Penelope

B

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Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements, some innuendo and language.
Profanity: Mild language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking
Violence/ Scariness: Tense emotional confrontations, some mild violence
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: February 29, 2008

penelope.jpgThis off-beat and uneven fairy tale has something in common with its heroine — an uncertain incongruity. That heroine is Penelope (Christina Ricci), an educated, wealthy young woman with a loving heart and the nose of a pig. More of a snout, actually. While it is actually kind of cute, Penelope’s prospective suitors are so horrified by it that one after the other they leap out of her mansion through the window, wanting to get away so fast they do not have time to take the stairs and leave by the door.
The pig nose is the result of a generation-spanning curse. Knowing that the curse can be broken if Penelope is loved and accepted by her equal, her parents (Richard E. Grant and Catherine O’Hara) keep her hidden away and parade dozens of suitable suitors in front of Penelope’s two-way mirror. If they can just keep her indoors until the curse is broken, they think she can have a normal life.
But being kept inside like a hothouse flower (the production design includes bell jars and a terrarium) is not normal. And so, as all captive princesses in fairy tales must, she runs away. And as all romantic comedy leading ladies must, she meets a prince with a secret (James McAvoy).

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Fantasy Movies Romance

Baby Einstein has to admit their DVDs do not educate

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Three cheers for the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. In a press release issued today, CCFC announced that “As a result of CCFC’s Federal Trade Commission complaint, Baby Einstein has completely redesigned its website and is no longer making educational claims about its DVDs and videos.”
I have been a long-time critic of DVDs for under-twos and am delighted that they can no longer be marketed as “educational.” Studies have shown that babies learn less from watching these DVDs than they do from spending the same amount of time observing the world around them. The FTC and Disney have acknowledged what parents have known for thousands of years — that babies learn best from interaction and observation.

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Commentary

Song of Bernadette

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The anniversary of the shrine at Lourdes is a good reminder of the lovely performance of Jennifer Jones in “Song of Bernadette,” the story of the young girl who saw “a beautiful lady” and became Saint Bernadette Soubirous.

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Based on a true story Epic/Historical Family Issues Rediscovered Classic Spiritual films

The Darjeeling Limited

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MPAA Rating: Rated R for langauge
Profanity: Very strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, smoking, substance abuse
Violence/ Scariness: Peril and violence, reference to suicide attempt
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: October 2, 1007
Date Released to DVD: February 26, 2008
Amazon.com ASIN: B0010X8NF0

If Wes Andersen ever decides to treat his characters with the same loving attention he treats his props, he will make better movies. Oh the tschotchkes in this movie! It’s like a long, loving J. Peterman catalogue commercial. If only the people in front of and carting around all of these delectable objects were as intriguing as the objects themselves. Especially those being carted around — the fabulous numbered matching set of luggage brought along on this journey is more compelling than the people carrying it.
That would be the three estranged brothers who inherited the baggage, both metaphorical and literal. The journey is organized by Francis (Owen Wilson, with his head elaborately bandaged through most of the movie), who has brought along an aide with a printer and a laminating machine to hand tuck daily itineraries under the door of the title train’s compartment. Francis has invited Peter (stork-legged Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) to take the train ride with him after a year apart following their father’s funeral.
It is beautiful to look at and there are some intriguing developments. But they are encrusted with precious quirkiness and ironic air quotes that get in the way. Casual cruelty and cool reactions to tragedy attempt fall short of insight. Too much goes on around the edges and too little goes on in the center of the screen.
There are brief moments that show what Anderson is capable of. A pan through the train cars, reminiscent of Joan Crawford’s dazzling vision in “Possessed,” makes us want to see the movie that sensibility is capable of.

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Not specified

Beowulf

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MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sexual material and nudity
Profanity: Some strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, drunkenness
Violence/ Scariness: Very intense and graphic violence for a PG-13, disturbing and grisly images, many characters wounded and killed, suicide
Diversity Issues: References to the end of the era of paganism and beginning of Christianity
Date Released to Theaters: November 16, 2007
Date Released to DVD: February 26, 2008
Amazon.com ASIN: B0011NVC9I

One of the oldest surviving stories is retold through one of the most modern of technologies in a thrilling 3-D adventure from director Robert Zemeckis. beowulf_beowulf_photo_01_lg.jpg

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3D Action/Adventure Animation
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