Movie Mom

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Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor
Release Date:
March 27, 2015

 

Unbroken
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for war violence including intense sequences of brutality, and for brief language
Release Date:
December 25, 2014

Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean 3D
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
March 20, 2015

 

Into the Woods
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material
Release Date:
December 25, 2014

Insurgent
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements and brief language
Release Date:
March 20, 2015

 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

How Do Movies Change to Convey Modern Technology?

posted by Nell Minow

I love this exploration of how cinematic storytelling has evolved to reflect the role that technology plays in our lives, especially in the way we absorb and convey information, especially the discussion of the elegant use of text in the “Sherlock” series.

Interview: Robert Kenner of “Merchants of Doubt”

posted by Nell Minow
Copyright 2015 Sony Pictures Classics

Copyright 2015 Sony Pictures Classics

Robert Kenner’s Merchants of Doubt is a deeply unsettling documentary about the way corporations divert money they should be spending on making better products more effectively to spend it instead on undermining science and scientists. By creating fake “public interest” groups with generic names to argue that scientific findings are not sufficient to take action they use the tactics perfected by the tobacco companies to delay government action for decades while people suffer the consequences. These days, that primarily means “selling” the idea that there is not a scientific consensus on the reality and the causes of climate change, but it applies to many other scientific findings as well.  The scientific method is rigorous, checked and counter-checked, and ruthlessly truthful, with no other agenda but the facts.  This is the method that produces all advances in technology and medicine.  These efforts to devalue and undermine science by selling doubt the way corporations sell products obstruct efforts at the most fundamental level to establish policies based on the latest and most documented understandings of how the world works.

Writer/director Robert Kenner (“Food, Inc.”) said that while much of the film focuses on the fossil fuel companies’ efforts to discredit the science of climate change, “It is not about any specific industry. It’s about a group of very talented individuals who honed their craft in tobacco and were able to take the most difficult subject, a product that they knew was cancer causing, and for 50 years maintain doubt about it. They couldn’t say it doesn’t cause cancer because it’s a lie.  They could say,  ‘We don’t have enough science.  We need to do more study.’ It’s the ‘doubt and delay’ tactic.  So, they would switch the subject and say, “You’re taking our freedom away.  We should be allowed to smoke on airplanes.”  We had people picketing at Washington’s National Airport saying, ‘We demand the right to smoke on airplanes. You’re taking our freedom.’ So what’s interesting is on one hand we think of tobacco slightly as an old hat subject but what’s interesting is that playbook that was created lives on exactly the same way today.  What’s so interesting is not only is it a lot of the same people but it’s the same very specific tactics.” He says it is a kind of “anti-Enlightenment.”

The industry-sponsored consultants who fabricate “interest groups” with uncredentialed “experts” are the primary culprits in the film, but one of its most significant and disturbing revelations is the complicit nature of the media, whose reflexive commitment to “showing all sides” means that they will bring on any contrarian without checking the legitimacy of the source, training, expertise, or conflicts of interest. “The real battle here is I don’t think newspapers should be putting people who play scientists on television, quoting them as equals. I think the media is playing a role in encouraging false debate. There’s always going to be one guy out there arguing that the earth is flat but that does not mean the question is not settled.”

So it is especially gratifying to see an exception in the film’s portrayal of two Chicago Tribune investigative reporters who spent two years on a brilliant expose of fraud, misrepresentation, and fake science funded by the tobacco and chemical industries that led to fire retardant regulations that (1) didn’t work and (2) exposed infants to toxic chemicals.

But Kenner points out that there are “fewer and fewer and fewer” news organizations able to devote those kinds of resources to exposing these corporate scams. “There are now 4.5 PR representatives for every journalist. When I started out there were far more journalists than PR Reps. So as people get fired from their newspapers they get hired by the very companies that they might have investigated.”

This should not be a political issue, he says. “I talked to George Schultz and he said the greatest thing he and Ronald Reagan did was the international ozone treaty. He said, ‘We didn’t know 100% but we were in the high 90’s and it was the right thing to do. We had to take action. It was a great insurance policy.’ And Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, and George Bush with acid rain — so there is a tradition of conservative environmental protection. We might all hate the EPA for being such nags, but the air and water are cleaner and so we are lucky they are there.”

He also insists that it is not an anti-corporate film. “It’s really important to say that corporations are in the best position to be the solution.

Want to See A Movie With Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, and Olaf the Snowman’s Josh Gad?

posted by Nell Minow

I am quite fond of a little film from 2008 called “The Rocker,” starring Rainn Wilson. And it’s even more fun now, as three of its actors have become big stars. Wilson plays a drummer who was let go just before his group became hugely successful in 1998. Twenty years later, his life is a mess and he is living with his sister and her husband (Jane Lynch and Jeff Garlin). His nephew (Josh Gad) has a rock group called A.D.D. that will be performing at prom, and they need a drummer. The group takes off — in both senses of the word. Emma Stone plays the group’s bass player. And Bradley Cooper is unrecognizable under a massive wig in a brief but funny as a member of Wilson’s original band, along with Will Arnett and Fred Armisen. The cast also includes Demetri Martin as the director of A.D.D.’s music video, Jason Sudeikis as their manager, and Christina Applegate as the mother of A.D.D.’s frontman, real-life musician Teddy Geiger. It’s a lot of fun and the music is great.

A Rare Interview with Bill Watterson of “Calvin and Hobbes”

posted by Nell Minow

I am a huge fan of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes comic strip and it was a thrill to see so many of the original drawings in the superbly curated show at the Billy Ireland Museum last year.  Now that show’s catalogue, Exploring Calvin and Hobbes: An Exhibition Catalogue, has been published and it is a treasure. Watterson does not do interviews, preferring to let the work speak for itself. But he did agree to an interview with the curator who organized the show, and it is, as expected, wise, witty, and insightful. A portion of the interview ran in Michael Cavna’s Washington Post column. Here’s an excerpt of the excerpt.

As Calvin and Hobbes went on, the writing pushed the drawings into greater complexity. One of the jokes I really like is that the fantasies are drawn more realistically than reality, since that says a lot about what’s going on in Calvin’s head. So that, and my interest in creating a lively sense of animation, forced me to push the flatter, more cartoony and loose designs I started with into a more three-dimensional conception of form and space. If I wanted to draw Calvin from some odd camera angle, I had to visualize him sort of sculpturally, so I could draw it. That’s when you discover that the zigzag shorthand for his hair doesn’t work in perspective very well. Or you find that his tiny little legs are hard to make run, because he hardly has knees. You invent solutions to these sorts of problems, and that gradually changes the appearance of the strip.

Another factor was simply that I got better at drawing as I went along, so I wanted to throw in whatever I was capable of doing. I kept trying to push the art as far as I could, because drawing was the fun part. I was eager to keep raising the bar and discover what else I might be able to do with the strip. By the end, I had a sort of calligraphic brush line I liked and I was very happy with the look of the strip. It looked like what I had in my head.

Previous Posts

Home
"Home" is a cute and colorful movie about an alien invasion with an important safety tip concerning one of the most destructive forces in the universe, something devastating to every known life form.

posted 5:59:44pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Ebertfest 2015
Passes are on sale for Ebertfest 2015!  I'll be there!  From Chaz Ebert's blog: We are opening with Jean-Luc Godard's silent opus in 3D, "Adieu Au Langage" ("Goodbye To Language"). Some have complained that you were against 3D films, but we know that you were against 3D when it was used onl

posted 3:49:39pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Apps for Movie Fans
Geek Dad has a great list of apps for movie lovers, including MoviePass, which gives you unlimited movie tickets for one set fee.  I'd add Flixter from Rotten Tomatoes and of course my favorite, IMDB.

posted 12:15:35pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Pretty Woman -- 25 Years Later
The cast and director of "Pretty Woman" reunited on the Today Show to reminisce about the movie that, improbably, made us root for a predatory finance guy and a prostitute to live happily ever after. They d

posted 1:33:04pm Mar. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Supercut: Gangsters
Movies have been fascinated by gangsters from the beginning, and this stylishly compiled supercut shows us some of the best well worth appreciating not just the art of the actor but also of the director, cinematographer, and production and costume designers.  Don't you think it's time to bring back

posted 8:00:38am Mar. 25, 2015 | read full post »


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