Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Love is Strange
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language
Release Date:
08/22/2014

 

Adventure Planet
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:

The November Man
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong violence including a sexual assault, language, sexuality/nudity and brief drug use
Release Date:
August 27, 2014

 

Blended
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language.
Release Date:
May 23, 2014

If I Stay
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some scary images and mild peril
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

Blood Work

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2002

The presence of a Hollywood icon as an actor and director cannot overcome the predictability in the script in “Blood Work.”

Clint Eastwood stars as Terry McCaleb, a veteran FBI profiler similar to Eastwood himself in having an enviable record and struggling to stay in the game for longer that his body wills him. However, while on the verge of capturing a taunting murderer, McCaleb suffers a heart attack and is forced into retirement. Two years later he is slowly recovering from a heart transplant when he is visited by the sister of the woman whose heart now beats in McCaleb’s body. Her sister’s murderer is still on the loose, and she wants McCaleb on the case. He reluctantly agrees and is soon finding clues and getting in danger just as he used to, sometimes being driven along by his lazy fishing neighbor (Jeff Daniels) who mostly plays Watson to McCaleb’s Holmes. And of course, McCaleb has to disobey doctor’s warnings and dodge the bumbling fellow officers to carry out his case, also becoming close to the woman (Wanda DeJesus) and her nephew (Mason Lucero).

The trouble with “Blood Work” is that the believable parts are unsurprising and the surprising parts are unbelievable. Eastwood’s presence hasn’t diminished one bit over the years and his storytelling skills still shine, and Daniels also does a very good job, but the movie is simply never too interesting to anyone who’s seen this kind of film before, especially after they’ve been done so well in Manhunter and The Silence of the Lambs. The film’s climax is probably the most interesting part, but it’s hard to believe that the McCaleb who was so perceptive in the film’s first half wouldn’t have figured out the killer and his/her motive much sooner, which seemed obvious to much of the audience.

Parents should know that this film has some strong language as well as some graphic images (mostly on videotape) of people getting shot. There is also some offscreen sex, and the happening and recovery of the heart attack are well documented.

Families who see this film should ask whether McCaleb felt the need to catch the killer because the murdered woman’s heart saved his life or because he cared about the woman and her nephew.

People who enjoy this movie should check out the Thomas Harris adaptations, as well as Eastwood’s best, Unforgiven and Dirty Harry.

Bloody Sunday

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2002
DVD Release Date:2002

On January 30, 1972, thousands of civil rights demonstrators in Derry (Londonderry), Ireland, held a rally to protest the British Government’s use of internment without due process in Northern Ireland. British military forces were ordered into the unarmed crowd to capture some of the rowdier youths. What followed has been the subject of great debate and a well-known U2 song, but amidst the confusion, the army opened fire on the protestors, killing thirteen and wounding fourteen others. The day became a turning point for the Northern Irish “Troubles” and is attributed with inspiring thousands of new volunteers to the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

As far as subject matter is concerned, many people are more familiar with the U2 song than they are with the actual event or the factors that led to the day. This movie takes a turn at correcting this imbalance by recounting what happened on Bloody Sunday in a powerfully realistic half- drama, half-documentary.

Five characters represent the major forces of the day: a reluctant protest organizer and popular local –Protestant—politician, Ivan Cooper (a mesmerizing performance by James Nesbitt); a seventeen year old Catholic boy, just out of jail and torn between protesting and staying out of trouble, Gerry Donaghy (Declan Duddly); the radioman whose shock and disgust with his fellow soldiers is pitted against his loyalty to the unit, Soldier 027 (Mike Edwards); the dutiful but sympathetically human Brigadier, Patrick MacLellan (Nicholas Farrell); and, the unbending imperialist with the order to end the unrest, Major General Ford (Tim Pigott-Smith). However, it is in the faces of those around these characters where so much of the event is framed: the subtle shift of expression on the face of the Captain of the local police force as the Major General orders soldiers into position; the desperate grimace of an unnamed man as he rushes to resuscitate a corpse; the vacant eyed shock of a man learning of the death of a loved one beneath iridescent hospital lights.

Director Paul Greengrass does an excellent job at crafting a documentary feel for the story, complete with grainy film, jumpy shots, wavering sound and naturally gray light. Reportedly, Greengrass sought out people who were there on January 30th –those who lost loved ones as well as soldiers and bystanders—casting them as extras to add to the verisimilitude. The dialogue might be hard to follow between strong accents and a shifting aural perspective but the result is so realistic that the abrupt ringing of the phone or the crack of gun fire makes you flinch.

Not allowing the viewer to be passive, the movie catches us up in this pivotal day in Ireland’s history. Greengrass chooses not to review events leading to Bloody Sunday beyond passing references, however the moment itself is caught with a moving clarity: whether you agree with Greengrass’ portrayal of controversial events or not, he does a good job of capturing the feel of a society in flux during the early 1970’s and portraying the plight of Derry’s denizens. And, yes, they do play U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” as the credits roll.

Parents should know that this movie depicts a tragic, violent event. The graphic shooting of unarmed protestors is very disturbing and the ensuing images including mayhem and grieving are likely to terrify younger children. Young adults accustomed to Hollywood’s comic book portrayal of violence are likely to be disturbed by the events so realistically framed on 35mm film.

Families who see this film could be discussing it for days. First, from a historical perspective, families might wish to talk about how this movie relates to current news stories about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Both the Major General and the protest organizers work as much as possible with the media. How is the debate being presented to the court of public opinion? How has this changed since Bloody Sunday? When Ivan says that the IRA scored its biggest victory on Bloody Sunday, what does he mean?

Second, families may wish to discuss the ramifications of having military forces in populations that are predominately civilian. For some historical perspective, the paratrooper unit responsible for firing on the crowd –the First Battalion Parachute Regiment—was created in 1940 by Sir Winston Churchill, gaining the nickname “Red Devils” during fighting in Northern Africa, Sicily and France during WWII. In the years before being stationed in Northern Ireland, they were stationed in the Middle East, Aden, Cyprus and other hotspots. With a respected history in combat, the First Battalion considered themselves part of Britain’s fighting elite. Why would this group –trained to face armed enemies—be given a peacekeeping role in Ireland? What friction exists between the Regiment and the local police? What are their respective goals and responsibilities? What lessons might there be for us regarding troops in other urban situations, such as the Balkans or the Middle East?

Greengrass has chosen to film this account with a distinctly “documentary” camera style, intended to make an audience feel like they are there as a witness to history. As a brief notice in the credits mentions, the movie is based on events that did occur, however many of the conversations and characters were created for the purpose of the story. Is it important to the story that the audience think of this film as a documentary? If so, what issues might this raise for Greengrass or other filmmakers when they are presenting stories based on controversial events?

Families who are interested in seeing more on non-violent protest and the difficulties of maintaining peaceful demonstrations in the face of force might wish to watch “Gandhi” (1982). For those who are interested in the theme of mismatch between military units and the political objectives asked of them, “Black Hawk Down” (2001) might be of interest. Those who are interested in seeing more on the Irish Troubles might be interested in director Jim Sheridan’s 1990’s trilogy (“In the Name of the Father”; “Some Mother’s Son”; and, “The Boxer”) or Neil Jordan’s “Michael Collins” (1996). For families who wish to see James Nesbitt in a vastly different role, “Waking Ned Devine” is a lighthearted look at an isolated Irish town far away from Bloody Sunday and, indeed, from any troubles at all.

Barbershop

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2002

“Barbershop” is an unassuming ensemble comedy with a surprisingly gentle and heartfelt center. It is impossible not to be charmed by it.

It all takes place on one day as Calvin (Ice Cube), under a lot of financial pressure, decides to sell his family’s barbershop to the local loan shark and then spends the rest of the day trying to raise the money to buy it back. Meanwhile, two other guys from the neighborhood have stolen an ATM machine, and they spend their day hiding it from the police and trying to break it open.

That’s the plot. But this movie is not about the story. It is about the characters and the community. And, as Calvin learns, that’s what life is all about, too. The barbershop plays a central role in the life of the community, a place where people gather to exchange news and views and just enjoy each other’s company. Calvin has some sense of this when he makes the loan shark promise not to change it. But after the deal is done, the loan shark tells him he will keep it the same only on the outside. He plans to turn it into a “gentlemen’s club.”

As the day goes by, and Calvin’s hopes for raising the money dim, he and the audience are treated to the pleasures of conversation will make you wish you could wander into the barbershop and join in.

Cedric the Entertainer plays Eddie, the irascible, seen-it-all-and-knows-it-all senior barber. Rap star Eve plays Terri, who seems equally concerned by her cheating boyfriend and her missing apple juice. A college student (Sean Patrick Thomas) likes to show off his knowledge and brag about his plans for the future. A two-time loser named Ricky (Michael Ealy) has been given a chance at an honest job, but he is immediately suspected in the ATM theft. A Nigerian immigrant named Dinka (Leonard Howze) is trying to learn his way in America (and let Terri know that he likes her). And a white barber (Troy Garrity) is trying to be accepted by the black employees and customers.

Calvin sees that the barbershop is a place where people can find something to be proud of. He has given Ricky a chance at a job and he gives another young man a haircut to give him confidence for an important job interview. Ultimately, Calvin learns that the barbershop has given him something to be proud of, something he will want to pass on to the child he and his wife are expecting as it was passed on to him by his father.

It is great to see Ice Cube in a role that gives him a chance to show what a fine actor he has become. All of the performances are marvelous, with the give and take of the barbershop conversation playing like a series of great jazz riffs. The slapstick story of the ATM thieves is just a distraction (though it helps to tie things up at the end). We want to be where the characters want to be – in the barbershop.

Parents should know that the movie has mature material, including references to adultery and some strong language, including the n-word. Some comments about early civil rights leaders have been very controversial, even prompting calls that they be edited out of the movie. Parents should know that the comments are made by one character and objected to by the other characters, and they may spark the interest of younger viewers to learn more about the people they have heard about in school. In fact, Rosa Parks was not the first person arrested for refusing to give up a seat reserved for whites, but it was her case that led to the historic Montgomery bus boycott. The discussion of her role may lead to a very worthwhile family conversation about the fact that the civil rights movement — and Ms. Parks’ involvement — was far more complex and extensive than they might think after reading one of the “Rosa was tired” books developed for children.

Families who see this movie should talk about the places that serve as the center of their own communities. Where do people go to see each other and find out what is going on? Where do people go when they need a second chance? Where do they go to hang out and talk about whatever comes into their minds? What do you think about the way everyone treated Isaac? Was it fair? Why did he want to be there when no one seemed to want him? Why do you think people who heard about the movie got so upset over Eddie’s comments?

People who enjoy this movie will also enjoy another movie with great scenes of people just hanging out and talking, “Diner.” They will also enjoy Ice Cube’s fine performances in “Boyz N the Hood” and “Three Kings” (all for mature audiences).

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2002

We don’t ask for much from explosion and chase movies, just some cool explosions and chases, plus some attitude, a couple of lines of snappy dialogue, an interesting bad guy, and a plot that doesn’t get in the way. This movie fails in every category.

It’s always a bad sign when a movie can’t make up its mind what its title is and so goes with two. And it’s an even worse sign when both titles are as dumb as these.

Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu play Ecks and Sever, two brilliant agents who start out on opposite sides and then end up on the same side. There is some assassination device and a kidnapped child and a wife who was supposed to be dead but may still be alive. But mostly, the movie is about shooting and hitting, an endless barrage of bullets and bazookas to a point that is way past mindless fun and on the brink of being pornographic. The dialogue is not quite up to the level of awards-show cue cards, and the score is generic, bass-heavy techno-punk.

“Ballistic” is more video game than movie, though video games have more interesting characters. There is not much dialogue, and what there is is unforgivably dumb. Ecks sees Sever’s warehouse-sized collection of weapons and asks where she got it. She responds, “Some women buy shoes.” In addition to the pretentious fake-clever dialogue, we have pretentious fake-tough and even fake-meaningful dialogue that is even harder to sit through. And there are also endless shots of Lucy Liu shooting huge guns in slow motion, with her hair artistically flowing, plus even more of the usual magically bullet-proof characters who constantly run into gunfire without getting hit but manage to hit the other side every time they fire. It even has the unfathomably stupid cliché of the adversaries stopping in mid-battle to drop all of their hardware on the ground so that they can have a “fair fight.”

Parents should know that the movie has constant graphic violence and brief strong language. The only real strength of the movie is its portrayal of minorities and women as strong, smart, brave, loyal, and honest.

Families who see this movie should talk about the choices people must make when they are faced with enemies who do not follow the rules. How do you fight them without becoming bad guys yourself? Can someone be an agent without putting his or her family at risk?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy better films like “The Transporter.”

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