“Brooklyn” – An immigrant’s journey

It is the early 1950s. Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) is leaving her home in Ireland because her sister, Rose (Fiona Glascott), asks a priest to find Eilis work in New York. Rose knows that their widowed mother is manipulative and needy, and she wants more for her little sister than working at the local bakery. Eilis, scared but hopeful, makes the journey.Eilis rooms in a Brooklyn boardinghouse run by Madge (Julie Walters). Though extremely timid, Eilis becomes a sales assistant in a Manhattan … [Read more...]

“Concussion” rethinking football

Based on true events, Nigerian-born Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) is a university researcher and forensic pathologist in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When former Steelers great Mike Webster (David Morse) develops dementia and dies, homeless, in 2002, Omalu discovers through brain-tissue analysis that “Iron Mike” had sustained significant brain trauma, a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). After finding the same injury when analyzing the brain tissue of other deceased football p … [Read more...]

‘The Finest Hours’ shows off US Coast Guard’s most daring rescue in true form

 On Feb. 18, 1952, a mighty nor'easter struck the New England coast. As distress signals went out from ships caught in the storm, almost all of the Coast Guard's resources were sent to save the crew on the tanker, the USS Mercer. When a weak signal was received by Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff (played in "The Finest Hours" by Eric Bana) at the Coast Guard Lifeboat station in Chatham, Mass., five men, led by Boatswain's Mate First Class Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) set out on an … [Read more...]

Reflections for a Laudato Si’ Film Festival

 "Have you ever wondered what would happen, if all the geniuses, the artists, the scientists, the smartest, most creative people in the world decided to actually change it?" —"Tomorrowland"In last summer's dystopian blockbuster "Mad Max: Fury Road" the character Nux exclaims, "We are not to blame!" to which The Splendid Angharad replies, "Then who killed the world?"Pope Francis' prophetic encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home" is dated May 24, 2015, Pentecost S … [Read more...]

‘The Revenant’ intense, gory saga of love and revenge

 Water, breath, fire, wind. Ice, snow, cold, wet. Pain and more pain. Violence, so much violence. Heartbreak, loneliness. Beauty and cruelty. Betrayal and treachery. Death, so much death. Whispers from beyond yet near and signs of hope. Body and soul, love and sacrifice. The natural and unnatural in a bleeding hemorrhagic tension. This is just a sample of what Alejandro “The Revenant” is about.In this is a retelling of the life of the real Hugh Glass (and the explorer and guide J … [Read more...]

‘Ricki and the Flash’ fails to sparkle

So two of my sisters went to a Rick Springfield concert last week in Reno and since I am still on vacation with one of my sisters we watched "Ricki and the Flash" starring Rick Springfield this past weekend.I really did want to see it when it was in theaters but was not able to. Now I was happy to let my sister pay for the VOD and I didn't have to buy a Los Angeles priced ticket.Despite being written by Diablo Cody ("Juno") and directed by Jonathan Demme ("Rachel Getting Married") and … [Read more...]

‘In the Heart of the Sea’ – epic story epic film

In 1850 the writer Herman Melville (Ben Wishaw) visits Thomas Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson) on Nantucket island off the coast of Massachusetts to discover the truth about The Essex, a whaling vessel that was reported shipwrecked thirty years before but rumors continue to circulate that this is not what happened; indeed, it’s destruction was beyond imagining. When Nickerson was young (Tom Holland) he had been a cabin boy on The Essex and he has never told anyone, not even his wife, the story that c … [Read more...]

‘Martin Sheen: Pilgrim on the Way’ and People of God Series for stocking stuffers!

As you may know my biography of Martin Sheen came out in February, 2015 (Liturgical Press). It's part of the wonderful People of God series of  compelling biographies about Catholics living and dead. The books are all about the same length (130 pages), the same size (about 5x8), the cost is the same $12.95 and the cover art is by the same artist. The series looks so good and the stories are well-written, interesting, and great for parish, high school, and college libraries.And if the … [Read more...]

‘The Good Dinosaur’ is a visual treat

 So what if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely, and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? Never fear, Disney/Pixar has an animated answer for you. Reaching back in history, just as humanoids were beginning to walk upright, dinosaurs, namely of the Apatosaurus species that roamed the North American northwest in the late Jurassic period, were talking, raising corn by creating furrows with their snozzles, chopping wood with their tails, storing … [Read more...]

The Cinema of Mercy: the Face of Mercy

  The French Catholic film critic André Bazin’ once wrote: “The cinema has always been interested in God.” This contemplative observation—or conviction— by a layman who spent his few adult years immersed in film criticism is interesting at any time, but it invites a narrative reflection on the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy set to begin on December 8.What does Pope Francis mean by “mercy”? As we know, he announced the Holy Year on April 11, 2015, in the document Misericordi … [Read more...]