Movies from the Siskel Center to Watch at Home

Posted on March 26, 2020 at 6:56 am

Chicago’s Siskel Center, named for the legendary critic, has a guide to resources for watching its great independent and international films at home.

Thanks to Mary Minow for the tip!

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VOD and Streaming

Babies: Coming to Netflix

Posted on February 18, 2020 at 8:00 am

Available this Friday on Netflix: Babies is a landmark series that explores the miracle of the first full year of life through the pioneering work of leading scientists from across the globe. It’s an in-depth look at the first year of life — the science behind babies’ developments, from sleeping, to eating, crawling to walking and everything in between! The series follows several new parents as they go on this new journey as well as 30+ of the top scientists from around the globe.

Episodes:

LOVE – The birth of a baby is a life changing event. It triggers a deep emotional bond that is not only vital for a babies’ development – but is fundamental to what makes us human. But how does this happen? How do we learn to love and care for our babies? In this episode, we follow three scientists who are decoding the biological mysteries of this powerful connection.

FIRST FOOD – A baby’s first food is a big moment – they’re not just embarking on a lifetime of pleasure through food – what they eat matters for the development of the body and the mind. In this episode we meet three scientists who investigate how breast milk and food are more than just fuel.

CRAWLING – A baby’s entire world opens up when they learn to crawl. We follow scientists who study how a baby’s relationship with their surroundings change as they learn to move.

FIRST WORDS – Over the course of the first year of life babies embark on a journey towards language – allowing them to enter a world that would be unobtainable without it. We follow three scientists who study how babies use sophisticated techniques to decode the language they hear around them.

SLEEP – For new parents, babies lack of a sleep pattern is a frustrating mystery. But scientists are realizing that a baby’s sleep is packed full of learning and is fundamental for a baby’s development.

FIRST STEPS – A baby’s first steps mark their first moment of independence. In this episode we unpack the extraordinary science involved in learning to walk.

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Trailer: Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television*, Season 2

Posted on January 15, 2019 at 11:20 am

I signed up for YouTube Red to see the first season of Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television*, and am really looking forward to Season 2, which starts January 30. It is smart, fresh, and very funny, with great guest stars, a lot of sharp, knowing, meta-commentary on pop culture, and a lead performance by Hansen that is so resolutely self-involved lesser-Hollywood bro it is almost impossible to believe it isn’t real.

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Comedy Crime Satire VOD and Streaming VOD and Streaming

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle

Posted on November 29, 2018 at 5:25 pm

B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence including bloody images, and some thematic elements
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking and drunkenness
Violence/ Scariness: Intense peril from animals and human hunter, characters injured and killed, some graphic and disturbing images
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: November 30, 2018
Copyright Netflix 2018

“Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” is not the “Bear Necessities” Disney version of Rudyard Kipling’s story about the boy raised by wolves and befriended by a cuddly bear and an elegant panther. This is more like Tennyson’s vision of nature as red in tooth and claw. Andy Serkis, master of the art of motion capture acting, has directed this much darker version of the story, with simultaneous release this week in theaters and on Netflix. The motion capture performances are striking. Parents need to know, however, although this is the story of a young boy befriended by talking animals, this is not for young children or for the faint of heart of any age.

Serkis brought along some of his “Hobbit” co-stars, and the movie opens with an introduction from Kaa the snake, voiced by Cate Blanchett telling us that the jungle traditions are being challenged, presumably from the incursion of humans. When a couple are killed by the tiger Shere Kahn (Benedict Cumberbatch), a baby is abandoned. The death of the parents is off-camera, discreetly shown by an overturned, single shoe. But the baby is smeared with blood. Like Harry Potter, he is the Boy Who Lived, and he is special.

A wolf pack wants to adopt the boy they call Mowgli, and that means a meeting of the council of animals. It is agreed that he can stay and we will learn that is only in part because it is in the nature of the wolf mother to feel tenderness toward a helpless baby of any species. While some of the animals fear that keeping Mowgli will bring man into the jungle looking for him, others think that he will help keep them safe from humans. And all of them know that Shere Kahn will be back for Mowgli, and that it will take the full force of the pack to keep him safe.

Mowgli grows up (Rohan Chan), very much at home in the jungle, though painfully aware that he does not have the natural abilities of his wolf brothers. They are being coached by Baloo the bear (Serkis) to pass a racing test to qualify them to become full members of the pack. Mowgli cannot keep up with them if he races on all fours, as they do.

The motion capture work is excellent, as expected from Serkis and the images and camera work are striking, worth seeing on a big screen. But the storyline never fully escapes its colonialist origins. There’s a reason we refer to “the law of the jungle” and no simple way to make that into a workable metaphor about the human world. Think of “The Lion King,” for example (with a live-action version coming next year). It’s fine to sing about the circle of life if you’re at the top of the food chain. Bagheera the panther (Christian Bale) explains to Mowgli that animals who kill must look their prey in the eye as they are dying “so that the soul does not depart alone.” Not much comfort to the departing soul. Mowgli finds appropriate ambivalence in the human world, where the native community has brought in a white hunter (Matthew Rhys) who is kind to Mowgli but will never appreciate the animals like the boy who lived with them. Like the boy himself, the movie is not able to resolve its conflicting dualities.

Parents should know that this film includes animal and human peril and violence, with characters injured and killed, some disturbing and graphic images, guns, fire, animal attacks, sad death of parents (off-screen), drinking and drunkenness.

Family discussion: How are the wolves different from the other animals? What kinds of tests do humans try to pass? Do you agree with Mowgli’s choice about where to live?

If you like this, try: Disney’s animated and live-action “Jungle Book” movies

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Action/Adventure Based on a book movie review Movies Movies Remake Stories About Kids Talking animals VOD and Streaming
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