Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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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

 

Moms' Night Out
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

St. Vincent
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 For mature thematic material including sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use, and for language
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

 

Earth to Echo
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and peril, and mild language
Release Date:
July 3, 2014

Dear White People
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, sexual content and drug use
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

 

Snowpiercer
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for violence, language and drug content
Release Date:
July 2, 2014

Italian for Beginners

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

Six lonely, insecure single people sign up for a beginning Italian class that changes their lives in this small, endearing Danish movie that feels as much like a documentary as like a traditional romantic comedy.

That is because it was made under the auspices of a group of film-makers who have made a commitment to making movies as simply as possible.

The Dogme 95 film-makers have pledged to obey some severe restrictions as a part of their commitment to making movies with more freshness, intimacy, and authenticity than the big-studio productions that they believe interfere with story-telling. They film in real locations, their only props those that are already present. They use minimal additional lighting and do not re-record dialogue. There is no musical score. The best known Dogme 95 films are Lars van Trier’s “Breaking the Waves” and “Dancer in the Dark.” “Italian for Beginners” is the first Dogme 95 romance and the first directed by a woman. One of the Dogme 95 rules is that the movie must not have a director’s credit. But it was directed by its screenwriter, Lone Scherfig.

The movie begins as Andreas (Anders W. Berthelsen), a young, newly ordained minister, is shown around the church he will be taking over temporarily. The current minister has been suspended (later we will find out why), and Andreas is a temporary fill-in. He moves into a hotel managed by Jorgen (Peter Gantzler), a shy man who has two big problems. He has not been able to have sex for four years, and he has been told to fire his best friend, Finn (Lars Kaalund), a handsome man who loves the sports restaurant he manages but cannot manage to be nice to any of the customers.

All three of them end up in the Italian class, along with a beautiful hairdresser and a clumsy bakery shop cashier. The two women, who are both caring for sick, demanding, parents, find out that they have even more in common. And Jorgen learns enough Italian to ask the pretty Italian cook who works with Finn if she would like to come to the class — even though she already speaks Italian. And then, like Shakespearean lovers running off to the woods, they leave Denmark to go to Venice, that most romantic of cities, to sort it all out.

This is the kind of cute concept that Hollywood studios churn out regularly (see Liza Minnelli’s “Stepping Out” for a pretty good example). But Schefberg has the courage to make the story messily un- formulaic. She trusts the audience enough to give us complicated characters coping with great loss and sadness. And here, in Dogme 95’s stripped-down style, the camera puts us so close to the action that we feel we are watching a real story unfold. There are moments of great intimacy, as when the hairdresser allows her hand to caress the side of Finn’s head as she washes his hair, and when Jorgen squats next to the swimming pool to ask advice about his problems with women as Andreas swims laps. And there are moments of great sweetness, as when the Italian cook steps away to consider a marriage proposal, to come racing back with her answer.

Parents should know that the movie is romantic and often comic, but characters cope with some very serious problems, including suicide, mercy killing, fetal alcohol syndrome, impotence, the death of parents, and the consequences of divorce for the adult children.

Scherfig said in an interview that there are no villains in her story, and that one difference between her story and most movies is that most movies made the audience want to be like the characters, while in her movie the characters want to be like the audience. Do you think that is true? What is the significance of Karen’s failed attempts to cut Finn’s hair, and his finally getting it done by someone else? What do we know about Andreas’s late wife that makes us think his new romance will work? Why does it take a trip to Venice to allow the characters to finally take a chance? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of the Dogme 95 style? What kind of stories is it best for, and what kind would it do badly?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Brassed Off” and “The Full Monty.”

Insomnia

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

Detective Dormer (Al Pacino) can’t sleep. He and his partner, Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan), are LA cops on special assignment to investigate the brutal murder of a teen-age girl in tiny Nightmute Alaska. Dormer may have been brought in for his expertise – eager young Nightmute detective Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank) tells him that she did a case study on one of the crimes he solved when she was in school. But Dormer and Eckhart may have been sent to Alaska to keep them out of the way of an Internal Affairs investigation. They are investigators and subjects of investigation at the same time.

This is just the first of many dualities and counterpoints in a complex, thoughtful thriller directed by Christopher Nolan, who gave us last year’s breakthrough hit about an amnesiac searching for his wife’s killer, Memento. Like that movie, “Insomnia” has an impaired main character. We cannot always trust what we see through his eyes.

Neither can he. Shortly after arriving in Nightmute, he asks to be taken to the local high school so that he can interview the dead girl’s boyfriend. The local detectives glance at each other and explain that it is 10 o’clock. Dormer looks out the window and says, “So what?” But it is 10 PM in a time of year when it is light all night long. Images of light and darkness haunt Dormer as he tries to escape the light so he can get some sleep and as he is forced to confront a darkness within himself that draws him both to the killers and to their eradication. It turns out that he and the killer will have a connection that, like the midnight sun, will keep him awake.

Nolan uses everything — the huge frozen vistas, the disorientation of perpetual sunlight, the fog that surrounds their first glimpse of the killer, the names (Dormer is “to sleep” in French, Ellie Burr is a detective whose dedication is a constant irritant). Dormer’s lack of sleep both deconstructs and constructs him. He enters a surreal state in which he is both more and less able to rely on his judgment.

Pacino, Swank, Donovan, and Maura Tierney as a sympathetic hotel proprietor are all first-rate. The movie’s weakest point is Robin Williams in the under-written role of the killer.

Parents should know that the movie has brief but grisly violence, a nude corpse, some creepy sound effects, and some very strong language. There are tense scenes and characters are shot and killed. Characters drink and smoke.

Families who see this movie should talk about the moral compromises Dormer makes and the ways in which people have to balance the ends and the means. What will Ellie do next? Why? Why is the town named “Nightmute?” What do you think about the girl who was killed?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy No Way to Treat a Lady, Strangers on a Train and Memento.

Impostor

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

Even an outstanding cast, some good special effects, and an intriguing idea from a first-rate writer can’t save this sci-fi thriller from a poor script and unimaginative direction. The studio’s lack of confidence and its troubled history is evident in its long-delayed release and obvious cuts to take it from an R to a PG-13.

Gary Sinise, who also co-produced, plays Spencer Olham, a brilliant scientist who has created a devastating weapon to be used in a war against genetically superior aliens. After a romantic weekend in the country with his beautiful doctor wife, Maya (Madeleine Stowe), and on the night he is to greet the head of the global government (Lindsay Crouse).

But an inspector named Hathaway (Vincent D’Onofrio) tells Olham that the plans have changed. Hathaway has intercepted an alien message showing that Olham has been killed and replaced by an alien cyborg construction that so perfectly replicates Olham’s memories and thoughts that even he does not know that he is no longer alive and himself.

If this sounds vaguely like “Blade Runner,” that is because both are based on stories by pioneering visionary sci-fi author Philip K. Dick. Like “Blade Runner,” this story envisions a world in which identity is so blurred that even we do not know who we are.

Unfortunately, though it tries to impersonate a much better movie, its ideas are lost among pedestrian chase scenes, and even a twist at the end cannot make it compelling.

Parents should know that the movie has peril and intense violence, including injury and death for key characters, including parents of young children. We see injured people, including battle victims and a young girl. Characters use strong language. A character is drugged, which makes him hallucinate. There is a very mild sexual situation involving a loving married couple and a brief non-explicit shot of a nursing mother.

Early in the movie, Olham quotes Einstein’s famous comment that “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” Olham is referring to the human capacity to create weapons of mass destruction and mentions J. Robert Oppenheimer, who helped create the bomb that ended the war and demolished the two Japanese cities and tens of thousands of civilians. Families who see this movie might want to learn more about Oppenheimer and his trial for treason and discuss some of the conflicts scientists face.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the vastly superior Blade Runner – The Director’s Cut and may also enjoy other dystopic visions of the future from “Metropolis” to “Judge Dredd.”

Ice Age

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild peril
Movie Release Date:2002

Ice Age” is a clever, funny, and touching story of an unlikely trio of animals who band together to return a human baby to his family.

The story is set when glaciers covered much of the earth, 20,000 years ago. As all of the other animals migrate south in search of food, three characters are moving in the opposite direction. They are a wooly mammoth named Manny (voice of Ray Romano), a sloth named Sid (John Leguizamo), and a saber tooth tiger named Diego (Denis Leary). In classic road movie fashion, they don’t like or trust each other very much at the beginning and the journey becomes a psychological one as they share experiences and confidences that make them see each other – and themselves – very differently.

This does not reach the level of Shrek for wit, there is no romance to keep the grown-ups happy, and the plot has no surprises. But it is told with terrific energy, imagination, visual invention, and humor and it moves along very quickly. Interestingly, the three lead voices are provided by performers who began as stand-up comics rather than actors. Their voices are edgy and distinctive, perfectly matched with their characters.

The computer animation is truly magnificent, from the majestic ice-covered mountains to the acorn treasure toted around by a hilarious squirrel who shows up over and over again in the travels of our heroes. The texture of the fur and feathers, the glint of the sun on ice, and soft sparkle of the snowflakes falling at night are perfectly rendered. The pristine settings convey a sense of vastness and promise that will make grown-up viewers pause to think about whether civilization has been all that civilized. All ages will enjoy the facial expressions, body language and — I have to say it — performances of the ice age mammals, so vivid and so true that you may forget that they are pixels, not people.

Parents should know that the characters face peril several times throughout the movie, and it may be upsetting for younger children. The mother of a young child is killed (off-screen) saving the child’s life. Another character recalls the death of his family. While it is fairly mild on the “Bambi” scale, the issues of human hunting of animals, animal predators, and extinction are raised. A character makes a skeptical comment about “mating for life.” There is some mild diaper humor.

Families who see this movie should talk about what Manny says about members of a herd being willing to risk their lives for each other. Why was it so important for Manny to return the baby, even though the humans had hunted his herd? How did that help to heal some of Manny’s sadness? Why did Diego change his mind about Manny? Why did Manny change his mind about Sid? Was it because of something Sid did or because of something Manny learned about himself, or both? What is different about the way that Diego and Manny react to human attacks?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy learning more about the real Ice Age, and should visit a local natural history museum or look at this virtual tour from the Smithsonian Institution’s museum in Washington. They should take a look at the real cave paintings from that era to see paintings of mammoths and saber tooth tigers by people who really saw them. Families with younger children will also enjoy the “Land Before Time” series of videos and Disney’s “Dinosaur.

Previous Posts

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posted 3:55:57pm Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Wrong About Critics, Wrong About Movies, Wrong About Faith
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posted 2:36:30pm Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Disney Announced a New Animated Film for 2016: Moana
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posted 1:59:28pm Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Manners at the Movie Theater
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posted 8:00:38am Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Ted Melfi of "St. Vincent"
Writer/director Ted Melfi got Bill Murray to appear in his first film by calling him. Murray does not have an agent or a manager. He has an 800 number. And Melfi left message after message until Murray finally called back and asked Melfi to pick him up at the airport. Apparently his pitch skills (an

posted 12:55:48pm Oct. 19, 2014 | read full post »


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