TV film fare -- week of May 29
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of May 29. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Sunday, May 29, 10 p.m.-12:15 a.m. EDT (TCM) "Battleground" (1949). Centering on the dogged resistance of an American infantry unit cut off in the Battle of the Bulge -- Hitler's last desperate offensive in the West -- the movie makes the most of its cross section of GIs (Van Johnson, John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalban, James Whitmore, George Murphy, et. al.) as representative of the nation's ethnic, regional and social diversity. Veteran director William Wellman keeps the action taut and credible, uses the battlefield's snow-filled terrain to add further misery to the unit's plight and tries to keep his grab-bag collection of civilian-soldiers from turning into superheroes. Wartime violence and mild sexual references. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Monday, May 30, 4-8 p.m. EDT (AMC) "The Longest Day" (1962). The Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, is re-created on an epic scale in this three-hour dramatization of the operational preparations, behind-the-line activities but mostly the ferocious battle itself, with particular attention to the American landings at Omaha Beach. Directed by Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton and Bernard Wicki, the result is an absorbing account of D-Day from both sides of the battlefield, with convincing portrayals of men in combat from an international cast headed by John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and Henry Fonda. Wartime violence seen in the context of a righteous cause. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Monday, May 30, 8-10:30 p.m. EDT (AMC) "Midway" (1976). Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda and Glenn Ford head an all-star cast in this occasionally effective re-creation of the most decisive naval battle of World War II. Unfortunately, director Jack Smight is unable to overcome the shallow fictional subplots that supposedly were meant to add human interest but which instead blunt the emotional potential of historical material capable of standing on its own. Wartime violence and some rough language. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Friday, June 3, 8-10 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Father of the Bride" (1950). Delightful comedy from Edward Streeter's novel about a self-assured suburbanite (Spencer Tracy) suddenly thrust into the unfamiliar world of wedding preparations and financial obligations when his only daughter (Elizabeth Taylor) announces her engagement. Brightly directed by Vincente Minnelli, Tracy is superb as the caring but confused head of the household helped by patient wife Joan Bennett to come to terms with their daughter's vision of the perfect wedding. Amusing yet perceptive view of middle-class life and family values. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, June 4, 8-10 p.m. EDT (HBO) "Knight and Day" (2010). This good-natured, though intermittently violent, action-and-romance combo sees an everyday woman (Cameron Diaz) unwittingly caught up in the conflict between a highly skilled but apparently rogue CIA agent (Tom Cruise) and his former colleagues (led by Viola Davis and Peter Sarsgaard) as they battle each other and an evil Spanish arms dealer (Jordi Molla) for possession of a recently invented (by young geek Paul Dano) energy source with revolutionary potential. Director and co-writer James Mangold's breezy diversion takes a largely bloodless toll on the extras while the adroitly portrayed central relationship progresses, for the most part, innocently enough. Frequent, though mostly nongraphic, action violence, at least one use of profanity and of the F-word, some crude language, a few instances of sexual humor. 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, June 4, 10-11:30 p.m. EDT (Cinemax) "Vampires Suck" (2010). In this pale, stale and mirthless spoof of the "Twilight" films, Matt Lanter is a tortured vampire and Jenn Proske is the mortal high schooler he loves. Completing the triangle is her friend with werewolf issues played by Chris Riggi. Co-directors and writers Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer find the bottom of the comedy barrel and scrape it mightily with a collection of sight gags strung together to approximate the story arc of the famed teen-vampire franchise. Fleeting profane, crude and crass language, some sexual innuendo. 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 29
Here are some television program notes for the week of May 29 with their TV Parental Guidelines ratings if available. They have not all been reviewed and therefore are not necessarily recommended by Catholic News Service.
Sunday, May 29, 8-9:30 p.m. EDT (PBS) "National Memorial Day Concert." The annual Memorial Day concert honors the service and sacrifice of the men and women in uniform, their families and all those who have given their lives for their country. Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise co-host (TV-G -- general audience).
Monday, May 30, noon-2 p.m. EDT (EWTN) "Archdiocese for the Military Services Memorial Mass." Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, is the celebrant and homilist at this liturgy in Washington's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Monday, May 30, 9-11 p.m. EDT (History) "Gettysburg." This special, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, seeks to present one of that conflict's most significant engagements in a new light: as a visceral, terrifying experience with everything on the line.
Tuesday, May 31, 8-9:30 p.m. EDT (PBS) "Carnegie Hall 120th Anniversary Concert." Conductor Alan Gilbert leads the New York Philharmonic in a festive gala concert commemorating the 120th anniversary of Carnegie Hall. With Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, Audra McDonald and others (TV-G -- general audience).
Tuesday, May 31, 9-11 p.m. EDT (History) "Lee & Grant." Produced with the cooperation of Civil War historian Winston Groom (author of "Forrest Gump") this special takes a personal look at two iconic leaders of the Civil War, and examines their actions on decisive battlefields like Vicksburg and Gettysburg.
Wednesday, June 1, 9-10 p.m. EDT (TNT) "Franklin & Bash." Premiere of a new drama series about Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), a pair of devil-may-care law partners with an unorthodox approach to litigation. In this episode, as the duo sues an advertizing agency, claiming a provocative billboard causes road accidents by distracting male drivers, and defends a woman who caters to unusual sexual tastes against a charge of prostitution, their success draws the interest of high powered legal veteran Stanton Infeld (Malcolm McDowell) who invites them to join -- and shake up -- his tradition-minded firm. As the description of the main characters' caseload makes clear, the focus here is squarely on matters mid-sectional, from the opening banter about bedding celebrities through a scene in which Bash emerges from a hot tub and strolls through the crowd at a party sans swim trunks, his state more than merely implied for viewers. A potentially entertaining premise and a morally positive subplot about Bash's efforts to reconcile with his ex-wife are further overwhelmed by a barrage of vulgar talk and lewd jokes.
Wednesday, June 1, 9 p.m.-midnight EDT (PBS) "Nixon in China." Composer John Adams conducts the Metropolitan Opera premiere of his most famous work. Director and longtime Adams collaborator Peter Sellars makes his Met debut with this production of the 1987 opera, an exploration of the human truths beyond the headlines surrounding President Nixon's 1972 encounter with communist China. Baritone James Maddalena stars in the title role. Part of the series "Great Performances at the Met" (TV-PG/S -- parental guidance suggested; some sexual situations).
Saturday, June 4, 2-3 p.m. EDT (EWTN) "Living the Liturgy: Clear Creek Monastery." A profile of the life and mission of Benedictine monks in Clear Creek, Okla., framed according to the eight daily prayer times that the monks observe in celebrating the church's Liturgy of the Hours.