Golden Compass Controversy: Shedding Light

Here is an article from The Fairfield County Catholic (Diocese of Bridgeport, CT) that I think will shed some light of understanding and calm on the recent controversy surrounding reviews about The Golden Compass. This interview/article says to me that it is good to read carefully, think, and ask questions in the interest of authentic dialogue about the products of popular culture. I think the paper has chosen the better part: to respond rather than … [Read more...]

Diving Bell and the Butterfly the Movie

Le Scaphandre et le papillon or, in English, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, has also just made my top ten list for 2007. Directed by a biopic master (and artist) Julian Schnabel (Before Night Falls) this current film is all about Schnabel's ability to create perspective and communicate texture of life. It is sacramental in this way because it is an external manifestation of an inner reality comprised of a man's memory and imagination. Jean-Dominique Bauby (here played by Mathieu … [Read more...]

Juno the Movie

The writer and director of last year's off-beat comedy Thank You for Smoking, Jason Reitman has given me one of my top-ten films of 2007: Juno. It is funny, life-affirming, quirky and charming in an edgy, loving kind of way. Writer Diablo Cody (a woman) is right up there with Aaron Sorkin and David Kelly in terms of sharp, rapid-fire dialogue, imbued with humor and deeply-felt life.  Juno (played by Ellen Page; X-Men: the Last Stand) has blurry intercourse with her boyfriend … [Read more...]

Alvin and the Chipmunks Movie

Alvin and the Chipmunks has its moments as an animation/live action combo because it targets our cuteness meter. Trying to tell the story of the famous song group (to those of us growing up 50 years ago) founded by Ross Bagdasarian in 1958, kidvid director Tim Hill does his best with a story that suffers from too many writers (three) who don't know what they want to say - at least it seems that way.  The film also depends on blatant and un-funny product placement and … [Read more...]

August Rush the Movie

If you like sweet films where you have to suspend your disbelief (as my sister Libby says) when the film seems more like a choppy fable than reality, you'll enjoy August Rush.  Keri Russell plays Lyla, a classical musician trying to escape her father's control, who meets up with Louis, a rock singer played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. They spend a night together on a roof top bench in New York. Her father refuses to let her meet the young man the next day. Alas, she falls pregnant. She … [Read more...]

Kite Runner the Movie

Director Marc Forster's (Finding Neverland) interpretation of Khaled Hosseini's best-selling novel is warm and faithful, the LA Times and NY Times notwithstanding. The child actors (relocated for their own safely because of the implicit male rape scene and later, child abuse which does not reflect well on Islamic cultures) are fresh and authentic. Any awards, however, should go to Homayoun Ershadi who plays Baba, the father of Amir. He centers the film and carries it because his action, … [Read more...]

Atonement the Movie

This  period drama, based on the book by Ian McEwan, is as tragic as it is beautiful. I haven't read the book so I cannot compare them, but if you have ever done something that hurt a loved one or a friend and came to regret, this may be an opportunity for you to do penance, assuage the guilt, and find a way to make restitution. The basic story is that a very precocious and rigid young English girl, who thinks she knows more than she does, puts her nose where she shouldn't, … [Read more...]

Online Course Church and Communuication

One of the best kept secret treasures of the Catholic Church is its body of teaching on communication and media. For those of you who want to know more about the Church's teaching, theology, and spirituality of communications and media, may I invite you to consider this online course from the University of Dayton's Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation. The website is: The Church and Communciation course is described by clicking on this … [Read more...]

Invention of Hugo Cabret, The

Earlier this year I readThe Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznic (2007; Scholastic). It is an imaginative – and magical – story of Georges Méliès (1861-1938) , one of the first filmmakers who specialized in fantasy. He made over 500 films during his life of which 80 are still in existence. His A Trip to the Moon / Le Voyage dans la Lune is available on DVD.   What this book does is use drawings to tell the story between pages of written narrative. It’s like watching a silent film. It … [Read more...]

Christmas Letter 2007 Part I

Christmas 2007Part I   Welcome to my annual Christmas Letter.  If you are reading this it may be because you received a postcard inviting you to visit, a small effort to save some trees. I hope 2007 has been a good year for you and that 2008 will be filled with joy and blessings for you and yours. This is in two parts, so keep reading!     Highlights at the Pauline Center for Media Studies (PCMS)   In June eight catechists and teachers received their Master Teacher in … [Read more...]