‘The Good Dinosaur’ is a visual treat


 So what if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely, and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? Never fear, Disney/Pixar has an animated answer for you. Reaching back in history, just as humanoids were beginning to walk upright, dinosaurs, namely of the Apatosaurus species that roamed the North American northwest in the late Jurassic period, were talking, raising corn by creating furrows with their snozzles, chopping wood with their tails, storing … [Read more...]

The Cinema of Mercy: the Face of Mercy


  The French Catholic film critic André Bazin’ once wrote: “The cinema has always been interested in God.” This contemplative observation—or conviction— by a layman who spent his few adult years immersed in film criticism is interesting at any time, but it invites a narrative reflection on the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy set to begin on December 8.What does Pope Francis mean by “mercy”? As we know, he announced the Holy Year on April 11, 2015, in the document Misericordi … [Read more...]

‘Kingdom of Shadows’ shows futility of U.S. war on drugs


For years I've been watching and reviewing movies on Mexican cartels that act with impunity due to government corruption and the futility of the war on drugs in the United States. The atrocities in Mexico include kidnapping, murder, mass murder, dismemberment, burning, hanging, the torture of thousands of innocent people (in Ciudad Juarez it was women for many years), and government complicity through intimidation, infectivity and collusion. Some of these films are Gregory Nava’s fictionalized 2 … [Read more...]

‘The Letters’ new biopic about Mother Teresa of Calcutta inspires

Juliette Stevens plays Mother Teresa in new film about her life, work, letters of spiritual darkness

A new film about Mother Teresa, "The Letters", will be released in theaters on December 4, 2015 and stars Juliette Stevenson, Max Von Sydow, and Lutger Hauer."The Letters" is a very close interpretation of the 2009 book "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light" edited by the postulator of her cause for canonization, Brian Kolodiejchuk. Though the film was written and directed by William Riead the film seems to track the book closely. Both are biographical and historical and detail M. Teresa's almost … [Read more...]

‘India’s Daughter’ brings gender inequality, violence against women into sharp focus

Scene from "India's Daughter," showing women protesting rape culture in India and being sprayed by waterhoses wielded by the authorities. (Leslee Udwin)

Jyoti Singh was a 23-year old medical student in Delhi, India, who went out to see "The Life of Pi" with a young male friend on the evening of Dec. 16, 2012. On the way home, around 8 p.m., they got on a private bus as people do in Delhi. But on that bus were five men and one 17-year old male who gang-raped Jyoti for over an hour as the bus kept going. They assaulted her so severely that there really was no hope of survival. Her friend was beaten; both were tossed naked from the bus and left to … [Read more...]

‘My All American’ celebrating the Freddie Steinmark story

 Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock; Unbroken; American Horror Story) is a scrappy, gritty, determined and successful high school football player in Colorado whose father Fred (Michael Reilly Burke) taught him the game and was present at all of Freddie’s. When Freddie is a junior, and training intensely, he meets Linda Wheeler (Sarah Bolger) and it’s love at first sight. Early on they start talking about how many kids they want to have when they get married.In 1968 Freddie applies … [Read more...]

‘Spotlight’ brings Globe’s investigation of clergy sex abuse to film

From left: Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery and Brian d’Arcy James star in "Spotlight." (Entertainment One)

Director Thomas McCarthy's new film, "Spotlight," plays like the Watergate of the Catholic church. Focusing on The Boston Globe investigative news team that, through a series of articles in 2002, exposed the cover-up of clergy pedophiles by Cardinal Bernard Law (and ultimately many other prelates and dioceses), it even includes Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery), then deputy managing editor of the paper. (His father, Ben Sr., was the publisher of The Washington Post when the paper's investigation … [Read more...]

‘Room’ is a story of crime and survival but also of family and reconciliation

Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, in a scene from "Room," directed by Lenny Abramson and released Oct. 16, 2015. (Caitlin Cronenberg/courtesy of A24)

 It is Jack’s (Jacob Tremblay) 5th birthday and he wakes his mother, whom he calls “Ma” (Brie Larson), sleeping next to him. Ma has a present for him and they bake a cake together in a small one-room apartment where they live. Jack, however, is very unhappy that Ma doesn’t have any candles for the cake. The television, with fuzzy reception, plays in the background. Jack loves “Dora the Explorer.” There are a few books on a shelf that Ma reads to Jack and he knows Alice in Wonderland very … [Read more...]

‘Dukhtar’ showcases Pakistan’s fledgling independent film industry


First time Pakistan producer and director Afia Nathaniel tells a harrowing yet tender story of one woman’s journey to save her ten year-old daughter from marriage to an old man as part of a peace deal between opposing village leaders in Pakistan’s mountainous hinterland. Inspired by a true story “Dukhtar” illustrates primitive cultural practices of rigid patriarchy on the one hand and the growing empowerment of women who are willing to risk even life itself to become fully human and free. … [Read more...]

‘He Named Me Malala’ deserves an Oscar (see Stephen Colbert’s interview with Malala, too)


  There is a legend in Pakistan that goes something like this. During the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-80), a young woman named Malala (or Malalai) was tending to the injured when the Afghan army started to retreat. She called out to her husband to stand firm and, taking off her veil, she used it as a flag to rally the troops. They turned back and defeated the British that day, but the heroic Malala was killed.“He Named Me Malala” is Oscar-winning producer/director Dav … [Read more...]