Beliefnet
Movie Mom
New to Theaters
B

Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief strong language and some suggestive images Release Date: May 27, 2016
C

Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade MPAA Rating: Rated PG for rude humor and action Release Date: May 20, 2016
B+

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence, sexuality, nudity, language and brief drug use Release Date: May 20, 2016
New to DVD
Pick of the week
B

The Finest Hours

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

Risen

Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for Biblical violence including some disturbing images Release Date: February 19, 2016
B-

How to be Single

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual content and strong language throughout Release Date: February 12, 2016
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One of my very favorite movie critics is writer/speaker Desson Thomson, whose wonderful new website has an archive of reviews, blog posts, clips from his NPR commentaries, and contact information for groups who’d like to have him do a presentation or workshop. Be sure to read his thoughtful post on the way the faces tell the story in “Refusenik,” a documentary about dissident Jews in the Soviet Union.
Film blog He Shot Cyrus has a “best of” compilation from other movie blogs that is a terrific introduction to some lively and insightful writing about movies just for the pure love of it. It includes a link to the marvelous series on “triple crowners” (performers who have won an Oscar, a Tony, and an Emmy) from pseudonymous blogger J.J. (NOTE: Some strong language and mature content)
LAMB stands for the Large Association of Movie Blogs and is a great place to go to get acquainted with the range of voices and resources.
Two movie blogs I read regularly are Christian Toto’s What Would Toto Watch? and Keith Demko’s Reel Fanatic. And I never miss the witty and illuminating reviews from my friends Willie Waffle, Dustin Putman, and Brandon Fibbs.
Enjoy!

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The Washington Area Film Critics have announced our awards for 2008. “Slumdog Millionaire,” the story of an orphan in India whose correct answers on the local version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” lead to suspicions he was cheating, won not only the top prize for best movie but also awards for direction, screenplay, and the “breakthrough” performance of its young star. Other awards went to the comeback performance by an actor whose troubled past mirrors the struggles of the character he plays (Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler”), to Hollywood’s most distinguished actress (Meryl Streep in “Doubt”), and to the late Heath Ledger in this year’s biggest money-maker, “The Dark Knight”).
Best Film: Slumdog Millionaire/Fox Searchlight
Best Director: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Actor: Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
Best Actress: Meryl Streep (Doubt)
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Best Supporting Actress: Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married)
Best Original Screenplay: Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Animated: Wall?E/Disney&Pixar
Best Documentary: Man on Wire/Magnolia Pictures
Best Foreign Film: Let the Right One In/Magnolia Pictures and Magnet Releasing
Best Ensemble: Doubt/Miramax
Best Breakthrough: Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button/Paramount

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Rock Band and Guitar Hero are two of the most popular video games and many parents like them because they do not involve shooting anyone or blowing things up. Instead they encourage cooperation and build an understanding of music and harmony. But some parents are concerned by the songs, which have the usual rock and roll issues — bad language, sexism, references to sex, violence, and substance abuse.

So I was very pleased to hear about Guitar Praise, It has a song list of over 50 devotional rock tracks from groups like Flyleaf, Skillet, Stellar Kart, tobyMac, Newsboys, Petra, 12 Stones, Spoken, Whitecross, Thousand Foot Krutch, Paul Baloche, David Crowder, and Red and will be a welcome option for many families this Christmas.

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Leverage” is old-fashioned entertainment, a little bit “Mission Impossible,” a little bit “A-Team,” a touch of “It Takes a Thief,” and a lot of fun. It premieres tomorrow night on TNT at 10/9 Central.

Tim Hutton plays Nathan Ford, a former top insurance investigator turned agent of justice, who has assembled a crack team of experts who can turn the tables on any bully or big shot. It plays into the audience’s fantasies about the ability to use all kinds of cool skills, from breaking and entering secured locations via bungee cord or breaking and entering secured data banks and computer systems via hacking. And of course each of the characters has some attitude and some issues along with the skills. I spoke to producer Dean Devlin (“Independence Day”), who created the series, and Aldis Hodge, who plays Alex, the team’s master tech guy.

One of my favorite parts of the pilot episode was the scene filmed in Chicago’s magnificent Millennium Park. How did that come about?

Devlin: When Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech we were all watching it together and going “Hey! That’s where we shot the scene!” When I was young I worked on a film my dad made in Chicago called “My Bodyguard.” I always wanted to go back. We were filming there and had a scene that was supposed to be set in an intersection, but when we saw Millennium Park we had to move it there. It is such a great space. We shot the pilot in Chicago and the rest in LA but we go everywhere in the show.

I liked your episode about the disabled Iraqi war veteran.

Devlin: The actor is a real Iraqi war veteran, stoplossed for years of duty. His manager also manages my wife and James Franco and he said, “I have the real guy.” He was great in the role. I think he will be very successful as an actor.

How did this series come about?

Devlin: I created The Librarian for TNT and when we finished the second one, they asked, “When do I get a series out of you?” I immediately told them I wanted something not heavy, dark, cold, and procedural, which is what we have a lot of on TV right now. I wanted to do very smart, mainstream con stories like “The Hot Rock” and the original “Oceans 11.” I always wanted to do a show about high tech thieves who become modern day Robin Hoods. Coincidentally, John Rogers, who is a top writer, said he was thinking of doing something like those kinds of shows, too.

Aldis, you play a member of a team where everyone has skills that almost amount to a super-power. Which are the most important?

Hodge: One thing I’ve learned is that every skill gets used equally, On some shows some are more necessary than others but everybody is vital. Beth’s character (the fearless, athletic break-in artist) is absolutely crazy. She will jump off any building any time. You also have to have the classic grifter, someone who can convince anybody of her reality. And Eliot (expert in defense and hand to hand combat played by Christian Kane) saves me many times.

How are your tech skills?

Hodge: I can type. I can also do graphic design, art and architecture, super geek, but don’t know how to hack into anyone else’s computer.

Devlin: We hired Apollo Robins to teach us how to be thieves, not just how to steal but to think like a thief. It was so much fun. When he came in everyone would be holding their wrists or checking their wallets, and you could see the actors react start to adopt the pattern of thinking. Beth was the best at pick pocketing. If we don’t get picked up, she has a new career.

This was your first time directing, right? How did you like it?

Devlin: It was an absolute ball. The trick is to surround yourself with good people. We had one of the best scripts ever, an amazingly talented cast, talented director of photography, a phenomenal editor. So all I had to do was say, “Okay, do it again!” “Are we done?” “Can I go home?” “Thank you!”

What did you look for in assembling the cast?
Devlin: Talent! Well, you might say, duh, but these days it is against the trend. More often they want to know who had a sex tape and is really famous. Celebrity has trumped talent. But Michael Wright from TNT is a former actor and I am a former actor and we know what matters is who can act.

We needed people who were going to be outstanding. I had someone else in mind for the role, but the agent kept saying, “You should see this kid.” He knocked it out of the park, really redefined the character for me. And he got the word that he had the part on his 21st birthday.

What was your idea of the character that was so different?

Hodge: I didn’t see him as a geek, He is a nerd, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t see the general geek outlook, to me he was just a person not a character. What I wanted to show was that he loves his job and he loves his life.

You certainly see that in the brief flashback showing him living it up on Mick Jagger’s credit card!

Devlin: Yes, and a shout-out to George Lucas, who gave us permission to put the girls in the “Star Wars” costumes!

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