TV film fare -- week of Jan. 23, 2022
NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Jan. 23. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Sunday, Jan. 23, 9:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. EST (AMC) "Unbroken" (2014). Though inspirational, this screen version of Laura Hillenbrand's best-selling account of one U.S. airman's (Jack O'Connell) experiences during World War II emphasizes its subject's sufferings at the expense of the remarkable attitude of forgiveness he was eventually able to adopt toward those who had abused him. A former Olympic runner-turned-bombardier, he and two crewmates (Domhnall Gleeson and Finn Wittrock) survived a crash landing at sea, only to face nearly seven weeks adrift on the open ocean. Eventually taken prisoner by the Japanese, he was singled out for mistreatment by the unbalanced commander (Miyavi) of his POW camp. In response, he drew on the same determination that had enabled him to rise to the top as an athlete to endure through a marathon of cruelty. Director Angelina Jolie vividly recreates the brutality to which Allied captives in the Pacific Theater were all too often subjected. But she relegates her main character's unusual, if not unique, spiritual achievement -- which seems to have been inspired, at least indirectly, by his Catholic upbringing -- to a written epilogue. Combat and other violence, including torturous beatings, rear male nudity in a nonsexual context, a couple of uses of profanity and of crude language, a few crass terms, a bit of mild sexual humor. The Catholic News Service 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.
Tuesday, Jan. 25, 5:30-8 p.m. EST (Showtime) "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999). Disquieting melodrama set in 1958 Italy where, after befriending a rich expatriate couple (Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow), an impoverished young American (Matt Damon) impulsively takes the man's life, assumes his identity and stops at nothing to keep the risky charade going. Adapted by director Anthony Minghella from Patricia Highsmith's 1955 novel, a chilling cautionary tale of materialism expanding to grotesque evil unfolds replete with seductive visuals and sleek performances but an ambiguous ending. Occasional gory violence, an implied affair, discreet homosexual innuendo, fleeting full nudity and a few instances of rough language. 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 rating was R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Wednesday, Jan. 26, 10 p.m.-midnight EST (TCM) "The Southerner" (1945). A year in the life of a Texas sharecropper (Zachary Scott) who works hard to support his wife (Betty Field), two children and grandmother (Beulah Bondi) until his first harvest is wiped out by a flash flood and he considers quitting the land to become a factory worker. Directed by Jean Renoir, the location photography gives a semi-documentary flavor to this portrait of simple, homespun characters whose sense of independence and self-reliance sustain them through the hardships and insecurities of farm life. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.
Thursday, Jan. 27, 8-10:03 p.m. EST (Lifetime) "Sister Act" (1992). Having witnessed a mob rubout, a Reno lounge singer (Whoopi Goldberg) hides out in a cloistered San Francisco convent disguised as a nun and horrifies the mother superior (Maggie Smith) by turning their choir into a local sensation and getting the nuns involved in their neighborhood. Director Emile Ardolino parlays Goldberg's sassiness into a lively comedy that treats nuns both as comic figures and spirited, caring individuals with a positive lifestyle. References to an extramarital affair and brief comic violence. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (Followed by the sequel "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit" (1993) 10:03 p.m.-12:01 a.m. EST.)
Saturday, Jan. 29, 2:45-5:30 p.m. EST (TCM) "Birdman of Alcatraz" (1962). Fact-based prison saga of Robert Stroud (Burt Lancaster), whose death sentence for killing a guard in Leavenworth Prison in Kansas was commuted in 1916 to life in solitary confinement. He spent his days becoming an eminent authority on birds before being transferred in 1942 to Alcatraz, where he was deprived of anything to do with birds until transferred out in 1959 to a Missouri hospital for prisoners. In showing Stroud's transformation from a vicious criminal to a dedicated ornithologist over 43 years in solitary, director John Frankenheimer probes the man's rehabilitation in relation to his mother (Thelma Ritter), wife (Betty Field), a sympathetic guard (Neville Brand) and a punitive prison warden (Karl Malden). Stylized violence and justice questions. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.
Saturday, Jan. 29, 8-9:46 p.m. EST (Cinemax) "Mimic" (1997). Creepy horror film in which husband-and-wife scientists (Jeremy Northam and Mira Sorvino) desperately try to eradicate a colony of human-sized killer insects breeding in the subway tunnels of New York City where homeless people have become their first victims. Director Guillermo Del Toro's monster movie provides periodic jolts through scary special effects, but suspense ultimately gives way to formula storytelling. Recurring fantasy violence with occasional rough language and profanity. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association rating was R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.