Movie Criminal Mistakes

Posted on September 29, 2008 at 6:00 pm

Cracked has a funny list of the six mistakes always made by movie criminals, from “discussing your crime in a diner” (“Pulp Fiction,” “Thief,” “Heat,” “American Gangster,” “Goodfellas”) to “working with a sociopath” and “talking too much to the people trying to catch you.”
I loved the way “The Incredibles” made fun of the movie tradition of having the bad guy take time out from doing his evil deeds to explain everything, both bringing the audience up to date and giving the good guys time to do their good guy things.

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Election Collection: Schoolhouse Rock

Posted on September 29, 2008 at 12:00 pm

A
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: NR
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Mild historical references
Diversity Issues: A theme of the series

im-just-a-bill-opt.jpgEven grown-ups are having a tough time staying on top of this year’s historic Presidential election. So we won’t tell anyone if some of the parents sit down with their kids to get a refresher on electoral politics with the wonderful Election Collection from Schoolhouse Rock.
Fresh, clever and remarkably informative, the irresistible jingles and lively animation cover the Declaration of Independence and American Revolution, the separation of powers, women’s sufferage, and the unforgettable “Just a Bill.” Kids will learn about the electoral college, the tax system, and even some economics. This special edition has stickers to help track the voting results and a new to DVD “Presidential Minute” — with two surprise endings. preamble.jpg
I have one DVD to give away to the first one to send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with “Schoolhouse Rock” in the subject line. Good luck!

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Contest Reminder: Faerie Tale Theatre

Posted on September 28, 2008 at 5:00 pm

Don’t forget that Tuesday the 30th is the deadline for entering the contest for a full DVD set of Shelly Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre.
The series has just been re-released on DVD and I have FOUR copies to give away! This is such a special prize I want to make sure everyone has a chance to participate. So post a comment on the original post, telling me which is your family’s favorite fairy tale and why. All of the details are here.

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Religulous — Bill Maher Attacks Religion

Posted on September 28, 2008 at 11:07 am

Professional Enfant Terrible Bill Maher has a new movie called Religulous in which he attacks religion, religious beliefs, and believers.

Beliefnet founder Steven Waldman discusses his decision to run ads for this movie on his blog. He says the movie is “funny, offensive, slippery, and more challenging than I expected.” He accepts the creation of a “Disbeliefnet” website as a compliment.

We have great confidence in the power of faith and the sincerity of believers. In the movie he casts believers as being a) against free speech b) humorless and c) idiots.

Let’s show him that he’s wrong on all counts. If you see the movie, please come here, Movie Mom, Idol Chatter, or to our forums – a hot discussion is already going on here — not only discuss it but also to speak about what faith or spirituality means in your life. Tell us how faith, or your spiritual practice, has made you a better person or your world a better place. If you hate the movie (as many of you will), prove Maher wrong.

Like Waldman, I believe that faith is not worth much unless it can withstand attacks by non-believers. And like many religious leaders, I believe that believers often fail to live up to the principles of their denominations, and appreciate those who expose hypocricy — that makes us stronger and better. I will be seeing the movie tomorrow afternoon and posting my review Thursday night. I look forward to your reactions.

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Tribute: Paul Newman

Posted on September 27, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Paul Newman died yesterday at age 83 after a long struggle with cancer. This tribute from Slate by Dahlia Lithwick describes Newman’s unassuming generosity in contributing a quarter of a billion dollars, 100% of the profits from his food companies, to help sick children. At his Hole in the Wall Gang camp,

Newman never stopped believing he was a regular guy who’d simply been blessed, and well beyond what was fair. So he just kept on paying it forward…Today there are 11 camps modeled on the Hole in the Wall all around the world, and seven more in the works, including a camp in Hungary and one opening next year in the Middle East. Each summer of the four I spent at Newman’s flagship Connecticut camp was a living lesson in how one man can change everything. Terrified parents would deliver their wan, weary kid at the start of the session with warnings and cautions and lists of things not to be attempted. They’d return 10 days later to find the same kid, tanned and bruisey, halfway up a tree or canon-balling into the deep end of the pool. Their wigs or prosthetic arms–props of years spent trying to fit in–were forgotten in the duffel under the bed. Shame, stigma, fear, worry, all vaporized by a few days of being ordinary. In an era in which nearly everyone feels entitled to celebrity and fortune, Newman was always suspicious of both. He used his fame to give away his fortune, and he did that from some unspoken Zen-like conviction that neither had ever really belonged to him in the first place.

Entertainment Weekly has a fine list of Newman’s best performances. His best-loved films are probably the two he made with Robert Redford, The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He was always superb as a flawed or damaged hero, as in The Hustler, Hud, and Harper. I enjoy his leading man performances in light romances like “A New Kind of Love” and “What a Way to Go.” But he was at his best in drama, and like many of the flawed characters unexpectedly seeking redemption he played, he kept getting better.

Here he is with Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

He was a lawyer no one expected to be honest in “The Verdict.”

And a man who was not going gently into old age in “Nobody’s Fool.”

Adam Bernstein’s perceptive obituary in the Washington Post sums up his career, calling Newman “the prime interpreter of selfish rebels.”

Newman had built up a critical reputation of imbuing stock characters with an intelligent restraint that often was not associated with the more flagrant of the Method acting followers. As examples, reviewers pointed to his work as boxer Rocky Graziano in “Somebody Up There Likes Me” (1956) and an Army officer accused of enemy collaboration in “The Rack” (1956). He brought a vulnerability to roles that emphasized his physique, notably in “The Long, Hot Summer,” based on stories by William Faulkner, and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (both 1958), from the Tennessee Williams play.

And Lithwick, who worked at his camp, sums up the man:

Hollywood legend holds that Paul Newman is and will always be larger-than-life, and it’s true. Nominated for 10 Oscars, he won one. He was Fast Eddie, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy. And then there were Those Eyes. But anyone who ever met Paul Newman will probably tell you that he was, in life, a pretty regular-sized guy: A guy with five beautiful daughters and a wonder of a wife, and a rambling country house in Connecticut where he screened movies out in the barn. He was a guy who went out of his way to ensure that everyone else–the thousands of campers, counselors, and volunteers at his camps, the friends he involved in his charities, and the millions of Americans who bought his popcorn–could feel like they were the real star.

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