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...]

Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ is his most Catholic film

(Andrew Garfield, left, plays Fr. Rodrigues, and Shinya Tsukamoto plays Mokichi in the film "Silence" by Paramount)Shûsaku Endô (1923-1996) was a Japanese Catholic novelist whose extensive writings probed the conflicts and paradoxes of faith. He was born in Tokyo, lived in Manchuria, then returned to Japan and was baptized at about the age of 11. After university, he married, had a son and lived in France. The novelist Graham Greene, with whom Endo has often been compared, said h … [Read more...]

‘Birth of a Nation’ offers lots to talk about

"Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever." --Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson wrote these words in Paris in 1785, in his only full-length book, Notes on the State of Virginia. These same words are on the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., and they open Nate Parker's first film as a director and writer, "The Birth of a Nation."This film -- which won an Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in January and which Fox … [Read more...]

‘Queen of Katwe’ tells of a mighty girl chess prodigy from Uganda

(This is from my column but I loved, loved, loved, this movie because Phiona is a mighty girl - and her mother a mighty woman)In Katwe, a slum outside of Kampala, Uganda, Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) drops out of school at a young age to help her widowed mother, Harriet (Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o), support the family. Meanwhile, Robert (David Oyelowo) takes a low-paying job at a Christian youth center in Katwe since he cannot find a job as an engineer.Phiona follows her brother to the c … [Read more...]

Stories that invite us to be cultural mystics

After more than six decades of life, I am still startled by the profound empathy for humanity often revealed in stories told through sight and sound. Cinema, and increasingly episodic stories on television and the Internet, brings the human face of my brother or sister up close and personal so that I experience the joy and pain of all human living and make a difference in the world.The fact is cinema has a sacramental quality, outward signs of inner realities, that Sr. Nancy Usselmann,* a … [Read more...]

Pope Francis invites us to reflect mercy in our speech and in Tweets for World Communications Day 2016

 One of the best-kept secrets of the Catholic Church is that we have a beautiful tradition of teaching about communication and media that goes back to the 1930s and continues through today. This teaching covers speaking with one another in the family, parish and community, to evangelization, to all the means of communication including radio, television, movies, social media and the culture they create.Back in 1963 one of the Second Vatican Council documents issued by Pope Paul … [Read more...]

“Rabin in His Own Words” is a testament to peace

At the Venice Film Festival last September, the SIGNIS (Catholic) Jury placed filmmaker Amos Gitai’s “Rabin: The Last Day” on our short list for the SIGNIS Prize as soon as we saw it. The film is a captivating docudrama form of a political essay that explores the last day in the life of the famed peace-seeking Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin (1922 – 1995) who was assassinated during a peace rally on November 4, 1995. Integrating actual footage of the shooting by a 25-yea … [Read more...]

“The Story of God” concludes 5/8 with “The Power of Miracles”

This Sunday, May 8, 2016, the NatGeo Channel will conclude it’s beautiful inspiring and informative series on “The Story of God.” The final episode is “The Power of Miracles.”The series host, Morgan Freeman, begins this “journey to discover the power of miracles” by interviewing Alcides Moreno, a window washer in Manhattan who plunged 47 stories to the ground in 2007 and survived. Alcido’s younger brother, Edgar, perished. Freeman and Moreno speak about the miracle that saved him, as well as … [Read more...]

Cast of RISEN reacts to meeting Pope Francis ahead of May release of DVD

The DVD is now available!The film RISEN, that I reviewed in February as a "moving contribution to the canon of biblical movies" will be distributed on digital on May 10 and on  4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ & DVD May 24 with Bonus Materials that will include deleted scenes and three behind-the-scenes featurettes & commentary.And  today, for the first time, you can watch and listen to the moving responses of actors Joseph Fiennes and Maria Botto as well as the co-producers, Mickey Lid … [Read more...]

“Noble” is now on DVD

In the early 1950s, Christina Noble (Gloria Cramer Curtis), a young girl from a poor part of Dublin, Ireland, aspires to be a singer when she grows up. She prays and lights candles to Our Lady to care for her sick mother. When she dies, her father, Thomas (Liam Cunningham), an alcoholic, loses custody of the children, and the courts send them to separate institutions.At 17, Christina finishes school, but more hardships follow when she is raped. Friends bring her to the nuns for care. But … [Read more...]