NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Dec.1. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence, and sexual situations.
Sunday, Dec. 1, 8-10 p.m. EST (TCM) "Boys Town" (1938). Sentimental but emotionally honest story of how Father Flanagan (Spencer Tracy) built his school for homeless and delinquent youths during the Depression. Directed by Norman Taurog, the Hollywood version centers on the conflict between the priest's charismatic powers of persuasion and a street tough (Mickey Rooney) who only thinks he's hard-boiled. Tracy's Oscar-winning performance as a role model for those in need of one was a credible blend of the idealistic and the pragmatic. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Monday, Dec. 2, 2-4 a.m. EST (TCM) "Diary of a Country Priest" (1951). Director Robert Bresson's classic adaptation of the Georges Bernanos novel is a study in anguish, doubt and frustrated zeal set in the bleak Normandy countryside where a dedicated priest (Claude Laydu) tries to revitalize a rundown parish but is regarded with suspicion by the locals. The diary format serves to evoke the interior life of a lonely soul who accepts his trials and ultimately finds peace within himself. The subtitled French production presents aspects of religious faith and human responses that make it ideal for study and discussion. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Wednesday, Dec. 4, 6-8 p.m. EST (Showtime) "Crash" (2005). Powerful, beautifully crafted film with a strong moral center about a disparate, racially mixed group of Los Angeles residents, including a district attorney and his wife (Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock), a hardened cop and a rookie (Matt Dillon and Ryan Phillippe), an immigrant store owner, a locksmith, a pair of carjackers, a television director, and a weary detective with professional and domestic problems (Don Cheadle), whose lives will intersect in unlikely and redemptive ways. Writer-director Paul Haggis takes a story and milieu that at first seems sordid and ugly, and with the help of a terrific ensemble cast, has fashioned a transcendently moving essay on the benevolence that may lie beneath racial intolerance, and the interconnectedness of human beings, showing how good and bad can coexist in all of us, and how the former generally prevails. Much rough and crude language, some violence, many racial epithets, sexual situations, including one encounter with partial nudity, another with suggestive groping and innuendo, and a bloody traffic-accident injury. 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 R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Thursday, Dec. 5, 9:45 p.m.-midnight EST (TCM) "A Raisin in the Sun" (1961). Fine screen version of the Lorraine Hansberry play about a young black man in a Chicago slum (Sidney Poitier) whose ambitions to get ahead in the world come into conflict with the values of his mother (Claudia McNeil in a remarkable performance). What keeps this story about the evils of racial segregation from being dated is that director Daniel Petrie and a very capable cast have focused their energies on depicting human aspirations common to all and transcending limits of plot and period. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, Dec. 7, 12:30-3:30 p.m. EST (AMC) "The Mask of Zorro" (1998). Spirited swashbuckler set in Old California in which an aging Zorro (Anthony Hopkins) trains his fiery replacement (Antonio Banderas) to defeat the tyrant who 20 years earlier stole Zorro's infant daughter, now a dazzling beauty (Catherine Zeta-Jones) in love with the new masked avenger. Director Martin Campbell combines old-fashioned derring-do with a game cast in a zesty adventure pitting dauntless heroes against daunting villains. Much stylized violence, mild sexual innuendo and fleeting rear nudity. 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.
Saturday, Dec. 7, 10-11:55 p.m. EST (Cinemax) "Snitch" (2013). With his naive son (Rafi Gavron) facing a mandatory 10 years in prison for dabbling in the drug trade, a successful trucking executive (Dwayne Johnson) makes a deal with the federal prosecutor (Susan Sarandon) on the case: If he can infiltrate a local narcotics cartel and garner sufficient evidence to convict its boss (Michael K. Williams), she'll reduce the lad's sentence. Director and co-writer Ric Roman Waugh enhances his fact-based action outing with human drama and social commentary. Though the latter element gives rise to some clunky dialogue, the overall result is both suspenseful and morally rich. Much stylized and some graphic violence, including gunplay and a beating, mature themes, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, considerable crude and 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.