Tag Archive: violence

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


The shooting in Colorado began asking questions about the role of movies in in our lives.


As the experts try to find out why the young man brought four guns and a ton of ammo to the theater, the rest of us wonder if his actions were the cause of violent movies and video


I am inclined to say no because I remember when the Dungeons and Dragons were blamed for a few crimes as well as some suicides and the path to mental illness. In the end, studies showed that people who played role games are less likely than non-gamers to commit suicide.


While as I write this the Aurora Movie Theater Shooter has not been publicly diagnosed with any mental illness, the truth is that anything can become a focal point, and a deranged mind can be twisted and turned into something requiring dramatic action.


The camp shooter in Norway thought he was putting an end to inclusive societal beliefs. Depression was the reason for the man who shot up an Amish school house. Revenge can be put down for any number of domestic or work-related shootings.


John Hinkley Jr. thought shooting President Reagan would win him favorable attention from actress Jodie Foster. Mark Chapman wanted to kill someone famous and decided John Lennon was the easiest person on his list.


While movies and the actors that perform in them can fill our imaginations, I do not believe only that element leads to a killing spree or increased aggression in a person. There are almost always mitigating factors  – be it the body’s internal chemist shifting the balance of neurotransmitters in a bad way or a response to a horrendous situation – at work that creates a pattern of thought that makes violence appear to be a good way to solve problems. Movie characters simply give a focus for those thoughts.


So what do we do about an event like this? If we know we have a relative who has these issues – too much anger, a willingness to use violence to solve problems, a larger-than-life fixation on one subject – we watch them. Watch them for acceleration of behavior, watch them for unusual behavior. Report them to the police even if it gives you a strange look from the officer(s).


Funnily enough, the movie we ended up watching this week was incredibly imaginative and lively. As various scenes played out I thought I was inside the head of a planner from the movie Inception. All spring and summer, I had wanted to rent The Adventures of Tin-Tin but the kids always had a reason why we should notI finally won out, maybe because we saw most of the other choices.


The story is about Tin-Tin, a newspaper reporter, who buys a model ship at a flea market. But this ship holds secrets to a treasure wanted by several other people who will let nothing stop them from attaining it. Tin-Tin and his dog connect with a captain in pursuit of the treasure and the man who stands in their way.


Steven Spielberg directed this wonderful piece of animation that changes scenes and moves quickly. He  had fallen i love with the Tin-Tin comics, buying the movie rights in the early 80s. I loved watching scenes collapse on themselves and build into something just as wonderful and grand as the scene before it.


Guess what? The kids liked it just as much as I did. It might have been a little saucy for them but what a great time.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


Bella and Edward from Breaking Dawn, Image from IMDb.com

This past week I was looking at the stories about the fall movie season and noted the large picture of Edward and Bella from the latest movie in the Twilight series.


As I looked over the ads, I saw a picture for Fright Night starring Colin Farrell as the villain of the movie.


I could not help thinking that I am happy to see vampires once again becoming the big mean bad guys. Sure, Edward is a romantic sort. So was the Brad Pitt character in Interview with a Vampire.


And yet, and yet, there is a reason for the folktales and legends of vampires. We are meant to be scared by them. These stories tell us to be wary of the dark and strangers – no matter how attractive they might be.


Poster Image from IMDb.com

One vampire movie that has always stuck in my head is The Lost Boys with Jason Patric and Kiefer Sutherland.


The story is about two boys and their mom who move in with their grandfather in a small California sea-coast town. The older boy is drawn to a rough crowd by a beautiful girl while the younger boy makes friends with comic book geeks who clue him in to the dangers of the town.


The older brother realizes he is on his way to being a vampire while Mom is dating a new guy. It becomes a full-blown battle to remain family with the living or join a new family of the dead.


It has been years since I have seen the movie but I cannot forget the song “When You’re Strange” by The Doors playing over the credits.


1992 Poster Image from IMDb.com

While perhaps it is a bit campy, Dracula starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves still gives me a bit of a scare. It is reminiscent of the great German vampire movie, Nosferatu with its shadows and mood. The point is not to humanize the monster, which it tries to do, but to show that Dracula is a monster. That he has committed crimes against God that have led to his current life.


We might see Mina falling for the beautiful aspect of the Count. And yet to become his lover she must drink his blood, she must step over to the dark side. It will endanger all of her family but who cares when it comes to romantic obsession.


You might notice that none of these movies are meant for younger children and you would be correct. I firmly believe that some movies are meant for kids when they get older. Vampire movies that have no sense of limits when it comes to violence should have limits as to who can watch them. That is simply my opinion. However, I am curious what other people might think. I have friends who love the horror genre and share this with their teenager who is now making interesting short films in that genre. I am sure their opinion is different from mine.


As the Halloween season is near, I would like to hear from people what age is acceptable for various horror movies. You can drop a note below in the comment section. 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Comic Book Summer

Family Movie Night


Movies based on comic books has become the popular summer movie format.


Movies Poster image from IMDb.com

This year we have seen Thor and X-Men: First Class make it to the movie theaters across the land. Green Lantern starring Ryan Reynolds comes out this week.


What makes most of these comic book movies perfect for family views is the fact that many kids have seen these characters in cartoon TV shows or on the comic page of the newspaper. I used to watch The Justice League as well as Batman when I was a kid. Kids and some parents already know these characters.


Secondly, the violence in these action/adventure movies tends to be blood-free. We know when someone gets hit bad enough to make them die without copious amounts of blood and gore. Remember when The Goblin is killed by his own weapon in Spiderman? It makes some of these scenes easier to take when watching these movies with your child who is in grade school.


Lastly, our heroes are fighting certain evil. The Joker is a bad guy, there is no grey coloring in his soul. The lines are black and white as to who is good and who is not in these movies. They might be facing personal demons – Spiderman does on a regular basis – but when it comes to protecting others there is no conflict.


In the last few years we have seen the X-men series, Spiderman series and Batman series. Iron man is working to combine with the Avenger series.


I am intrigued with the two versions of The Hulk and recently heard there is going to be another version of Superman.


What you should not confuse these movies with are the one being adapted from graphic novels. Movies such as Sin City and Hell Boy. These movies are geared for their readers who tend to be older teenager on up. And that means the gore factor and the language is more suitable for that age group.


These are not PG-13 movies pretending they can run with the big boys of “R” ratings as most comic book movies do. Graphic novel adaptations are meant for an older audience and they embrace that factor. That means salty language, great car chases, and bullets that actually hit and cause bleeding. 


The only exception to this is the latest Batman series being directed by Christopher Nolan. This is being based on a graphic novel series but Nolan has made it friendlier for younger views. We never see what happened to the Joker to turn him so evil, we never see Rachel in the explosion that kills her although we see Bruce’s anguish at her death.


If you are trying to decide what movie to go to, here are a few tips to make sure you see the movie you want to see.


1. Look for the rating of the movie. Most of the time, the rating gives parents a good idea if this is suitable for a specific age group.


2. Read reviews of the movies you are thinking about seeing. The tone of the review will tell you if this or that movie is appropriate for family viewing or not. The more reviews you read, the more you will know about the storyline and anything that might be objectionable. I like going to Rottentomatoes.com to see a myriad of reviews for one movie.


3. Ask friends if they have seen a specific movie you are interested in seeing. If they have a similar taste to yours or a very different taste, this is a great judge on a movie.


The bottom line is always investigate a movie a little before you see it if you want to make sure it is a good movie to see with your family – be it with kids, teens, parents and/or grandparents.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

This Sunday, our family will be watching the Oscars. My son states that some day he will be an actor and should watch it while I love the celebration of it all.

Most of the time Oscar movies are known for being serious and thought -provoking. These movies are imbued with social commentaries on the American lifestyle.

One of the few exceptions I can think of is Shakespeare In Love which was a dizzying romp about a love affair Shakespeare might have had. Plus I loved the performance within a performance aspect of the movie.

If Oscar movies are filled with deeper meanings, is it fair to say that other movies are not? Considering that a variety of horror movies are having a say about something why not some of these far out comedies?

 This past week, the husband and I watched The Hangover and he began noticing little commentaries all over the place. He pointed out the Chinese guy saying “fat guy falling is funny. Is only funny because it is a fat guy.”

While my husband contends that this is Asian humor, I would say that we have been laughing at fat guys in the movies ever since Fatty Arbuckle during the Silent Movie era. Slap stick is funny. And we laugh whenever someone gets hurt. Isn’t that the true appeal of Funniest Home Videos?

Another interesting commentary is about domestic violence. In this case, the victim is a guy who has a very suspicious significant other. They are not married but she constantly checks his credit card records and gets angry when he does not answer her calls. Plus she is displaying this very classic abuser behavior after having an affair of her own. The guy justifies his partner’s behavior by brushing it off or making light of the affair.

When the denouement occurs at the end of the movie, we are happy and cheering for the guy. Would we be doing the same for a woman?  That theme seems ripe for digging into and exploring.

More than anything, The Hangover is a total guy movie. The events are things that might happen to guys who are in Vegas and ingest more alcohol and drugs than they should. Even the father-in-law brushes off the groom being late to the wedding by saying ‘that’s Vegas.’ We excuse some terrible behavior because it all happened in Vegas. No where else would kidnapping a tiger that belongs to a celebrity be ok.

These men are allowed to be kids on this trip because otherwise they are professionals with serious relationships and/or families. Professionals who may or may not be happy in their life. Does their unhappiness condone this behavior? That is something I would like to think about.

By the way, I would not suggest The Hangover for the younger set. It is a firm “R” rating and should be treated as such.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world, or at least St. Anne, know your family’s recent selection by dropping a line to momgoestothemovies@sbcglobal.net. You can also ‘friend’ me on Facebook.