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TV film fare -- week of July 19, 2020


Alec Baldwin and Edward Norton star in a scene from the movie "Motherless in Brooklyn." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

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NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of July 19. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.

Sunday, July 19, 10:18 a.m.-12:47 p.m. EDT (AMC) "Pitch Black" (2000). After crash-landing on a desert planet inhabited by nocturnal monsters, frightened spaceship survivors must turn to a convicted murderer in their midst (Vin Diesel) to lead them to safety. The menacing Diesel anchors the movie as director David Twohy borrows from "The Birds," "Alien" and "Lost in Space" for a moderately suspenseful mix of sci-fi and horror. Intermittent stylized violence, a character's drug abuse, occasional profanity and much rough language. 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.

Sunday, July 19, 3:15-5:30 p.m. EDT (Showtime) "Die Another Day" (2002). Stripped of his official agent 007 status, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) teams with a strong, smart American agent (Halle Berry) in Iceland to uncover the identity of a traitor and thwart a pair of villains (Toby Stephens and Rick Yune) from provoking a nuclear confrontation. While the characters seem more superhuman than human, director Lee Tamahori orchestrates lightning-paced, nonstop action and intrigue with visually impressive imagery. Several brief sexual encounters, much stylized violence and mayhem, an instance of profanity. 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 PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Wednesday, July 22, 5:50-9 p.m. EDT (Showtime) "King Kong" (2005). Visually staggering remake of the 1933 classic about a giant ape smitten by a blonde-haired beauty (Naomi Watts), captured from his lost world island home by a maverick filmmaker (Jack Black) and taken in captivity to New York where, breaking free, his rampage climaxes atop the Empire State Building. Though the film runs too long, director Peter Jackson's strong storytelling masterfully blends stunning action sequences, humor and pathos-tinged emotion, paying reverent homage to the original while fleshing out the tragic story and raising the movie-magic bar to dazzling new heights. Intense action violence, some frightening and disturbing images, fleeting burlesque images and a few instances of profanity make it inappropriate for younger adolescents. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Wednesday, July 22, 8-10 p.m. EDT (TCM) "The Shop Around the Corner" (1940). Delightful romantic comedy set in a Budapest, Hungary, department store where two clerks (James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan) nurture a mutual dislike while each exchanges love letters with a lonely-heart's pen pal until ultimately discovering they have been corresponding with each other. Director Ernst Lubitsch treats the workaday friction between the clerks with some wry humor while building sympathy for both, then brings them together in an emotionally satisfying conclusion that has charmed viewers ever since. Romantic complications. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.

Thursday, July 23, 8-11:15 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Camelot" (1967). Director Josh Logan's screen version of the Broadway musical on the King Arthur legend offers the charming Lerner and Loewe score and lyrics, luxurious fantasy settings and a grand cast (Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero and David Hemmings). Emphasizing the human implications of the legend rather than its romanticism, the musical shows that power is not strength and that compassion is not weakness. Never has adultery carried so high a price -- the downfall of Camelot. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.

Saturday, July 25, 8-10:25 p.m. EDT (HBO) "Motherless Brooklyn" (2019). Edward Norton wrote, directed and stars in this adaptation of Jonathan Lethem's 1999 novel and the result is a top-notch crime drama. Norton plays a private detective in 1950s New York whose Tourette's syndrome is offset by a phenomenal memory for detail. After his friend, mentor and senior partner (Bruce Willis) is murdered while investigating shady real estate deals, he pursues the case and crosses paths with a Robert Moses-like civil servant (Alec Baldwin), a community activist (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) opposed to the bureaucrat's latest project, a down-on-his-luck architect (Willem Dafoe) and a gifted trumpet player (Michael Kenneth Williams). As the movie's plot twists and turns over a long running time, viewers will appreciate its evocation of film noir atmospherics, its powerful jazz score, the innocence of its central romance and the pro-life sympathy Norton wins for its afflicted but good-hearted protagonist. They will be less impressed by the script's gritty vocabulary. Stylized violence with occasional gore, semi-medicinal drug use, frequent profanities, a few milder oaths, pervasive rough and crude language. 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.

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