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

Jeff Bridges, left, and Brenton Thwaites star in "The Giver" (©The Weinstein Company)

 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...]

‘Gabrielle’ a sweet story of a young woman struggling for acceptance

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 Gabrielle (Gabrielle Marion-Rivard) is a 22-year old woman who lives in a group home for cognitively disabled adults in Montreal. She has Williams Syndrome, a genetic disorder whose symptoms include hyper-socialization, heightened musical skills,  and intellectual disability. Gabrielle is very close to her older sister, Sophie (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) who has her own apartment and longs to go to India to be with her fiancé but feels responsible for Gabrielle. Their mother, (Isabelle … [Read more...]

“Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago” interview with filmmaker Lydia B. Smith

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 Here is my interview with filmmaker Lydia B. Smith about her revealing and inspiring documentary about the Camino de Santiago de Campostela. Find out why six people (and  more really) from different parts of the world, and different ages, walk this ancient pilgrimage route and why and how Smith, a non-Catholic, made such a Catholic film.  Here's my online review of the film from "The INNdustry with Sister Rose":       … [Read more...]

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

Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley star in "The Fault in Our Stars." (CNS/Fox)

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...]

“Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago” has a story for everyone

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 When director Emilio Estevez’ feature narrative film “The Way” was released in 2011, audiences across the United States and many countries were introduced for the first time to the ancient pilgrimage route “El Camino de Santiago de Compostela.”I had the opportunity to interview Martin Sheen at that time for NCR and followed it up with anarticle about a screening in which Sheen, his son Emilio Estevez, and producer David Alexanian, spoke to the audience after. “The Way” is a fict … [Read more...]

“Maleficent” – I really liked this movie

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 In a time long ago, on the moors of a far away land, all  manner of fairies, pixies, and magical creatures lived happily together led by a young girl named Maleficent  (Isobel Malloy).  One day she meets a human coming through the hedges. It is Stefan (Jackson Bews). The two young people become friends. When they grow up Stefan assists the king beyond the moors and Maleficent leads her kingdom.The king tries to attack the fairy kingdom and fails. As he lays dying he promises his cr … [Read more...]

“Amazing Spider-Man 2″

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(This is from my column at St. Anthony Messenger, June 2014 issue)It’s graduation day for Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), but Peter is late because, as Spider-Man, he is saving the city from thieves who have stolen plutonium. Gwen is the high school valedictorian, and she speaks movingly about hope. Our hero arrives just in time to get his diploma after saving Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), who works for Oscorp Industries, where Peter’s dad, Richard (Campbell Scott), use … [Read more...]

“Million Dollar Arm” is a unique people-baseball movie

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J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) is a Los Angeles-based sports agent who has branched out on his own with his business partner, Ash (Aasif Mandvi), but things have not been going well. When they fail to sign a big-name athlete, J.B. is inspired to go to India to look for the next baseball star. He convinces Chang (Tzi Ma) to finance a reality show in India where young men compete for the chance to come to the United States to try out for a contract in Major League Baseball.After a few months, J.B. … [Read more...]

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” returns to familiar franchise themes

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   Somehow, I think the Transformers franchise started a trend in "look" even to Noah's prehistoric giants.The violence inherent in all the images is more troublesome.   I have always liked the X-Men film franchise. This most recent installment, again directed by Bryan Singer, revisits themes of predestination and free will, courage and hope, intolerance of "the other",  abuse of power, consequences of atomic bomb fallout (but … [Read more...]

“Moms’ Night Out” held together by wacky character actors

Andrea Logan White, Sarah Drew, Patricia Heaton and Sammi Hanratty star in a scene from the movie "Moms' Night Out." (CNS/Provident Films)

 Right on time for Mother’s Day comes “Moms’ Night Out,” an angst-ridden comedy from Sony’s Affirm Films, a label aimed at evangelical Christians, and Provident Pictures, that has given the faith audience “Fireproof” (2008) and “Courageous” (2011).Allyson (Sarah Drew) is mother to three and married to Sean (Sean Astin), an architect who travels a lot. She is also a mommy blogger without any followers. She obsesses over germs and being a perfect mother, and seems addicted to the very … [Read more...]


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