While the writers are on strike

Posted on December 15, 2007 at 10:46 pm

John F. Kennedy once advised, “Never pick a fight with those who buy ink by the barrel.” He meant that you cannot win an argument with people who publish newspapers and have all the ink, paper, and readers to make their case. Today, that might be extended to caution those who pick fights with people who have access to YouTube. Dozens of videos have been uploaded, everything from footage of the picket lines (with guest appearances by supportive stars, who know better than anyone how important writers are) to advocacy pieces. One of the best has old-timer Irv Brecher, screenwriter of classics like Meet Me In St. Louis, explaining why they deserve to be paid for ancillary rights — and noting that he needs a job.

The studios may find that viewers have some very appealing alternatives to watching reality shows (which are not covered by the strike) and reruns. A couple of good places to try:

Related Tags:

 

Commentary Reviews Shorts

The Most Heartwarming and Inspiring Film of the Holiday Season

Posted on November 16, 2007 at 9:58 pm

Filmmaker Jennifer Crandall has created a charming series of short autobiographical videos featuring everyday people talking about their lives, experiences, and lessons learned. Participants of all ages and backgrounds have spoken about friends, families, vocations and avocations. Participants have included a transplanted refugee from Katrina, a nun, a boy with Down Syndome and his mother, a waitress, a lawyer, a teenage girl, a transgendered woman, a man recovering from amnesia, an Islamic former beauty pagent contestant — each one is utterly captivating and transcendant.
This very brief interview with African immigrant Edward Fahbulleh is one of the best. I love its title: On Being Rich.
I love them all, but my all-time favorite is Jessica Tibbits. Each one is just a few moments, but each is unforgettable.

Related Tags:

 

Reviews Shorts

Best Video Clips: Singing complaints

Posted on November 13, 2007 at 1:10 pm

Two hilarious You Tube hits put complaints to music.

Complaints Choirs started in Birmingham, England and are popping up all over the world. Here, the Helsinki Complaints Choir combines the universal and the very particular in a hilarious and harmonic tribute to the things that drive people crazy:

(Thanks to Salon’s Broadsheet for the tip.)

And Anita Renfroe became a media sensation with this tribute to mothers set to the tune of the “William Tell Overture” — any mom who has not said everything on this list deserves a whole day without a carpool:

Related Tags:

 

Comedy Musical Reviews Shorts

Roving Mars

Posted on January 26, 2006 at 4:09 pm

B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated G
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Some tense moments
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: 2006
Date Released to DVD: 2006
Amazon.com ASIN: B000FIMG40

Imagine standing in Los Angeles, trying to shoot a basketball all the way to New York, where it must hit the basket without touching the hoop. That’s the magnitude of the challenge faced by NASA scientists and engineers in trying to land probes on Mars. Two-thirds of the time, they fail.

This is the story of the most recent effort to send two identical exploratory vehicles, named Spirit and Opportunity, 306 million miles to Mars in April 2004.


Oh, and that basketball hoop we’re trying to reach? It’s moving. The launch has to be timed exactly to the moment when Mars will be best aligned with Earth. As we see the engineers performing their last-minute tests, shredding the parachute they were planning to send to Mars, we realize that they have days — sometimes less — to figure out what went wrong and fix it.


Spirit and Opportunity have to be able to launch and fly like a rocket ship, survive the landing without burning up or breaking any of their instruments, drive like a remote (VERY remote)-controlled vehicle over rocky (VERY rocky) terrain, keep working through Mars-size “days” and report back, through pictures and geologic analysis, detailed data about what they find. It is so enormously complex that “No one person can understand everything about the vehicle,” says one scientist. “It’s burst the bounds of our brain.”


Unlike most IMAX films, which have a stately, almost static feeling, this movie has moments as immediate and involving as a feature film. Yet it makes great use of the size and resolution of the IMAX technology, using the images the rovers sent back to create an astonishingly vivid Mars landscape.


The visuals are magnificent but what makes the movie work is the story — the dream of Mars and the hard work that goes into getting there. It shows how cool science — and hard work — can be as we look at the range of questions and problems the scientists and engineers must solve.

Best of all, it shows kids something parents and teachers often forget to tell them: you have to make mistakes. Two-thirds of the Mars initiatives failed. “Mars is a spacecraft graveyard,” one scientist says. This is a movie about Mars and about dreams, but most of all it is a movie about how mistakes are not just okay but expected and necessary in order to learn what we need to learn to do what we dream of doing.


Parents should know that this movie has no issues of parental concern but will probably be of most interest to ages 7 or 8 and above.


Families who see this movie should talk about how the smartest scientists and engineers in the world expect to make a lot of mistakes before they finish. What can we do to make sure we make the right number of mistakes. Families should know that the names for the two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, were suggested by an 8-year-old girl named Sofi Collis, whose own journey is almost as remarkable as that of the rovers she named. If you got a chance to name a rover, what would you pick? If you could go to Mars, what would you do first?

Families who enjoy this movie will want to learn more about the Mars rovers and they read my interview with the people who made the movie. Families will also enjoy Tom Hanks’ brilliant miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, especially episode 5 about the design of the lunar module and episode 10 about teaching the astronauts to be what Spirit and Opportunity do in this film — geologists. They will enjoy Voyage to Mars by Laurence Bergreen and Roving Mars by Steven Squyres, who appears in this film.

Families might enjoy some whimsical notions of space exploration, including one of the very first movies with special effects, the silent film A Trip to the Moon (How do the explorers get home again? They jump off!), Wallace and Gromit’s A Grand Day Out, and Forbidden Planet, inspired by Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”

Related Tags:

 

Documentary Movies Shorts
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2019, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik