Netflix: The light of grace in human stories

 When Netflix was launched by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in 1998 as a DVD rental service by mail, late fees applied and the company had fewer than 1,000 titles to loan.A year later, the company began a monthly subscription service and by early 2000 began its flat fee with unlimited rentals, without due dates, late fees or shipping costs. It was a completely new entertainment business model.The demise of Blockbuster and other brick-and-mortar video rental services was just a … [Read more...]

‘Sully’ the man and the miracle

Everyone knows the story of US Airways Flight 1549. On January 15, 2009 Captain Sully “Sullenberger” (Tom Hanks) and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) took off from La Guardia airport in a plane with 155 souls on board, including passengers and crew. They collided with a flock of Canadian geese just a couple of minutes later. They were over Manhattan and radioed they were banking left, turning back to La Guardia. In 207 seconds, with both engines out Captain Sully and Skiles brought the pl … [Read more...]

“Ben Hur” a path of redemption

Today the fourth cinematic adaptation of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is a reimagining for the 21st century opens in theaters. The first, in 1907, was a silent short film and made without permission from Wallace's family. The heirs took the filmmakers to court over copyright infringement and it ended with the Supreme Court setting a legal precedent for film and theatrical adaptations of literary works. Carol Wallace, Wallace's great-great-granddaughter, was at the … [Read more...]

‘Gleason’ and two other summer movies about fathers: Hunt for the Wilderpeople & Captain Fantastic

 Fathers are a theme that keeps emerging in this summer's movies. We always complain about how women are portrayed in films but how often do we consider the role of fathers? Here are three worthy films that probably deserve more analysis on how fatherhood is presented that I provide here, but if you like meaningful movies, these might be a good choice for you.'Gleason'Steve Gleason played defense for the New Orleans Saints for seven seasons and is famously remembered for a punt … [Read more...]

‘The Innocents’ tells a story of trauma, grace

At last, the long night of World War II is over in Europe, but for a Benedictine monastery of nuns in northern Poland, the nightmare continues. During vespers one evening, a white-veiled novice hears screaming. She puts on her coat against the cold and snow and, sneaking out a hidden door, runs across the fields to a nearby town. There, she asks a street urchin to take her to a doctor -- just not one who is Russian or Polish. The young boy leads her to the French Red Cross, where the staff is … [Read more...]

‘Thelma & Louise’ 25 years later still poses a challenge to male entitlement

I first saw "Thelma and Louise" while studying for a master's in education in media studies in London in 1995. We gathered to watch the film and not one male student of the 12 or so in our class showed up for the screening. Not one. What were they afraid of? When we asked some of them, they just shrugged. "Thelma and Louise" was hugely successful when it opened in 1991. It is critically acclaimed as a feminist, or neo-feminist film, or a road trip film for women.At least one convent critic … [Read more...]

RISEN now available on DVD, Blu-Ray. digital

RISEN is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, digital, etc.Here's a link to the cast talking about meeting the Pope as well as my review of the film.  … [Read more...]

‘The Angry Birds Movie’ is a volatile pun fest

Flying off the gigantic success of its 2009 online video game "Angry Birds," Rovio Entertainment of Finland commissioned a script from animation film and television writer John Vitti ("The Simpsons," "King of the Hill," "Ice Age") for a feature film about the birds that fly via slingshot.Joined by animators Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly in their directorial debut, "The Angry Birds" is an ornithological and porcine potpourri of every bird and pig pun you've ever seen or heard and voiced by … [Read more...]

Stories that invite us to be cultural mystics

After more than six decades of life, I am still startled by the profound empathy for humanity often revealed in stories told through sight and sound. Cinema, and increasingly episodic stories on television and the Internet, brings the human face of my brother or sister up close and personal so that I experience the joy and pain of all human living and make a difference in the world.The fact is cinema has a sacramental quality, outward signs of inner realities, that Sr. Nancy Usselmann,* a … [Read more...]

Pope Francis invites us to reflect mercy in our speech and in Tweets for World Communications Day 2016

 One of the best-kept secrets of the Catholic Church is that we have a beautiful tradition of teaching about communication and media that goes back to the 1930s and continues through today. This teaching covers speaking with one another in the family, parish and community, to evangelization, to all the means of communication including radio, television, movies, social media and the culture they create.Back in 1963 one of the Second Vatican Council documents issued by Pope Paul … [Read more...]


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