Web site TV for Sept. 19 – Sept. 25, 2010
TV film fare -- week of Sept. 19
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Sept. 19. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Wednesday, Sept. 22, 8-10:30 p.m. EDT (AMC) "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" (1985). Solitary, two-fisted roamer of the post-Armageddon Australian Outback, Mad Max (Mel Gibson) chances upon a backward settlement where he is forced to fight in its arena (the Thunderdome). He also goes on to become a hero figure for a tribe of lost children and has a final showdown with the settlers, involving the usual collection of bizarre vehicles. With the backgrounds showing the appalling consequence of nuclear holocaust, there is more than a touch of solemnity to the proceedings. Directed by George Miller and George Ogilvie, it's all rather violent, but not excessively so, and action fans will find it fairly intelligent entertainment. 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.
Thursday, Sept. 23, 3-5:30 p.m. EDT (AMC) "Big" (1988). When a lad of 12 (David Moscow) wakes up in a 30-year-old body (Tom Hanks), he rises to the top in a computer toy firm by beguiling his boss (Robert Loggia) and a female executive (Elizabeth Perkins) with his innocence and childlike exuberance. Under Penny Marshall's direction, the body-switching gimmick affords a sweet-natured look at the longings, dreams and nightmares of children and adults. Some profanity and a brief, discreetly filmed sexual situation. 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.
Thursday, Sept. 23, 8 p.m.-midnight EDT (TCM) "Ben-Hur" (1959). Director William Wyler's classic Hollywood epic follows the Jewish prince of the title (Charlton Heston) after he's betrayed by his boyhood Roman friend (Stephen Boyd) and subjected to much misery until finally achieving retribution for all his suffering. The narrative's conventional melodrama is transformed by the grand scale of its spectacle, especially the chariot race, and by the stirring performances of its principals who manage to overcome the story's cliches and stereotypes. 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.
Saturday, Sept. 25, 4-5:45 p.m. EDT (TCM) "The Prisoner of Zenda" (1952). Color remake of the 1937 version has Stewart Granger in the dual role as the Englishman who saves a lookalike European crown prince from a ruthless usurper (James Mason), then loses his heart to the king's intended bride (Deborah Kerr). Director Richard Thorpe's turn-of-the-century costume romance has plenty of regal spectacle. But the bittersweet love story is somewhat stilted, and Mason nearly steals the show as the nasty plotter whose downfall in the big action finish is entirely satisfying. Some stylized violence and romantic complications. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, Sept. 25, 8-10 p.m. EDT (HBO) "Up in the Air" (2009). Polished but morally ambivalent comic drama about an emotionally isolated, though contented, single businessman (George Clooney) who spends his life in chain hotels and airports as he travels from city to city firing employees on behalf of downsizing corporate clients. He does this until his rootless lifestyle is threatened by a tech-savvy new colleague (Anna Kendrick) who wants their company to terminate workers via the Internet, and by his deepening feelings for a fellow executive wanderer (Vera Farmiga), with whom he initiated a casual romp. Director and co-writer Jason Reitman's screen version of Walter Kirn's novel is initially engaging and adroitly acted throughout, but the script winks at commitment-free encounters, while what appear at first to be the life-altering events of the plot turn out to be mere incidents with little spiritual impact. Off-screen adulterous and nonmarital sexual activity, brief rear nudity, much sexual talk including lesbianism and masturbation references, a few 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.
Here are some television program notes for the week of Sept. 19 with their TV Parental Guidelines ratings if available. They have not been reviewed and therefore are not necessarily recommended by Catholic News Service.
Sunday, Sept. 19, 10-11 p.m. EDT (EWTN) "At the Gates of Heaven." This special provides a documentary look at the canonization process of St. Padre Pio.
Monday, Sept. 20, 9-10:30 p.m. EDT (PBS) "Cachao: Uno Mas." Narrated and produced by actor Andy Garcia, this "American Masters" presentation celebrates the famed "Father of the Mambo," Israel "Cachao" Lopez, who died in 2008. Cachao's life -- from his childhood in Cuba to his early career in America to his resurgence in the 1990s -- is told through performances and interviews with the maestro himself, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Arturo Sandoval and numerous others (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested).
Wednesday, Sept. 22, 9-11 p.m. EDT (PBS) "New York Philharmonic: Opening Night Concert." The New York Philharmonic's opening night gala -- featuring music director Alan Gilbert conducting the U.S. premiere of "Jazz Symphony," Wynton Marsalis' new work for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the Philharmonic -- is presented as part of the series "Live From Lincoln Center" (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested).
Thursday, Sept. 23, 9-10 p.m. EDT (History) "Dark Future of the Sun." This episode of the series "The Universe" presents new scientific theories about the inevitable death of the Sun five billion years from now -- and the resulting fate of Earth.
Thursday, Sept. 23, 10-11 p.m. EDT (Animal Planet) "The Trapper & the Amazon." A profile of trapper Dairen Simpson. Described as Davy Crockett for the 21st century, Simpson travels to the world's wildest frontier locations to trap jaguars, bears, hyenas and other large predators on behalf of conservation projects (TV-PG -- parental guidance suggested).
Saturday, Sept. 25, 2-4 p.m. EDT (EWTN) "Mass for the Centennial Celebration of Catholic Charities USA (Live)." Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago will be the celebrant and homilist at this Mass of thanksgiving in observance of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Catholic Charities USA.