Digital mystery satisfies on technical, emotional levels.
“Searching” is a mystery starring John Cho about a missing teen that’s presented entirely through/on computer screens (similar to the horror movie “Unfriended”). It’s cleverly constructed and emotionally satisfying, as well as diverse and culturally relevant. Expect brief on-screen fighting, arguing and yelling, as well as off-screen and verbal references to violence. A main character dies of cancer. There’s a bit of sex-related dialogue and some sexual references, and there’s a brief, wrongful theory that an uncle is having some kind of sexual relationship with his teen niece. Language includes one “f---ing” and uses of “perv.” A secondary character appears to be a drug dealer, supplying pot (off-screen) to a teen girl. A jar filled with pot is shown, and teen drug use is inferred. Many tech brand names are shown throughout (Google, Facebook, YouTube, etc.), but all in service to the story. Underlying everything are messages of perseverance and the need for stronger communication among family members, as well as the notion of the Internet as both a useful and a dangerous place. (101 minutes)
Operation Finale (PG-13)
Effective take on post-WWII story has violence, language.
“Operation Finale” is a drama/thriller based on the true story of a manhunt for one of the Nazis’ top architects of the Holocaust. It has brief but upsetting/shocking sequences of mass killings, dead bodies, a hanged woman and a tortured woman (a swastika is carved into her chest). Viewers will also see guns and shooting, some fighting/struggling, brief footage from real Holocaust films and more. Language includes uses of “f---,” “s---” and the n-word, as well as disturbing, hate-filled dialogue from Nazi characters about Jewish people. Casual drinking and smoking are shown (accurate for the era), and a man touches a woman’s knee in a sexual way, but it’s only for show. Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley star. (118 minutes)
Esme & Roy (Unrated)
Caring friends help cute kid monsters conquer challenges.
“Esme & Roy” is a Sesame Workshop production about two friends who help their community by caring for young monsters and helping them overcome challenges through mindful behavior practices. Each episode sees Esme (a human girl) and Roy (a large furry monster) sitting for a preschool-age monster who is troubled by a fear or habit of some kind. The mentors help him identify the concern and express its effects before they devise an imaginative way to explore solutions through interactive play and active techniques such as breathing and self-talk. This thoughtful series has exceptional takeaways for parents and preschoolers, who can use similar practices in their own experiences. With original music that emphasizes each episode’s theme, and pre-reading skills, like counting and color identification, incorporated in the stories, this series has a lot to offer its viewers. (11-minute episodes)
New episodes available Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. on HBO Kids. Also available via streaming.
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