Web site TV for July 25 - July 31, 2010
TV film fare -- week of July 25
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of July 25. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Sunday, July 25, noon-2 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Miracle in the Rain" (1956). Unabashedly sentimental tale of a World War II romance between a shy Manhattan secretary (Jane Wyman) and a genial, upbeat soldier (Van Johnson), whose death in combat leaves her devastated until she sees him in a vision on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral. Directed by Rudolph Mate from a story by Ben Hecht, the whirlwind romance is charmingly acted, then turns into a manipulative tear-jerker with a spiritually uplifting ending satisfying romantics, though others might find it emotionally empty. Romantic complications and assorted domestic problems. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Sunday, July 25, 7:30-10 p.m. EDT (AMC) "Michael Clayton" (2007). Potent legal drama focusing on a few days in the complicated life of the title character (George Clooney), a "fixer" for a high-powered law firm whose managing partner (Sydney Pollack) dispatches him to deal with the apparent nervous breakdown of the firm's top litigator (Tom Wilkinson) and with its effects on a multimillion-dollar, class-action lawsuit against an agrochemical company whose chief counsel (Tilda Swinton) is prepared to protect her company's interests by whatever means necessary. Writer-director Tony Gilroy's masterfully absorbing film begins at a gallop and the pace -- driven forward by uniformly intense performances -- never slackens. Much rough and crude and some crass language, frequent use of profanity and one scene of a female character in clinging underwear. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Wednesday, July 28, 8-10 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Yesterday's Enemy" (1959). While sloughing through the Burmese jungle in 1942, a squad of British soldiers (led by Stanley Baker) execute some villagers to get information about the Japanese invaders, then ironically face the same treatment when captured by the Japanese. Directed by Val Guest, the tough-minded World War II drama effectively raises moral questions about military expediency and basic human rights. Much tension amid wartime violence. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Friday, July 30, 8 p.m.-midnight EDT (AMC) "JFK" (1991). Choppy dramatization chronicles the efforts of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) to refute the Warren Commission's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald (Gary Oldman) was the sole assassin of President John F. Kennedy and instead charges conspiracy at the highest levels of government by bringing to trial a local gay businessman (Tommy Lee Jones) with alleged CIA connections. Director Oliver Stone freely mixes fact with speculation to validate Garrison's views in a long, unwieldy movie that is dramatically persuasive in reconstructing its version of events. Brief but recurring shots of violence including staged and documentary footage of the assassination and subsequent autopsy, fleeting scene of a homosexual party and intermittent rough language. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Saturday, July 31, 8-9:30 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Bad Day at Black Rock" (1955). Morality tale in the form of a tense thriller set in a small Western town whose residents are forced to face their guilty past when a one-armed stranger (Spencer Tracy) arrives in 1945 asking for the whereabouts of a Japanese-American farmer. Director John Sturges gets much suspense from the uneven odds against the lone, handicapped outsider confronted by increasingly hostile locals (Robert Ryan, Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine). Growing menace and brief but painfully effective violence. 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, July 31, 9-11 p.m. EDT (ABC) "Flightplan" (2005). Smartly crafted Hitchcockian thriller set aboard a jumbo jet en route from Berlin to New York in which a recently widowed passenger (Jodie Foster) questions her sanity as she desperately searches for her young daughter who mysteriously disappeared midflight, leaving no trace she was ever on board. Directed by Robert Schwentke with a top-flight performance by Foster, the tautly paced nail-biter maintains a high-suspense altitude, though the script experiences increasing turbulence in its story logic and plausibility leading to a more conventional action climax. Several intense sequences, some violence including the bad guy meeting a fiery end, minimal crude language and profanity. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Saturday, July 31, 10-11:30 p.m. EDT (Cinemax) "9" (2009). Artistically accomplished but intellectually problematic animated fantasy in which the doll-like titular creature (voice of Elijah Wood) leads a band of similar beings (voiced by, among others, Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, John C. Reilly and Jennifer Connelly) -- each also identified by a number -- as they battle giant mechanical monsters amid the ruins of a post-apocalyptic world. Director Shane Acker's feature debut, an expansion of his 2004 short of the same title, implicitly contrasts a naysaying version of religious faith with enlightening science, a false dichotomy that, despite some eventual modifications, requires mature deliberation by spiritually well-grounded viewers. Complex religious themes, moderate action violence and frequent menace. 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.
Here are some television program notes for the week of July 25 with their TV Parental Guidelines ratings if available. They have not been reviewed and therefore are not necessarily recommended by Catholic News Service.
Tuesday, July 27, 9-10 p.m. EDT (Fox) "MasterChef." Premiere of a new series following famed chef Gordon Ramsay's nationwide search for the best home cooks in America. Joining Ramsay on the judging panel to evaluate participants are restaurateur and winemaker Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot, the youngest four-star chef in the United States. In this episode, amateur cooks present their signature dishes to the three judges, hoping to be awarded the MasterChef apron, which guarantees them a spot in the next round of competition.
Tuesday, July 27, 10-11 p.m. EDT (PBS) "Presumed Guilty." Filmmaker Geoffrey Smith's documentary tells the story of two young lawyers and their struggle to free a man wrongfully convicted of murder in Mexico City. Part of the series "P.O.V." (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested).
Wednesday, July 28, 6:30-7 p.m. EDT (EWTN) "Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne." This documentary examines the history of the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne established by Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, daughter of famous American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Rose became a Catholic and founded the Hawthorne Dominican Sisters, the first to provide hospice care and spiritual ministry for those diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Wednesday, July 28, 8-9:30 p.m. EDT (PBS) "Paul McCartney in Performance at the White House." This celebration in honor of Sir Paul McCartney's receipt of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song includes performances by McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, the Jonas Brothers, Herbie Hancock, Emmylou Harris, Corinne Bailey Rae, Dave Grohl, Faith Hill, Lang Lang and Jack White, with remarks by Jerry Seinfeld (TV-G -- general audience).
Wednesday, July 28, 10-11 p.m. EDT (EWTN) "Demographic Bomb: Demography Is Destiny." An assessment of global coercion shows how population control programs have violated human rights around the world, and created a profound imbalance in the world's economy.
Saturday, July 31, 8-10 p.m. EDT (check local listings) (PBS) "Aretha Franklin Presents: Soul Rewind (My Music)." The queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, presents a collection of rare performances by R&B performers of the classic 1960s-70s soul era (TV-G -- general audience).