NEW YORK (CNS) — The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Nov. 13. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Monday, Nov. 14, 10-11:30 p.m. EST (TCM) “Shanghai Express” (1932). Classic romantic adventure in which a British officer (Clive Brook) and the woman he once loved (Marlene Dietrich) meet on a passenger train, which is captured by Chinese rebels whose ruthless leader (Warner Oland) agrees to spare the officer provided she becomes his consort. Directed by Josef von Sternberg, the melodramatic plot gains emotional credibility from Lee Garmes’ Academy Award-winning camerawork which alternates stark images of the wartime Chinese setting with poetic visuals of the couple’s romantic struggles. Stylized violence, romantic complications and sexual innuendo. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III — adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Tuesday, Nov. 15, 5-8 p.m. EST (AMC) “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (2003). Lavish high-seas adventure, based on Patrick O’Brian’s popular maritime novels, about an intrepid British naval captain (Russell Crowe) who must hunt down and destroy a superior French frigate during the Napoleonic wars. Combining grand swashbuckling spectacle with painstaking attention to detail, director Peter Weir weaves a salty yarn about honor, duty and friendship, which, while steering clear of the dehumanizing reefs of gratuitous violence, proves effective as both an engaging historical drama and entertaining escapist fare. Naval battle violence with related gory images, a suicide and minimum mildly crude language. 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.
Wednesday, Nov. 16, 10-11:45 a.m. EST (TCM) “Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion” (1965). The comic adventures of conservationists (Marshall Thompson and Betsy Drake) in an African wildlife preserve where they fight off a gang of poachers with the help of their friend of the title. Directed by Andrew Marton, the animals are cute, the action mild and the result painless for the younger members of the family. 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.
Thursday, Nov. 17, 9:45-11:45 p.m. EST (TCM) “Juggernaut” (1974). Demolition expert Richard Harris tries to disarm seven bombs placed by a madman aboard Omar Sharif’s luxury liner carrying some 1,200 passengers. Director Richard Lester deftly turns a routine thriller into a grand, fast and suspenseful entertainment. 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, Nov. 19, 7-10 p.m. EST (AMC) “True Grit” (1969). Rousing Western adventure based on the Charles Portis novel about a justice-minded little gal with true grit (Kim Darby) who tracks down her father’s killer with the aid of a gruff overweight U.S. marshal (John Wayne) and an overeager Texas Ranger (Glen Campbell). Directed with gusto by Henry Hathaway, their adventures and scrapes with death are furious and action-packed, though leavened nicely with human touches and good humor. Because of some stylized violence, young children may need the support of older members of the family. 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.
Saturday, Nov. 19, 8-10 p.m. EST (HBO) “The Dilemma” (2011). Unappealing mix of comedy and drama as a Chicago businessman (Vince Vaughn) and reformed gambler discovers that his best friend and partner’s (Kevin James) wife (Winona Ryder) is cheating with a younger man (Channing Tatum). Unable to bring himself to share the news, he undertakes a series of credulity-straining antics designed either to gain proof of the affair or end it. But his strange behavior convinces his live-in girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly) that he’s returned to betting. Though fidelity, honesty and the value of marriage are affirmed in passing, and Vaughn’s character even pauses to pray for guidance, the plot of director Ron Howard’s mood-shifting mess primarily serves as an excuse for stringing together Vaughn’s trademark manic riffs. And like them or not, they fail to offset the showcasing of wayward, sometimes seamy bedroom behavior. Brief graphic adulterous sexual activity with fleeting rear nudity, cohabitation, prostitution theme, much sexual humor, a half-dozen uses of profanity, at least one instance of the F-word, considerable crude and crass language, obscene gestures. 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.
Saturday, Nov. 19, 10-11:50 p.m. EST (Cinemax) “Conviction” (2010). When her brother (Sam Rockwell) is convicted of a brutal murder and imprisoned for life, a working-class Massachusetts woman (Hilary Swank), who dropped out of high school, completes her undergraduate degree and struggles to finish law school and gain admission to the bar, all in an attempt to clear him. As her suspicions focus on one of the arresting officers (Melissa Leo), she gains the help of a fellow law student and newfound friend (Minnie Driver) as well as that of a famed attorney (Peter Gallagher). Gritty yet touching, director Tony Goldwyn’s fact-based drama — set in a hardscrabble environment, its dialogue studded with vulgarities — celebrates its heroine’s selfless dedication and endless determination. But it also shows the toll her crusade takes on her marriage and her relationship with her two young sons (Conor Donovan and Owen Campbell). Some gruesome crime scene images, brief rear nudity, a suicide theme, about a dozen uses of profanity, close to 60 instances of rough language, and frequent crude or crass terms. 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.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
Copyright (c) 2011 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops