TV film fare -- week of Jan. 2
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Jan. 2. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Sunday, Jan. 2, 9-11 p.m. EST (Lifetime) "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit" (1993). Fair comedy sequel in which the Las Vegas singer (Whoopi Goldberg) is back in a nun's habit, hoping to save a Catholic high school from closing by transforming a bunch of unruly students into a vibrant choir in time to win the all-state competition. Though lacking the novel premise of the original and off-kilter in its goofy depiction of several priests, director Bill Duke's moderately amusing comedy stresses positive values for youngsters. Mild sexual innuendo, comic treatment of religious characters and an instance of profanity. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Monday, Jan. 3, 12:30-3 p.m. EST (AMC) "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000). Thrilling drama, set in 19th-century Qing Dynasty China, in which the precious sword of a famed warrior (Chow Yun-Fat), entrusted to a longtime friend (Michelle Yeoh), is stolen and must be recovered at all costs. Although melodramatic in part, director Ang Lee blends mesmerizing martial arts with stunning special effects into a script brimming with intrigue and suspense. Subtitles. Martial arts violence and an implied sexual encounter. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Tuesday, Jan. 4, 4-6 p.m. EST (TCM) "Miracle in the Rain" (1956). Unabashedly sentimental tale of a World War II romance between a shy Manhattan secretary (Jane Wyman) and a genial, upbeat soldier (Van Johnson) whose death in combat leaves her devastated until seeing him in a vision on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral. Directed by Rudolph Mate from a story by Ben Hecht, the whirlwind romance is charmingly acted, then turns into a manipulative tearjerker with a spiritually uplifting ending satisfying romantics, though others may find it emotionally empty. Romantic complications and assorted domestic problems. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Friday, Jan. 7, 10 p.m.-midnight EST (TCM) "State Fair" (1945). Agreeable musical about a farm family's visit to the Iowa State Fair, where dad Charles Winninger expects his entry to win the hog competition, mom Fay Bainter hopes her fortified mincemeat will get a blue ribbon, son Dick Haymes falls for married singer Vivian Blaine, and daughter Jeanne Crain finds romance with newspaper reporter Dana Andrews. Directed by Walter Lang, the fairground proceedings are good-natured, the cast has considerable charm and the songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein add some zest to the fun and poignancy to the romance. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, Jan. 8, 8-10 p.m. EST (HBO) "Clash of the Titans" (2010). Muddled mythological epic, set in ancient Greece, in which the demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington) embarks on a quest to defend humanity against the forces of Hades (Ralph Fiennes), the god of death, whom his brother Zeus (Liam Neeson), as king of the gods, has unleashed to punish humankind for their growing dissatisfaction with, and attempted rebellion against, the Olympian deities. Long action sequences and an emphasis on special effects leave little room for engaging drama in director Louis Leterrier's frequently violent 3-D remake of Desmond Davis' 1981 swords-and-sandals exercise. However, undemanding viewers may be content enough with the proceedings not to notice the gifts of top-tier players such as Fiennes and Neeson being squandered on stilted dialogue. Complex, though undeveloped, religious themes; constant action violence, some of it bloody or gruesome; a bedroom encounter with implied sexual activity; at least one sexual reference; and a couple of mildly crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Saturday, Jan. 8, 8-10:10 p.m. EST (Showtime) "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" (2009). Lovelorn gothic romance sequel in which a well-mannered vampire (Robert Pattinson), anxious to protect the mortal high school student (Kristen Stewart) who has captured his heart from the less-controlled members (especially Jackson Rathbone) of the undead clan with which he lives, breaks off their relationship and disappears. But the American Indian friend (Taylor Lautner) to whom she turns for solace not only wants to be more than mere pals, he has a supernatural secret of his own. With temptations of the flesh kept at bay for fear of temptations of the blood in director Chris Weitz's adaptation of the second book in Stephenie Meyer's best-selling series of young-adult novels, the chaste but intermittently violent proceedings play out against a picturesque background ranging from the misty Northwest to the sunny hills of Tuscany. Considerable action violence, a vague sexual reference, at least one mildly crass term. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Saturday, Jan. 8, 8-11 p.m. EST (AMC) "True Grit" (1969). Rousing Western adventure based on the Charles Portis novel about a justice-minded little gal with true grit (Kim Darby) who tracks down her father's killer with the aid of a gruff overweight U.S. marshal (John Wayne) and an overeager Texas Ranger (Glen Campbell). Directed with gusto by Henry Hathaway, their adventures and scrapes with death are furious and action-packed, though leavened nicely with human touches and good humor. Because of some stylized violence, young children may need the support of older members of the family. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was G -- general patronage. All ages admitted.
TV program notes -- week of Jan. 2
Here are some television program notes for the week of Jan. 2 with their TV Parental Guidelines ratings if available. They have not been reviewed and therefore are not necessarily recommended by Catholic News Service.
Sunday, Jan. 2, 10-11 p.m. EST (EWTN) "Blessed Newman's Legacy." In this episode of the series "Franciscan University Presents," philosophy professor John Crosby joins host, Franciscan Father Michael Scanlan, and theology professors Regis Martin and Scott Hahn -- all from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio -- to discuss the life and legacy of Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890), one of the great thinkers and theologians of the 19th century. He was beatified in September by Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to England.
Monday, Jan. 3, 9-10:30 p.m. EST (PBS) "Robert E. Lee." In its season premiere, the series "American Experience" examines the life and reputation of Lee, whose military successes made him the scourge of the Union and hero of the Confederacy and who was elevated to almost god-like status by his admirers after his death (TV-G - general audience).
Wednesday, Jan. 5, 9-11 p.m. EST (CBS) "37th Annual People's Choice Awards." Queen Latifah returns as host of this ceremony -- honoring fan favorites in movies, music and television -- broadcast live from Los Angeles' Nokia Theater.
Wednesday, Jan. 5, 9-11 p.m. EST (History) "Prophets of Doom." This special profiles contemporary "prophets" who suggest that current conditions -- ranging from the global financial crisis to technological meltdowns -- might be signs of the demise of the modern world.
Wednesday, Jan. 5, 9-11:30 p.m. EST (PBS) "Don Pasquale." Anna Netrebko stars in and James Levine conducts Otto Schenk's production of Donizetti's sparkling comic opera. Part of the series "Great Performances at the Met" (TV-G -- general audience).
Thursday, Jan. 6, 4-6 a.m. EST (EWTN) "Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord With Pope Benedict XVI (Live)." Mass of the Epiphany celebrated by the pope, broadcast live from Rome's St. Peter's Basilica. The liturgy will be rebroadcast noon-2 p.m. EST.
Thursday, Jan. 6, 10-11 p.m. EST (History) "D.B. Cooper." In this episode of the series "Brad Meltzer's Decoded," best-selling author Meltzer and his team of investigators take on one of the FBI's most puzzling unsolved crimes: the 1971 disappearance of airline skyjacker D.B. Cooper, who bailed out of a jet at 10,000 feet over Washington state with two parachutes and $200,000 in ransom money strapped to his body, never to be seen again.