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‘My Week With Marilyn’ offers sympathetic look at star

December 2nd, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

Nearly 50 years after her 1962 death, Marilyn Monroe continues to fascinate, with every detail of her often troubled life and loves endlessly dissected and analyzed. The latest treatment is “My Week With Marilyn,” a behind-the-scenes story of the making of one of Monroe’s least successful films, “The Prince and the Showgirl” (1956).

Based on the 1995 memoir by Colin Clark, “My Week With Marilyn” presents the true story of the author’s unexpected friendship with the actress during the film’s production in London. What emerges is a sympathetic portrayal of a tortured, complicated soul, a woman who wanted only to be loved but, in the end, needed love too much.

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‘Descendants’ never rises to resolution

December 1st, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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‘The Descendants’ is sensitive, thoughtful and spiritually bereft.

That’s exceedingly sad, especially considering that the key plot point in this adaptation of the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings concerns a wife and mother of two young daughters left brain-dead after a boating accident. The fact that she’s made a living will, to which her family feels legally bound, means that any moral exploration of her status is also forestalled.

Instead, as Elizabeth King (Patricia Hastie) lies motionless in her hospital bed, the audience is called on to watch husband Matt (George Clooney) and daughters Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and Scottie (Amara Miller) suffer in their various stoic and dysfunctional manners.

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‘Hugo’ casts a charming Parisian spell

November 23rd, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: , , , , ,

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Catholic News Service

Set against the luminous background of 1930s Paris, the family-oriented 3-D fable “Hugo” is a visually rich, emotionally warm adaptation of author Brian Selznick’s best-selling and Caldecott Medal-winning novel, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.”

While it represents a suitable holiday treat for most, though, director Martin Scorsese’s film includes fleeting passages of dialogue touching on adult matters and some mild misbehavior that hinder recommendation for all.

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‘Arthur Christmas’ delivers forgotten toy with 3-D mirth

November 23rd, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

Cartoonist Thomas Nast, who popularized Santa Claus in the 1880s, could not have envisioned the high-tech world of “Arthur Christmas,” a mostly delightful 3-D animated comedy which equips Kris Kringle with a stealth ship, GPS navigation, battalions of ninjalike elves, and scanners that measure children for naughty or nice.

Directed and co-written (with Peter Baynham) by first-time helmer Sarah Smith, and co-produced by Aardman Animations, the company behind the beloved Wallace & Gromit series, “Arthur Christmas” has a first-rate and very funny script and showcases some of the best voice work in a long time.

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‘The Muppets’ launches holiday movie season

November 23rd, 2011 Posted in Featured, Movies

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Jim Henson’s singing, dancing, wise-cracking band of puppets returns to the big screen in “The Muppets” (Disney), an old-fashioned and genuinely funny homage to a simpler age of wholesome family films.

Refreshingly restrained when it comes to the toilet humor and rude behavior so often spoon-fed to young filmgoers these days, “The Muppets” will appeal to nostalgic baby boomers, even as it introduces a new generation to the decidedly low-tech felt figures for whom charm is a strong suit.

Gary (Jason Segel, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Nicholas Stoller) and his brother Walter (voice of Peter Linz) live in Smalltown, U.S.A. They’re good pals, despite the fact that Walter is decidedly different — in fact, he’s a Muppet. Together they watch TV reruns of “The Muppet Show,” which, as many viewers will remember, originally aired in first-run syndication from 1976 to 1981. Read more »

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1

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Catholic News Service

Here’s a puzzler wherewith to bamboozle your friendly neighborhood canon lawyer: Is being undead an impediment to marriage? The question arises, of course, because the gothic sequel “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1” (Summit) opens with the nuptials of its by-now iconic but nonetheless ill-assorted central pair.

For the benefit of those who may have been napping in their coffins for the past half-decade or so, we tarry to explain that said couple is composed of courteous bloodsucker Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and 18-year-old mortal Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a freshly minted high school grad.

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Ice-dancing penguins return in ‘Happy Feet Two’

November 18th, 2011 Posted in Featured, Movies Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

Penguins are once again tap dancing at the bottom of the world in “Happy Feet Two,” the 3-D sequel to the 2006 movie which won the Academy Award for best animated film.

Director and co-writer George Miller returns for this mostly family-friendly musical adventure, which reinforces the themes of his first movie, including believing in yourself, embracing differences and finding your own path through life.

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‘Jack and Jill’ with twice as much Sandler is half-witted

November 11th, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: , , , ,

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Catholic News Service

The sad arithmetic of the latest Adam Sandler offering “Jack and Jill” (Columbia) is that a double serving of its star — one in drag — adds up, in the end, to a half-witted comedy. Too crude for kids and too puerile for their elders, moreover, director Dennis Dugan’s grab bag of potty humor, harsh slapstick and pop-culture gags commands an appropriate audience of just about zero.

Sandler plays both titular characters — the former a successful Los Angeles advertising executive, the latter his well-meaning but irksome, Bronx-based twin sister. When Jill comes to town for her annual Thanksgiving visit, she warms the hearts of Jack’s dutiful wife Erin (Katie Holmes) and their duo of young’uns, son Gary (Rohan Chand) and daughter Sofia (Elodie Tougne).

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‘J. Edgar’ is a personal, political look at FBI founder

November 10th, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

Over a career that began during World War I and endured almost until the era of Watergate, famed founding director of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972) battled communists, gangsters, Nazi spies, the Kennedys, the civil rights movement and (albeit reluctantly) the Mafia.

That’s a lot of time and a lot of conflict for one movie, which is perhaps why “J. Edgar” (Warner Bros.) — Clint Eastwood’s biographical drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the G-man many love to hate — registers, ultimately, as polished but taxing. All the more so since an attempt to reconstruct Hoover’s enigmatic personal life, a subject of much gossip then and considerable controversy now, is thrown into the mix as well.

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Video game review: ‘Madden NFL 12’ rated for adults and adolescents

November 4th, 2011 Posted in Featured, Movies, Youth Tags: , ,

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“Madden NFL 12” (EA Sports) puts professional football right into the hands of the player. The customizable features are seemingly endless in this latest installment of the franchise that originated with 1988’s “John Madden Football.” Gamers can create teams, players and even playbooks.

This year, “Madden” offers new features aimed at making the game as realistic as possible, from bidding on free agents to cutting players at the end of the preseason. Franchise mode allows fans to be at the helm of their favorite NFL team or to create their own team from scratch.

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