Ribald and Irreverent, ‘The Little Hours’ has Nothing to Recommend it

It's been more than a month since I have posted a review here on Patheos! I've been on retreat, attended community meetings in Boston and then participated in the SIGNIS World Congress and the Catholic Media Conference in Quebec with Sr. Nancy Usselmann and Sr Marie Paul Curley. But I'm back and will try to post more regularly.Here's my review of "The Little Hours" that I wrote for the NCReporter.Don't let those habits fool you. "The Little Hours" is a comedy by … [Read more...]

‘Polina’ – so you think you can dance?

Polina (French title: Polina, danser sa vie)  Somewhere in Russia, Polina (Veronika Zhovnytska and Anastasia Shevtsova) studies ballet with a strict teacher, Bojinski (Aleksei Guskov) from a very young age. She grows up near the cooling towers of a nuclear power plant, in stark contrast to the art she is learning. Her parents, especially her father, works very hard so that Polina may some day dance her way into the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.As a teenager Polina auditions for the … [Read more...]

“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...]

‘Smurfs: The Lost Village’ asks: What’s in a name?

Note: there are spoilers but I am assuming you are older than seven if you are reading this and won't mind or care. Besides if I can't write about the whole movie this would be a really, really short review.If the spoilers really matter to you, please stop reading now.Everything is going well in Smurf Village, where the all-male, blue Smurfkind folk live together in harmony in a village under the leadership of the overprotective Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin) and alongside the only girl … [Read more...]

‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ – a true story of compassion and courage

This latest film from director Niki Caro (Whalerider) is perhaps one of the most unknown historical dramas that took place during World War II and forms part of the canon of Holocaust films.The film opens not long before Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Antonina (Jessica Chastain) Żabiński and her husband Jan (Johan Heldenbergh) and live with their son Ryszard (Tim Radford & Val Maloku) in a villa at the Warsaw Zoo. Jan is the head of the zoo but Antonia is not afraid to get h … [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...]

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...]