TV film fare -- week of May 15
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of May 15. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Sunday, May 15, 7-10 p.m. EDT (AMC) "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (1997). Uninspired sequel to the 1993 blockbuster again pits a scientific team (notably Jeff Goldblum and Julianne Moore), as well as a rival group of armed mercenaries, against a rampaging colony of genetically re-created dinosaurs who are now thriving on another remote tropical isle. Director Steven Spielberg delivers the expected jolts of terror with special-effects wizardry, but the cardboard characters and formula narrative make the movie less than involving. Several violent deaths and much intense menace. 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.
Monday, May 16, 5:15-7 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Young Mr. Lincoln" (1939). Henry Fonda gives a warm, ingratiating performance as the young country lawyer whose self-deprecating wit and common-sense intelligence are put to the test in defending an innocent youth charged with murder. Director John Ford is at his best in this leisurely slice of Americana that gains stature in credibly foreshadowing the homespun virtues which would soon propel young Abe into Illinois politics and the White House. Durable family fare that is as meaningful as it is entertaining. 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 17, 7-9:15 p.m. EDT (TCM) "National Velvet" (1944). Warmly sentimental story of an English country girl (Elizabeth Taylor) who sets her heart on entering her spirited horse, Pie, in the Grand National Steeplechase, England's most challenging race, and with the help of an ex-jockey (Mickey Rooney) and supportive parents (Anne Revere and Donald Crisp), her great expectations are finally realized. Directed by Clarence Brown, it is a fine picture of youthful ambition and determination fostered within a caring, loving home. A family classic with special appeal for youngsters. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, May 21, 7-8:30 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Cat People" (1942). Effectively understated horror movie in which a husband (Kent Smith) tries to help his bride (Simone Simon) conquer her fear of an old Serbian legend about humans cursed with the power to turn into deadly panthers. In their first effort to wring suspense from low-budget melodramas, producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur create a sinister atmosphere and some scary scenes -- notably in a hotel swimming pool -- but are less successful with the weak plot. Much menace and a broken marriage. 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, May 21, 8-11 p.m. EDT (ABC) "Spider-Man 3" (2007). Excellent second sequel has Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire), on the verge of proposing marriage to girlfriend Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) while Peter's friend-turned-nemesis Harry (James Franco) recovers from an amnesia-inducing accident which temporarily erases their enmity, though Peter's increasingly prideful behavior and two formidable villains, Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and Venom (Topher Grace), set the stage for trouble. Director and co-writer Sam Raimi mixes the expected action sequences (impressive digital effects) with a well-acted, very human story imbued with a strong moral focus resulting in a fine and surprisingly moving -- if somewhat overlong -- action film, with solid themes of good versus evil, forgiveness and redemption. Acceptable for older teens. Intense action violence, a couple of crass words, suicide reference, mild innuendo and a suggestive dance. 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, May 21, 10-11:45 p.m. EDT (Cinemax) "Charlie St. Cloud" (2010). After losing his younger brother (Charlie Tahan) in a car accident for which he was indirectly responsible, a gifted sailboat racer (Zac Efron), wracked by guilt and grief, becomes the caretaker of the cemetery where his sibling rests, on the edge of which, briefly each evening, he is mysteriously able to see and communicate with the lad. But his reclusiveness is challenged when a high school classmate and fellow sailor (Amanda Crew) returns to town and captures his heart. Though unusually spiritual and even explicitly religious, director Burr Steers' melancholy parable, adapted from Ben Sherwood's best-selling 2004 novel, "The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud," never quite jells, despite Efron's sensitive portrayal of his isolated, ethereal character, while the script romanticizes the premature consummation of the scarred youth's potentially life-altering love. Nongraphic premarital sexual activity, a few instances of sexual humor, at least one use of profanity, a couple of crude terms and six crass remarks. 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 May 15
Here are some television program notes for the week of May 15 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 15, 7-8 p.m. EDT (Animal Planet) "Prairie Dog Chatter." Biologist Con Slobodchikoff introduces a species of little animals with big voices who call the North American prairies home -- prairie dogs. After 30 years of studying their calls, Slobodchikoff believes he's discovered a complex language, second only to that of humans. Part of the series "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested).
Sunday, May 15, 8-9 p.m. EDT (PBS) "Bears of the Last Frontier: The Road North." This "Nature" presentation chronicles part of biologist Chris Morgan's yearlong motorcycle odyssey deep into Alaska's bear country to explore the amazing resiliency and adaptability of these majestic animals as they struggle to survive in five dramatically diverse Alaskan ecosystems (TV-G -- general audience).
Sunday, May 15, 10-11 p.m. EDT (EWTN) "Harvest of Souls." This program documents the 1995 canonization ceremony of St. Eugene de Mazenod (1782-1861), the founder of the Oblates of the Immaculate Conception.
Monday, May 16, 9-11 p.m. EDT (PBS) "Freedom Riders." As recounted in this episode of the series "American Experience," between May and November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives - and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment - for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the then heavily segregated Deep South (TV-PG/LV -- parental guidance suggested; infrequent coarse language, moderate violence).
Friday, May 20, 10-11 p.m. EDT (EWTN) "Benedictus XVI: Papa Joseph Ratzinger." This special explores the life and teachings of Pope Benedict XVI -- from his experiences as a cardinal, through the 2005 interregnum and his installation as pope after Blessed John Paul II's death. The program will be rebroadcast Saturday, May 21, 2-3 p.m. EDT.