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...]

‘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...]

‘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...]

‘Burnt’ is a better film than critics say (see my recipe for mashed potatoes, too!)

Bradley Cooper stars in a scene from the movie "Burnt." The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R - restricted. (CNS photo/Weinstein)

Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) is a washed up, two-star Michelin chef on a mission of self-redemption. After leaving the ruins of a self-destructed career, wrecked because of his womanizing, partying and drug and alcohol addiction in Paris, he goes to New Orleans with a self-imposed penance: to shuck a million oysters. If nothing else, Adam Jones is a man of great extremes. He keeps track of the number of oysters in a little notebook, and when he’s reached his goal, he walks away from his job and f … [Read more...]

‘Chaplains’ documentary looks into lives of chaplains, NASCAR, military ….

Tyson Foods Chaplain Melissa Brannan walks the production line at a food processing plant in Springdale, Ark. (Journey Films)

"Chaplains" is a two-hour look at the vocation, lives and ministries of chaplains in the United States that begins airing on PBS stations on November 3 and continues throughout the month. The film opens with U.S. military chaplains, men and women from various faiths. I think beside hospital chaplains the first thing people think of when they hear "chaplain" is connected to the military. The film goes back to World War II with the sinking of the USS Dorchester in 1943 and the story of four … [Read more...]

“The 33″ story of Chilean miners coming to theaters


I received the following press release a couple of days ago. I've seen the film and my review will follow nearer the film's release date. "You can never lose your faith. Faith is nourishment ... Faith is life." - Jorge Galleguillos, Survivor, Copiapo Mine Collapse In 2010, a mine in Chile collapsed trapping 33 miners 2,300 feet underground with no way to escape. You may recall the news headlines as the entire world watched and banded together to help with rescue efforts.The miners had food … [Read more...]

Breaking News: “Vacation” receives DG (IWY) rating!


I was a little surprised to be invited to a press screening for "Vacation" - an downdating  or unbooting of the old Chevy Chase Griswold Family vacation comedies.From the opening lyrics of the soundtrack, laden with "f" bombs, well, it just got worse. If any family has a vacation like this, all I can say is: someone call the Department of Children Services. The film, too, is child abuse, adult abuse and elder abuse all in one. That song is not in my repertoire.If this is humor, why … [Read more...]

‘Samba’ reminds viewers what it means to be human

From left, actor Omar Sy and directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano discuss a scene on the set of "Samba." (Broad Green Pictures/David Koskas)

While illegal immigration grabs political headlines in the United States, it is a major global human and social concern for those caught between borders while escaping war and poverty to seek a better life. The 2013 U.S. film "A Better Life" took a sensitive look at a Mexican father and son in Los Angeles. Now, French filmmakers turn a light on their county's reality in the thoroughly engaging film "Samba."Samba (Omar Sy) is an undocumented immigrant from Senegal who lives with his uncle in … [Read more...]

‘Mad Max: Fury Road” & “Tomorrowland” both prophecy and fantasy

Britt Robertson stars in a scene from the movie "Tomorrowland." (CNS/Disney)

This summer’s “Tomorrowland” from Disney and director Brad Bird and “Mad Max: Fury Road,” a “reboot” of the original Mad Max trilogy from the 1970s and ’80s from Australian director George Miller, go together better than you might think at first glance. Seeing them in tandem makes all the difference. “Mad Max: Fury Road” is the typical post-apocalyptic dystopian flick with themes of hope and redemption and regeneration. The lead characters are courageous, violent fighters and hope is a mirage. I … [Read more...]

‘The Gallows’ is a snooze fest


  Ok, props to the filmmakers Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff for getting the movie made and distributed. It's proficient. But it's "Blair With Project" hand-held camera style is as annoying as the guy whose hands hold the camera, Ryan Shoos as the bully classmate, well, Ryan Shoos. I only went to see it because my 14 year-old nephew, who is visiting, wanted to see it but I'm sorry we did. It was too graphic and I loathe bullying, especially when there's no redemption … [Read more...]