Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Strange Magic
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and scary images
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

 

The Book of Life
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action, rude humor, some thematic elements and brief scary images
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

Mortdecai
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some language and sexual material
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

 

The Judge
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including some sexual references
Release Date:
October 10, 2014

Cake
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, substance abuse and brief sexuality
Release Date:
January 24, 2015

 

Fury
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

Murderball

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

You know those thousands of heartwarming, triumph of the human spirit, disease-of-the-week movies? With heroes and heroines who suffer through every possible medical catastrophe and become better people and learn the meaning of life? I know they are supposed to be all reassuring and inspiring and all that, but they don’t come close to being as reassuring as this film, which lets us know without any equivocation that even the most dramatic, the most traumatic, the most catastrophic injuries do not change people.

The fact that the “us” of ourselves continues, that people who are injured don’t cross some big divide to find inner peace and transcendence so that they feel better off for what happened to them — now that is the kind of resilience of the human spirit I can appreciate.

Not that the stars of this documentary, the United States Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby team, are not awe-inspiring examples of heart and courage. You will never find better on screen — documentary or fiction. It’s just that they were all that before they were confined to wheelchairs, and they kept every bit of it. Another thing they were before they were confined to wheelchairs was badass guys with impulse control problems, and that hasn’t changed either. What has changed is that now they are in wheelchairs and now they feel like they don’t have anything left to lose. This is not heartwarming, cuddly, or safe. it is bracing, brash, harsh, and angry. And it is thrilling.

It doesn’t seem right to call people with such determination and eneregy “confined.” Their spirits just explode out of the chairs, especially when they are playing a game that was originally called Murderball. They had to change it to “Wheelchair Rugby” because for some reason no corporate sponsor wanted to be affiliated with a game called Murderball.

It doesn’t really have anything to do with rugby. Basically, there are two rules. The first governs the team. It is a complex point system assigned to each player based on his ability to move his arms (none of them can grip well enough to hold onto the ball — they have glue on their palms). To make sure that the sides are evenly matched, each side’s players may add up to no more than an 8 at any given time. The second rule governs the play and it is very simple — “kill the man with the ball.” The game they play owes less to rugby than it does to hockey, dodgeball, battering rams, and bumper cars in their most extreme forms. This movie makes clear that there is no doubt these are athletes who are full-out all the time and give everything there is.

As it opens, the U.S. has won the world championship 11 times, every year since the beginning. The unquestioned greatest player of all time is repeated MVP Jose Soares, the Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods of Wheelchair Rugby.

An athlete can fight just about any physical limit except for time. When Soares is not picked for the team because he is getting too old, he decides to coach Team Canada. And they beat the Americans. So the primary focus of the movie is the efforts of the US team to win back the title.

As they train, we meet the players and their families and we hear their stories, especially the story of Mark Zupan, a risk-taker and party animal who was injured in a drunk driving accident in which the driver, his best friend, was not badly hurt. We see Soares with his wife (on their anniversary, she toasts, “To you” and he toasts, “To Team Canada. To the gold.”) and with his son (who hopes the game won’t keep his father from an important event of his own).

We learn about how they manage everything from getting dressed to eating pizza to having sex (including footage from a very explicit but very amateurish how-to-video). And we follow a recently injured man as he goes through rehab and, in a wrenchingly bittersweet scene, returns home. The memories of his able-bodied life impress upon him all that he has lost more than all of the months of rehabilitation. But the specially equipped rugby chair gives him a different perspective.

It gives us one, too.

Parents should know that this movie includes constant very strong language and explicit sexual references and situations, drinking (including drunk driving), smoking, and drug use. Explicit images of surgery and references to serious accidents and injuries may be disturbing to some audience members.

Families who see this movie should talk about how the players decide what is important to them. Who is right about Jose’s decision? How did Jose’s relationship with his son change? What do you think about Zupan’s parents’ comments about Igoe, the friend who caused Zupan’s injuries? Why was it hard for Zupan and Igoe to talk to one another? Why did Zupan want Igoe to see him play? Why does the movie end where it does?

Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy Inside Moves, co-starring Harold Russell, the WWII disabled veteran who was a two-time Oscar winner for The Best Years of Our Lives. They might like to compare this movie to an early film about people adjusting to wheelchairs, The Men, with Marlon Brando in his first movie role.

Tell Them Who You Are

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

A young man sees someone he would like to meet, but he is shy and unsure of how to approach him. His father pushes him, saying, “Tell them who you are.” What he means is, “Tell them you’re my son.”

The father, two-time Oscar winner for cinematography, leftist political activist and high-maintenance pain in the neck Haskell Wexler.Haskell Wexler, knows that his name is will open doors for his son. The son, Mark Wexler, knows that when you use someone else’s name to open doors, even your father’s, it doesn’t count. He grew up to make this movie about his father as a way of telling us who he is.

For starters, he is not his father, the genius cinematographer who thinks he could have done a better job than any of the directors he ever worked with — including this one. From the very first moment, when Mark asks his father to tell the audience where he is, Haskell tells him he doesn’t need to, and he spends the rest of the movie arguing with his son about how the shots should be set up, what the movie should include, whether he will sign the release and allow the movie to be made at all, and just about everything else, especially politics.

I am very taken with the growing movies-as-therapy genre of “working out my issues with Dad” documentaries. Part history, part biography, part appreciation, and all therapy, it is a funny, wrenching, profound, and deeply moving film, reminiscient of the brilliant My Architect. This time, the subject of the film is very much alive, and his efforts to direct the movie and his son provide some of the film’s most meaningful moments.

Parents should know that this movie has extremely strong language and some sexual images and some references to sexual situations, including adultery. Some viewers may also be disturbed by the tense family scenes and a sad scene of illness.

Families who see this movie should talk about what Mark and his father are proudest of about each other. How did making the film change their relationship? Why did Mark decide to include the scene with his mother?

Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy other worthy films in this category, including My Architect, and Five Wives, Three Secretaries and Me, Tessa Blake’s 1998 documentary about her multi-married Texas millionaire father, whose relationships with his secretaries lasted longer than any of his marriages (and whose wives had even more cordial relationships with each other than their still-friendly relationships with him). Two fine movies with related themes are Tarnation, Jonathan Couette’s movie about his mentally ill mother, and Martha and Ethel, Jyll Johnstone’s film about two nannies who played a larger role in the lives of the film-makers than their parents did.

Ladies in Lavender

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

The title of the movie suggests faded characters fussing over antimacassars and sipping tea. But the beauty of this film is that it shows us that the feelings of these women are anything but simple and their scope is as broad as the ocean outside their home.

Janet (Maggie Smith) and Ursula (Judi Dench) are sisters who live together in pre-World War II Cornwall. Janet is slightly more practical and worldly. She has loved and lost. Ursula is slightly more tender-hearted and vulnerable. One day, they find a unconscious young man named Andrea (Daniel Bruhl of Goodbye, Lenin) washed up on their shore. They bring him back to their house and care for him. He will not be the only one in the house who is awakened. And when he does wake up and it turns out he does not speak English (he is Polish), he will not be the only one who learns something new.

Andrea’s presence is disturbing, causing the sisters to feel emotions so new the sisters barely recognize them. They have no framework, no vocabulary for them. Andrea is exotic in every category, in a time and place when there wasn’t much that was new or surprising. His newness, his non-English-ness, his youth, his masculinity, and, when he gets a chance at a violin, his music — all are stirring.

If the story had been written by D.H. Lawrence, it could have gone in another direction, all undercurrents and disruption. But it was written by William J. Locke and adapted for the screen by first-time director Charles Dance with a delicacy that these two great ladies (and grandes Dames) have responded to with brilliantly subtle performances of stunning skill and beauty. It would be so easy to make the ladies look foolish and skittish. But Dance, Smith, and Dench give us characters who remind us that even ladies in lavender have hearts and minds and memories and longings.

Parents should know that the movie has brief strong language and social drinking and smoking.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Ursula and Janet responded differently to Andrea. How did Andrea feel about them?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Enchanted April and Room With a View. They should also see more of the two leading ladies, including their Oscar-winning performances in California Suite, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and Shakespeare in Love

Unleashed

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

A series of ugly, brutal fight sequences surround a sweet story of healing in an uneasy combination — or perhaps in view of the content of this movie, collision. But it is what the movie does not show that, for better or worse, takes it out of the category of the typical action movie. It is not the movie(s) you see that are hard to enjoy; it is the movie you don’t see, the one that lurks under the surface.

Jet Li plays Danny, a man who has been programmed by being treated like a dog. He has been conditioned by “Uncle Bart” (Bob Hoskins in an incendiary performance) to follow orders, especially this one: “Get him.”

He lives in a cage. His only possessions are an old stuffed bear and an alphabet book. He turns the pages, looking at K for Kiss, L for Love, and P for Piano. Then he gets pulled out to beat up whoever has made the mistake of failing to pay Bart the money he owes. Or he is entered in a gladiator-style fight to the death for the amusement of the people who find that entertaining.

One day, while Bart and his thugs are in the next room, putting pressure on the owner of an antique store, Danny sees Sam (Morgan Freeman), a blind piano tuner. More important, he hears the piano. Even the untuned notes mean something to him. Sam’s kindness means more. Both give him his first glimpse of compassion and beauty.

When circumstances give him a chance to escape, he finds Sam, who takes him in and does not ask questions. Sam’s stepdaughter, Victoria (Kerry Condon), a music student, introduces him to silverware, pajamas, laughter, kisses, ice cream, and movies. And feeling safe.

But then Bart gets Danny back again. And Danny will have to fight to return the people he loves.

The dramatic scenes are exceptionally rich, warm, and touching. Li gives his best performance since he started making movies in English. And he still has it in the fight scenes, which are imaginatively staged, especially one battle in a tiny bathroom with a huge, pale, hairless, combatant. Li’s grace and speed are always beautiful to watch, even when he is twisting bones until they snap, crackle, and pop.

But the unspeakable abuse that is the premise of the movie is so deeply disturbing that it throws the entire film out of balance. It is difficult to let go of the story enough to find the action entertaining when we are asked to buy into a story of such unspeakable cruelty. Instead of making us connect more to the characters, it feels manipulative and disturbing.

Parents should know that this movie is, even by the standards of its genre, exceptionally violent. The fight scenes are graphic and brutal, with a lot of bone-crunching sound effects and just-short-of-sadistic injuries. Furthermore, the plot of the movie is based on the premise of the most unthinkably atrocious abuse of a child and adult. Characters use strong language. There are sexual references and situations and a brief glimpse of non-sexual nudity.

Families who see this movie should talk about the idea that a young child can be “programmed” as Danny was in this story. Why did Sam and Victoria trust Danny? Why did he trust them? Why did Bart tell Danny that he could keep life simple?

Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy other performances by Jet Li, including Hero and Kiss of the Dragon.

Previous Posts

Interview: Nancy Spielberg and Roberta Grossman of "Above and Beyond"
In 1948, a group of World War II pilots volunteered to fight for Israel in the War of Independence. As members of "Machal" (volunteers from abroad), they not only turned the tide of the wa

posted 1:26:49pm Jan. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Women Talk About Making Movies
The New York Times talked to women in Hollywood about making movies. Some of the highlights: “What’s wrong with bossy? It’s O.K. for a man.” Barbra Streisand, Director (“The Prince of Tid

posted 3:55:17pm Jan. 27, 2015 | read full post »

When The Movie Plays With the Studio Logo
I got a big kick out of the post by Matt Singer from Screen Crush about movies that begin before the beginning by amending the studio's opening logo.   Most recently, of course "The LEGO Movie" did the logo in Legos.  But before that, movies like "Scott Pilgrim," "Cat Ballou," "Alien 3," and "Wate

posted 8:00:10am Jan. 27, 2015 | read full post »

From Hermione to Belle: Emma Watson to Star in Live-Action "Beauty and the Beast"
Disney is working on a new live-action "Beauty and the Beast," a follow to the upcoming "Cinderella," and they have announced that "Harry Potter's" Emma Watson will star as Belle. It will be directed by Bill Condon ("Dreamgirls," "Kinsey"). Watson made the announcement on her Facebook page: “I

posted 12:18:20pm Jan. 26, 2015 | read full post »

SAG Awards 2015
The Screen Actors Guild awards for television and movies in 2014 are in and it looks like Patricia Arquette, Julianne Moore, and J.K. Simmons are in line to bring home Oscars on February 22. The tough one to call right now is Best Actor, down to the wire between Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton.

posted 9:00:38am Jan. 26, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.