The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of May 1. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence, and sexual situations.
Sunday, May 1, 7-10 p.m. EDT (AMC) "The Perfect Storm" (2000). When three fierce weather systems collide off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1991, a fishing trawler's six-man crew (including George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg) is caught in its grip as monster waves hamper Coast Guard and Air Force rescue efforts. Director Wolfgang Petersen adapts Sebastian Junger's fact-based best-seller as entertainment, emphasizing special-effects thrills over compelling characterizations, although the movie captures how precious each human life is in the face of the awesome power of nature. Discreet sexual innuendo, some profanity and an instance of rough 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.
Monday, May 2, 2:45-5 p.m. EDT (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.
Tuesday, May 3, 8-11 p.m. EDT (AMC) "The Sons of Katie Elder" (1965). John Wayne stars as the eldest of four brothers (Dean Martin, Earl Holliman and Michael Anderson Jr.) who reunite at the funeral of their mother, then set out to get the land grabber (James Gregory) who killed their father and stole the family ranch. Directed by Henry Hathaway, the story is overly familiar as well as overlong, but Wayne is in top form as the mythic Western hero who prevails against injustice. Some fairly intense stylized violence. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Wednesday, May 4, 8-10 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Stepping Out" (1991). A past-her-prime tap-dance teacher (Liza Minnelli) gamely tries to prepare eight fumbling adult students for their professional debut while evaluating a longtime love affair in light of her unexpected pregnancy. Producer-director Lewis Gilbert infuses a very human drama with many charming comic moments for a warm-hearted look at distinctly different individuals affecting each other for the better. A live-in relationship and momentary 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.
Saturday, May 7, 8-10 p.m. EDT (TCM) "The Bicycle Thief" (1949). Simple yet compelling study in desperation as a worker (Lamberto Maggiorani) must find his stolen bicycle or lose his new job. Ignored by the police and others, the man and his young son (Enzo Staiola) search the streets for it until, in despair, he himself tries to steal a bicycle. Scripted by Cesare Zavattini and directed by Vittorio De Sica, the result is an engrossing picture of the human realities of life on the edge of poverty, shot on the streets of Rome with a cast of nonprofessionals that brought a new realism to the postwar screen and a new emotional honesty to the stories it told. Subtitles. Some earthy references. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Pictures Association of America.
Saturday, May 7, 10-11:40 p.m. EDT (Cinemax) "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.
TV program notes -- week of May 1
Here are some television program notes for the week of May 1 with their TV Parental Guidelines ratings if available. They have not been reviewed and therefore are not necessarily recommended by Catholic News Service.
Sunday, May 1, 10-11 p.m. EDT (check local listings) (PBS) "Irena Sendler: In the Name of Their Mothers." Filmmaker Mary Skinner's documentary profiles Polish Catholic heroine Irena Sendler and her wartime conspiracy of women who outfoxed the Nazis and saved the lives of thousands of Jewish children. The film features archival footage, family photographs and historical re-creations, as well as the last in-depth interview with Sendler before her 2008 death at age 98 (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested).
Tuesday, May 3, 10-11 p.m. EDT (History) "How the States Got Their Shapes." Premiere of a new series in which journalist Brian Unger crisscrosses the nation in search of the stories behind our state boundaries and the sometimes jagged geography those borders create. In this episode, "A River Runs Through It," Unger looks at the geographical impact of various bodies of water, examining how a mistake made by the Founding Fathers affects the Georgia-Tennessee borderline -- and how that boundary might actually change because of water - and why Maine has so much water, while Nevada was left high and dry.
Wednesday, May 4, 8-9 p.m. EDT (PBS) "China's Terracotta Warriors." This episode of the series "Secrets of the Dead" examines the possibility that the ancient Chinese may have had Henry Ford beat by more than 2,000 years with their own assembly line, used to produce 8,000 lavishly painted terracotta warriors (TV-PG/V - parental guidance suggested; moderate violence).
Wednesday, May 4, 9-11 p.m. EDT (History) "Custer's Last Man: I Survived Little Big Horn." This special explores the claim that a soldier named August Finkle was the lone survivor of the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn, a conflict also known as "Custer's Last Stand." Forensics on the man's skeleton and his two gunshot wounds seem to show that the story he reluctantly told the world nearly 50 years after the battle was true.