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TV film fare -- week of Feb. 17, 2019


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NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Feb. 17. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence, and sexual situations.

Sunday, Feb. 17, 2:30-4:15 p.m. EST (Showtime) "Midnight Sun" (2018). This remake of the 2006 Japanese film "Song to the Sun" is a sweet, heartfelt movie, directed by Scott Speer, that presents a refreshing view (for Hollywood, that is) of young people who are not behaving badly. A teenager (Bella Thorne) suffers from an incurable disease due to which any exposure to sunlight could prove fatal. Housebound during the day, she is cared for by her overprotective father (Rob Riggle) and best friend (Quinn Shephard). Venturing out one evening, she meets her longtime crush (Patrick Schwarzenegger), whom she has secretly watched from her bedroom window for years. They fall for each other, but he is unaware of her condition. Mature teens will benefit from this old-fashioned romance with its positive role models and good lessons in love and compassion, the elements listed below notwithstanding. Scenes of underage drinking, some mild sensuality, one crude term. 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.

Sunday, Feb. 17, 8-10:45 p.m. EST (TCM) "The Nun's Story" (1959). Sent by her religious community to be a nurse in the Belgian Congo, a young nun (Audrey Hepburn) resists her feelings of love for the doctor (Peter Finch) with whom she works, returns to Belgium and, after struggling with the routine of convent life, leaves for the world beyond the wall. Sensitively directed by Fred Zinnemann, the fact-based story focuses on the interior conflict between the nun's idealism and her growing sense of her own needs as an individual. Convincing portrayal of religious life as a vocation requiring more than good intentions. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Sunday, Feb. 17, 8-11 p.m. EST (ABC) "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (2015). After a 10-year hiatus, the iconic science-fiction franchise is rejuvenated courtesy of a lucid plot, abundant humor and the introduction of two dynamic new heroes: a young scavenger (Daisy Ridley) and a disaffected foot soldier (John Boyega) of the Dark Side. Together, they help Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his ally General Leia (Carrie Fisher) battle a fascistic army (commanded by Andy Serkis). Director and co-writer J.J. Abrams brings a steady hand, if not much technical innovation or visual flair, to this seventh installment of the intergalactic saga. Just enabling the duo of newcomers to deliver such compelling performances, however, turns out to be the key to revitalizing the blockbuster series. Much stylized fantasy violence. 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.

Wednesday, Feb. 20, 5:45-7:30 p.m. EST (Showtime) "The Queen" (2006). Absorbing British drama about the days following the death of Princess Diana, as new Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) tries to convince Queen Elizabeth (Helen Mirren) to express public remorse about her former daughter-in-law, as public grief reaches fever proportions. Stephen Frears directs beautifully, and even if Peter Morgan's script is mostly speculative, what we see on-screen plays convincingly, with a fine cast (including Alex Jennings, Helen McCrory and Roger Allam) and Mirren's crusty yet vulnerable impersonation softening the anti-monarchist tone of the screenplay. A couple of instances of mild profanity and a few crass expressions. 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.

Friday, Feb. 22, 8-10:05 p.m. EST (AMC) "Unstoppable" (2010). This gripping suspense tale charts the efforts of a veteran rail engineer (Denzel Washington) and a novice conductor (Chris Pine) to stop a runaway train before it derails on a twisting stretch of track running through a densely populated Pennsylvania town. Though opposed by a scheming railroad executive (Kevin Dunn), the pair are assisted by a competent but overwhelmed yardmaster (Rosario Dawson) and by a savvy federal official (Kevin Corrigan). Bolstered by adept performances and by the amusing asides in Mark Bomback's script, director Tony Scott crafts a diverting entertainment solidly founded on its main characters' heroic selflessness and incorporating themes supportive of marriage and family life. A few scenes of graphic injury, about a dozen uses of profanity, at least one instance of the F-word, frequent crude or crass 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, Feb. 23, 6-8 p.m. EST (TCM) "Ivanhoe" (1952). The age of chivalry comes to life in this version of Sir Walter Scott's novel about 12th-century England where Saxon knight Ivanhoe (Robert Taylor) battles a host of Norman nobles, wins the hand of his lady fair (Joan Fontaine) and rescues a Jewish merchant (Felix Aymler) and his comely daughter (Elizabeth Taylor). Director Richard Thorpe's good cast does well in a story chock-full of romance, ideals, villainy and medieval derring-do, including tournaments, the storming of a castle and the ransom of good King Richard. Stylized violence. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Saturday, Feb. 23, 8:30-10 p.m. EST (HBO) "Breaking In" (2018). Visiting her recently deceased father's isolated country estate to prepare it for sale, a Midwestern mom (Gabrielle Union) finds her maternal instincts put to the test when a group of gangsters (led by Billy Burke) out to purloin the vast sum of cash stored in the fortress-like house's hidden safe, take her teen daughter (Ajiona Alexus) and preteen son (Seth Carr) hostage inside the home and lock her out of it. What ensues, under James McTeigue's direction, is a less-than-credible contest of wills that becomes increasingly nasty as it approaches a conclusion calculated to appeal to viewers' worst instincts. Much harsh, gory violence, including the preliminaries of a sexual assault, a few uses of profanity, at least one milder oath, a single rough and numerous crude terms, mature references. 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 of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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