TV film fare -- week of Feb. 13
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Feb. 13. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Sunday, Feb. 13, 8-11 p.m. EST (Lifetime) "The Holiday" (2006). Generally appealing romantic comedy about a wedding columnist (Kate Winslet) in the English countryside and a movie-trailer producer (Cameron Diaz) in Los Angeles whose failed romances find them swapping homes and continents over Christmas. It leads to the former falling in love with a film composer (Jack Black) and the latter with the columnist's brother (Jude Law). Writer-director Nancy Meyers elicits heartfelt performances from all, and there's a strong affirmation of family and concern for the elderly, though some of today's permissive attitude -- but not overt sexual content -- is inherent in the script. Some rough and crude words, implied premarital relationships, light innuendo and banter, a chaste bedroom scene and mild domestic violence. 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.
Sunday, Feb. 13, 10 p.m.-12:30 a.m. EST (TCM) "Going My Way" (1944). Bing Crosby ambles amiably through the role of Father O'Malley, the crooning curate sent to assist the aging, crotchety pastor (Barry Fitzgerald) of a poor parish in need of change. Director Leo McCarey's sentimental story is well-paced with humor and songs such as "Swinging on a Star," but at its sugary center is the theme of new ways replacing the old as conveyed amusingly but with feeling by the two principals. The definitive Hollywood version of Catholic life in an age of innocence, the picture retains appeal today mainly as a well-crafted vehicle of popular entertainment. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Monday, Feb. 14, 8-11 p.m. EST (AMC) "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994). Gritty prison drama begins in 1946 when a quiet banker (Tim Robbins) is wrongly convicted of murder, then spends the next two decades inside a brutal and corruptly run penitentiary where he has positive effects on the hapless inmates, especially another lifer (Morgan Freeman), before his unexpected departure. Director Frank Darabont does not spare viewers the dehumanizing ugliness of life behind bars in a story notable for its portrayal of a man who inspired hope in others while coping with the injustice done to him. Some graphic prison violence and suicides, crude sexual innuendo, brief nudity and much rough language. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Wednesday, Feb. 16, 6:15-8 p.m. EST (TCM) "Swing Time" (1936). Down-on-his-luck hoofer (Fred Astaire) rides the rails to New York City, teams with a comely dance instructor (Ginger Rogers) and they score as the town's top dancing duo in such numbers as "Waltz in Swing Time" and Astaire's solo showstopper, "Bojangles of Harlem." Director George Stevens keeps the pair's romantic misunderstandings light and lively, gets strong comic relief from Victor Moore and Helen Broderick and effortlessly stages such songs as "A Fine Romance" and "The Way You Look Tonight." Elegant entertainment for all but the very young. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, Feb. 19, 8-9:45 p.m. EST (HBO) "The Losers" (2010). This slick action comedy about a unit of ex-special forces soldiers (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short and Oscar Jaenada) who are betrayed by a fiendish spymaster (Jason Patric) holds itself in much higher regard than its deprecatory title and flippant tone would suggest -- or than the disposable project as a whole deserves. Director Sylvain White applies a music-video sensibility to the comic-book source material, and the stylized violence, though considerable, is never explicit, while the jocularity is more juvenile than offensive. A moderately explicit nonmarital sexual encounter, some profanity, at least two instances of rough language, a steady stream of crude and crass verbiage, frequent bloodless violence and some sexual innuendo and banter. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Saturday, Feb. 19, 9-11 p.m. EST (ABC) "Over the Hedge" (2006). Computer-animated comedy about a rascally raccoon (voiced by Bruce Willis) who offers to "help" a group of woodland creatures (humorously voiced by Steve Carell, Wanda Sykes, Garry Shandling, William Shatner and Eugene Levy, among others) stockpile food for the coming winter by raiding the suburban housing development that has sprung up on their forest doorstep, but not telling them that he intends to use the purloined provisions to save his own fur. Based on a comic strip, directors Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick's good-naturedly entertaining and visually cheery fable relies on nutty sight gags over story, but imparts a commendable message about family and acting unselfishly, while offering some funny commentary on our consumer society. Some mildly crude humor, a few rude expressions and innuendo, and recurring comic action violence. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Saturday, Feb. 19, 10 p.m.-1 a.m. EST (Cinemax) "Avatar" (2009). Among the most expensive and highly anticipated films ever made, director James Cameron's visually arresting science-fiction adventure sends a paraplegic soldier (Sam Worthington) to a planet called Pandora where he falls in love with a native princess (Zoe Saldana) and must choose between her ecologically enlightened culture and his own violent, rapacious species. Amid passages resembling a Vietnam War movie, a Western -- pitting bellicose interlopers against spiritual natives in harmony with their natural environment -- and a Disney-animated musical, Cameron marshals impressive resources to tell an entertaining story, though whether the aliens' pantheistic religion is meant to be a model for humanity or merely an indigenous cult remains unclear. Frightening action sequences with much intense, war-related violence, an implied sexual encounter, partial upper female and rear nudity, a consistently sensual undercurrent, frequent profanity, considerable crude and crass language. 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, Feb. 19, 10 p.m.-1:30 a.m. EST (TCM) "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003). Lavish final chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy trilogy set in the mythic realm of Middle-earth. The third film brings to completion the quest of a humble hobbit (Elijah Wood) to destroy the Ring of Power coveted by the dark lord Sauron, while his comrades (including Ian McKellen and Viggo Mortensen) stave off the annihilation of mankind by leading a last-stand resistance against an army of Sauron's evil minions. Seamlessly blending grand-scale special-effects sequences with dramatically nuanced performances, director Peter Jackson scores a crowning achievement, as visually spectacular as it is emotionally satisfying. And though the good-versus-evil, sword-and-sorcery saga touches on transcendent themes such as mortality, free will and divine providence, the crowded narrative affords little time for clarifying exposition, which may leave those unfamiliar with the books or the two earlier movies overwhelmed. Extended battlefield violence and a few frightening scenes. 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.
TV program notes -- week of Feb. 13
Here are some television program notes for the week of Feb. 13 with their TV Parental Guidelines ratings if available. They have not been reviewed and therefore are not necessarily recommended by Catholic News Service.
Sunday, Feb. 13, 8-9 p.m. EST (PBS) "The Himalayas." A look at the diversity of wildlife and habitats on the planet's highest mountain range. A "Nature" presentation (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested).
Sunday, Feb. 13, 8-11:30 p.m. EST (CBS) "The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards." A live broadcast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles of the ceremony recognizing musical excellence in a wide variety of genres, including rock, pop and rap. Scheduled performers include Arcade Fire, Eminem, Justin Bieber, Usher, Cee-Lo Green, Lady Gaga, Miranda Lambert and Katy Perry.
Wednesday, Feb. 16, 9-10 p.m. EST (PBS) "Crash of Flight 447." This episode of the series "Nova" examines the mysterious June 1, 2009, crash of an Air France Airbus A330 flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris that disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean, taking with it all 228 lives on board. The program asks how a state-of-the-art airliner with elaborate electronic safety and navigation features and a faultless safety record could simply vanish without a trace (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested).
Wednesday, Feb. 16, 10-11 p.m. EST (EWTN) "No Price Too High." This special recounts the conversion story of a Protestant minister who brought his congregation with him into the Catholic Church.
Friday, Feb. 18, 10-11 p.m. EST (EWTN) "Ukraine: Emerging From the Catacombs." Mark Riedemann interviews Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, the major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, about the history of his church and its key role as a mediator in Ukraine.