“The 33” riveting and inspiring true story about the Chilean miners (and Pope Francis likes them, too!)

It was a normal day for the miners and citizens of Copiapó, Chile, in 2010, but there had been warnings about the instability of the San José Mine for some time. The mine collapses and the 33 men underground make it to the “safety zone,” where there is supposed to be food, water, and means to communicate with those above ground. But there is almost no food, and communication lines are broken.Luis Urzua (Lou Diamond Phillips) is the foreman who becomes the leader, while Mario Sepúlveda (Anton … [Read more...]

‘Burnt’ is a better film than critics say (see my recipe for mashed potatoes, too!)

Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) is a washed up, two-star Michelin chef on a mission of self-redemption. After leaving the ruins of a self-destructed career, wrecked because of his womanizing, partying and drug and alcohol addiction in Paris, he goes to New Orleans with a self-imposed penance: to shuck a million oysters. If nothing else, Adam Jones is a man of great extremes. He keeps track of the number of oysters in a little notebook, and when he’s reached his goal, he walks away from his job and f … [Read more...]

‘Spotlight’ brings Globe’s investigation of clergy sex abuse to film

Director Thomas McCarthy's new film, "Spotlight," plays like the Watergate of the Catholic church. Focusing on The Boston Globe investigative news team that, through a series of articles in 2002, exposed the cover-up of clergy pedophiles by Cardinal Bernard Law (and ultimately many other prelates and dioceses), it even includes Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery), then deputy managing editor of the paper. (His father, Ben Sr., was the publisher of The Washington Post when the paper's investigation … [Read more...]

‘Chaplains’ documentary looks into lives of chaplains, NASCAR, military ….

"Chaplains" is a two-hour look at the vocation, lives and ministries of chaplains in the United States that begins airing on PBS stations on November 3 and continues throughout the month. The film opens with U.S. military chaplains, men and women from various faiths. I think beside hospital chaplains the first thing people think of when they hear "chaplain" is connected to the military. The film goes back to World War II with the sinking of the USS Dorchester in 1943 and the story of four … [Read more...]

‘The Armor of Light’: Guns – Second Amendment or Second Commandment? You choose

  There are many Christians who are arming themselves because they are fearful, terribly fearful. God's people are in bondage to fear and I think we pastors, shepherds of souls should be concerned. I asked pastors where and they get their information on gun issues and most tell me Fox News or the NRA. Brothers and sisters, Fox News and the NRA are not spiritual authorities. I am concerned that the NRA promoting the idea that the best way to solve the most vexing problems in our society is … [Read more...]

Are horror films C(c)atholic?

 (Back in 2013 I posted this on Reel Spirituality's website and since there is always conversations about whether or not we should even watch horror movies, I think it's a good time to post in on my blog. Enjoy! Right on time for Halloween....)The first horror film I ever saw at age eight, indeed the first film I ever saw in a theater, was the 1959 House on Haunted Hill. It starred Vincent Price, and I now know it was directed by William Castle, called “the poor man’s Hitchcock,” who … [Read more...]

‘Room’ is a story of crime and survival but also of family and reconciliation

 It is Jack’s (Jacob Tremblay) 5th birthday and he wakes his mother, whom he calls “Ma” (Brie Larson), sleeping next to him. Ma has a present for him and they bake a cake together in a small one-room apartment where they live. Jack, however, is very unhappy that Ma doesn’t have any candles for the cake. The television, with fuzzy reception, plays in the background. Jack loves “Dora the Explorer.” There are a few books on a shelf that Ma reads to Jack and he knows Alice in Wonderland very … [Read more...]

‘The Assassin’ is a stunning martial arts with a female hero

“Wuxia” is the name of the Chinese dramatic martial arts genre and Taiwan’s legendary filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien’s latest film “The Assassin” is a stunningly beautiful example of the art form. The film won “Best Director” for Hou Hsiao-hsien at Cannes earlier this year and musician/composer Giong Lim’s soundtrack was also awarded at Cannes. “The Assassin” is Taiwan’s official entry for the 2016 Academy Awards.The film opens in ninth century China where treachery and corruption are rife. Nie Yi … [Read more...]

‘Dukhtar’ showcases Pakistan’s fledgling independent film industry

First time Pakistan producer and director Afia Nathaniel tells a harrowing yet tender story of one woman’s journey to save her ten year-old daughter from marriage to an old man as part of a peace deal between opposing village leaders in Pakistan’s mountainous hinterland. Inspired by a true story “Dukhtar” illustrates primitive cultural practices of rigid patriarchy on the one hand and the growing empowerment of women who are willing to risk even life itself to become fully human and free. … [Read more...]

‘He Named Me Malala’ deserves an Oscar (see Stephen Colbert’s interview with Malala, too)

  There is a legend in Pakistan that goes something like this. During the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-80), a young woman named Malala (or Malalai) was tending to the injured when the Afghan army started to retreat. She called out to her husband to stand firm and, taking off her veil, she used it as a flag to rally the troops. They turned back and defeated the British that day, but the heroic Malala was killed.“He Named Me Malala” is Oscar-winning producer/director Dav … [Read more...]