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...]

’90 Minutes in Heaven’ cannot be saved

"90 Minutes in Heaven" is based on Dan Piper's 2004 New York Times best-selling real-life experience story.Director Michael Polish's new film, simply put, is no match for the book and is proof that some books should never, ever be made into films.Don Piper (Hayden Christensen) is on his way home from a Christian conference in Texas in 1989 when he's involved in a terrible accident on a bridge. He flatlines and by the time he is in the hospital and resuscitated, he has spent 90 minutes in … [Read more...]

“Unbroken”

 Louis “Louie” Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) is the son of Italian immigrants living in Southern California during the Depression. He skips school, drinks liquor, and smokes. His brother, Pete (Alex Russell), however, sees his potential as a runner. Louie begins to train and win track meets. He earns a scholarship to the University of Southern California; his collegiate record for the mile held for 15 years. He also makes the US Olympic track and field team in 1938 in Berlin.In 1941, L … [Read more...]

‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ is stunning but barely concedes the miraculous

 A scene from "Exodus: Gods and Kings" (Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry Brown) Director Ridley Scott's most recent epic, "Exodus: Gods and Kings," attempts to tell the biblical story of Moses from about the time he learns he is a Hebrew until he receives the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. It concludes with him as an old man, riding in a cart with the Ark of the Covenant, as the Hebrew people wander in the desert. I use the word "attempt" because the film is an artistic extrapolation of … [Read more...]

‘The Giver’ what happens when we destroy what makes us human

 The word "dystopian" has always intrigued me. The easy definition is that it means "anti-utopian," but it sets up too facile a dichotomy because life never reaches the utopian ideal except in dreams, books and movies. If anything, dystopian means post-apocalyptic, which most often brings us into the realm of science fiction. A once acceptable world, however imperfect, has self-destructed or suffered destruction from outside forces, or a combination of the two. Whatever is left is … [Read more...]

‘The Fault in Our Stars’ is a love story for our time

Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is in her 17th year of life and fourth year of thyroid cancer. The chemo has severely damaged her lungs, so she needs constant oxygen. She doesn't go anywhere without the tank and plastic tether that keeps her going.Her mom, Frannie (Laura Dern), drops a less-than-enthusiastic Hazel off at the local Episcopal church so she can join in a support group for teens coping with cancer. The group leader, Patrick (Mike Birbiglia), is a cancer survivor who … [Read more...]

“Son of God” to sweep theaters nationwide on February 28 – and my review

As The Hollywood Reporter noted in an article on February 12, "Son of God: Church Leaders Buying Out Theaters for Screenings," thousands of people across the country will be seeing producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett's new film that tells the life of Christ when it opens on February 28. Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles and Cardinal Wuerl of Washington, DC have endorsed the film.Here's my review on "The INNdustry with Sister Rose" on the Jesuit run INNetwork  where I ask Roma and Mark how m … [Read more...]

16 Books To Read Before They Hit Theaters This Year

 Arielle Calderon over at BuzzFeed has posted a cool list of "books into movies" scheduled for release this year. I've read two of the books on her list: Unbroken, Gone Girl and I am reading The Monuments Men. Calderone has them listen in order of release date.1. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard What it’s about: Over the course of a Labor Day weekend in the late ’80s, 13-year-old Henry and his depressed mother Adele’s lives change when they harbor fugitive Frank Chambers at home. Frank … [Read more...]

“Captain Phillips” is Tom Hanks at his very best but the film raises questions

There are just so many ways to go in writing a review of the true story of Merchant Marine Captain Richard Phillips of the MV Maersk Alabama.  In 2008 his ship was boarded by four Somali pirates and the captain was taken hostage. The film is titled simply: "Captain Phillips."As a film, director Paul Greengrass’ work is unembellished, dramatic and moving.As for Tom Hanks’ performance, it is so understated that it makes him completely believable. He is the quintessential “everyman” here and … [Read more...]