TV film fare -- week of Feb. 27
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Feb. 27. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Monday, Feb. 28, 1-3 p.m. EST (AMC) "Big Trouble in Little China" (1986). Kurt Russell reveals a comic flair for mock heroics in an action-fantasy about a 2,000-year-old Chinese wizard who is determined to kidnap and marry the green-eyed girl friend of one of Russell's pals. John Carpenter directs this martial-arts frolic in a movie teeming with special effects. Much profanity and sadistic violence. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Tuesday, March 1, 10 p.m.-12:30 a.m. EST (TCM) "All About Eve" (1950). Classic Broadway story in which a veteran star (Bette Davis) helps a seemingly innocent novice (Anne Baxter), then learns too late of the younger woman's duplicity in landing a role intended for the star by charming the play's author (Hugh Marlowe), its director (Gary Merrill) and the town's leading theater critic (George Sanders). Writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz keeps the proceedings churning with a steady stream of witty dialogue and pungent put-downs, but it is Davis' caustic performance as the flinty veteran actress that carries the picture to its wryly satisfying conclusion. Devious characters, sexual innuendo and marital discord. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Thursday, March 3, 10 p.m.-12:30 a.m. EST (TCM) "Mutiny on the Bounty" (1935). Classic sea adventure aboard the HMS "Bounty" on a voyage to Tahiti in 1787 under cruel Captain Bligh (Charles Laughton) whose savage mistreatment of the crew finally drives chief officer Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable) to take command of the ship. Director Frank Lloyd gives a rousing account of life at sea under the strict discipline and harsh conditions of the era, but does even better with the human drama propelling this fact-based yarn of duty, comradeship and divided loyalties in the face of injustice. Stylized violence and a romantic situations. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, March 5, 2-5:30 p.m. EST (A&E) "Troy" (2004). Epic-scale rendering of the Trojan War, loosely based on Homer's "The Iliad," which chronicles the siege and eventual sack of Troy by an invading Greek army. It begins with Paris (Orlando Bloom) spiriting away Helen (Diana Kruger) from her husband, King Menelaus of Sparta (Brendan Gleeson), and culminates in the Greeks using the infamous wooden horse to seal the fate of the doomed city. While crowded with clashing armies, director Wolfgang Petersen's demythologized retelling of the ancient tale is, at its core, an intimate story of two soldiers, the near-invincible Achilles (Brad Pitt) and his valiant Trojan counterpart, Hector (Eric Bana), which, though set amid sweeping sword-and-sandal spectacle, remains grounded in human drama. Much intense battlefield violence and several implied sexual encounters with partial nudity. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Saturday, March 5, 8-10:15 p.m. EST (TCM) "Cool Hand Luke" (1967). Nonconformist loner (Paul Newman), sentenced to a brutal Southern prison farm, gains the respect of his fellow inmates for standing up to the guards' degrading treatment and cruel punishments. Director Stuart Rosenberg relieves the grim situation with some well-paced humor and Newman's memorable performance in the title role transforms Luke from a pathetic victim of an unjust system into a symbol of the rebellious spirit that refuses to accept the legitimacy of power. A few scenes of brutality that some might consider excessive. 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.
Saturday, March 5, 8-10:30 p.m. EST (HBO) "Robin Hood" (2010). Thematically ambitious yet enervating version of the much-filmed legend concerning the 13th-century English outlaw (Russell Crowe) who, in this serious reworking awash in political intrigue and salubrious civics lessons, goes from common archer on King Richard's Crusade to the valiant unifier of a downtrodden, suffering nation. Director Ridley Scott drains the tale of energy and emotion without offering action thrills that would ingratiate a new generation of viewers. Though hovering on the edge of bawdiness, and despite jabs at the cold-hearted, oppressive church leaders of the period, the movie may be acceptable for some mature teenagers. Much -- mostly bloodless -- battle violence, a nongraphic sexual situation with fleeting rear nudity, an attempted rape, callous clergy, some innuendo and anatomical references, one instance each of 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.
TV program notes -- week of Feb. 27
Here are some television program notes for the week of Feb. 27 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. 27, 8:30-11:30 p.m. EST (ABC) "The 83rd Annual Academy Awards." Live broadcast from the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles of the ceremony honoring the outstanding film achievements of 2010. James Franco and Anne Hathaway co-host.
Sunday, Feb. 27, 10-11 p.m. EST (EWTN) "Hill Number One." The Korean War, and the battles that ensue, are correlated to Christ's crucifixion on Golgotha in this vintage drama mixing biblical and historical elements and featuring an early performance by future movie star James Dean.
Monday, Feb. 28, 6:30-7 p.m. EST (EWTN) "Let Me Walk This Path." The first episode of a seven-part series recounting the history of Catholicism in Japan from the arrival of St. Francis Xavier in 1549, through the persecution and 200-year-long suppression of the church until its reemergence in the 19th century. The initial program explores the state of Japan's class system and religious influences at the time of St. Francis' visit, and the results of his early efforts to evangelize the country. The series continues 6:30-7 p.m. EST each weeknight through Tuesday, March 8.
Monday, Feb. 28, 9-10 p.m. EST (PBS) "Triangle Fire." This episode of the series "American Experience" examines one of the worst industrial disasters in U.S. history: the fire that broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York's Greenwich Village March 25, 1911. The landmark legislation that followed this tragic event gave New Yorkers the most comprehensive workplace safety laws in the country (TV-14 -- parents strongly cautioned).
Wednesday, March 2, 9:30-11 p.m. EST (PBS) "Harry Connick Jr. in Concert on Broadway." After 20 years, multiple Grammy Award-winner Harry Connick Jr. returns to Broadway in a program of hits performed in his trademark New Orleans style. A "Great Performances" presentation (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested).