TV film fare -- week of Oct. 22, 2023
NEW YORK (OSV News) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Oct. 22. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence, and sexual situations.
Sunday, Oct. 22, 9-11 a.m. EDT (AMC) "The Possession" (2012). A seemingly innocuous wooden box purchased at a yard sale contains an evil spirit that takes possession of a young girl (Natasha Calis), blighting her life and those of her recently divorced parents (Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick). Director Ole Bornedal initially achieves above-average results with this mostly gore-free chiller. But returns diminish as his film approaches its overwrought climax. A strong pro-marriage message and the respectful treatment of the Jewish faith by which the afflicted lass is to be exorcised remain pluses nonetheless. Some violent and potentially disturbing images, a premarital situation, at least one use each of profanity and crude language and brief sexual references. The OSV News classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Sunday, Oct. 22, 8-9:30 p.m. EDT (ABC) "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993). Minor fantasy of the macabre with puppet animation telling the tale of Halloweentown's skeleton king replacing the kidnapped Santa Claus to spread Christmas fear with scary toys until stopped by a missile, then returning home to free Santa in time to make his accustomed rounds. Producer Burton's story is centered in the dark world of hobgoblins and monsters suddenly intruding on the bright expectations of St. Nick's annual visit but the narrative proves tiresome in padding out the thin concept, despite all its stylish puppetry and ghoulish humor. Considerable menace and threatening atmosphere. The OSV News classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Sunday, Oct. 22, 8-10 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Mirage" (1965). Gregory Peck plays an amnesia victim who is being stalked by a killer, Diane Baker is a woman out of his past, Walter Matthau is a private detective and, shrouded in the background, is a world peace organization. Directed by Edward Dmytryk, the ingredients of this suspense-filled puzzle may be familiar, but their solution is intriguing and nicely integrated in the New York setting. The OSV News classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.
Tuesday, Oct. 24, 8-10 p.m. EDT (Showtime) "Akeelah and the Bee" (2006). Irresistible story about a South Los Angeles 11-year-old loner (Keke Palmer) who reluctantly agrees to compete in a national spelling bee -- under the tutelage of an emotionally fragile English professor (Laurence Fishburne) and against the initial wishes of her hard-working mother (Angela Bassett), who worries the endeavor will interfere with the girl's flagging grades in other subjects. Writer-director Doug Atchison handles Akeelah's journey of self-discovery and growing empowerment deftly and builds suspense on the way to a satisfying if unabashedly formulaic conclusion, helped by his first-rate leads and inspiring messages about conquering fears, winning by honest means, the strength of community, and, above all, the beauty and potency of words. A few crass expressions and a single use of a four-letter word can't detract from an overall warm endorsement for all audiences. The OSV News classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Thursday, Oct. 26, 8-9:45 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Modern Times" (1936). Charlie Chaplin's insightful fable of man versus machine highlights the artificiality of industrialized society and the anxieties caused by the Depression as Charlie dances his way through the hazards of an assembly line job. A model of silent comedic technique and refined slapstick humor, the movie marks the last appearance of the Little Tramp character as Charlie takes his final walk down the long empty road, this time in the company of Paulette Goddard, who adds an element of freshness to the plot's old-fashioned romance. The OSV News classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association rating was G -- general audiences. All ages admitted. (First in a series of four Chaplin films, concluding with "Limelight" (1952) Friday, Oct. 27, 2:15-4:45 a.m. EDT.)
Saturday, Oct. 28, 4:27-6:29 p.m. EDT (Showtime) "Knowing" (2009). A Boston astrophysicist (Nicolas Cage) discovers that a time-capsule document buried 50 years ago at his son's (Chandler Canterbury) school accurately predicted all of the major disasters of the intervening decades. He sets out to prevent the three calamities, one of them potentially global, that it warns will transpire in the near future. He's eventually aided by the daughter (Rose Byrne) of the woman who wrote the document as a schoolgirl (Lara Robinson). Director Alex Proyas' vastly ambitious, genre-melding drama begins as a horror tale but becomes, by its spectacular though sobering climax, a haunting meditation on faith, sacrifice and family unity. Disturbingly realistic catastrophe scenes, brief sexual humor, a few instances of crude language. The OSV News classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.- - - John Mulderig is media reviewer for OSV News. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @JohnMulderig1.