“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...]

‘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...]

‘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...]

‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ – true story coming soon

I'll be seeing the film next week; this information is from the publicist. The couple saved at least 300 Jews from death during World War II. Here's a description of the book from Wikipedia: The Zookeeper's Wife THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE - Synopsis In 1939 Poland, Antonina Żabińska (portrayed by two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain) and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh, a European Film Award nominee for the Academy Award-nominated The Broken Circle Breakdown), have the War … [Read more...]

‘The Shack” – finding God in the dark

"The Shack," based on the 2007 best-selling novel by William P. Young, is now a major motion picture starring Sam Worthington and Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer. In wide release today, the film, in my humble opinion, far surpasses the novel. As anyone who reads my reviews knows, I am not a fan of the "Christian" genre, because most of those movies lead with a message rather than the story. I prefer to figure out what the movie means rather than sit in a theater as if it were a Sunday … [Read more...]

“The Shack” Hollywood Drama with a Catholic Touch

This is the cover of St. Anthony Messenger for March 2017 and here is the link to my storyThe Shack: Hollywood Drama with a Catholic Touch   … [Read more...]

The Shack: Christian Film with a Catholic Touch

My feature story on the new film "The Shack" is now live at St. Anthony Messenger!Be sure to click through to read the entire story. (I have posted just a few opening paragraphs here.)The film opens on March 3, a great film - and just in time -  for Lent.In 2007, Canadian author William P. Young, with the help of two minister friends, self-published The Shack, a novel that he had written as a Christmas gift for his six children. It became a USA Today and New York Times best seller … [Read more...]

Liam Neeson sees God as love, not a stern master (interview)

Actor Liam Neeson plays the apostate Jesuit priest Fr. Ferreira in Martin Scorsese's new film "Silence."  I interviewed Neeson by phone on Jan. 18. It was a short interview (about twelve minutes). You can read my interview with Matt Malek, an executive producer on the film and my review at Sister Rose Movies and at the National Catholic Reporter.NCR: Have you seen the film?Neeson: Yes, twice in fact.What did you think of it?When you've worked on a film and see it for the first tim … [Read more...]