Web site TV for May 23 – May 29, 2010
TV film fare -- week of May 23
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of May 23. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence, and sexual situations.
Sunday, May 23, 6-8 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Sounder" (1972). Appealing story of a black family of Louisiana sharecroppers struggling to survive against natural and human odds during the early days of the Depression. When the father (Paul Winfield) is jailed for stealing food, his wife (Cicely Tyson) and three children (Kevin Hooks is the eldest) are left to crop the sugar cane on their own. The boy's subsequent odyssey to find the labor camp where his father is being held provides additional drama. Produced by Robert B. Radnitz and directed by Martin Ritt, it captures the humanity of the characters and a fine, distanced sense of its sleepy Southern locale. The movie earns a deep emotional response from its audience because its story and characters are believable. Not only a valid examination of the black experience in America, it is also a fine family experience. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was G -- general audiences. All ages admitted.
Sunday, May 23, 7:30-10 p.m. EDT (AMC) "True Crime" (1999). Tautly paced drama in which a disgraced, womanizing reporter (Clint Eastwood), newly assigned to cover the execution of a black man (Isaiah Washington) at midnight, races against time to turn up evidence to support his belief in the man's innocence. Produced and directed by Eastwood, the character studies of both men prove absorbing, but the climax is flawed by trite plot contrivances. Brief violence, sympathetic treatment of adultery, much rough language and recurring profanity. 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.
Wednesday, May 26, 8-11 p.m. EDT (ABC) "Transformers" (2007). Engineered to appeal to a wide cross section of the public, this lumbering, mindless summertime entertainment -- based on the Hasbro action toys from the 1980s -- follows a teenager (Shia LaBeouf) embroiled in a battle between two factions of shape-shifting alien robots, with the fate of mankind and the universe hanging in the balance. Director Michael Bay has evidently benefited from working with executive producer Steven Spielberg, because humanistic themes offset Bay's propensity to fetishize weaponry and explosions, but not the movie's large amount of gratuitous material inappropriate for children and teens. Numerous sexual references, some crude language, a vulgar gesture, disrespectful racial jokes, drug references and some moderately violent action sequences. 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.
Friday, May 28, 8-10:15 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Stalag 17" (1953). Serio-comic World War II tale of a German POW camp holding about 600 captured U.S. airmen, among whom is a cynical opportunist (William Holden) whose profitable bartering with the guards causes his comrades to suspect that he's the informer who has been betraying their escape plans to the Nazi commandant (Otto Preminger). Director Billy Wilder turns the bleak prisoner-of-war situation into a zesty black comedy, mixing slapstick high jinks with tense drama as the prisoners puzzle over the mysterious identity of the informer in their midst. Stylized violence and some sexual innuendo. 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 29, 8-11 p.m. EDT (TCM) "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946). Three World War II veterans (sergeant Fredric March, bombardier Dana Andrews and sailor Harold Russell with hooks in place of hands) meet on their way home to resume civilian lives in the same small town where they try to help each other readjust to peacetime. Director William Wyler gives sympathetic treatment to the postwar rehabilitation of returning GIs, portraying in fairly realistic detail their career difficulties as well as personal problems with wives and girlfriends (Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo and Cathy O'Donnell). Mature themes, including a broken marriage. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, May 29, 10-11:40 p.m. EDT (Cinemax) "My Life in Ruins" (2009). Cotton-ball-soft romantic comedy about a travel guide in Greece (Nia Vardalos) who learns to absorb the spirit of the Greek islands in order to enjoy life and find romance with -- who else? -- a handsome Greek (Alexis Georgoulis). Director Donald Petrie and screenwriter Mike Reiss duplicate the slow, ambling formula of Vardalos' monster hit, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," to the letter, replacing her passel of eccentric but lovable relatives with a busload of eccentric but lovable tourists. So devoid of objectionable elements, it's probably acceptable for older adolescents. A couple of implied premarital encounters, mild sexual banter and innuendo. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
TV program notes -- week of May 23
Here are some television program notes for the week of May 23 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 23, 3:30-5:30 a.m. EDT (EWTN) "Solemn Mass of Pentecost With Pope Benedict XVI (Live)." The pontiff celebrates the eucharistic liturgy for the feast of Pentecost, live from Rome's St. Peter's Basilica. The Mass will be rebroadcast noon-2 p.m. EDT.
Sunday, May 23, 8-10 p.m. EDT (CBS) "ACM Presents: Brooks & Dunn: The Last Rodeo." Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban will be among the guest performers appearing on this concert special as the Academy of Country Music honors Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn, the best-selling duo in the history of country music. During the tribute, which will be held at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena, the pair will receive the academy's Milestone Award in recognition of their 20-year, record-breaking career.
Sunday, May 23, 9-10:30 p.m. EDT (PBS) "Miss Marple, Series V: The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side." In this "Masterpiece Mystery!" presentation, several people are found poisoned soon after a celebrated actress and her film director husband settle in Miss Marple's hometown of St. Mary Mead. Acclaimed British actress Julia McKenzie stars as the beloved spinster sleuth and Alan Cumming hosts. (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested)
Monday, May 24, 10-11 p.m. EDT (PBS) "A Place Out of Time: The Bordentown School." A history of New Jersey's Bordentown School, which taught values, discipline and life skills to generations of African-American children, as told by alumni and historians, with archival footage. Ruby Dee narrates. (TV-G -- general audience)
Tuesday, May 25, 10:30-11:30 p.m. EDT (PBS) "A Village Called Versailles." Filmmaker Leo Chiang's documentary chronicles a successful fight by New Orleans' Vietnamese refugee community against the opening of a toxic, government-imposed landfill. Part of the series "Independent Lens." (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested)Saturday, May 29, 2-3 p.m. EDT (EWTN) "Road of Hope: The Spiritual Journey of Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan." Inspiring documentary about the life of the late cardinal, who headed the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 1998 until his death in 2002 at age 74. Vietnam's communist regime jailed him in 1975 when he was the newly named coadjutor bishop of Saigon, later renamed Ho Chi Minh City. He was never tried or sentenced, and spent nine of his 13 years of detention in solitary confinement. After the cardinal's release in 1988, the communist authorities refused to let him resume his post or to be reassigned to the Archdiocese of Hanoi. The prelate fled to Rome in 1991 after a Vietnamese government official "suggested" he leave. Writer-director David Naglieri uses archival footage and photographs, as well as interviews with relatives and church colleagues to capture the indomitable spirit of this popular candidate for sainthood.