Locarno Films Part 2

MirrorMask, directed by Dave McKean, UK and USA, 2004(produced with Jim Henson Studios)   In Brighton, England, the daughter of parents who own a traveling circus, rebels about being part of it. When her mother gets sick and is hospitalized, her father must confront his growing financial difficulties and that the circus crew is about to leave him. The girl, about 16 years old, has a long dream initiated by guilt for not apologizing to her mother for her rudeness and rebellion. It,s about … [Read more...]

Locarno Films part 1

Here are reviews of the films that were included in the international competition. All independent juries, in addition to the international jury, must see all the films in competition. I saw 22 films, 17 of them in competition. Two of the films are from the Human Rights track of the festival, something Locarno started two years ago. It is the only major festival to feature such a track. I apologize for the punctuation but this is an Italian/Swiss keyboard   We are All Fine – Iran, direcrted … [Read more...]

Locarno International Film Festival

From the Locarno Film Festival   Hello to all from the 58th annual film Festival at Locarno, Switzerland. I arrived last Monday for the almost 2-week festival, the second oldest in the world (or so I am told; Venice is the oldest). I am a member of the ecumenical jury and I was told yesterday the first American to ever be part of the ecumenical jury at Locarno; there are three Catholics named from SIGNIS (www.signis.net) : Peter Malone, president of SIGNIS, Rueben an award-winning … [Read more...]

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Tim Burton’s version of Raold Dahl’s famous story was certainly worth the wait. I saw the Gene Wilder version for the first time on video in the early 1980’s, and it impressed me as just being a kids story. Burton goes further and delves into Dahl’s dark chocolate tale of a lonely man’s inner child struggling with unresolved issues.   Willie Wonka (Johnny Depp), the son of a dentist who has no parenting instincts except that his son have perfect teeth, runs a successful world-famous cho … [Read more...]

March of the Penguins, The (Marche de l’empereur, La)

Luc Jacquet’ amazing and beautiful documentary about a year in the lives of Emperor penguins in Antarctica evokes wonder at the miracle of creation and nature, and left me in a contemplative mood.   Some friends who also saw the film said it spoke to them regarding the way nature teaches us about life, community, fidelity, care for our young, and sacrifice.   The narration, written by Jordan Roberts and read by actor Morgan Freeman, is informative without being academic, and r … [Read more...]

Wedding Crashers

Two almost-40 Washington lawyers, friends for years, crash weddings as a hobby in order to score.   Vince Vaughn as Jeremy and Owen Wilson as John are likeable characters but when their need to engage in such immature behavior year after year finally evokes an existential crisis from John, wedding crashing doesn’t look so appealing any more. Jeremy and John meet two sisters and while John falls for Claire (Rachel McAdams), his love is unrequited. John wants to marry Claire but she is e … [Read more...]

War of the Worlds

There are so many commentaries and reviews of this film already, that I am not sure what I can add. I did read the original H.G. Wells novel (1897) and the Orson Wells radio script (written by Harold Koch) from the 1938 broadcast that scared the dickens out of a listening nation. H.G. Wells story takes place in England and the radio play moves the action to New Jersey. After that, with a few exceptions, the novel and play are pretty different. Where they converge, of course, is how they tapped … [Read more...]

Batman Begins

I truly enjoyed director Christopher Nolan’s approach to the Batman franchise. The film is intelligent, well-crafted, and surprisingly well-acted.  Why surprisingly? I didn’t expect Christian Bale to do such a credible job as Bruce Wayne but he pulled it off and convinced me that his way to reform Gotham, that of good and not of Henri Ducard, played by Liam Neeson, was the only way.   The philosophical discourse between Bruce, Ducard, Alfred, played by Michael Caine and Jim Gordon, pla … [Read more...]

National Film Retreat and more

It has been some time since I posted a review. I have been traveling and last weekend I was at St. Francis Retreat House in Easton, PA (near Allentown and Bethlehem) for the National Film Retreat. Eighteen persons gathered for the retreat and we screened, conversed, reflected on and prayed about six films around the theme of The Seduction of Power in all levels of society and the choices we make. Romero: an example of a man of God who engages in theological reflection and … [Read more...]

Habit of Being: The Letters of Flannery O’Connor

After reading Mystery and Manners I went on to read the rather large colume of the letters or correspondence of Flannery O'Connor. The last letter was written a few days before her death at age 37 from lupus (her father died of the same disease.) When I read that last letter, I felt like I had lost a dear friend. Flannery's letters are funny, familiar, professional, and sometimes, very spirited - especially when the matter had to do with writing fiction and art. She writes from her country … [Read more...]