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genre

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quality

  • A+, A, A-
  • B+, B, B-
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  • Kindergarten - 3rd grade
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Happy 4th of July 2014!

posted by Nell Minow

A safe and happy celebration to all!

Life Itself

posted by Nell Minow
A
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for brief sexual images/nudity and language
Movie Release Date:July 4, 2014
A
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated R for brief sexual images/nudity and language
Movie Release Date: July 4, 2014

Roger Ebert, the most influential film critic of all time, gets the film he deserves directed by one of the many filmmakers he championed, Steve James (“Hoop Dreams,” “The Interrupters”).  It is co-produced by Martin Scorsese, whose emotional appearance in […]

Schoolhouse Rock Salutes the American Revolution

posted by Nell Minow

Academy Originals: Hollywood Filmmakers Talk About What Inspires Them

posted by Nell Minow

In this short from the terrific Academy Originals series, Seth Rogen says that it is friendship that is at the center of the stories he likes to write.  [Warning: Some strong language.]  “Academy Originals” is AMPAS’s first original digital series.  […]

Snowpiercer

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for violence, language and drug content
Movie Release Date:July 2, 2014
DVD Release Date:October 20, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence, language and drug content
Movie Release Date: July 2, 2014
DVD Release Date: October 20, 2014

A French graphic novel by Jacques Lob about a post-apocalyptic train containing all that is left of humanity is now the first English-language film from Korean director Joon-ho Bong (“Mother,” “The Host”), with an international cast that includes Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Ed […]

Begin Again

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
Movie Release Date:July 2, 2014
DVD Release Date:October 27, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
Movie Release Date: July 2, 2014
DVD Release Date: October 27, 2014

“It’s delicate,” a songwriter tells a performer who has (literally) amped up her gentle ballad into a power anthem. The songwriter is Greta (Keira Knightly) and the performer (Maroon 5’s Adam Levine) is her ex. They were together for five […]

Tammy

posted by Nell Minow
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language including sexual references
Movie Release Date:July 2, 2014
DVD Release Date:November 11, 2014
C-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language including sexual references
Movie Release Date: July 2, 2014
DVD Release Date: November 11, 2014

Top talent is wasted in this un-funny and disappointing vanity production from Melissa McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone. They wrote it, or, more accurately, assembled it from pieces of other films, some better (“Thelma and Louise”), some even worse […]

Earth to Echo

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some action and peril, and mild language
Movie Release Date:July 3, 2014
DVD Release Date:October 20, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some action and peril, and mild language
Movie Release Date: July 3, 2014
DVD Release Date: October 20, 2014

Three kids go on a wild adventure and make an extra-terrestrial friend in this updated take on films like “E.T.” and “The Goonies.” It being 2014, that means that the found footage genre, pioneered in “The Blair Witch Project” and […]

What Does it Mean to “Throw Like a Girl?”

posted by Nell Minow

Always brought in Lauren Greenfield, is an award-winning American artist, and documentary photographer and filmmaker, to create their #likeagirl videos. What do we think of when we hear “throw like a girl,” “run like a girl,” or “fight like a girl?” […]

An Exquisite Short Film From Legendary Disney Animator Glen Keane

posted by Nell Minow

Glen Keane is one of the all-time greats of old-school hand-drawn animation.  He was responsible for characters like Pocahontas and Ariel.  Much as I love computer-animation, there are some things only a hand can do, and his hand is one […]

A Blessed Ramadan

posted by Nell Minow

Transformers: Age of Extinction

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo
Movie Release Date:June 27, 2014
DVD Release Date:September 29, 2014
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo
Movie Release Date: June 27, 2014
DVD Release Date: September 29, 2014

The script for the new Transformers movie is basically: Noise.  Explosions. Chases. Guy-on-guy fighting.  Transformer-on-Transformer fighting.  Brief pauses for father-teenage daughter conflict, father-boyfriend of the teenage daughter conflict, paranoia-inducing rogue government operatives, paranoia-inducing megalomaniacal one-percenter, and a flicker of a […]

How Do I Feel About the News that Pentatonix Will Appear in “Pitch Perfect 2?”

posted by Nell Minow

This should give you a clue.

Jersey Boys

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language throughout
Movie Release Date:June 20, 2014
DVD Release Date:November 11, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language throughout
Movie Release Date: June 20, 2014
DVD Release Date: November 11, 2014

Winston Churchill famously said that history is written by the victors.  In movie terms, that means that when you see the names of just two of the original Four Seasons listed as the film’s producers, it is clear we are […]

Think Like a Man Too

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material
Movie Release Date:June 20, 2014
DVD Release Date:September 16, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material
Movie Release Date: June 20, 2014
DVD Release Date: September 16, 2014

A romantic comedy based on Steve Harvey’s book of advice for women about relationships has now led to a sequel based on finding the slightest possible premise for getting the gang back together to see if they can create some […]

Coherence

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Not rated
Movie Release Date:June 20, 2014
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Movie Release Date: June 20, 2014

Seriously, don’t read this review until after you’ve seen the movie. The less you know, the more you will enjoy this nifty thriller, which craftily makes the most of its micro-budget to maximize a deliciously mind-bending story. As in all […]

OK Go Has Another Spectacular Video: The Writing’s On the Wall

posted by Nell Minow

OK Go consistently produces the most creative music videos around — and some great songs as well.  Here’s their latest, fun with all kinds of optical illusions, and shot in one take. And, for a refresher, two of my other […]

22 Jump Street

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence
Movie Release Date:June 13, 2014
DVD Release Date:November 18, 2014
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence
Movie Release Date: June 13, 2014
DVD Release Date: November 18, 2014

It can be treacherous to go meta in a sequel, especially in the sequel to movie based on a television series that was already pretty meta, with a climax that included appearances by Johnny Depp and some of the other […]

The Grand Seduction

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some suggestive material and drug references
Movie Release Date:June 13, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some suggestive material and drug references
Movie Release Date: June 13, 2014

This utterly beguiling, comfort-food remake of the French-Canadian film La Grande Seduction is about adorable residents of an impoverished fishing harbor in Canada who come up with a plan to bring a recycling factory and all of its jobs to their town. […]

How to Train Your Dragon 2

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor
Movie Release Date:June 13, 2014
DVD Release Date:November 10, 2014
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor
Movie Release Date: June 13, 2014
DVD Release Date: November 10, 2014

“How to Train Your Dragon 2″ is all fans of the original were hoping and has a good shot at being not just the best animated film of the year but one of the best in any category and for […]

“All By Myself” — Hilarious Video From a Man Stranded Overnight in the Las Vegas Airport

posted by Nell Minow

When I get stuck in an airport, I usually buy trashy magazines and trashier food.  This man made a brilliant video.

Lullaby

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and brief drug use
Movie Release Date:June 13, 2014
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and brief drug use
Movie Release Date: June 13, 2014

An outstanding cast, a weighty subject, and the sincerest of intentions are almost enough to make up for an undercooked, stuntish, and stagey script in this story about a man who decides to die and the family he leaves behind. […]

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Not rated
Movie Release Date:2014
DVD Release Date:June 9, 2014
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Movie Release Date: 2014
DVD Release Date: June 9, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s marvelous “Cosmos” reboot comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray this week and it is well worth adding to every family and classroom library.  It is a very worthy successor to Carl Sagan’s classic PBS series of the […]

Bobby Van Hopping in “Small Town Girl” — the Number that Inspired Hugh Jackman’s Tony Awards Opening Number

posted by Nell Minow

Did you see Hugh Jackman hopping through the opening number on the Tony Awards?  Top that next year NPH!  You might have caught a glimpse of the movie dance Jackman paid tribute to as he hopped by, the wonderful Bobby […]

Edge of Tomorrow

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material
Movie Release Date:June 6, 2014
DVD Release Date:October 7, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material
Movie Release Date: June 6, 2014
DVD Release Date: October 7, 2014

Are there moments you would like to relive, so you could make a different choice? It’s a universal fantasy that has played out many times in books and films. It can be a gift (About Time). It can be a […]

Words and Pictures

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual material including nude sketches, language and some mature thematic material
Movie Release Date:June 6, 2014
DVD Release Date:September 9, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual material including nude sketches, language and some mature thematic material
Movie Release Date: June 6, 2014
DVD Release Date: September 9, 2014

What a refreshing change to have a witty grown-up love story in the midst of summer movie season. Popping up in the middle of monsters, superheroes, and special effects is this endearing romance built around what Shakespeare (and George Orwell) […]

Citizen Koch

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Not rated
Movie Release Date:June 6, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Movie Release Date: June 6, 2014

The 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case opened the door — no, opened the floodgates — to unlimited and unaccountable political spending by corporations and wealthy individuals.  The case itself rose from a film about Hillary Clinton […]

Maleficent

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images
Movie Release Date:May 30, 2014
DVD Release Date:November 3, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images
Movie Release Date: May 30, 2014
DVD Release Date: November 3, 2014

What makes bad guys bad?  We’ve always been told that Sleeping Beauty was cursed at birth by a wicked fairy caught up in a jealous fury because she was not invited to the christening.  In the classic 1959 Disney animated […]

A Million Ways to Die in the West

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, language throughout, some violence and drug material
Movie Release Date:May 30, 2014
DVD Release Date:October 7, 2014
C
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, language throughout, some violence and drug material
Movie Release Date: May 30, 2014
DVD Release Date: October 7, 2014

When Seth MacFarlane tops his unprecedented success on television with three animated series (“Family Guy,” “The Cleveland Show,” “American Dad”) and his first feature film was a blockbuster — the talking teddy bear movie Ted is the highest grossing R […]

Why We Remember: Memorial Day 2014

posted by Nell Minow

For Memorial Day: A Story from I Like Giving

posted by Nell Minow

I Like Giving is a non-profit devoted to inspiring us to be kinder.  For Memorial Day, watch the short video about a veteran in need and a man who helped him, changing both their lives.

Dragons: Defenders of Berk, Part 2

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:NR
Movie Release Date:2014
DVD Release Date:May 26, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: NR
Movie Release Date: 2014
DVD Release Date: May 26, 2014

Get ready for what looks like this summer’s most exciting animated film, “How to Train Your Dragons 2,” with this new DVD/Blu-Ray release from the related television series, “Defenders of Berk.” And here’s a sneak peek at the film!

X-Men: Days of Future Past

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language
Movie Release Date:May 23, 2014
DVD Release Date:October 13, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language
Movie Release Date: May 23, 2014
DVD Release Date: October 13, 2014

X-Men fans will see this film anticipating the pleasure of watching their favorite X-Men characters in one of the comic book series most acclaimed storylines: the time-bending saga of a desperate trip to the past to undo one tragic mistake. […]

Blended

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language.
Movie Release Date:May 23, 2014
DVD Release Date:August 26, 2014
C
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language.
Movie Release Date: May 23, 2014
DVD Release Date: August 26, 2014

Oh, if perennial Razzie-winner Adam Sandler must keep making movies, I suppose they are less terrible when he includes his sweetest co-star, Drew Barrymore. She always brings out the best in him (“The Wedding Singer,” “50 First Dates”). The imperishable […]

Bert and Zachary Levi Remind Us to Put Our Devices Away and Enjoy the Outdoors — Sesame Street

posted by Nell Minow

Many thanks to my friend Leslie Combemale for sharing this adorable reminder that we are better off experiencing the world directly instead of staring at screens.

Pixar Founder John Lasseter Gives the Graduation Speech at CalArts

posted by Nell Minow

“Your voice is worthwhile. Have faith in it.”

Godzilla

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence
Movie Release Date:May 16, 2014
DVD Release Date:September 16, 2014
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence
Movie Release Date: May 16, 2014
DVD Release Date: September 16, 2014

All the basic ingredients are there for a slam-bang summer monster movie.  We have people in helmets and hazmat suits running to try to get away from something scary.  We have a scientist pleading with a military officer to trust […]

Million Dollar Arm

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild language and some suggestive content
Movie Release Date:May 16, 2014
DVD Release Date:October 6, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild language and some suggestive content
Movie Release Date: May 16, 2014
DVD Release Date: October 6, 2014

The folks behind feel-good, based-on-a-true-sports-Cinderella-story, Disney movies “The Rookie” and “Miracle” are back with another.  This time it is the story of a real life Jerry Maguire sports agent named J.B. Bernstein (a terrific Jon Hamm) who has fallen on hard […]

Chef

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language, including some suggestive references
Movie Release Date:May 16, 2014
DVD Release Date:September 29. 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language, including some suggestive references
Movie Release Date: May 16, 2014
DVD Release Date: September 29. 2014

You’re writer/director/actor Jon Favreau.  You’ve been making big-budget films, mostly huge blockbuster successes (“Elf,” “Iron Man”), but also a big-budget bust (Cowboys & Aliens, which I liked).  This might put you in mind of a simpler, more satisfyingly creative time […]

“Duck Dynasty’s” Kay Robertson Talks About Marriage and Motherhood

posted by Nell Minow

Kay Robertson has made a short video for “I am Second” with some frank talk about marriage, motherhood, and her struggles with depression.

Belle

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for thematic elements, some language and brief smoking images
Movie Release Date:May 9, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements, some language and brief smoking images
Movie Release Date: May 9, 2014

Writer Misan Sagay, director Amma Asante, and actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw have created a film of exceptional understanding, honoring the life of the real-life woman who inspired the story with intelligence, sensitivity, and insight that illuminate her time and our own.  Mbatha-Raw […]

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return

posted by Nell Minow
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some scary images and mild peril
Movie Release Date:May 9, 2014
DVD Release Date:August 25, 2014
C-
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some scary images and mild peril
Movie Release Date: May 9, 2014
DVD Release Date: August 25, 2014

“Oh, Toto,” says Dorothy (“Glee’s” Lea Michelle), “This doesn’t look like the Oz I remember.” Tell it, sister. Why why why why why take the most beloved family film of all time, based on a cherished book, and make a […]

Neighbors

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout
Movie Release Date:May 9, 2014
DVD Release Date:September 23, 2014
C
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout
Movie Release Date: May 9, 2014
DVD Release Date: September 23, 2014

I admit it.  My always-thin ability to finds humor in movies about irresponsible jerks who won’t grow up has long since evaporated, and if I ever found irresponsibility entertaining, I can no longer remember why.  Though I suspect this development […]

Fed Up

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for thematic elements including smoking images, and brief mild language
Movie Release Date:May 9, 2014
DVD Release Date:September 9, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements including smoking images, and brief mild language
Movie Release Date: May 9, 2014
DVD Release Date: September 9, 2014

Here’s another inconvenient truth.  Our food is killing us.  And that’s because of something even more poisonous, the corruption of our political system through diversion of corporate money to politicians through campaign contributions and lobbying. Laurie David, producer of the […]

Dark Universe

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:All Ages
MPAA Rating:Not rated
Movie Release Date:May 2, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Movie Release Date: May 2, 2014

“Dark Universe,” currently playing in the planetariums at The Einstein Planetarium of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, is a thrilling […]

Irreplaceable

posted by Nell Minow
F
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:May 6, 2014
F
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
Movie Release Date: May 6, 2014

“Irreplaceable” is indefensible. My parents taught me that you automatically lose an argument if you (1) fail to state the other side’s views in a manner they approve or (2) fail to attribute to the other side the same good […]

Moms’ Night Out

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Movie Release Date:May 9, 2014
DVD Release Date:September 1, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Movie Release Date: May 9, 2014
DVD Release Date: September 1, 2014

It may feel like a kinder, gentler, sweeter version of “Adventures in Babysitting” or “The Hangover,” but this charming story manages to avoid getting syrupy, even when everyone settles down in the midst of chaos for a little talk about […]

May the 4th Be With You! Happy Star Wars Day!

posted by Nell Minow

And catch the Cantina Band auditions, featuring Chris Daughtry, Ben Folds, Liz Phair, Reggie Watts, Mark McGrath, Jordin Sparks, Rick Springfield, Weird Al, Lisa Loeb, and mc chris.

Decoding Annie Parker

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and some sexual content
Movie Release Date:May 2, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and some sexual content
Movie Release Date: May 2, 2014

This is the true story of two women who share a goal but meet just once, for a few moments.  Oscar winner Helen Hunt plays scientist Dr. Mary-Claire King, whose pioneering research led to one of the most significant medical […]

Everyone Gets “Happy”

posted by Nell Minow

I love it when a song and video inspires tributes that pop up all over YouTube.  And Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” an irresistible tune with a simple video of people dancing, has inspired people all over the world to do their […]

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence
Movie Release Date:May 2, 2014
DVD Release Date:August 18, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence
Movie Release Date: May 2, 2014
DVD Release Date: August 18, 2014

This is not the angsty Spidey we know.  Just like the old television series theme song said, Peter Parker is “your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”  We first see him exuberantly swinging through the skyscrapers, deliciously vertiginous in 3D.  His disposition is […]

The Other Woman

posted by Nell Minow
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual references and language (on appeal from the original R rating)
Movie Release Date:April 25, 2014
DVD Release Date:July 29, 2014
C-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual references and language (on appeal from the original R rating)
Movie Release Date: April 25, 2014
DVD Release Date: July 29, 2014

The latest in a female-centered revenge comedy genre that extends from “9 to 5″ through “She-Devil,” “The Other Woman” is intended to be a merry little tale of female empowerment and grrrl power.  Instead it is soggy, haphazard, poorly paced […]

Finding Vivian Maier

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Not rated
Movie Release Date:April 11, 2014
DVD Release Date:July 29, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Movie Release Date: April 11, 2014
DVD Release Date: July 29, 2014

Vivian Maier was a Chicago-area nanny.  Only the children in her care knew how much she loved taking pictures.  After her death, the possessions she had in storage were auctioned off and a man named John Maloof bought some boxes […]

Walking With the Enemy

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Not rated
Movie Release Date:April 28, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Movie Release Date: April 28, 2014

Why do we keep making movies about the Holocaust? Because we are still trying to understand one of the most shocking, inhumane tragedies in history. Because it is the essence of heightened, dramatic storylines, with the most depraved real-life villains, […]

Disney Classic: Funny Little Bunnies

posted by Nell Minow

Celebrate Easter!

posted by Nell Minow

Fading Gigolo

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for some sexual content, language and brief nudity
Movie Release Date:April 19, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for some sexual content, language and brief nudity
Movie Release Date: April 19, 2014

John Turturro wrote, directed, and stars in “Fading Gigolo,” a bittersweet meditation on the ways we seek and hide from intimacy, sometimes at the same time. Turturro plays Fioravante, a florist who works part-time for Murray (Woody Allen), the third-generation […]

Transcendence

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Movie Release Date:April 19, 2014
DVD Release Date:July 22, 2014
C
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Movie Release Date: April 19, 2014
DVD Release Date: July 22, 2014

Think of it as “Her 2: The Revenge of Him.” Or Samantha infected by Heartbleed. Just as in last holiday season’s Her, “Transcendence” is the story of an artificial intelligence contained in a computer program that becomes or is seen […]

Bears

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:April 19, 2014
DVD Release Date:August 12, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: G
Movie Release Date: April 19, 2014
DVD Release Date: August 12, 2014

This year’s Disney Nature release for Earth Day is “Bears,” the story of an Alaskan bear named Sky and her twin cubs, Scout and Amber, their trek from the den where they’ve hibernated all winter to a place where they […]

Heaven is for Real

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for thematic material including some medical situations
Movie Release Date:April 16, 2014
DVD Release Date:July 21, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic material including some medical situations
Movie Release Date: April 16, 2014
DVD Release Date: July 21, 2014

A movie like “Heaven is for Real” requires two different reviews, one for believers/fans of the 1.5 million-volume best-selling book, one for those who are unfamiliar with the book and whose views about faith and heaven and proof may differ […]

Under the Skin

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Rated R for graphic nudity, sexual content, some violence and language
Movie Release Date:April 11, 2014
DVD Release Date:July 15, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for graphic nudity, sexual content, some violence and language
Movie Release Date: April 11, 2014
DVD Release Date: July 15, 2014

This haunting, provocative film is the essence of what it means to call a work of art “adult,” not because of its explicit nudity and sexual situations but because of the way it presents and engages with them. It is […]

Rio 2

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:April 11, 2014
DVD Release Date:July 14, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: G
Movie Release Date: April 11, 2014
DVD Release Date: July 14, 2014

Just because a South American frog has toxic venom that can cause instant death does not mean she cannot be adorably lovesick.  Broadway belter Kristin Chenoweth (“Wicked,” “Glee”) steals the show right under the Brazil nut-cracking beaks of our old […]

Draft Day

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 on appeal for brief strong language and sexual references
Movie Release Date:April 11, 2014
DVD Release Date:September 2, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 on appeal for brief strong language and sexual references
Movie Release Date: April 11, 2014
DVD Release Date: September 2, 2014

How do you choose? That is a critical and daunting question for anyone. And a defining one, too. How can we take what we know now and figure out what we will need in the future? In this film, set […]

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar 3D

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:April 4, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: G
Movie Release Date: April 4, 2014

The people behind the marvelous 3D IMAx Born to be Wild have made another awwww-inspiring story of some of the world’s least-known and most adorable and intriguing creatures, the more than a hundred species of lemurs, found only on the […]

The Unknown Known

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some disturbing images and brief nudity
Movie Release Date:April 3, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some disturbing images and brief nudity
Movie Release Date: April 3, 2014

Errol Morris turns his famous “interrotron” camera on two-time Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for something between a bookend and a counterpoint to his Oscar-winning The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. But this […]

Windy Day by John and Faith Hubley

posted by Nell Minow

This time of year always makes me think of “Windy Day,” one of my favorite short films.  John and Faith Hubley created this wonderfully impressionistic animation using a recording of their daughters playing together as a soundtrack.

Noah

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content
Movie Release Date:March 28, 2014
DVD Release Date:July 28, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content
Movie Release Date: March 28, 2014
DVD Release Date: July 28, 2014

“Noah” is a serious, thoughtful, reverent movie that, like its title character, wrestles with the big issues of morality, survivor guilt, and strengthening a connection to the divine.  It is also a big, grand adventure with drama and special effects. […]

Sabotage

posted by Nell Minow
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Rated R For strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Movie Release Date:March 28, 2014
DVD Release Date:July 22, 2014
D
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R For strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Movie Release Date: March 28, 2014
DVD Release Date: July 22, 2014

“Sabotage” begins with two painful images.  A woman is being horribly tortured.  And Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the man watching it happen on video, is trying to act. As generic as its title, “Sabotage” wastes no time or effort on such, […]

Divergent

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements and some sensuality
Movie Release Date:March 21, 2014
DVD Release Date:August 4, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements and some sensuality
Movie Release Date: March 21, 2014
DVD Release Date: August 4, 2014

Another day, another movie based on darkly dystopic book trilogy with a brave and beautiful teenaged girl who is the only one who can save the world. This time it is Tris (Shailene Woodley), who lives in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, […]

Muppets Most Wanted

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:All Ages
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some mild action
Movie Release Date:March 21, 2014
DVD Release Date:August 11, 2014
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some mild action
Movie Release Date: March 21, 2014
DVD Release Date: August 11, 2014

The Muppets live up to the title in this adorable follow-up that is even truer to the essence of Muppetry than the Jason Segal predecessor because it puts the Muppets themselves at the heart of the story, not the humans. […]

A Birder’s Guide to Everything

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 on appeal for language, sex and drug references, and brief partial nudity
Movie Release Date:March 21, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 on appeal for language, sex and drug references, and brief partial nudity
Movie Release Date: March 21, 2014

First rule: do NOT call them bird watchers. These are seriously ornithophilic teenagers and the correct term is “birder.” Maybe one reason they like birds so much is that the three members of the high school birder society — all […]

LEGO Movie/Simpsons Mash-Up — The Couch

posted by Nell Minow

What do the Simpsons and the LEGO movie characters have in common?  A couch!

The Grand Budapest Hotel

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language, some sexual content, and violence
Movie Release Date:March 8, 2014
DVD Release Date:June 16, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language, some sexual content, and violence
Movie Release Date: March 8, 2014
DVD Release Date: June 16, 2014

Writer/director Wes Anderson loves precious little worlds and his movies are not just created, they are curated. There’s a reason that this film is named for its location, not its characters or plot. Anderson is the master of “saudade,” the […]

Need for Speed

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language
Movie Release Date:March 14, 2014
DVD Release Date:August 4, 2014
C
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language
Movie Release Date: March 14, 2014
DVD Release Date: August 4, 2014

Important tip: If the word “speed” is in the title of the movie, don’t make it over two hours long. And especially, don’t make it feel even longer than that. Clearly going for the “Fast and Furious” vibe with a […]

Veronica Mars

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexuality including references, drug content, violence and some strong language
Movie Release Date:March 14, 2014
DVD Release Date:May 5, 2014
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexuality including references, drug content, violence and some strong language
Movie Release Date: March 14, 2014
DVD Release Date: May 5, 2014

NOTE: I can’t pretend any objectivity here — I am a fan of the television series, a Kickstarter supporter of the film, and a friend of one of the producers.  I think I would have been capable of writing a […]

Long-lost George Lucas “Star Wars” Film

posted by Nell Minow

Esquire has a fascinating story about a short film called “Black Angel,”  “created to accompany The Empire Strikes Back in theaters. It was the directorial debut of Star Wars‘ pioneering set decorator Roger Christian and a special request by the big man himself, […]

Downton Abbey Costumes on Display at Winterthur

posted by Nell Minow

The fabulous museum and garden at Delaware’s Wintherthur is well worth a visit, especially now through January 4, 2015, when 40 costumes from Downton Abbey will be on display.  It is a spectacular show, brilliantly displayed.  It covers the real-life […]

Watch the Oscar-Winning Animated Short Film: Mr. Hublot

posted by Nell Minow

In this charming story, a man finds his life transformed by a robot pet.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some mild action and brief rude humor
Movie Release Date:March 7, 2014
DVD Release Date:October 14, 2014
C
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some mild action and brief rude humor
Movie Release Date: March 7, 2014
DVD Release Date: October 14, 2014

Jay Ward’s irresistibly daffy cartoons of the early 1960’s were charming and witty, with a post-modern meta wink at the fourth wall, wacky puns, and jokes that kids would suddenly remember and understand years later.  This reboot is smarmy, overblown, […]

300: Rise of an Empire

posted by Nell Minow

Here’s a new term: this movie is neither a sequel nor a prequel to 300, the story of the 300 Spartans who died battling the vastly greater army of the Persians. This is a “side-quel,” a “meanwhile” story about what […]

Non-Stop

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some language, sensuality and drug references
Movie Release Date:February 28, 2014
DVD Release Date:June 9, 2014
C
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some language, sensuality and drug references
Movie Release Date: February 28, 2014
DVD Release Date: June 9, 2014

I’ve got nothing against action movies that are dumb fun (see last week’s review of 3 Days to Kill). My bar is pretty low. I don’t ask them to make sense. But “Non-Stop” sinks to a level of ridiculousness that […]

Son of God

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense and bloody depiction of The Crucifixion, and for some sequences of violence
Movie Release Date:February 28, 2014
DVD Release Date:June 2, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense and bloody depiction of The Crucifixion, and for some sequences of violence
Movie Release Date: February 28, 2014
DVD Release Date: June 2, 2014

“Son of God,” re-cut and expanded from the popular miniseries produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, “The Bible,” tells the story of Jesus from birth to crucifixion and resurrection in a thoughtful, reverent, and dignified manner. This is a […]

3 Days to Kill

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 For intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language
Movie Release Date:February 21, 2014
DVD Release Date:May 20, 2014
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 For intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language
Movie Release Date: February 21, 2014
DVD Release Date: May 20, 2014

Kevin Costner is back, big time, with five scheduled releases this year. It’s only February, and this is his second big spies-and-shoot-outs action film of 2014, following Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.  This one, from writer Luc Besson and director McG […]

Pompeii

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense battle sequences, disaster-related action and brief sexual content
Movie Release Date:February 21, 2014
DVD Release Date:May 20, 2014
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense battle sequences, disaster-related action and brief sexual content
Movie Release Date: February 21, 2014
DVD Release Date: May 20, 2014

In 79 AD Mount Vesuvius erupted, wiping out the city of Pompeii. Director Paul W.S. Anderson, who gave us movie versions of “Resident Evil” and “Mortal Kombat,” presents the story as a video game. If what you are looking for […]

If You Build It

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Not rated
Movie Release Date:February 21, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Movie Release Date: February 21, 2014

An idealistic young couple from big cities moves to a tiny, economically depressed town in North Carolina for a project that will take advantage of what they think is “an untapped resource” — teenagers. Emily Polliton, TED talker and co-author […]

Winter’s Tale

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for violence and some sensuality
Movie Release Date:February 14, 2014
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for violence and some sensuality
Movie Release Date: February 14, 2014

“Winter’s Tale,” based on the acclaimed novel by Mark Helprin is deeply romantic but also pretty daffy. There are exquisite images and some grand themes but also some clangers, some murky mishmash in the set-up, poorly designed special effects, and […]

About Last Night

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Rated R for for sexual content, language and brief drug use
Movie Release Date:February 14, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for for sexual content, language and brief drug use
Movie Release Date: February 14, 2014

Kevin Hart, who starred in the surprisingly successful “Ride Along” just last month, is back with a much sharper, funnier comedy that is ideal for making the best use of his brash, motormouth persona. Even more important, for the first […]

LEGO Movie Blooper Reel!

posted by Nell Minow

Original Version: Endless Love

posted by Nell Minow

Scott Spencer’s book Endless Love is, as its title suggests, a deeply romantic story about a teenager utterly swept away by a love that consumes him, and ultimately everyone around him.  When the girl’s father says he cannot see her, he […]

The Jungle Book

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:All Ages
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:1966
DVD Release Date:February 10, 2014
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating: G
Movie Release Date: 1966
DVD Release Date: February 10, 2014

The last animated film personally overseen by Walt Disney  is “The Jungle Book,” inspired by the Rudyard Kipling story of a boy abandoned in the forest who is raised by the animals.  It has some of the most endearing and […]

Original Version: About Last Night…

posted by Nell Minow

First there was a play about what was not then yet called “hookup culture” or “booty calls” by pre-“Glengarry Glen Ross”/”The Verdict” David Mamet.  The title was “Sexual Perversity in Chicago.”  Both the title and the script were softened for […]

The Monuments Men

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some images of war violence and historical smoking
Movie Release Date:February 7, 2014
DVD Release Date:May 19, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some images of war violence and historical smoking
Movie Release Date: February 7, 2014
DVD Release Date: May 19, 2014

Many years ago, my husband and I attended an art auction at which one item was a pencil drawing of a peaceful river setting, made by an Austrian art student in the early 20th century: Adolf Hitler.  The bidding opened […]

The LEGO Movie

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for action and crude humor
Movie Release Date:February 7, 2014
DVD Release Date:June 18, 2014
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for action and crude humor
Movie Release Date: February 7, 2014
DVD Release Date: June 18, 2014

Everything is awesome in this fast, fresh, funny, and utterly adorable movie set in the vast world of LEGOs. Last year at Comic-Con the filmmakers said that there are two great things to do with LEGOs — you can follow […]

LEGOs and Ghostbusters!

posted by Nell Minow

We’re ready to believe you! A fan-designed “Ghostbusters” LEGO kit is officially adopted — not the building, but the cars and the characters.  Who you gonna call?  These guys!

Charlie Chaplin’s 100th Year of Movies

posted by Nell Minow

One hundred years ago this week, British music hall star Charlie Chaplin made his first Hollywood film, the silent “It’s a Living.” It would be a little while before his classic character of the little tramp really came together. He […]

Quaker Parody: What Does George Fox Say?

posted by Nell Minow

The Ylvis song What Does the Fox Say is an international hit and there have been many parodies, like the Kerry Washington skit on SNL.  I love this Quaker tribute to founder George Fox, funny, sweet, and inspiring at the same […]

Labor Day

posted by Nell Minow
D
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for thematic material, brief violence and sexuality
Movie Release Date:January 31, 2014
DVD Release Date:April 29, 2014
D
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic material, brief violence and sexuality
Movie Release Date: January 31, 2014
DVD Release Date: April 29, 2014

On the surface, “Labor Day” feels like would-be Nicholas Sparks, a syrupy romance about two people with damaged hearts finding a healing love in a picturesque setting. But like a pretty chocolate candy with a filling that turns out to […]

That Awkward Moment

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for sexual content and language throughout
Movie Release Date:January 31, 2014
DVD Release Date:May 13, 2014
C
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual content and language throughout
Movie Release Date: January 31, 2014
DVD Release Date: May 13, 2014

A cast of exceptionally appealing performers and some very funny lines are not enough to make this raunchy comedy overcome its essential charmlessness.  At its heart, it wants to be a romantic comedy, a chick flick from the perspective of […]

Adorable “Sweded” Trailers for “The Lego Movie”

posted by Nell Minow

The delightful Be Kind Rewind introduced the concept of “sweding” a film — remaking it with whatever low-tech, analog materials are on hand.  The makers of next week’s “Lego Movie” asked fans to “swede” their trailer and you must see the […]

Evolution of the Dolly Zoom — the “Spielberg Shot”

posted by Nell Minow

Most associated with Steven Spielberg, the “dolly zoom” shot is the vertiginous technique that has the camera moving backward as the lens zooms in.  Here’s a terrific compilation — hold on tight!

Gimme Shelter

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving mistreatment, some drug content, violence, and language, all concerning teens
Movie Release Date:January 24, 2014
DVD Release Date:April 28, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving mistreatment, some drug content, violence, and language, all concerning teens
Movie Release Date: January 24, 2014
DVD Release Date: April 28, 2014

Vanessa Hudgens gives a touching and sensitive performance in this fact-based story of a pregnant, homeless teenager. Both Hudgens and writer/director Ron Krauss moved into a shelter so that they could do justice to the stories of these young women. […]

Let It Go from “Frozen” — in 25 Languages

posted by Nell Minow

And the LA Times explains how they do it. As the film business has become an increasingly global one, [Rick] Dempsey’s job has become ever more complex, with languages in emerging territories added every year. The newest additions include Bengali, […]

It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:All Ages
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:1963
DVD Release Date:January 20, 2014
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating: G
Movie Release Date: 1963
DVD Release Date: January 20, 2014

What could be better than a 2 1/2 hour movie with every comedian and comic actor in Hollywood in a madcap masterpiece about the race to a hidden fortune?  A new Blu-Ray edition with deleted scenes, commentary, and interviews! Directed […]

Smile of the Week: Bringing Rembrandt’s Night Watch to Life

posted by Nell Minow

The Rijksmuseum museum in Holland took one Rembrandt painting from 1642, Night Watch and brought it to life the characters in a busy mall. Thanks to my mom for sending me this one!

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and intense action and brief strong language
Movie Release Date:January 17, 2014
DVD Release Date:June 9, 2014
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and intense action and brief strong language
Movie Release Date: January 17, 2014
DVD Release Date: June 9, 2014

There are three conclusions to draw from this reboot of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan character. First, it plays like an infomercial for NSA access to, well, pretty much everything. Second, no matter how attractive the actors and how thrilling the […]

Ride Along

posted by Nell Minow
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong language,
Movie Release Date:January 17, 2014
DVD Release Date:April 22, 2014
C-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong language,
Movie Release Date: January 17, 2014
DVD Release Date: April 22, 2014

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart have such a devoted fan base that they can count on them to buy a ticket to anything they do, and that is pretty much what they have done here in a generic buddy cop […]

The Nut Job

posted by Nell Minow
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Movie Release Date:January 17, 2014
DVD Release Date:April 15, 2014
C-
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Movie Release Date: January 17, 2014
DVD Release Date: April 15, 2014

I miss the days when the economics of animation were so daunting that we were assured a certain level of quality. Yes, there were some low points that don’t even qualify for a Disney re-issue (I could find some affection […]

G.B.F.

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for sexual references
Movie Release Date:2013
DVD Release Date:January 11, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual references
Movie Release Date: 2013
DVD Release Date: January 11, 2014

Writer George Northy and director Darren Stein manage to subvert and salute the traditions of the high school comedy in this smart, fresh, and funny story that shakes up the classic elements of teen movies but recognizes their eternal verities. […]

Smile of the Week: Instructions for a Bad Day

posted by Nell Minow

A compilation of worldwide YouTube content, the crowd-sourced documentary “Life in a Day” by Kevin Macdonald, and local footage by Jon Goodgion. Audio is the spoken word poem “Instructions For a Bad Day” by Shane Koyczan.

The Legend of Hercules

posted by Nell Minow
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense combat action and violence, and for some sensuality
Movie Release Date:January 10, 2014
DVD Release Date:April 29, 2014
C-
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense combat action and violence, and for some sensuality
Movie Release Date: January 10, 2014
DVD Release Date: April 29, 2014

Director Renny Harlin has made a Hercules epic with drab, washed-out cinematography, poorly staged action scenes, incompetent acting, bad hair, terrible computer effects, and dialogue that lands more heavily than the title character’s punch. Even at just over 90 minutes […]

Lone Survivor

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong bloody war violence and pervasive language
Movie Release Date:January 10, 2014
DVD Release Date:June 3, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong bloody war violence and pervasive language
Movie Release Date: January 10, 2014
DVD Release Date: June 3, 2014

Director Peter Berg is as good as it gets when it comes to putting a particular kind of male chemistry on screen. If he was writing instead of filming, he would dunk his pen in testosterone, beard stubble, and sweat. […]

New from “Muppets Most Wanted” — Across the Internet

posted by Nell Minow

The Cast of “The Good Wife” Dances to Thicky Trick

posted by Nell Minow

Here’s a treat to warm up this cold snap!  This week’s case on “The Good Wife” concerned the use of a song on a “Glee”-style television show.  The cast decided to engage in some very un-courtroom-like behavior.  I got a […]

1976: Hunt vs. Lauda

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:NR
Movie Release Date:2013
DVD Release Date:January 7, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: NR
Movie Release Date: 2013
DVD Release Date: January 7, 2014

Ron Howard’s “Rush” was the story of the Formula One rivalry between the reckless and handsome James Hunt from Great Britain and the cool, hyper-rational Niki Lauda from Austria. In the extraordinary season of 1976, Lauda was in a terrible […]

Puppies and Kittens Re-Enact Movies: Adorable

posted by Nell Minow

From The Pet Collective: Kittens star in “The Lion King.” And puppies re-enact “Elf.”

USAF: The Holly and the Ivy

posted by Nell Minow

Muppet Christmas: Carol of the Bells

posted by Nell Minow

The Wolf of Wall Street

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Rated R for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence
Movie Release Date:December 25, 2013
DVD Release Date:March 28, 2014
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence
Movie Release Date: December 25, 2013
DVD Release Date: March 28, 2014

Jordan Belfort is a selling machine the way a shark is a killing machine.  Every single element of his being is optimally designed for just one purpose, with no extraneous or pesky attributes like a conscience to slow him down. […]

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some crude comments, language and action violence
Movie Release Date:December 25, 2013
DVD Release Date:April 15, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some crude comments, language and action violence
Movie Release Date: December 25, 2013
DVD Release Date: April 15, 2014

We all know what it feels like to be Walter Mitty, imagining ourselves as achievers and darers far beyond our normal lives. The original short story by James Thurber is about a middle-aged, hen-pecked man who daydreams about dashing adventures […]

Her

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language, sexual content, and brief graphic nudity
Movie Release Date:December 25, 2013
DVD Release Date:May 12, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language, sexual content, and brief graphic nudity
Movie Release Date: December 25, 2013
DVD Release Date: May 12, 2014

“Transition objects” are usually thought of as the stuffed toys toddlers hold onto so as a way of feeling more secure as they begin to separate from their parents and navigate the bigger world.  But we all have them.  We […]

Grudge Match

posted by Nell Minow
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language
Movie Release Date:December 25, 2013
DVD Release Date:April 8, 2014
D
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language
Movie Release Date: December 25, 2013
DVD Release Date: April 8, 2014

Not that this is going to come as a surprise to anyone, but this movie is not just bad, it is sad.  The stars of two of the greatest boxing movies of all time are not just slumming here.  They […]

A Visit From Saint Nicholas: Disney Version

posted by Nell Minow

The Original Version: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

posted by Nell Minow

Humorist James Thurber’s most famous short story is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Like most of Thurber’s male characters, he was a milktoast, shy, repressed, and hen-pecked. On a shopping expedition with his wife, he daydreamed of adventure and […]

Walking with Dinosaurs 3D

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for creature action and peril, and mild rude humor
Movie Release Date:December 20, 2013
DVD Release Date:March 24, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for creature action and peril, and mild rude humor
Movie Release Date: December 20, 2013
DVD Release Date: March 24, 2014

Dinosaur movies pretty much all have the same plot.  Unless it is a fantasy like “Jurassic Park,” the story is pretty simple: the dinos have to migrate and there are a lot of encounters and adventures along the way. What […]

American Hustle

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence
Movie Release Date:December 25, 2013
DVD Release Date:March 18, 2014
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence
Movie Release Date: December 25, 2013
DVD Release Date: March 18, 2014

“Some of this actually happened,” the movie’s opening shot deadpans.  It is true that the United States government both threatened and paid a con man to help them con some bigger fish and then accidentally ended up conning some of […]

Inside Llewyn Davis

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language including some sexual references
Movie Release Date:December 20, 2013
DVD Release Date:March 10, 2014
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language including some sexual references
Movie Release Date: December 20, 2013
DVD Release Date: March 10, 2014

Oscar Isaac gives the best performance of the year as the title character in the most intimate and profound movie yet from the Coen brothers.  The story is set in the New York folk music world of 1961 and the […]

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 For crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence
Movie Release Date:December 18, 2013
DVD Release Date:March 31, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 For crude and sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence
Movie Release Date: December 18, 2013
DVD Release Date: March 31, 2014

Will Ferrell and his crew beat the sophomore slump with just the right mix of stuff we want to see again (yes, there will be jazz flute, a rumble with the other news teams featuring wildly improbable surprise guest stars […]

Contest

posted by Nell Minow

“Contest” more than makes up for some first-time-filmmaker shortcomings with its sincerity and unexpected strengths in the storyline and cinematography. Tommy (Danny Flaherty) is a high school loner, often bullied by the swim team jocks led by Matt (Kenton Duty). […]

Saving Mr. Banks

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 For thematic elements including some unsettling images
Movie Release Date:December 13, 2013
DVD Release Date:March 18, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 For thematic elements including some unsettling images
Movie Release Date: December 13, 2013
DVD Release Date: March 18, 2014

For most of this story, Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) are on opposite sides.  He has been trying for twenty years to persuade her to let him make a movie based on her books about the […]

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 For extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Movie Release Date:December 13, 2013
DVD Release Date:April 7, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 For extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Movie Release Date: December 13, 2013
DVD Release Date: April 7, 2014

Everybody ups his game in this second of the three-part Peter Jackson version of J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit; or, There and Back Again.  The first one courageously tried out the new hyper-clear technology with twice as many frames per second […]

Sesame Street Does “The Hunger Games”

posted by Nell Minow

Out of the Furnace

posted by Nell Minow
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R For strong violence, language and drug content
Movie Release Date:December 6, 2013
DVD Release Date:March 11, 2014
C-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R For strong violence, language and drug content
Movie Release Date: December 6, 2013
DVD Release Date: March 11, 2014

“Out of the Furnace” gets no credit for its good intentions because it collapses under the combined weight of pretentiousness and condescension. This is Hollywood’s idea of a searing drama about life in recession-era heartland, as phony as a painted […]

One-Line Movies With the Year’s Best Actors

posted by Nell Minow

The actors who created some of this year’s most intriguing performances each appear in a eleven original (very) short films directed by Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski.  The one-line scripts are from the year’s best screenwriters, from Lake Bell of “In a […]

Thanksgiving and Hannukah! Together Tonight!

posted by Nell Minow

Enjoy! They won’t be on the same day again for about 70 thousand years.

Happy Thanksgiving — Alice’s Restaurant

posted by Nell Minow

Arlo Guthrie sings about an unforgettable Thanksgiving.

Black Nativity

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for thematic material, language, and a menacing situation
Movie Release Date:November 27, 2013
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic material, language, and a menacing situation
Movie Release Date: November 27, 2013

The poet Langston Hughes wrote a play called “Black Nativity,” a joyous African-American retelling of the story of the birth of Jesus with gospel music, and it has become a holiday perennial. Now it has been adapted by writer/director Kasi […]

Frozen

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some action and mild rude humor
Movie Release Date:November 27, 2013
DVD Release Date:March 17, 2014
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some action and mild rude humor
Movie Release Date: November 27, 2013
DVD Release Date: March 17, 2014

Smart, exciting, funny, sweet, tuneful, and gorgeously animated, the Oscar-winning “Frozen” adapts Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale into a story of two sisters kept apart by a scary secret.  Scary wolves, an enormous snow monster, a perilous journey, a […]

Philomena

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 on appeal for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references
Movie Release Date:November 22, 2013
DVD Release Date:April 14, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 on appeal for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references
Movie Release Date: November 22, 2013
DVD Release Date: April 14, 2014

Dame Judi Dench has played many strong-minded, determined characters, from Queens (Victoria and Elizabeth I) to the even more imperious head of the MI6 who can take on James Bond with an air of crisp authority.  As the title character […]

What’s the Worst Toy of 2013?

posted by Nell Minow

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has come up with another list of the most dreadful and appalling children’s toys of the year.  Take a look at these horrible products and cast your vote for the CCFC’s TOADY award. 2013 […]

Cute Clip from “The Naughty List”

posted by Nell Minow

I’m delighted to present a clip from the cute new holiday film, The Naughty List. Two young elves, Winter and Snowflake, have a hard time following the rules and are prone to sneaking off for some good elf playtime. But […]

Delivery Man

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, some drug material, brief violence and language
Movie Release Date: November 22, 2013

The undeniable sweetness of “Delivery Man” makes its inherent silliness just about forgivable.  Or, it just might be the sense of relief that Vince Vaughn is finally making a movie that is just silly instead of crass and stupid like “Couples […]

The Christmas Candle

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild thematic elements
Movie Release Date:November 22, 2013
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild thematic elements
Movie Release Date: November 22, 2013

Former Presidential candidate Rick Santorum is now in the faith-based movie business and his first film is based on The Christmas Candle by Max Lucado. Just before the holidays, a progressive young clergyman named David (Hans Matheson) takes over a […]

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language
Movie Release Date:November 23, 2013
DVD Release Date:March 4, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language
Movie Release Date: November 23, 2013
DVD Release Date: March 4, 2014

In the second chapter of the three-book, four-movie series, Katniss Everdeen has gone from being a shy unknown with extraordinary skills to being an acclaimed superstar. The same could be said for the actress who plays the part. When Jennifer […]

The Newseum Pays Tribute to Legendary Anchorman Ron Burgundy

posted by Nell Minow

Life imitates art imitating life! Washington D.C.’s Newseum, the museum of journalism, plays tribute to legendary (if fictional) anchorman Ron Burgundy. “Anchorman 2” opens next month.

Paradise

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual material, substance abuse, some language, and thematic elements
Movie Release Date:November 15, 2013
B
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual material, substance abuse, some language, and thematic elements
Movie Release Date: November 15, 2013

Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (“Juno”) tries directing for the first time with “Paradise,” based on her own script about a girl from a very conservative religious background whose faith is challenged after a terrible accident.  Even she acknowledges that she […]

The Book Thief

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some violence and intense depiction of thematic material
Movie Release Date:November 15, 2013
DVD Release Date:March 11, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some violence and intense depiction of thematic material
Movie Release Date: November 15, 2013
DVD Release Date: March 11, 2014

The title character in “The Book Thief” is Liesel (Sophie Nélisse), a little girl in pre-WWII Germany.  We first see her on a train with her mother and dying younger brother.  The children were both going to be delivered to […]

Turbo in Sixty Seconds

posted by Nell Minow

Watch a 60-second version of my Pick of the Week, the cute “Turbo” about the NASCAR racing snail.

Veteran’s Day 2013

posted by Nell Minow

Smile of the Week: Watch This Guy Dance

posted by Nell Minow

Dallas Buyers Club

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:November 8, 2013
DVD Release Date:January 28, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date: November 8, 2013
DVD Release Date: January 28, 2014

Matthew McConaughey lost nearly 40 pounds to play Ron Woodroof, a good-time party animal and homophobic Texas cowboy who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986 and given a month to live.  This was in the early days, before safe and […]

Thor: The Dark World

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 For sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content
Movie Release Date:November 8, 2013
DVD Release Date:February 25, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 For sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content
Movie Release Date: November 8, 2013
DVD Release Date: February 25, 2014

I always say that superhero movies are defined by their villains, and “Thor: The Dark World” has a lulu in Tom Hiddleston‘s Loki, who was not as vanquished at the end of “The Avengers” as we thought.  Thank goodness. Loki, […]

The Real Story: The Man Who Inspired “Apocalypse Now”

posted by Nell Minow

Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam story Apocalypse Now was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s book, Heart of Darkness, about the disintegration into madness of a man who goes into the jungle.  It was an apt metaphor in the days of the Southeast Asian […]

Last Vegas

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language
Movie Release Date:November 1, 2013
DVD Release Date:January 28, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language
Movie Release Date: November 1, 2013
DVD Release Date: January 28, 2014

Oscar-winning actors are a precious commodity, usually doled out no more than one or two per movie.  But in this AARP-version of “The Hangover” crossed with “Ferris Bueller,” there are five, and the greatest pleasure of this film is in […]

Ender’s Game

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some violence, sci-fi action and thematic material
Movie Release Date:November 1, 2013
DVD Release Date:February 11, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some violence, sci-fi action and thematic material
Movie Release Date: November 1, 2013
DVD Release Date: February 11, 2014

Director Gavin Hood (“Tsotsi”) has skillfully adapted the Nebula and Hugo award-winning novel about a boy who leads an interplanetary battle against insect-like aliens, doing justice both to the fun of the sci-fi action and to the seriousness of the […]

About Time

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and some sexual content
Movie Release Date:November 1, 2013
DVD Release Date:February 3, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and some sexual content
Movie Release Date: November 1, 2013
DVD Release Date: February 3, 2014

Richard Curtis perfected the art of the 21st century romantic comedy in “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Notting Hill,” and “Love Actually.”  They were witty and sophisticated and had posh British accents that made them seem twice as witty and […]

Free Birds

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some action/peril and rude humor
Movie Release Date:November 2, 2013
DVD Release Date:January 28, 2014
C
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some action/peril and rude humor
Movie Release Date: November 2, 2013
DVD Release Date: January 28, 2014

Maybe it’s just me, but I think this may be the worst idea for a movie intended for children I have heard since the one about the kid bank robber. Does anyone think it makes sense to horrify children just […]

Happy Halloween from Casper and Wendy!

posted by Nell Minow

Paul McCartney’s New Song — With a Little Help from His Friends

posted by Nell Minow

Paul McCartney invites some friends to dance to his new song, “Queenie Eye.” Watch out for: Meryl Streep, Jude Law, Kate Moss, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, Chris Pine, and…..?

The Counselor

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Rated R for graphic violence, some grisly images, strong sexual content and language
Movie Release Date:October 25, 2013
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for graphic violence, some grisly images, strong sexual content and language
Movie Release Date: October 25, 2013

Cormac McCarthy’s spare, bleak, and very literary prose has made for some compelling cinema, most effectively in No Country for Old Men and The Road and the adaption of his play for an HBO movie, The Sunset Limited.  In his first original […]

Smile of the Week: Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” Delights a Crowd

posted by Nell Minow

12 Years a Slave

posted by Nell Minow
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for violence/cruelty, some nudity and brief sexuality
Movie Release Date:October 18, 2013
DVD Release Date:March 3, 2014
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence/cruelty, some nudity and brief sexuality
Movie Release Date: October 18, 2013
DVD Release Date: March 3, 2014

Watching “12 Years a Slave” is a shattering experience. It shatters any remaining illusions of gracious, chivalrous, Southern plantation life in the pre-Civil War era.  They were based on the late 19th century myth-making from the children of slave-owners in […]

The Fifth Estate

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and some violence
Movie Release Date:October 18, 2013
B
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and some violence
Movie Release Date: October 18, 2013

In late medieval times, when people first began to divide each other into groups defined by status and power, they began to speak of a “first estate” (the clergy), a “second estate” (the nobility, which also at the time meant […]

Escape Plan

posted by Nell Minow

At 90 minutes or less and with some sense of its own silly preposterousness, the aging action stars might have made this prison break movie work. But at almost two hours, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger seem a little out […]

Carrie

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content
Movie Release Date:October 18, 2013
DVD Release Date:January 14, 2014
C
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content
Movie Release Date: October 18, 2013
DVD Release Date: January 14, 2014

The remake of “Carrie” is not a bad movie; it’s just a completely unnecessary one.  The 1976 original is a horror classic, directed by Brian de Palma and the first film based on a novel by Stephen King, just 26 years […]

Smile of the Week: Miley Cyrus and The Roots

posted by Nell Minow

I just want the Roots to play on every song ever.

Captain Phillips

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance use
Movie Release Date:October 11, 2013
DVD Release Date:January 21, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance use
Movie Release Date: October 11, 2013
DVD Release Date: January 21, 2014

Memorable movie villains tend to fall into two categories: volatile and violent or sociopathic and megalomaniac. Both kinds are caricatures, sketched in exaggerated terms to justify our feeling of triumph when the hero prevails. But in “Captain Phillips,” the true […]

Romeo & Juliet

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements
Movie Release Date:October 11, 2013
C
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements
Movie Release Date: October 11, 2013

William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is the most-filmed play of all time, with dozens of versions and variations from the sublime (the Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann versions, “West Side Story” and “Shakespeare in Love”) to the outlandish (the cute […]

The Snow Queen

posted by Nell Minow
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG
Movie Release Date:October 6, 2013
C-
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
Movie Release Date: October 6, 2013

It may be a coincidence that a Russian animation studio decided to make a movie based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the Snow Queen at the same time as Disney’s big-budget feature, “Frozen,” inspired by the same […]

A.C.O.D.

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and brief sexual content
Movie Release Date:October 4, 2013
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and brief sexual content
Movie Release Date: October 4, 2013

Are today’s 20-and 30-somethings the least-parented generation in history, as a character explains in this film? To quote Rosie O’Donnell in “Sleepless in Seattle” about another depressing statistic, “It’s not true, but it feels true.” While the generation that came […]

Gravity

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images, and brief strong language
Movie Release Date:October 4, 2013
DVD Release Date:February 24, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images, and brief strong language
Movie Release Date: October 4, 2013
DVD Release Date: February 24, 2014

In space, there is no oxygen and no sound. There is no up or down. Everything is weightless. When you cry, the tears float away instead of running down your cheeks. “Gravity” is one of the once-to-a-generation films that transform […]

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rate PG for mild rude humor
Movie Release Date:September 27, 2013
DVD Release Date:January 28, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rate PG for mild rude humor
Movie Release Date: September 27, 2013
DVD Release Date: January 28, 2014

Who would have guessed that the brightest and funniest and most heartwarming animated film of the year would not be from Pixar or Disney but Sony?  And that to boot it would be a sequel, or, perhaps given the subject […]

Smile of the Week: The Surprising Secret of Happiness

posted by Nell Minow

SoulPancake has performed a heartwarming experiment that proves a surprising path to happiness.  Watch it; I promise you’ll be grateful.

Don Jon

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong graphic sexual material and dialogue throughout, nudity, language and some drug use
Movie Release Date:September 27, 2013
DVD Release Date:December 31, 2013
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong graphic sexual material and dialogue throughout, nudity, language and some drug use
Movie Release Date: September 27, 2013
DVD Release Date: December 31, 2013

Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt has made a remarkably assured debut as writer/director, putting him in the front ranks of today’s filmmakers. Gordon-Levitt also plays the lead role, Jon, a New Jersey guy with a high and tight haircut and a spare […]

Rush

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for sexual content, nudity, language, some disturbing images and brief drug use
Movie Release Date:September 27, 2013
DVD Release Date:January 29, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual content, nudity, language, some disturbing images and brief drug use
Movie Release Date: September 27, 2013
DVD Release Date: January 29, 2014

The immensely gifted screenwriter Peter Morgan reunites with his “Frost/Nixon” director Ron Howard and returns to his favorite theme, a real-life drama about the clash between two brilliantly talented but flawed figures. This time it is the bitter rivalry between […]

Smile of the Week: Giving

posted by Nell Minow

This one is a smile-through-tears of the week.  Just lovely.

Prisoners

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for disturbing violent content including torture and language throughout
Movie Release Date:September 20, 2013
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for disturbing violent content including torture and language throughout
Movie Release Date: September 20, 2013

The subject matter of the movie “Prisoners”– parents desperately searching for their kidnapped little girls– is so potent that it requires a strong, sure director to maintain control.  Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (“Incendies”), in his first Hollywood feature film, is […]

Thanks for Sharing

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and strong sexual content
Movie Release Date:September 20, 2013
DVD Release Date:January 7, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and strong sexual content
Movie Release Date: September 20, 2013
DVD Release Date: January 7, 2014

Imagine that the one thing you cannot trust yourself to be near is around you all the time, wherever you go.  As difficult as it is to recover from addiction to drugs or gambling or alcohol, at least those in […]

Happy Birthday to the US Constitution!

posted by Nell Minow

The US Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1797.  

World War Z

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images
Movie Release Date:June 21, 2013
DVD Release Date:September 17, 2013
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images
Movie Release Date: June 21, 2013
DVD Release Date: September 17, 2013

There are going to be a lot of superheroes on screen this summer, but none of them are as super as Gerry Lane a former investigator for the UN called back into action to fight the zombie apocalypse. No superhero […]

The Family

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for violence, language, and brief sexuality
Movie Release Date:October 13, 2013
DVD Release Date:December 20, 2013
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence, language, and brief sexuality
Movie Release Date: October 13, 2013
DVD Release Date: December 20, 2013

“Anybody who doesn’t contradict me can expect nothing but good things,” “Fred Blake” (Robert De Niro) explains in item 10 of his David Letterman-style countdown of what he considers his best qualities.  Fred is his current nom de witness protection. […]

Movies To Help You Forgive

posted by Nell Minow

The Forgiveness Project has assembled some touching and inspiring films about the issues we face around forgiveness, asking for it and giving it. In this film, people find ways to forgive the unforgivable. “No matter which side of the conflict […]

Getaway

posted by Nell Minow
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense action, violence, and mayhem throughout, some rude gestures and language
Movie Release Date:August 30, 2013
DVD Release Date:November 26, 2013
C-
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense action, violence, and mayhem throughout, some rude gestures and language
Movie Release Date: August 30, 2013
DVD Release Date: November 26, 2013

There’s dumb fun and then there’s just dumb.  “Gateway” is closer to that second category, and worse, so forgettable that better title would be “Throwaway.”  This one has 99 cent DVD bin all over it. Ethan Hawke, believably seedy, plays […]

One Direction: This is Us

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild language
Movie Release Date:August 30, 2013
DVD Release Date:December 11, 2013
B
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild language
Movie Release Date: August 30, 2013
DVD Release Date: December 11, 2013

“They don’t know me, but they love me,” says one dewy-eyed One Direction fan, and that says it all. This 3D documentary and concert film gives us a peek at the moment in time when One Direction, a group of five […]

Closed Circuit

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and brief violence
Movie Release Date:August 30, 2013
DVD Release Date:January 7, 2014
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and brief violence
Movie Release Date: August 30, 2013
DVD Release Date: January 7, 2014

Terrorism has killed thousands of people, destroyed buildings and property, and caused seismic rifts in our notions of who constitutes “us” and “them.”   What is even more terrifying is the damage it has inflicted on our most fundamental notions […]

The World’s End

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references
Movie Release Date:August 23, 2013
DVD Release Date:November 18, 2013
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references
Movie Release Date: August 23, 2013
DVD Release Date: November 18, 2013

Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and co-writer/director Edgar Wright have re-united for the third in the genre-bending “Cornetto” series, which I refuse to call a “trilogy” because I want them to keep going.  In case you’re listening, guys: Please. “Shaun of […]

Short Term 12

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and brief sexuality
Movie Release Date:August 23, 2013
DVD Release Date:January 17, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and brief sexuality
Movie Release Date: August 23, 2013
DVD Release Date: January 17, 2014

There is a look in the eyes of those who have seen the very worst that can happen.  Those who no longer have the blessing of living in denial.  Those who know, not just in their heads but in their […]

Austenland

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and innuendo
Movie Release Date:August 24, 2013
DVD Release Date:February 11, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and innuendo
Movie Release Date: August 24, 2013
DVD Release Date: February 11, 2014

Edward Arlington Robinson wrote a poem about a man named Miniver Cheevy who wished so much that he could have lived in the days of knights and ladies that he refused to participate in the life before him.  Author Shannon […]

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action and some suggestive content
Movie Release Date:August 21, 2013
DVD Release Date:December 2, 2013
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action and some suggestive content
Movie Release Date: August 21, 2013
DVD Release Date: December 2, 2013

The first volume of Cassandra Clare’s popular YA The Mortal Instruments series has been respectfully brought to screen in another attempt to tap into the Harry Potter/Twilight/Hunger Games/Buffy audience.  The problem is that fans of those series may find that too […]

Smile of the Week: On the Day You Were Born

posted by Nell Minow

For more, check out Frances England’s new Blink of an Eye CD.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some violence and disturbing images, language, sexual material, thematic elements and smoking
Movie Release Date:August 16, 2013
DVD Release Date:January 13, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some violence and disturbing images, language, sexual material, thematic elements and smoking
Movie Release Date: August 16, 2013
DVD Release Date: January 13, 2014

Washington Post reporter Wil Haygood was covering the 2008 Obama campaign when some young black women told him that they were going to vote for America’s first major party Presidential candidate who was African-American, even though their fathers told them […]

Jobs

posted by Nell Minow

Even the most fascinating character, a true visionary with a transformative impact on the world and a story with one of the most wallopingly vindicating comebacks in business history, cannot always translate into a great movie.  A straight-on biopic cannot […]

Kick-Ass 2

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, crude and sexual content, and brief nudity
Movie Release Date:August 16, 2013
DVD Release Date:December 20, 2013
C
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, crude and sexual content, and brief nudity
Movie Release Date: August 16, 2013
DVD Release Date: December 20, 2013

The first Kick-Ass was entertaining as an over-the-top response to true-blue superhero movies.  The Dark Knight might think he’s angsty and tortured and tough, but he has nothing on the merry band of misfits who form a sort of Justice […]

In a World….

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language including some sexual refeences
Movie Release Date:August 16, 2013
DVD Release Date:January 23, 2014
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language including some sexual refeences
Movie Release Date: August 16, 2013
DVD Release Date: January 23, 2014

Writer/director/star Lake Bell has produced a smart, fresh, and funny film that sends up Hollywood, sexism, and the conventions of the romantic comedy and yet somehow has us rooting for the characters to find a happy ending.  And she has […]

Chihuahua Too!

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:All Ages
MPAA Rating:Not rated
Movie Release Date:2013
DVD Release Date:August 13, 2013
B
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Movie Release Date: 2013
DVD Release Date: August 13, 2013

If you like “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and the Buddies movies, you will enjoy this story of a lonely dog looking for a family.  One problem — she’s a ghost. The Fastener family inherits a vacation home. Only their golden retriever […]

Elysium

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout
Movie Release Date:August 9, 2013
DVD Release Date:December 17, 2013
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout
Movie Release Date: August 9, 2013
DVD Release Date: December 17, 2013

The best science fiction acts like a narrative Rorschach test, taking specific elements of our current condition, extrapolating into the future (usually dystopically), and allowing the audience to project our assumptions — and our fears — onto it.  “Elysium” is […]

Planes

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some mild action and rude humor
Movie Release Date:August 9, 2013
DVD Release Date:November 19, 2013
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some mild action and rude humor
Movie Release Date: August 9, 2013
DVD Release Date: November 19, 2013

“Planes” literally takes off from the retro world of “Cars” and “Cars 2,” with the story of a brave little crop-duster named Dusty (Dane Cook) who wants to compete in an international air race. A couple of problems for Dusty: […]

We’re the Millers

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Rated R for crude sexual content, pervasive language, drug material and brief graphic nudity
Movie Release Date:August 7, 2013
C
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for crude sexual content, pervasive language, drug material and brief graphic nudity
Movie Release Date: August 7, 2013

Thankfully, we are spared the dreary backstories in this saga of a small-time drug dealer who recruits a stripper, a homeless girl, and a neglected teenage neighbor to provide cover for crossing the border by posing as his family. But […]

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for fantasy action violence, some scary images, and mild violence
Movie Release Date:August 7, 2013
DVD Release Date:December 16, 2013
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for fantasy action violence, some scary images, and mild violence
Movie Release Date: August 7, 2013
DVD Release Date: December 16, 2013

The second in the series of films based on Rick Riorden’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians is even better than the first.  The young actors are more comfortable, their characters better established, and the special effects more, well, special. We learned […]

Oliver & Company

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:All Ages
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:1987
DVD Release Date:August 6, 2013
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating: G
Movie Release Date: 1987
DVD Release Date: August 6, 2013

Disney is celebrating the 25th anniversary of this tuneful animated classic loosely based on Dickens’ Oliver Twist with a new Blu-Ray release.  It is the story of an orphaned cat named Oliver (Joey Lawrence) who is befriended by vagabond dogs […]

Robin Hood

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:All Ages
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:1973
DVD Release Date:August 6, 2013
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating: G
Movie Release Date: 1973
DVD Release Date: August 6, 2013

Disney is celebrating the 40th anniversary of one of its most beloved animated musicals with a gorgeous new Blu-Ray. It is based on the classic Robin Hood story of the man who robbed from the rich to give to the […]

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posted 7:10:31am May. 22, 2015 | read full post »

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