What I’m Watching on TV

January, 2006   As you know, I am a media literacy education specialist and the film/TV columnist for St. Anthony Messenger (www.americancatholic.org).   To me it is very important to be tuned in to the shows a significant number of people are watching. Sometimes I review shows because they are new; at other times, because they are significant; and at other times because I just like them.   My favorite ads right now: California Cows are happy so they make good cheese (well, you … [Read more...]

Book of Daniel (TV)

Friday's, NBC, 9/8pm   Aidan Quinn plays Father Daniel Webster, an Episcopalian priest, pastor of a New England parish who is partial to Vicodin, husband to Judith (Susannah Thompson) who is rather unhinged, father to Peter (Christian Campbell) who is gay and out of the closet but who does not want to lead the parade, Adam (Ivan Owen), of Chinese ancestry that the Webster’s adopted and who is very horny, and Grace (Alison Pill; wonderful in Pieces of April) who was just busted and bailed o … [Read more...]

My Favorite Films of 2005

Not counting all the films I saw at the Locarno Film Festival, I saw 80 new releases this year – out of the top 250 films that will gross a million or more domestically. If you check the weekly VARIETY for the third week of January, you can see the entire list of highest grossing films.   Here’s my "Sweet Sixteen" list of favorites in alphabetical order; they are all reviewed in this blog:   Batman Begins Capote Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ Constant Garde … [Read more...]

The Family Stone

It’s Christmas and Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) goes home with her boyfriend Everett (Dermot Mulroney) for the holidays to meet his family, the Stones.   Meredith seems as tightly wound, like her knob of hair at the back of her head. She looks cold, and younger sister Amy (Rachel McAdams) baits her continually, trying to make the ice queen crack. Even Everett seems to have taken on some of Meredith’s temperament. His brother Ben (Luke Wilson) arrives  and is polar opposites of his b … [Read more...]

Rumor Has It

(Semi-spoiler but if you go see the movie and don’t read this first, you’ll have only yourself to blame.)   Sarah (Jennifer Anniston) is on her way to Pasadena with boyfriend Jeff ( Mark Ruffalo) for her sister Annie’s (Mena Suvari) wedding. Sarah and Jeff are engaged but Sarah tells Jeff she isn’t wearing her ring because she wants to wait to announce their wedding.   Dad Earl (Richard Jenkins) meets them at the airport and proceeds to Pasaden-ize Jeff. Sarah is kind of identity neuro … [Read more...]


It’s been a week since I saw Munich and I am still in mourning.   I have tried not to give away too much here, but it is not possible to only outline a film like this. It made my list of top films for 2005.    Munich is the story of the systematic revenge killings for the 1972 assassinations of the Israeli Olympic team in Munich, Germany. The Israeli government commissioned the secret killings of eleven of the Palestinians who planned the assassinations. The Israeli’s rat … [Read more...]

The New World

Opening on December 25th in Los Angeles and New York; wide release on January 13th.     Terrence Malick’s ambitious and idyllic cinematic imagining of the story of Pocahontas and Captain Smith opens in wide release on January 13th.  It will appeal to the romantics among us as well as Malick’s fans (Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line), though historians may tag it as revisionist.    In 1607, thirteen years before the Pilgrims would land at Plymouth Rock, thr … [Read more...]

Brokeback Mountain

In the summer of 1963 a lone cowboy, Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) walks into a tiny Wyoming town looking for ranch work. As he waits to be hired, Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrives in his old pickup truck. Both are hired to tend sheep at Brokeback Mountain by Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid). One is stay at the main camp, and the other is to stay with the sheep – against National Park Service rules - though they are to take meals together.   Ennis is strong, silent and seems very l … [Read more...]

Memoirs of a Geisha

In the late 1920’s two young girls from rural Japan are sold by their father into indentured servitude because their mother is dying and he cannot care for them. A middle-man takes the girls to a town near Osaka, a major industrial center. One girl, the nine-year old, blue-eyed Chiyo (Suzuka Ohgo) is left at one house of Geisha, the sister at another. The “mother” or owner of Chiyo’s house notices Chiyo's blue eyes and says she sees much water in them - something that turns out to be true. S … [Read more...]

Paradise Now

A young woman, Suha (Lubna Azabal) passes through check point into Palestinian territory, probably Gaza.  Two young men Said (Kais Nashef) and  Khaled (Ali Suliman) work at a car repair shop where Suha comes to pick up her car. Said and Suha flirt with each other and she decides to leave it overnight. Later Khaled manages to get himself fired.   That evening a well-dressed man Jamal (Amer Hlehel) comes to Said’s house and tells him now is the time for Said and Khaled to ready … [Read more...]