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TV film fare -- week of Oct. 21, 2018


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NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Oct. 21. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 5:45-8 p.m. EDT (TCM) "The Great Dictator" (1940). In this satirical indictment of Nazi totalitarianism, writer-producer-director Charles Chaplin plays dual roles as Hynkel, a European dictator modeled on Hitler, and as the lookalike Jewish barber who takes his place. As the barber's lady love, Paulette Goddard shines luminously, even when banging storm troopers over the head with a frying pan, and Jack Oakie steals some scenes with a goofy Mussolini takeoff. Its treatment of serious themes makes it unlikely fare for the very young. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was G -- general audiences. All ages admitted.

Wednesday, Oct. 24, 5:45-8 p.m. EDT (Showtime) "Rain Man" (1988). A shady Los Angeles car dealer (Tom Cruise) loses the family inheritance to an older brother (Dustin Hoffman) who suffers from irreversible autistic savant syndrome and has been institutionalized most of his life. On a cross-country auto journey, the younger brother drops his plans for a custody battle when he learns to love his brother despite his disability. Under Barry Levinson's direction, the brothers' intense and sometimes comical interaction during the life-affirming journey is wonderful but the rest of the movie is less satisfying and detracts from the character study. Much profanity, a few intense but brief emotionally unhinged outbursts by the autistic protagonist and a fleeting off-camera sex scene. 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.

Saturday, Oct. 27, noon-2:15 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Captains Courageous" (1937). Spencer Tracy won an Oscar for his performance as Manuel, the simple Portuguese fisherman in Rudyard Kipling's story of a spoiled rich boy (Freddie Bartholomew) rescued at sea and turned into a good shipmate by the kindhearted veteran sailor. Director Victor Fleming provides a gruff but appealing picture of life aboard the fishing boat backed by some memorable sea scenes and the unsentimental transformation of the youth's character under Manuel's manly yet compassionate influence. Youngsters may get teary-eyed at Manuel's death, but all is emotionally resolved in the lad's homecoming. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Saturday, Oct. 27, 8-10 p.m. EDT (HBO) "The Post" (2017). Nostalgic account of The Washington Post's publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 has Meryl Streep as publisher Katharine Graham and Tom Hanks as editor Ben Bradlee fighting both the Nixon administration and their own notions of how journalists should behave around prominent public officials. Director Steven Spielberg, working from a script by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, aims to make a rouser along the lines of 1952's "Deadline U.S.A." and, according to that film's formula of a crusading newspaper in financial peril triumphing over government secrets and crooked politicians, he succeeds. Scenes of military combat, fleeting rough language. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Saturday, Oct. 27, 10-11:45 p.m. EDT (Cinemax) "Psycho" (1998). Faithful remake of the 1960 black-and-white Hitchcock thriller in which a doomed young woman (Anne Heche) vanishes from the Bates Motel, drawing suspicion on its secretive owner (Vince Vaughn). Director Gus Van Sant adds color and a new cast, retaining the sleek storytelling and slow buildup of suspense much as in the original shocker. Some violence with gore, implied masturbation, a premarital affair and brief nudity. 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.

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