“Einstein” headlines new GENIUS series on NatGeo tonight

 “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.”The National Geographic Channel’s first scripted series “Genius,” on the life of Albert Einstein (1879 -1955) premieres this evening, April 25. Season one of “Genius” is a ten-part series filmed in Prague, Czech Republic, where Einstein lived and taught in the early days of his career. A second season of the series has just been announced; the subject will be announced on the final episode of season one.O … [Read more...]

“The Promise”- a too familiar world

In the early 1900s, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians lived within the borders of the dying Ottoman Empire, led by what is now modern Turkey. The Ottomans had annexed a large portion of Armenia as far back as 1555 but allowed the people to generally govern themselves, until political entanglements within the empire and European complexities and alliances of World War I led to untold tragedy.In 1915, when the Ottomans perceived that the ethnic Armenians within their borders supported the … [Read more...]

“Gifted” a look at genius and a selfish grandmother

Six-year-old Mary Adler (Mckenna Grace) doesn’t want to go to school, but her uncle, Frank (Chris Evans), insists. Their neighbor Roberta (Octavia Spencer) scolds Frank when he returns from taking his niece to school. She’s afraid that something might go wrong for Mary, who has never gone to school before. The reason is that Mary is a prodigy in mathematics, as was her mother, who committed suicide when her daughter was only a baby.In class, Mary cannot resist showing how impatient she is at … [Read more...]

‘The Great War’ is a master class on US involvement in World War I

Writer-director Stephen Ives' three-part, six-hour documentary on how President Woodrow Wilson got the United States into the war "for which he was born" is indeed a master class on World War I history and how it paved the way for America today.Narrated by Oliver Platt and other notable voices, including Campbell Scott and Blythe Danner, "The Great War" begins with America's pseudo neutrality that permitted U.S. corporations to provide food, supplies and munitions only to ally nations. It … [Read more...]

‘Smurfs: The Lost Village’ asks: What’s in a name?

Note: there are spoilers but I am assuming you are older than seven if you are reading this and won't mind or care. Besides if I can't write about the whole movie this would be a really, really short review.If the spoilers really matter to you, please stop reading now.Everything is going well in Smurf Village, where the all-male, blue Smurfkind folk live together in harmony in a village under the leadership of the overprotective Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin) and alongside the only girl … [Read more...]

‘Newtown’ – a grief and despair so massive

From Margaret Lyons over at the NYTimes "Watching"‘Newtown’ When to watch: 9 p.m., on PBS (check local listings).Prepare to be emotionally ruined by this unfussy, devastating documentary about the Sandy Hook school shooting, in which Adam Lanza murdered 20 children and 6 adults after also murdering his mother. The doc captures a grief and despair so massive that there’s no getting over it or getting through it; the parents and children and teachers and rescue workers will just be in it, … [Read more...]

‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ – a true story of compassion and courage

This latest film from director Niki Caro (Whalerider) is perhaps one of the most unknown historical dramas that took place during World War II and forms part of the canon of Holocaust films.The film opens not long before Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Antonina (Jessica Chastain) Żabiński and her husband Jan (Johan Heldenbergh) and live with their son Ryszard (Tim Radford & Val Maloku) in a villa at the Warsaw Zoo. Jan is the head of the zoo but Antonia is not afraid to get h … [Read more...]

Grace and Mercy in “Silence”

"Silence" is a recent film adaptation by Martin Scorsese of Japanese author Shusaku Endo's 1966 novel. The film tells the story of two young Portuguese Jesuit priests who travel to Japan in the 17th century to find their mentor, Fr. Ferreira (Liam Neeson) who is reported to have apostatized. It is a long journey from Portugal to Rome, Goa, Macau and finally Japan, where Christianity is outlawed.But this journey is nothing compared to the long spiritual journey of Fr. Rodrigues (Andrew … [Read more...]

“The Zookeeper’s Wife” and our call to provide sanctuary

 The following is a guest post asking us to reflect on the current refugee situation, indeed crisis, and our response as believers in view of the release of "The Zookeeper's Wife" film on March 31, 2017. Our Call to Provide SanctuaryCo-authored by:Lori Margaret, Christian Interfaith ActivistSue Obedi, Hollywood Bureau Director, Muslim Public Affairs CouncilRabbi Sarah Bassin, Reform Rabbi The Zookeeper's Wife tells the story of Antonina … [Read more...]

‘Cries from Syria’: J’accuse! Airs tonight 3/13/17 HBO

The opening scene of Cries from Syria is of a two-year old baby laying dead on the sea shore, the rippled waves washing over him, because the boat bringing him to Europe capsized. This new HBO Documentary film (it premiered at Sundance in January) by Oscar and Emmy nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky premieres tomorrow night on television. The tragedy of the Al-Assad regime’s oppression and genocide is guaranteed to shock even an audience habituated to graphic war violence on television, in f … [Read more...]