Web site TV for Aug. 29 – Sept. 4, 2010
TV film fare -- week of Aug. 29
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Aug. 29. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Monday, Aug. 30, 8-9:30 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Monkey Business" (1931). The four Marx Brothers (Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo) cause all manner of havoc as stowaways aboard an ocean liner and even more among some gangsters ashore. Directed by Norman Z. McLeod, the manic absurdity of the wacky sight gags and verbal mayhem keep the nonsensical situation from growing tiresome. Slapstick comedy and zany dialogue, including absurd double entendres. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Monday, Aug. 30, 8-11:15 p.m. EDT (AMC) "For Love of the Game" (1999). While on the mound at the close of the baseball season, an aging pitcher (Kevin Costner) confronts not only the batters but himself as he ponders his future with the team, his passion to excel in the sport that has consumed his life and the loss of the woman he loves (Kelly Preston) because she feels he doesn't need her. Directed by Sam Raimi, the pitcher's thoughts are shown in flashbacks that mirror the mounting tension in the stadium as batter after batter is retired en route to a possible perfect game. There are equally satisfying results for both baseball fans and romantics. Implicit sexual affair, angry outbursts, some coarse language and occasional profanity. 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, Sept. 4, 2-4:45 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Birdman of Alcatraz" (1962). Fact-based prison saga of Robert Stroud (Burt Lancaster), whose death sentence for killing a guard in Leavenworth prison in Kansas was commuted in 1916 to life in solitary confinement. He spent his days becoming an eminent authority on birds before being transferred in 1942 to Alcatraz, where he was deprived of anything to do with birds until transferred out in 1959 to a Missouri hospital for prisoners. In showing Stroud's transformation from a vicious criminal to a dedicated ornithologist over 43 years in solitary, director John Frankenheimer probes the man's rehabilitation in relation to his mother (Thelma Ritter), wife (Betty Field), a sympathetic guard (Neville Brand) and a punitive prison warden (Karl Malden). Stylized violence and justice questions. 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, Sept. 4, 8-9:45 p.m. EDT (HBO) "A Perfect Getaway" (2009). Newlyweds (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) on a hiking honeymoon in a remote area of Hawaii fear that an unwed couple they've befriended (Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez) might be serial killers on the lam. After a reasonably intriguing central twist, though one that fails to jibe entirely with what has gone on before, director David Twohy's thriller becomes overwrought and excessively violent. Considerable action violence, some of it gory, cohabitation, drug use, rear and partial nudity, a half-dozen uses of profanity, and much rough and crude language. 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.
Saturday, Sept. 4, 8-11 p.m. EDT (AMC) "Maverick" (1994). Spirited Western in which a high-stakes, winner-takes-all card game on board a paddle-wheeler attracts a gun-toting gambler (Mel Gibson), the light-fingered lady (Jodie Foster) who has lifted his wallet, and a veteran lawman (James Garner) hired to keep the assorted disreputable players from cheating their way to claiming the half-million-dollar pot. Richard Donner directs an appealing cast of double-crossing critters in a featherweight but crowd-pleasing near-spoof of Western conventions in which substance is gleefully tossed aside in favor of style and escapist fun. Some stylized violence, a brief, discreet bedroom scene and a few coarse expressions. 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. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Saturday, Sept. 4, 10 p.m.-12:35 a.m. EDT (Cinemax) "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (2009). At the behest of his mentor (Michael Gambon), the now-teenage wizard (Daniel Radcliffe) ingratiates himself with a returning Hogwarts instructor (Jim Broadbent) who once taught his archenemy, Lord Voldemort, and whose memories may hold the key to defeating the villain. Meanwhile, adolescent romantic tensions complicate the lad's relationship with his two closest friends (Rupert Grint and Emma Watson). As directed by David Yates, this sixth adaptation of J.K. Rowling's hugely popular fantasy novel series is a richly textured, though at times overcrowded, adventure narrative in which good and evil are clearly delineated, but characters present a range of moral shading. Moderate action violence, occasional peril, a couple of crass expressions, and a few vaguely sexual references. 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.
Here are some television program notes for the week of Aug. 29 with their TV Parental Guidelines ratings if available. They have not been reviewed and therefore are not necessarily recommended by Catholic News Service.
Sunday, Aug. 29, 9-11 p.m. EDT (Animal Planet) "The Cove." This Academy Award-winning documentary chronicles activist Ric O'Barry's fight to reveal the-once secret dolphin hunts that are taking place in various pockets of the world's waters, specifically remote Taiji, Japan, the cove of the title. Directed by Louie Psihoyos (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested).
Tuesday, Aug. 31, 10-11:30 p.m. EDT (PBS) "Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy." Filmmaker Stephanie Wang-Breal's documentary -- the first of three in the series "P.O.V. Adoption Stories" -- charts the transformation of a Chinese orphan adopted by an American family. The program also includes an animated short about an infantryman's experience in World War II's Battle of the Bulge (TV-G -- general audience).
Wednesday, Sept. 1, 8-9:30 p.m. EDT (PBS) "Renee Fleming & Dmitri Hvorostovsky: A Musical Odyssey in St. Petersburg." Fleming, a celebrated American soprano, travels to St. Petersburg, Russia, for a visit with Hvorostovsky, a Russian baritone, who is her friend and frequent co-star. A "Great Performances" presentation (TV-G -- general audience).
Wednesday, Sept. 1, 9:30-11 p.m. EDT (check local listings) (PBS) "A Surprise in Texas: The 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition." Documentary providing a behind-the-scenes look at the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth.
Wednesday, Sept. 1, 10-11 p.m. EDT (History) "Bats." Archaeologist Zahi Hawass journeys to the mysterious caves below the Giza Plateau, site of the Great Pyramids, and discovers they are home to thousands of bats. Part of the series "Chasing Mummies."Thursday, Sept. 2, 9-10 p.m. EDT (History) "Asteroid Attack." This episode of the series "The Universe" examines the latest discoveries about asteroids and the potentially disastrous effects of an asteroid colliding with earth.