TV film fare -- week of March 13
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of March 13. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Sunday, March 13, 8-10:30 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Joan of Arc" (1948). Sincere but static adaptation of the Maxwell Anderson play about the peasant girl (Ingrid Bergman) who follows her voices to lead the Dauphin's forces to victory over the English but, after his coronation as Charles VII, she was captured by the English, condemned as a heretic by a church court and burned at the stake in 1431. Directed by Victor Fleming, Bergman's performance is bright but artificial in a studio-bound production, occasionally relieved by hokey battle scenes, but even worse than these dramatic limitations is its failure to find a spiritual dimension in the proceedings. Period violence. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Sunday, March 13, 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. EDT (TCM) "Saint Joan" (1957). Screen version of George Bernard Shaw's play about the French heroine (Jean Seberg) whose voices led her to take up arms for her king against the English who put her to death as a heretic. Adapted by Graham Greene and directed by Otto Preminger, the result is flat and static, but Shaw's jabs at authority, secular and religious emerge often enough to make it interesting. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Monday, March 14, 12:30-2 a.m. EDT (TCM) "The Passion of Joan of Arc" (1928). Silent screen masterpiece portraying the heresy trial, confession, recantation and execution of the Maid of Orleans (Maria Falconetti) in a performance of such emotional power that it still stands as the most convincing portrayal of spirituality on celluloid. Directed by Carl Dreyer, the work is essentially the interior epic of a soul, consisting largely of close-ups of Joan's face and those of her interrogators accomplished in a fashion which is never static as the camera explores the inner struggle between human frailties and spiritual strength. Some duplicitous churchmen, medicinal bloodletting and a restrained torture scene. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Monday, March 14, 9-11 p.m. EDT (Lifetime) "One Fine Day" (1996). Frantic romantic comedy in which two overworked single parents (Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney) meet one morning and decide to alternate baby-sitting shifts so they can finish crucial job assignments due that day. Director Michael Hoffman relies on star power to carry an otherwise predictable story whose chief merit is showing children as the real victims of economically stressed one-parent families. Sexual references and minimal profanity. 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.
Wednesday, March 16, 3:30-6 p.m. EDT (AMC) "Unbreakable" (2000). Melancholy thriller in which the sole survivor (Bruce Willis) of a devastating train wreck is befriended by a frail comic-book gallery owner (Samuel L. Jackson) who suggests the man has physical and psychic abilities that destine him to save others from evildoers. While writer-director M. Night Shyamalan's moody tale is engrossing and the angular camera work initially intriguing, the narrative falters with its ultimately unsatisfying conclusion. Brief violence, fleeting sexual menace and minimal 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-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Thursday, March 17, 8-10:30 p.m. EDT (AMC) "Stranger Than Fiction" (2006). Quirky dramatic comedy about a lonely and neurotic IRS auditor (Will Ferrell) who wakes to find his life being narrated by a seemingly omniscient voice only he can hear, which turns out to belong to a famous reclusive author (Emma Thompson) working on a new novel in which he is the protagonist and that predicts what will happen to him, including his death. By turns sentimental, funny and, in the end, modestly profound, director Marc Forster's existential farce touches on issues of fate and free will, while imparting a wonderful message that the little moments -- the smiles, hugs and small acts of kindness -- we often relegate to footnote status in the narrative of our daily living are what give life its meaning. An implied sexual encounter, brief locker-room rear nudity, a jarring traffic accident and one use of the f-word, as well as a couple of crude expressions and an instance of profanity. 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, March 19, 10 p.m.-midnight EDT (Cinemax) "The Book of Eli" (2010). This unexpectedly contemplative and lyrical, if violent, homage to spaghetti Westerns, martial arts films and religious faith follows a lone hero (Denzel Washington) as he traverses a post-apocalyptic landscape using his considerable fighting skills to safeguard the only extant copy of the King James Bible. Director siblings Albert and Allen Hughes have succeeded at making an entertaining and relatively substantive movie, while refraining from saturating the proceedings in blood or prolonging the violent passages. Still, some moviegoers will find the pairing of Scripture with stylized aggression unnecessary and avoidable. Intermittent strong violence including gunplay and swordplay and a killing intended to be merciful, much rough and some crude language, and brief sexual innuendo. 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.
TV program notes -- week of March 13
Here are some television program notes for the week of March 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, March 13, 8:30-10:30 p.m. EDT (check local listings) (PBS) "Billy Joel Live From Shea Stadium." This episode of the series "Great Performances" captures the highlights of two farewell concerts by singer and songwriter Billy Joel (TV-G -- general audience).
Wednesday, March 16, 8-9 p.m. EDT (check local listings) (PBS) "National Geographic Magazine's Top 10 Photos of 2010." National Geographic's editor-in-chief Chris Johns takes a list of hundreds of exceptional photos from the past year and whittles it down to 10 (TV-G -- general audience).
Thursday, March 17, 10-11 p.m. EDT (Animal Planet) "Bear Woman." Premiere of a new series that follows Ann Bryant as she pursues her mission to save Lake Tahoe's black bears from their biggest threat: people. In this episode, Ann is called upon to deal with a 300-pound mother bear that has charged a tree surgeon, and she comes into conflict with a local sheriff when a bear terrifies a tourist inside his vacation home (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested).
Friday, March 18, 11-11:30 p.m. EDT (EWTN) "St. Peter: Icon for Lent." First episode of a three-part Lenten series in which Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, shows how St. Peter can help us draw closer to Jesus and teach us practical lessons about Christian discipleship. In this installment, he focuses on Chapter 14, Verses 22-23, of the Gospel of St. Matthew, in which Peter is able to walk on water so long as he remains focused on Christ.
Saturday, March 19, 6-7 p.m. EDT (EWTN) "The Shrine of St. Joseph." In observance of his feast day, this program looks at the shrine dedicated to St. Joseph in St. Louis. Built to serve the first waves of German immigration almost 150 years ago, this architectural treasure soon became known for the miraculous healing that led to the canonization of St. Peter Claver, patron of African-Americans.
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