By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — The following are capsule reviews from Catholic News Service of new and recent video releases available on DVD and/or Blu-ray — as well as for online viewing. Theatrical movies have a Catholic News Service classification and Motion Picture Association of America rating. These classifications refer only to the theatrical version of the films below, and do not take into account any extra content.
"Cheers for Miss Bishop" (1941)
Sentimental drama of an unmarried teacher (Martha Scott) at a Midwestern college from her student days in the 1870s to her retirement in the 1930s. Directed by Tay Garnett, the result has plenty of heart in its depiction of the teacher’s failed romances (William Gargan and Sidney Blackmer) and her dedication to niece, grandniece and students, as well as a patriotic theme equating knowledge with democracy. Romantic complications. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Olive Films; also available on Blu-ray)
"The Exterminating Angel" (Blu-ray Edition; 1967)
A number of wealthy party guests find that after a long night in the home of their host, they are unable to leave, held by some mysterious force. In the days that follow, their veneer of politeness disintegrates until raw ego shows through. When finally released from each other’s presence, they gather in a church to celebrate their deliverance only to discover themselves once again unable to leave. Director Luis Bunuel’s surrealistic satire amusingly suggests that hell is other people. In Spanish. Subtitles. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Criterion Collection)
"Howards End" (1992)
Exquisitely done drama based on E.M. Forster’s novel about an aristocratic widower (Anthony Hopkins) in turn-of-the-century England who cheats a young woman (Emma Thompson) out of property left her by his wife (Vanessa Redgrave) but then falls in love with her, much to the dismay of her egalitarian younger sister (Helena Bonham Carter). Enhanced by the ensemble cast’s splendid performances, the sensitive collaboration of director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala does justice to Forster’s ironic and witty story of class distinctions and their sometimes tragic outcomes. Discreet sexual innuendo and fleeting violence. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
"Jason Bourne" (2016)
Matt Damon returns in the fifth big-screen outing for the memory-damaged and monosyllabic government agent who first appeared in the novels of Robert Ludlum. Director Robert Greengrass, who co-scripted with Christopher Rouse, bookends the story with extended car and motorcycle chases, with the result that vehicle casualties considerably outnumber the body count from weapons. Although the number of shootings does necessitate an adult rating, the film’s lack of gore and relatively mild language make this possibly acceptable for older adolescents — especially those who understand that the longer the car chase, the thinner the plot. Frequent gun and physical violence, fleeting profanities. Spanish language and titles options. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
"The Neptune Factor" (Blu-ray Edition; 1973)
Ben Gazzara heads the rescue submarine racing to recover the men trapped in an undersea research lab by a volcanic eruption in the North Atlantic. Canadian production directed by Daniel Petrie, the routine underwater adventure relies heavily on the special sub’s scientific gadgetry and the exotic deep sea creatures which will engage the interest of younger viewers but adults may prefer staying on dry land. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G — general audiences. All ages admitted. (Kino Lorber)
"The Quiet Earth" (1986)
New Zealand scientist (Bruno Lawrence) awakes one morning to discover that he is the last man alive after a U.S. celestial experiment goes haywire. Director Geoff Murphy’s quaint science fiction mystery has some suspense and a warning against tampering with the laws of nature. Several scenes with nudity. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Film Movement; also available on Blu-ray)
"The Secret Life of Pets" (2016)
When a pampered terrier (voice of Louis C.K.) is forced to make room for the new dog (voice of Eric Stonestreet) his owner (voice of Ellie Kemper) has rescued from the pound, their rivalry leads to a series of comic misadventures over the course of which their mutual hostility begins to soften in the face of adversity. Romance also blossoms as one of the cossetted protagonist’s neighbors — a fluffy Pomeranian (voice of Jenny Slate) who harbors a secret crush on him — proves her mettle in his hour of need. Together with co-director Yarrow Cheney, Chris Renaud helms an entertaining free-for-all in which amusing characters and pleasing visuals of the Manhattan setting predominate over a serviceable but sketchy plot. Targeted tots will learn lessons about accepting the arrival of a younger sibling and about the value of self-sacrifice. But the smallest may be put off by the dangers that loom on screen while some parents may not be pleased by all the litterbox humor on display there. Potentially frightening scenes of peril, considerable cartoon violence, numerous scatological jokes involving animals. Spanish language and titles options. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
"Something for Everyone" (1970)
Bleak comedy about an aspiring footman (Michael York), in the employ of an enchanting countess (Angela Lansbury), who decides that the swiftest path to noble rank is through the bedroom, with a few slayings along the way. Directed by Harold Prince, there are a few pleasant moments in this adult fairy tale, but not nearly enough for most tastes. Stylized sex and violence. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (Kino Lorber; also available on Blu-ray)
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
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