Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

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

 

Heaven is for Real
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material including some medical situations
Release Date:
April 16, 2014

Boyhood
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use
Release Date:
July 18, 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

Planes: Fire & Rescue
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for action and some peril
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 Contender

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

The Contender” isn’t authentic. It isn’t even credible. It falls just short of preposterous. Now that we have that out of the way, let me say that it is thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable.

The Vice President has died and the President (Jeff Bridges) has to appoint a new one, someone who will underscore his legacy and secure swift confirmation from the Senate. He bypasses the popular Governor Hathaway (William Peterson) in favor of a Senator from Ohio named Laine Hansen (Joan Allen).

As the phone rings, the President on the other end waiting to invite her to the White House, Laine is having an enthusiastic sexual encounter. But it isn’t too spicy after all — it’s with her husband.

Laine, a Democrat, has a lot of support, even from her former-governor father, a Republican. But she has some powerful enemies, including the conservative Congressman Shelly Runyon (Gary Oldman), a Hathaway supporter, who has managed to make himself chairman of the confirmation committee. And when allegations that Laine had sexual relations with several boys at a college fraternity party surface, he leaks them to a Drudge-like website and asks her to respond. Laine refuses, saying that she will not discuss her private life and that there is a double standard because no man would have been asked to respond to such a question.

It is a lot of fun to watch the Washington wheels turn and the spinners spin. Writer-director Rod Lurie (“Deterrence”) has been around Washington enough to get the characters and the vocabulary right. Echoes of the Clarence Thomas and Clinton impeachment hearings give the story some sizzle. Director and stars give the story their best shot, and it moves along briskly. Allen and Bridges give Oscar-quality performances, and supporting players like Sam Elliott, Christian Slater and newcomer Kathryn Morris add depth and sparkle. Oldman, who also co-produced, is almost unrecognizable under a Pappy-Yokum-style hairpiece. He manages the right mix of menace and fervor. If the final turns are a bit Capra-esque, it is still hard to fault the movie for wanting Laine to end up happily, because by then we do, too.

Parents should know that the movie has frank discussions about the allegations against Laine, flashbacks to the fraternity party, and a clothed but explicit sex scene. People use strong language.

Families who see this movie should talk about how much it is fair to expect politicians to reveal to us and how much it is fair to expect from them. They may also want to talk about the challenge presented to Laine back in college and how she responded and whether she is right in saying that a double standard was applied. Families should talk about Laine’s comment that principles are most important when things get tough.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the two all-time best movies about politics, “The Best Man” and “Advise and Consent,” both starring Henry Fonda. They may also like the more recent “The Seduction of Joe Tynan.

The Chocolate War

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:1988

Plot: While Jerry Renault (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) a freshman at Trinity Prep boy’s school, is belittled by the football coach, two boys, Archie (Wally Ward) and Orbie (Dough Hutchison) sit high up in the stands watching them. Archie determines the “assignments” to be given to those boys selected for the school’s elite club, the Vigils, and Orbie is the club secretary. Jerry, whose mother has recently died, is selected for an assignment.

At home, Jerry’s father is remote, still overcome by grief. In school, teacher Brother Leon (John Glover) is tough and imperious. He brutally berates an outstanding student, then tells him, “You passed the toughest test of all — you were true to yourself.”

Brother Leon tells Archie the boys have to sell 20,000 boxes of chocolates for their annual fund-raiser, twice the number from previous years, and at twice the price, to help ensure that he will become headmaster. He won’t refer to the Vigils by name, but acknowledges Archie’s “influence.” Each boy must sell 50 boxes. All of the other boys agree, but Jerry refuses. Brother Leon says that selling is voluntary (“that is the glory of Trinity”), but tells the class that “the true sons of Trinity can pick up your chocolates in the gym. The rest — I pity you.”

It turns out that refusing to sell the chocolate was the “assignment” given to Jerry to prove his worth to the Vigils. But after the time period of the assignment expires, he continues to refuse to participate, despite harassment by the other boys. It gives him a feeling of strength and independence, not just from Brother Leon, but from the Vigils as well. Brother Leon says that sales are poor because the boys have become “infected” by Jerry. Brother Leon tells Archie that “if the sale goes down the drain, you and the Vigils go down the drain. We all go down the drain together.”

The Vigils decide to make the chocolate sale a success by making it popular. “We make it cool to sell the things.” The head of the Vigils tells Archie his position depends on his making his plan work.

At last, all of the chocolates are sold, except for Jerry’s quota. Archie arranges an assembly, with a raffle, the prizes the chance to select the punches in a boxing match between Jerry and a tough boy named Janza. But Archie has to take Janza’s place, and Jerry beats him. Jerry says, “I should have just sold the chocolates, played their game anyway.” Archie is now secretary, and Orbie has taken over assignments for the Vigils.

Discussion: Mature teenagers, especially fans of the popular book by Robert Cormier, will appreciate this dark story, a kind of “Dangerous Liaisons” for teenagers. Archie says that “people are two things, greedy and cruel,” and devises his plans to take advantage of those qualities.

Although the story is exaggerated for satiric effect, much of it will seem true to teenagers, who often feel a heightened sense of proportion. The movie shows us some of Jerry’s dreams or fantasies, which add to the surreal and claustrophobic feeling of the movie.

The movie provides a good basis for a discussion of the different ways that people get other people to do what they want, the exercise of power, and the ways that power is maintained — and lost. The interaction between Brother Leon and Archie is especially interesting, because of their uneasy interdependence. As powerful as both of them seem, they ultimately lose their power without much of a struggle.

Questions for Kids:

· What are the tools that Archie uses to maintain and exercise power? What tools does Brother Leon use?

· How can anyone or any group decide to make something “popular” and “cool” as Archie does with the chocolate sale?

· Why does Archie tell Janza to “use the queer pitch” on Jerry?

· Why does the screenplay have Archie holding an impaled butterfly when he talks to Janza on the phone? Why does Jerry tell the girl she was right?

· What is the significance of the Vigil’s marble test for the person who gives the assignments?

Connections: Read the book by Robert Cormier, and his other popular novel, “I Am the Cheese” (filmed in 1983, and remade in Canada as “Lapse of Memory,” (also known as “Memoire Tranquee”) in 1992. Compare this story to other books and movies about power struggles in a school context, including “Perfect Harmony,” “Lord of the Flies,” “School Ties,” and, for mature high school and college students, “The Lords of Discipline” (rated R), the surrealistic “If…” (1968, rated R) and one of its inspirations, the French film “Zero for Conduct” (1933).

The Cell

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

I think the idea here was to cross “Silence of the Lambs” with “The Matrix.” It’s a story about a serial killer, now in some sort of irreversible catatonia. How can the police find where he has hidden his last victim, who may still be alive? Well, it just so happens that a billionaire whose child is in a mysterious catatonic state has funded one of those mysterious science labs that only exist in movies, lots of sleek corridors and white-coated geniuses and equipment that requires a skin-tight jumpsuit to operate. This one has figured out a way to allow an empathic social worker named Catherine (Jennifer Lopez) to enter the boy’s mind and communicate with him. So the police decide to allow her to see if she can make any progress with the serial killer.

All of this is just an excuse for lots and lots of stunning but often gruesome surreal visual effects that fall somewhere between the hyper-clarity of a nightmare and the claustrophobic grotesquery of a bad acid trip.

The movie is all sensation, no plot, no logic, no meaning, no effort to explore or illuminate. It is filled with juxtapositions that seem more meaningful than they are, creating an illusion of profundity that dissolves before your eyes.

Parents should know that the movie has many gross, upsetting, and scary moments, including child abuse, torture, murder, perversion, mutilation, a terrifying full-immersion baptism, and characters in peril. A character smokes marijuana to calm her nerves.

Families who see this movie should talk about what it would be like to enter someone else’s mind and about the differences in the ways individuals think. They may also want to talk about mental illness, its causes and treatments.

Families who enjoy this movie will also like “The Matrix.”

The Caveman’s Valentine

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2001

Once a brilliant, Julliard-trained musician and composer, Romulus Ledbetter (Samuel L. Jackson) now lives in a cave in the park. He is severely mentally ill. Images of giant moths and fears of an imaginary villain haunt him. But he still loves his wife Sheila (Tamara Tunie), who appears to him in his hallucinations to give him advice, and his daughter Lulu (Aunjanue Ellis), a policewoman.

On Valentine’s Day, Romulus finds the dead body of a young man propped up in a tree near his cave. The police think it was an accident. But Romulus believes the young man was murdered. He wants to find the murderer, even though it means that he will have to brave the real and imagined terrors of society’s daily interactions. He begins to think that the murderer is David Leppenraub (Colm Feore) a well-known artist, a photographer who specializes in homoerotic images of savaged and maimed angels. He knows that no one will listen to him. If he accuses the artist, it will be lost among his paranoid ravings. Romulus has to gather evidence. With some new clothes from a lawyer, bemused by his knowledge of music and a call to an old friend from Julliard, Romulus gets invited to Leppenraub’s home.

Romulus, like Leppenraub, is haunted by nightmare images and obsessions. For Romulus, though, they are madness. For Leppenraub, they are art. Romulus’ fears make people feel discomfort and pity. Leppenraub’s make people feel titillated and clever. Romulus must use his madness to understand the killer, but he must use the part of him that is not mad to put the pieces together and make sure that the killer gets caught. Jackson and director Kasi Lemmons deftly blend Romulus’ internal and external worlds. His rational self is represented by imaginary conversations with his estranged wife (a beautiful performance by Tamara Tunie). Feore as Leppenraub and Anne Magnuson as his sister give multi- layered performances that lend weight and complexity to the story.

Parents should know that the movie has very violent images, including dead and mutilated bodies. Characters use very strong language, and there are heterosexual and homosexual references and situations, including a passionate sexual encounter between two people who hardly know each other.

The movie also includes smoking, drinking, and drug use. The scenes depicting Romulus’ delusions may upset some audience members. His illness causes his family a great deal of loss and pain.

Families who see this movie should talk about mental illness and its causes and treatments. How can family members be supportive without being enablers? They may also want to talk about whether art like Leppenraub’s could be a critical and popular success, as portrayed in the movie. Why would Moira react to Romulus the way she did? Why did Bob react the way he did, and was that right? What are some of the feelings that Lulu has about Romulus?

Families who enjoy this movie will also like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Jackson’s brief but memorable performance as a drug addict in “Jungle Fever” (both for mature audiences).

Previous Posts

How Do Movies Show Time Passing?
Someone once said that movies are "pieces of time." A few take place in "real time." Alfred Hitchcock's experiment, "Rope," unfolds in just the time it takes us to watch it, all in what appears to be one seamless shot. But others take place over days, weeks, years, even generations. Slavko Vorkap

posted 8:00:40am Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Boring TV Makes You Fat
A new study finds that boring television leads to mindless snacking and that leads to putting on pounds. So, watch programs that excite and engage you. Or, if the show is boring, turn off the television.

posted 8:00:05am Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Switched at Birth and the End of Life
I'm a big fan of ABC Family's Switched at Birth and have appreciated its complicated characters, honest and heartfelt relationships, and compelling storylines, as well as its unprecedented, in-depth portrayal of the deaf community. Last week's episode may have been the all-time best (SPOILER ALERT)

posted 3:59:49pm Jul. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Comic-Con 2014
It's here!  San Diego Comic-Con begins Wednesday night in San Diego and I'll be there.  This is my favorite event of the year, a chance to find out what everyone will be watching, listening to, playing, and otherwise enjoying over the next few years.  As I always say, this is the Iowa caucuses of

posted 8:00:20am Jul. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Wish I Was Here
My intention was to review Zach Braff's new film without mentioning the controversy he stirred up in funding it via Kickstarter.  My view was that what mattered was the movie itself, and the kerfluffle over how it was all paid for was beside the point.  But it turns out that it is the point.  "Sc

posted 7:21:07pm Jul. 20, 2014 | 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.