
“Vicky Christina Barcelona” (best screenplay by Woody Allen, best supporting actress Penelope Cruz)
“Milk” (best first screenplay by Dustin Lance Black, best supporting actor James Franco)
“The Visitor” (best director Tom McCarthy)
“Synecdoche New York” (best first feature, Robert Altman ensemble award)
“The Class” (best foreign film)
“Man on Wire” (best documentary)
“Frozen River” (best actress Melissa Leo)
Membership is also available in Film Independent.
2009 Independent Spirit Awards at LocateTV.com

Debate: Is ‘The Reader’ Great Art or Hackneyed Tripe?

posted by Nell Minow

“Don’t Give an Oscar to ‘The Reader'” is the headline of an angry Slate essay by Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil. Rosenbaum says it is “a film in which all the techniques of Hollywood are used to evoke empathy for an unrepentant mass murderer of Jews.” He argues that “This is a film whose essential metaphorical thrust is to exculpate Nazi-era Germans from knowing complicity in the Final Solution.”

I’ve argued that most of the fictionalized efforts either exhibit a false redemptiveness or an offensive sexual exploitiveness–what some critics have called “Nazi porn.” But in recent years, a new mode of misconstrual has prevailed–the desire to exculpate the German people of guilt for the crimes of the Hitler era. I spoke recently with Mark Weitzman, the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s New York office, who went so far as to say that The Reader was a symptom of a kind of “Holocaust revisionism,” which used to be the euphemistic term for Holocaust denial.

SPOILER ALERT: Based on Bernhard Schlink’s best-selling The Reader, an Oprah book selection, the movie stars Kate Winslet as a German woman in the early 1950’s who has an affair with a 15-year-old boy. Years later, the boy has become a law student and he sees her in court, being tried for atrocities during the Holocaust. He discovers that she cannot read and that her humiliation and efforts to hide her ignorance
On the other side is Roger Ebert, who says “The Reader” is not a Holocaust movie; it is a movie about the consequences of not speaking up. He agrees with Rosenbaum that Winslet’s character “was responsible for inexcusable evil.” But he does not feel that the movie excuses her or redeems her in any way. He believes the movie’s point is that Michael was guilty of worse not because the consequences were as bad but because his education and circumstances gave him more of a choice.

Who committed the greater crime? Michael, obviously, although few audience members might see it that way. He was more mentally capable than she was. She is deeply, paralyzingly ashamed of her illiteracy. It has led her a lifelong neurosis. She worked for the Nazis, as many other Germans did with much less reason, or none at all. What did she go through to keep her secret? What lies did she tell, what intimacies did she betray? Has she never been able to have a relationship with a man without using sex and her greater age to prevent the man from learning of her shame? What kind of a monster was she, that she helped innocent victims to go to their deaths because of a secret that seems trivial to us?

The Latest from ‘The Watchmen’

posted by Nell Minow

One of the most intriguing elements of the graphic novel is the excerpts from other documents that provide a glimpse into the story’s layered and fullly-imagined world. Warner Home Video is supplementing the feature film release with Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter & Under the Hood, exploring these elements of the book. “Tales of the Black Freighter” is an animated film version of the graphic novel’s richly layered story-within-a-story, a comic book pirate story read by a young man in New York City while the city is being destroyed. A marooned sailor’s story mirrors the events in the Watchmen’s world. “300’s” Gerard Butler provides voice talent. And we get one perspective on the origins of the Watchmen from Hollis Mason’s tell-all autobiography, “Under the Hood.”

Previous Posts

Black History Month 2016
Be sure to take time during Black History month to watch movies the Civil Rights movement, ("Eyes on the Prize," "Selma," "Boycott"), and movies that are themselves a part of black history and film history (add to that list: "Killer of Sheep," ...

posted 3:55:11pm Feb. 05, 2016 | read full post »

A Moving Tribute to a Father Through Movies
Jessica Ritchey wrote a touching essay for Rogerebert.com about the movies she watched in the year after her father died, and how watching them helped her to keep him close. I’ve been published several times by the time I see "Crimson ...

posted 8:00:40am Feb. 05, 2016 | read full post »

Hail, Caesar!
The Coen brothers love old movies, and not just the classics. I remember reading an interview where they discussed their affection for ...

posted 5:59:12pm Feb. 04, 2016 | read full post »

The Choice
Nicholas Sparks is one of the rare authors who has become a brand of his own, bigger than any of his movies. One reason is their predicability; ...

posted 5:55:13pm Feb. 04, 2016 | read full post »

Trailer: LAIKA's Kubo and the Two Strings
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4-6qJzeb3A[/youtube] Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), ...

posted 8:00:59am Feb. 04, 2016 | read full post »

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