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TV film fare -- week of Aug. 12, 2018

By John Mulderig
Posted: 7/30/2018

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NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Aug. 12. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence, and sexual situations.

Sunday, Aug. 12, noon-2 p.m. EDT (TCM) "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" (1953). The small-town Indiana family of "On Moonlight Bay" returns in a sequel centering on the misunderstandings between the strong-willed daughter (Doris Day) and her World War I sweetheart (Gordon MacRae), with a comic subplot involving the upright father (Leon Ames) and a French actress. Directed by David Butler, the proceedings are lighthearted, wholesome family fun, with charming musical numbers and warm period nostalgia. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Eight other movies featuring Day follow, concluding 6 a.m. EDT Monday, Aug. 13.)

Wednesday, Aug. 15, 8-10 p.m. EDT (AMC) "Men in Black" (1997). Zany sci-fi comedy in which a brassy New York City cop (Will Smith) is recruited by a taciturn government agent (Tommy Lee Jones) who monitors extraterrestrial activity in the city to prevent a ferocious alien in human disguise from destroying Earth. Director Barry Sonnenfeld's apt pairing of Smith and Jones mixes understated hip humor with witty creature puppetry and amusing special effects. Some cartoonlike comic violence and a few instances of profanity. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Wednesday, Aug. 15, 10:05 p.m.-midnight EDT (Showtime) "School Ties" (1992). A 1950s working-class high school senior (Brendan Fraser) gets a football scholarship to a posh prep school where he finds friendship and acceptance -- until a jealous teammate (Matt Damon) reveals the newcomer is Jewish. Director Robert Mandel orchestrates a fine ensemble movie that dramatically explores the harmful effects of anti-Semitism. Minor fisticuffs, a few sexual references and brief rear nudity. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Saturday, Aug. 18, 8-10:05 p.m. EDT (HBO) "Darkest Hour" (2018). The spotlight shines brightly on British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) in this World War II drama about political leadership and backroom intrigue, directed by Joe Wright. Churchill was 65 years old and in the twilight of his political career when he was tapped by King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn) to lead a coalition government in May 1940. The war was going badly for the Allies, and Nazi Germany was marching into Belgium and France, threatening an invasion of Britain. Churchill succeeds the feckless Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup), whose policy of appeasement with Germany has left Britain woefully unprepared for war. But Chamberlain enjoys the king's favor, as does the politically ambitious Viscount Halifax (Stephen Dillane). Together, the trio schemes to disgrace Churchill and put Halifax in power. Encouraged by his faithful wife, Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas), Churchill convinces his skeptical colleagues to fight and rallies the nation. Although some liberties are taken with the facts, the film offers an important history lesson for young and old about a time when statesmanship mattered most. Brief scenes of wartime violence and some mature themes. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Saturday, Aug. 18, 10:05 p.m.-12:10 a.m. EDT (Cinemax) "In the Valley of Elah" (2007). Inspired by true events, this is a powerfully understated drama about a patriotic ex-military man (Tommy Lee Jones) who, leaving his worried wife (Susan Sarandon) at home, searches for their missing son who's just returned from duty in Iraq, and who joins forces with a police detective (Charlize Theron) to break through the military's red tape, as they begin to suspect foul play. Writer-director Paul Haggis' script ultimately delivers a strong anti-war message, and cast members -- who also include Jason Patric, James Franco and Josh Brolin -- give sensitive, nuanced performances. Rough language and profanity, rear shower nudity, upper female nudity, brief gruesome war and morgue imagery and verbal descriptions, suicide, drug references, a violent scuffle. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America 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.