“Einstein” headlines new GENIUS series on NatGeo tonight

 “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.”The National Geographic Channel’s first scripted series “Genius,” on the life of Albert Einstein (1879 -1955) premieres this evening, April 25. Season one of “Genius” is a ten-part series filmed in Prague, Czech Republic, where Einstein lived and taught in the early days of his career. A second season of the series has just been announced; the subject will be announced on the final episode of season one.O … [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...]

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...]

‘Tower’ film marks 50th anniversary of Texas school shooting

Fifty years ago, on August 1, 1966, a 24-year-old sniper positioned himself on the observation deck of the Clock Tower overlooking the University of Texas, Austin. His name was Charles Joseph Whitman. He shot 49 people. 18 people died, including an unborn baby. Another victim died of complications of the shooting in 2001. Meredith Vieira and Luke Wilson are among the executive producers of "Tower," an award-winning documentary that tells the story of that day from the perspective of several … [Read more...]

‘Killing Reagan’ lacks surprises, if you remember March 30, 1981

It was October in Nashville during the run up to the 1980 U.S. presidential election between Republican candidate Ronald Reagan and Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter. There is a stir in the crowd when a Secret Service agent spots a young man named John Hinckley Jr. (Kyle More) with a red backpack. He escapes but his suspicious behavior at the airport leads police to inspect his carry-on suitcase where they find two handguns. He is arrested and released after paying a fine of $62.50 for carrying … [Read more...]

Turner Classic Movies highlights trailblazing women in film for second year

In case you haven't noticed, classic films are "hot" right now, and not only with viewers who may have seen them in theaters 50 or 60 years ago. Turner Classic Movies is a broadcast and satellite channel that was launched on April 14, 1994, at 6 p.m., the 100th anniversary, to the minute, of the first public film showing in New York City (notwithstanding what the Lumière brothers might have to say about that). The first film broadcast on TCM was the 1939 classic "Gone with the Wind." American … [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...]