Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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Lucy
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Noah
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

And So It Goes
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and drug elements
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Sabotage
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

Wish I Was Here
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Transcendence
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

The House of Mirth

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2000

Why is it when we meet we always play this elaborate game?” asks Lily Bart (Gillian Anderson) of Lawrence Selden (Eric Stoltz). The answer is that Lily and Lawrence live in a society that gives them no alternative.

Edith Wharton’s tragic story is about a beautiful, spirited woman who is helpless to overcome the manipulations of others and the cruelly rigid society around her. Lily’s assets are her beauty and charm. She understands the rules of the upper class New York society of 1905 very well. As she tells Lawrence, “a girl must [get married] and a man if he chooses.” She is almost completely dependent on her aunt for money, and she knows that she must find a wealthy man to marry as soon as possible.

But, as she admits, she always does “the right thing at the wrong time.” She comes close to marrying wealthy men three times, but cannot bring herself to go through with it. She loves Lawrence, but because he is not wealthy and must work for a living, she never lets herself think of marrying him. She understands the vulnerability of her position — without a fortune of her own, her reputation must be impeccable. The people around her have “minds like moral flypaper — they can forgive a woman anything but the loss of her good name. Unfortunately, Lily’s inherent honesty makes it impossible for her to realize the treachery and desperation around her. She makes some foolish choices: “We resist the great temptations, but it is the little ones that eventually pull us down.”

Though her only mistake is trusting the wrong people, her reputation is compromised and she owes a great deal of money to a man who betrayed her trust and tried to ruin her reputation. By the time she is willing to accept the proposal of businessman Sim Rosedale (Anthony LaPaglia), he is no longer willing to offer her the position of wife, only mistress. Rosedale has a kind heart, and he likes Lily. But he is a businessman with ambitions of being fully accepted into society, and he can see that Lily is damaged goods. Perhaps her very willingness to accept him makes her less appealing.

Betrayed by almost everyone she knows and shunned by the rest, Lily sees how fragile her position in society is and how unsuited she is for anything else. She must now find a way to support herself, first as secretary/companion to a vulgar social-climber, then as an apprentice in a millinary shop. She makes one last desperate plea for help from her cousin, and considers an even more desperate attempt at blackmail, but that is a “great temptation” she is able to resist.

With first-rate performances and sumptuous period detail, this is a very worthwhile adaptation of Wharton’s novel.

Parents should know that this is much darker than the usual Merchant-Ivory corsets and carriages movie. Lily becomes addicted to a narcotic. A death is a possible suicide, portrayed as the only honorable choice. The issue of a reputation “compromised” by having an affair is an important theme in the movie. A man tricks Lily into allowing him to invest money for her, putting her in his debt so that she will feel obligated to sleep with him.

Martin Scorcese, director of such classics as “Goodfellas,” said that his Wharton adaptation, “The Age of Innocence,” was his most violent film because it was about emotional violence. This, too, is about emotional violence. The betrayals and cruelty and the lack of alternatives may be very upsetting to some viewers.

Families who see this movie should talk about what has and hasn’t changed since the book’s setting, almost a century ago. Why do people tend to develop closed, tightly regulated hierarchies? How does the New York society in the movie compare to, say, high school? Why was it so hard for Lily to do what she knew was necessary to preserve her position in society? Why was it so hard for Lawrence to tell her how he felt?

Families who enjoy this movie should read the book and see “The Age of Innocence.

The Holland Avenue Boys: A Success Story

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades

The “Holland Avenue Boys” are a group of 14 men who grew up on or near Holland Avenue in the Bronx in the late 1940′s and early 1950′s. The “success story” is their enduring friendship and loyalty. With busy working-class parents, some immigrant, they spent most of their time together growing up and raised each other as much as their families did. Indeed, they were a warm and loving family for each other, and they remain that way with annual reunions and with an unbreakable connection of trust and loyalty. The “success story” is the story of that friendship. It gives the “boys” so much pleasure and support that one of the wives says, “My only regret is that I am not one of the Holland Avenue Boys.”

This documentary, made by one of the boys with financial support from some of the others, begins with memories of growing up, endless games of stickball and piling on top of each other. When they got to high school, some of them got jobs, and they always took care of each other. The one who worked at the movie theater let them all in for free and the one who worked at the deli fed them all for almost nothing.

Though they went in many different directions professionally and geographically, they maintained close ties. The 12 surviving boys and family members all speak candidly about their lives. Their trust and affection for the member of the group who made the movie shows as they tell the camera about their successes and failures at home and at work. One confides that he does not like to describe himself as “retired,” so he tells people he is “semi-retired.” Another speaks frankly about grappling with depression when his business got into trouble. Another talks about his divorce, and his pride in maintaining a loving relationship with the mother of his children. One talks about how he feels about not having had children. Another explains that he dreamed of being an engineer until a school guidance counselor told him that he would never get a job because he was Jewish.

One became a distinguished physicist, one a doctor, one a manufacturer. One ran a museum of jazz. One flew missions in Viet Nam and then lived in Morocco helping to set up air defense systems. Through it all, they made many friends and they loved their families, but the connection between the members of the original group remained important to each of them.

Families should watch this movie together and talk about how they define success. Who are the people they feel they could call to ask for anything they needed and get whatever it was without a question? Who feels that way about them? What does it take to sustain a friendship for half a century? It can be especially useful for children to see how important it is to these men to be in touch with people who share their childhood memories. Would you like to be one of the “Holland Avenue boys?” What do you need to do to make sure that the friends you have now stick together that way and for that long?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “The Straight Story.”

The Gunfighter

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1950

Plot: Jimmy Ringo (Gregory Peck) is the fastest gun who ever lived, which makes him a target for every young man who wants to prove himself. On his way to Cayenne, Ringo stops in a bar. A “young squirt” taunts him, and Ringo makes every possible effort to placate him, finally asking the young man’s friends to make him stop, but finally he pulls his gun on Ringo, who kills him. Even though everyone saw that it was in self- defense, the witnesses tell him to move on. The dead man had three brothers, and “they won’t care who drew first.”

The three brothers come after Ringo, but he is waiting for them, and he takes their guns and sends their horses back to town, telling them to go back on foot. But he knows that they will probably follow him instead, and that once he gets to Cayenne, he will only have a brief time to do what he has in mind.

He gets to Cayenne, and is surprised and pleased to find his old friend Mark Strett (Millard Mitchell) as the sheriff. Mark tells him he will have to leave; even though Ringo does not want any trouble, and has not committed any crimes, trouble will come looking for him, as there are too many young men who will risk everything to be able to claim the credit for killing Ringo. Ringo wants to see his wife Peggy and their child. Mark knows where they are but won’t say. He does agree to ask Peggy if she will see Ringo, and tells Ringo to stay put, under the care of the sympathetic bartender (Karl Malden).

Ringo stays quietly in the corner. But every one of the boys in town plays hookey to peer in at him through the saloon window. And the local “squirt,” hot-headed Hunt Bromley (Skip Homier), comes after him. Ringo scares him off with a bluff. But Jerry is across the street with a rifle pointed out the window, sure that Ringo must be the one who killed his son. And the three brothers have found horses and guns and are approaching fast.

Peggy at first refuses to see him. She finally agrees, and when he says he wants to settle down in a place where no one knows him, she says if he can do that for a year, she will join him. He spends some time with his son, and prepares to leave, happy at the thought of his new life. But Hunt is waiting for him, and shoots him in the back.

As Ringo dies, he says that he drew first. He doesn’t want Hunt hanged. He wants him to suffer as he has suffered, knowing that wherever he goes, there will be someone who wants to be known as the man who shot the man who shot Ringo.

Discussion: This is really a Western version of the story of King Midas. Ringo’s wish came true, but at a terrible price. There was a time when he could think of nothing finer, nothing manlier, than being known as the fastest gun in the West. We see a glimmer of that again, when he asks what Jimmy (who does not know that Ringo is his father) thinks of him. When he hears that Jimmy admires Wyatt Earp, he can’t help telling the boy that he is far tougher than Earp. Yet now Ringo is tired. He knows that every moment he will have to watch for someone trying to kill him (as happens throughout this movie), and that someday someone will be a little less tired (or, as happens, a little less honorable) than he is.

It provides a good opportunity for a discussion of notions of manhood and courage, along the lines of the moving speech by Charles Bronson in “The Magnificent Seven.” Ringo would trade all of his fame for the chance to live with his family, as shown most poignantly when he shares a drink with a young rancher. Ringo is more successful with his intelligence than his speed — he is able to avoid shoot-outs with the brothers, with Jerry, and in the first encounter with Hunt. He arranges to have money paid to Peggy without giving away their connection, and thinks of a plausible reason to tell Jimmy why he wanted to see him so that he doesn’t have to tell him the truth. His innate decency and sense of justice are shown in his dealings with Jerry, his dreams for a life with Peggy, and especially in the scene in which he talks to the ladies of the town, when they do not know who he is. His pleasure in being able to have a moment’s interaction with people who are not either terrified, angry, or trying to shoot him is very moving.

This is also a good movie about the consequences of our choices. There are so many movies about redemption and triumph that it is automatically branded an “adult western” when a gunfighter doesn’t shoot the bad guy and ride off into the sunset. Unlike Alan in “The Petrified Forest,” who dies to help someone else, or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid , whose death at the end of the movie only brightens their legend, Ringo chooses to tarnish his legend as he dies, to curse Hunt to the same fate that he suffered, and possibly also to give little boys and young squirts less reason to try to be like him.

Questions for Kids:

· Why does every town have a “young squirt” who wants to prove he is faster than Ringo?

· Why doesn’t Mark carry a gun?

· Why does Ringo insist that he drew on Hunt?

· Why was Mark able to get away and start over, when Ringo and Buck were not?

· Why does Peggy call herself Mrs. Ringo at the end?

Connections: One of the three brothers who come after Ringo was played by Alan Hale, Jr., who went on to play the Captain in the television show “Gilligan’s Island,” and was the son of Alan Hale, Little John in “The Adventures of Robin Hood.”

Compare Ringo’s final decision to the one made by Jimmy Cagney in “Angels with Dirty Faces.” A tough criminal on death row, he is asked by his lifelong friend, a priest, to go to his death a coward, so that the boys who look up to him will not want to follow his example.

The Great Race

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:1965

Dedicated to “Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy,” this movie is both a spoof and a loving tribute to the silent classics, with good guys, bad guys, romance, adventure, slapstick, music, wonderful antique cars, and the biggest pie fight in history. The opening credits are on a series of slides like those in the earliest movies, complete with cheers for the hero and boos for the villain, and a flickering old-fashioned projector that at one point appears to break down. Always dressed in impeccable white, the Great Leslie (Tony Curtis) is a good guy so good that his eyes and teeth literally twinkle. His capable mechanic and assistant is Hezekiah (Keenan Wynn). The bad guy is Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon), assisted by Max (Peter Falk). Like Wile E. Coyote, Fate’s cartoonishly hilarious stunts to stop Leslie inevitably backfire.

After a brief prologue, in which Fate tries to beat Leslie in breaking various speed records, literally trying to torpedo him at one point, they both enter an automobile race from New York to Paris. So does a beautiful reporter (Natalie Wood as Maggie DuBois) trying to prove she can get the story — dressed in an endless series of exquisite ensembles designed by Hollywood legend Edith Head. Great%20Race2.jpg

The race takes them across America, through the Wild West, to a rapidly melting ice floe in the Pacific, and into a European setting that is a cross between a Victor Herbert operetta and “The Prisoner of Zenda,” where a spoiled prince happens to look exactly like Professor Fate and it takes all of the stars to foil an evil Baron (Ross Martin) who wants to use Fate to take over the throne.

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