Web site TV for Dec.12 – Dec.18 , 2010
TV film fare -- week of Dec. 12
Sunday, Dec. 12, 1-3:30 p.m. EST (AMC) "Ever After" (1998). Medieval romance from the Cinderella story of a young Frenchwoman (Drew Barrymore) whose wicked stepmother (Anjelica Huston) has raised her as little more than a servant until her wit, beauty and intelligence win the heart of the bemused crown prince (Dougray Scott), though many complications intervene before the traditional happy ending. Directed by Andy Tennant, the 16th-century setting and costumes provide a fairy-tale atmosphere for proceedings built around a spunky, self-sufficient heroine who takes the lead in the action, with often amusing and, at times, heartwarming results. Some stylized violence, menace and crude 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-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Monday, Dec. 13, 2-4:45 p.m. EST (TCM) "The Nun's Story" (1959). Sent by her religious community to be a nurse in the Belgian Congo, a young nun (Audrey Hepburn) resists her feelings of love for the doctor (Peter Finch) with whom she works, returns to Belgium and, after struggling with the routine of convent life, leaves for the world beyond the wall. Sensitively directed by Fred Zinnemann, the fact-based story focuses on the interior conflict between the nun's idealism and her growing sense of her own needs as an individual. Convincing portrayal of religious life as a vocation requiring more than good intentions. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 3:30-6 p.m. EST (AMC) "Prancer" (1989). Sweet-natured Christmas story about a spirited 8-year-old farm girl (Rebecca Harrell) who cares for an injured reindeer believing it is one of Santa's team. While this "E.T." clone may have its fill of cranky adults and earnest moments, John Hancock's direction has a feel for rural community life that will please older viewers while younger ones will love the reindeer and the praise lavished on the spunky heroine for revitalizing the town's Christmas spirit. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was G -- general patronage. All ages admitted.
Thursday, Dec. 16, 6:15-8 p.m. EST (TCM) "Andy Hardy Meets a Debutante" (1940). In order to rescue the town orphanage trust fund, Judge Hardy (Lewis Stone) journeys to New York City, taking the family along on a trip that threatens to disgrace Andy (Mickey Rooney) back home until he's saved by a wealthy friend (Judy Garland). Directed by George B. Seitz, this installment in the Hardy series provides some period amusement as well as an incidental lesson in democracy. Presented as part of an all-Andy Hardy marathon going from 6 a.m. EST Thursday, Dec. 16, to 8:30 a.m. EST Friday, Dec. 17. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, Dec. 18, 4:30-8 p.m. EST (TCM) "Gandhi" (1982). Superb portrait of India's great political and spiritual leader comes to life in Ben Kingsley's authoritative yet sensitive performance. Director Richard Attenborough's epic-scale production re-creates Gandhi's life and times, especially his use of nonviolence and hunger strikes to bring together the diverse peoples of India and unify them as a nation. Though its scenes of violence are not for children, the movie's vision of justice and peace is for everyone else, especially young people. 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.
Saturday, Dec. 18, 8-9:50 p.m. EST (Showtime) "Extraordinary Measures" (2010). Engaging medical drama, based on actual events, about the often prickly partnership between a successful pharmaceuticals executive (Brendan Fraser) -- two of whose children (Meredith Droeger and Diego Velazquez) are afflicted by the same rare and fatal disease -- and the eccentric scientist (Harrison Ford) whose pioneering but underfunded research may offer the only hope of saving the kids. Director Tom Vaughan's adaptation of Geeta Anand's 2004 book "The Cure," which also features Keri Russell as the businessman's rock-solid spouse, makes no mention of the Catholic faith that helped to sustain the real-life dad. But it does chart his relentless, against-the-odds struggle to overcome the illness, a battle which initially seemed likely to derail his career and deprive him of what little time he might have left to spend with his son and daughter. Brief nongraphic marital lovemaking, at least five uses of profanity and about a dozen crude and a half-dozen crass terms. 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, Dec. 18, 8-10 p.m. EST (HBO) "The Book of Eli" (2010). This unexpectedly contemplative and lyrical, if violent, homage to spaghetti Westerns, martial arts films and religious faith follows a lone hero (Denzel Washington) as he traverses a post-apocalyptic landscape using his considerable fighting skills to safeguard the only extant copy of the King James Bible. Director siblings Albert and Allen Hughes have succeeded at making an entertaining and relatively substantive movie, while refraining from saturating the proceedings in blood or prolonging the violent passages. Still, some moviegoers will find the pairing of Scripture with stylized aggression unnecessary and avoidable. Intermittent strong violence including gun- and swordplay and a killing intended to be merciful, much rough language, some crude language, and brief sexual innuendo. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was L -- limited adult audiences, 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, Dec. 18, 9-11 p.m. EST (ABC) "Madagascar" (2005). Entertaining animated comedy about a quartet of pampered zoo animals (voiced by Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith) who find themselves shipped back to the wild. They discover that the jungle is not all it's cracked up to be. Directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath and imparting a positive message about friendship, the visually vibrant and at times funny film starts out well (the motley menagerie is a hoot), but its early wit gives way to cartoonish slapstick humor that stresses sight gags more than story. Mildly crass language and humor, cartoon violence, as well as some thematic elements that may be disturbing to very young children. 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.
Saturday, Dec. 18, 10 p.m.-midnight EST (Cinemax) "Couples Retreat" (2009). Mostly dull, sexually wayward comedy in which a suburban couple (Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell) on the verge of divorce convince a group of their friends (most prominently Vince Vaughn and Malin Akerman) to join them at a South Pacific resort whose founder (Jean Reno) specializes in marriage therapy. While Peter Billingsley's directorial debut ultimately affirms marital fidelity, viewers have to endure waves of constantly suggestive, occasionally smutty humor and a tide of New Age psychobabble -- an obviously inadequate substitute for faith as a basis for lifelong commitment -- before reaching that safe shore. Strong sexual content, including brief but aberrant adulterous activity, fleeting nongraphic sexual activity within marriage, a flash of rear nudity, many sexually themed jokes, and some crude and much crass language. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was L -- limited adult audiences, 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.
TV program notes
Sunday, Dec. 12, 10-11 p.m. EST (EWTN) "Damien Making a Difference, God Making a Saint." Jozef De Veuster (1840-1889) was a Catholic priest from Belgium and a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. At the age of 33, Father Damien, as he was known in religious life, was sent to minister to the lepers on Molokai, Hawaii. In recognition of the heroic sanctity he displayed in caring for leprosy sufferers, Father Damien was canonized in 2009.
Monday, Dec. 13, 9-10 p.m. EST (ABC) "Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to You." Popular vocalist Mariah Carey performs yuletide classics and original tunes at Los Angeles' Orpheum Theater.
Monday, Dec. 13, 9-10 p.m. EST (PBS) "Christmas at Concordia -- Journey To Bethlehem." Holiday musical special combining the pageantry of opera, the grandeur of choral-orchestral masterworks and the intimacy of solos and duets (TV-G -- general audience).
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 8-9 p.m. EST (ABC) "I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown!" Animated special centering on Rerun, the lovable but ever-skeptical younger brother of Linus and Lucy, and Snoopy's canine brother, Spike (TV-G -- general audience).
Wednesday, Dec. 15, 8-9 p.m. EST (PBS) "Christmas With the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Featuring Natalie Cole and David McCullough." Grammy Award-winner Natalie Cole and Pulitzer Prize-winner David McCullough join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for a Christmas celebration (TV-G -- general audience).
Friday, Dec. 17, 10-11:30 p.m. EST (EWTN) "Ocean of Mercy." This special tells the story of three great souls from Poland -- St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Faustina Kowalska, and Pope John Paul II -- who together inspired countless souls to believe in the mercy of God despite the manifold difficulties of the 20th century.