‘Unbroken’ inspiring, uneven story of courage

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A crew of young Army Air Force aviators is in the thick of a battle over the Pacific in April 1943. Young Louis “Louie” Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) is a bombardier and the plane takes on heavy fire by the Japanese and some of the men are injured. They and the plane barely make it back to base in Hawaii in tact. A month later the crew is given a patched up plane and sent on a search mission. The plane’s engines fail and it crashes into the Pacific Ocean. Only Zamperini, the pilot “Phil” Phillips (D … [Read more...]

‘Journey to the Planet Earth: Extreme Realities’ premieres on PBS tonight Dec. 15, 2014

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A new episode of "Journey to Planet Earth" narrated by Oscar-winner Matt Damon, premieres tonight on PBS and takes a cold, hard look at climate change, especially global warming: the "Extreme Realities" of climate change.But it’s not just the melting of the polar ice cap and the rising of ocean levels and temperatures that concerns scientists. In “Journey to Planet Earth: Extreme Realities” the filmmakers examine the potential – and real - geo-political security threat caused by climate chang … [Read more...]

Pope Francis didn’t say “all dogs will go to heaven” – NY Times issues correction

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Thanks to Deacon Greg over at The Deacon's Bench for posting the NYTimes correction. Please note it was good Pope Paul VI who made the statement "Paradise is open to all God's creatures."Correction: December 12, 2014An earlier version of this article misstated the circumstances of Pope Francis’ remarks. He made them in a general audience at the Vatican, not in consoling a distraught boy whose dog had died. The article also misstated what Francis is known to have said. According to Va … [Read more...]

‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ is stunning but barely concedes the miraculous

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 A scene from "Exodus: Gods and Kings" (Twentieth Century Fox/Kerry Brown) Director Ridley Scott's most recent epic, "Exodus: Gods and Kings," attempts to tell the biblical story of Moses from about the time he learns he is a Hebrew until he receives the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. It concludes with him as an old man, riding in a cart with the Ark of the Covenant, as the Hebrew people wander in the desert. I use the word "attempt" because the film is an artistic extrapolation of … [Read more...]

‘The Railway Man’ is a powerful story of a wounded soul

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"The Railway Man" is probably the best film you haven't seen this year.From the time he was a boy, Eric Lomax (Jeremy Irvine) always loved trains in his native Scotland. After World War II, he memorized timetables and had a keen interest in the railway system of Great Britain.One day in 1980, while taking his seat on a train, Lomax (played as an older man by Colin Firth) meets Patti Wallace (Nicole Kidman), and they strike up a friendship that eventually leads to love and marriage, … [Read more...]

Hollywood’s hidden Christmas gems

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 What makes a compelling Christmas movie—the season, the music, the characters? Maybe it is something else entirely.The question of what makes a movie ideal for Christmas, the day we commemorate and celebrate Jesus’ birth, is subjective. It often depends completely on the audience—among my Facebook friends, for instance, the 1988 thriller Die Hard came out as an unlikely favorite when I recently posted this question. But come to think of it, John McTiernan’s action movie starrin … [Read more...]

“The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns” is more reality show than – reality

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From left: Eseni Ellington, Sr. Beth Ann Dillon, and Claire Halbur in "The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns." (Scott Gries) Lifetime's latest original series, "The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns," is a six-parter about five young Catholic women who are supposedly discerning whether or not to become nuns -- or, better and more accurately, sisters or women religious.While all nuns are sisters, not all sisters are nuns. But let's not be picky.There has always been and probably always will be much … [Read more...]

“The Judge” – Robert Duval, Robert Downey, Jr. and grace

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 Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) is a criminal defense lawyer in Chicago who doesn’t care whom he defends as long as they can pay. He and his wife, Lisa (Sarah Lancaster), are on the verge of a divorce, but Hank wants custody of their young daughter, Lauren (Emma Tremblay).When his mother dies, Hank heads home to Indiana for the funeral. His older brother, Glen (Vincent D’Onofrio), runs a tire store, while their younger brother, Dale (Jeremy Strong), who’s mentally challenged, us … [Read more...]

“Gone Girl” is “Fatal Attraction” for the 21st century

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Director David Fincher has taken Gillian Flynn’s 2012 best-selling novel and delivers a chilling, self-destructive, and ambiguous moral tale that is much better than the book. I hated reading the tortuous tale about two unlikable people. (It's like "Fatal Attraction" for the 21st century.) The difference between the book and the movie is simple: the film moves faster. Nick (Ben Affleck) returns home midmorning on his fifth wedding anniversary, and he discovers that his wife, Amy (Rosamund P … [Read more...]

“Fury” – explores moral injury but comes off like a video game

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 It is 1945. The Allies are pushing deep into Germany after the invasion at Normandy. In the opening scene, Army Sgt. Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) commands a tank crew of four soldiers. When they arrive at an Army rendezvous, the very young Norman (Logan Lerman) is assigned to the unit. He has been in the Army for two months, and is unprepared for the horrors he will face.Wardaddy and his men lead a battalion to take over a town and then head to a crossroads that they are to ho … [Read more...]


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