Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another Christmas movie

My daughter and I searched all the local libraries until we located a copy. We love Hallmark movies, and this one (from 1999) is even better than most: romance, kids with puppy dog eyes, Santa, and a Guardian Angel that saves the day THREE times! Don't miss "A Season for Miracles."

A couple of Christmas movies reviews

At Tea at Trianon:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Come to the Stable

Our family recently had the chance to see this charming film from 1949 starring Loretta Young. I was under the impression for some reason it was a Christmas film, it wasn't, but it was a very entertaining way to spend a snowy afternoon. Come to the Stable is the story of two French sisters (they call them nuns, but my daughter kept correcting the film!), who have been inspired by events in France during the war to come to the U.S. and build a children's hospital. 

The sisters have no plan other than to build the hospital in Bethlehem when they arrive. They are met with many obstacles, from where they can stay, to how to gain the Bishop's support, armed only with St. Jude metals. The sisters' innocence and hopefulness delights everyone they encounter. The most hard hearted mobster has no power against their persuasion.

The movie is witty, too, on their first visit to New York, the sisters mistake a parking ticket for an advertisement and tear it up, in front of the police officer who placed it there. The movie does not poke fun at them, but rather the lack of simplicity of those around them. It harkens back to to a time when sisters were respected. Those who know religious sisters now, will find many of the antics of the sisters in the movie even more humorous, envisioning the sisters we know in the same position as those in the film. 

One small note, the movie is not available on DVD yet, but it is a view it instantly movie at Netflix. 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Cheese Nun

The Cheese Nun doesn't sound like an exciting title... but the whole family enjoyed the documentary of the Regina Laudis nun who is an expert in cheese! The PBS documentary excels in allowing her to speak of her choice of a contemplative, full habit Benedictine life with joy and clarity.

Description on PBS site:
Sister Noella Marcellino, "The Cheese Nun," takes viewers on a fascinating and delightful personal journey as she becomes a champion for artisanal cheesemakers on both sides of the Atlantic. While making a 20,000-mile odyssey through some of the most remote cheesemaking regions of France, little did she realize that she was on her way to becoming a leading international expert in the art of natural-milk cheesemaking.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Truman is well done and well said

We watched this movie during election week--Powerful! I was surprised how many things haven't changed: like media bias, unrest in the Middle East, fragile European alliances, and making tough military decisions based on the best-guess of the facts at the moment.

Gary Sinise does a Harry Truman that's so believable you would think you were in Independence, Mo! This biographical movie of Harry Truman is true to history and based upon the Pulitzer Prize winning biography by David McCullough. My kids had read about his childhood beforehand. We also visited the Truman Library and saw his grand piano, his two "Truman Chryslers," and his love letters to Beth.

Truman was a WWI soldier, a failed business man, a latecomer to the Senate, and a compromise candidate for vice-president. Then he unexpectedly became president when Roosevelt died only 3 months into his fourth term. Three years later, Truman boasts a come-from-behind victory (see "Dewey Defeats Truman" newspaper headline) in the 1948 election which showed that his integrity and All-American values resonated with the average American voter. His presidency was actually full of historical significance: the Marshall Plan, the atomic bomb, beginning of the Cold War, NATO, Israel becoming a state, anti-Communism in our foreign policy, the United Nations charter, Civil Rights, and the Korean War. Great movie for a unit study within many subject areas!

Candise & Crew

Monday, November 10, 2008

Kit Kittredge: A Review

Kit Kittredge is perfect.

Okay, it’s not perfect. It’s a bit predictable and wee bit sentimental (meaning, my husband groaned from time to time and my daughters & I cried) but for a family movie, yes. It’s almost perfect.

Set in the 1930’s during the heart of the depression, this movie inspired some great discussions at the dinner table as well a new conservatism on the part of my husband. (“Do I really have to finish my carrots, Daddy?” “Yes, you do.”)

Abigail Breslin is spunky and capable as the heroine of this American Girl tale. Wallace “I don’t lisp!” Shawn (of The Princess Bride fame) was a favorite among my children, and Joan Cusack’s librarian, too, had them besides themselves with giggles.

Oh, and the character of Countee steals the show at the end.

My 11-year-old son followed his father’s lead in complaining good-naturedly about the “girliness” of the movie, yet (don’t tell him I told you) was glued to the screen throughout both viewings.

Yes, we watched this movie twice: once to see if it all turned out (What do you think? Did it?) and a second time, to revisit all our favorite scenes. There were many.

3 ½ stars out of 4 for this very fun family movie.

See Candise's review here.

All for the greater glory of God,

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monsieur Vincent

Monsieur Vincent, 1948

I remember watching this in an art film festival in Rio when I was little... my aunt Teresa would always find good old films showing somewhere and take us all. 

We borrowed it from Netflix and watched it as a family: we know it is a good film when the older teens have the choice to watch it or not and yet, they stay. The new DVD copy is brilliantly restored and thankfully it does not offer the option for a dubbed version. We had to listen to the original French and read the subtitles. Since most of us have a bit of French and /or are studying French this year in our homeschool, it was a true French lesson!

Saint Vincent de Paul was both a saint who was dear to the rich nobility and a friend to the miserable poor in pre-Revolution France... and the father of charity work in our world. He was able to love both classes by raising awareness and teaching true Love for the Poor. 

The film is way ahead of its time with some beautiful, creative angles and scenes that become unforgettable.  Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1948.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nancy Drew-book turned film

My daughter loves the Nancy Drew Books, and because of that, I was rather hesitant to see the film from 2007. How could the charms of Nancy Drew remain intact when so many other classic books have been so distorted? Our library had a copy in, and we took the plunge.

Much to my surprise, I loved this movie. It was sweet, it was clever, and it was a bit hokey, but in a very charming way. Nancy is a fish out of water in California, who proudly proclaims "she likes old things", and she never sways from her ideals. She does not bow to the pressures around her, and is not ashamed to be different.

There is nothing really special about the plot, a simple mystery but told in a delightful way. Even the boys in our house enjoyed the film, it was exciting enough for them. Pre-teen girls and Young teens will enjoy Nancy Drew, and moms will enjoy watching it with them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Akeelah and the Bee

Akeelah and the Bee, 2006

We watched it last night, the girls (7, 9 and 13) and I. We loved it!

A sweet movie, with a young main actress who was very, very good! We could not established how much exactly it is (or it is not) based on a true story-- but it was a good show!

If your family likes spelling challenges, Scrabble and word origins like our family does, you will enjoy this film!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Saint Rita

Saint Rita DVD Cover

When I was visiting my parents this past summer, my mother and I watched the movie Saint Rita on EWTN. It was a long movie and it was shown late in the evening in two parts. It therefore took us two days to watch the movie my DS had taped for us.

We enjoyed the movie so much that when I got back to Hawaii, I headed straight to the Daughters of St. Paul a/k/a Pauline Books and Media, and bought it for my family to watch.

I shared with my husband that Saint Rita was never one of my favorite saints. But that changed after watching this movie. I couldn't read enough about her. I read every story about Saint Rita that my mom had on her bookshelves and we also bought the book from Tan books. One thing that most of stories I read seemed to agree that Rita had an abusive husband. Since this movie did not really portray Paolo as a physically abusive husband, I looked on the internet to find out more about her marital situation. I did find out from one source that there was not concrete proof that her husband was in fact abusive toward her. However, I was in NJ at the time and do not have the link available here.

The following is a description of this movie:
The story of the beloved patron of hopeless situations comes to life in this epic film starring Vittoria Belvedere (Pope John Paul II, The Apocalypse) and Martin Crewes. Rita is a beautiful young woman who longs to enter the convent but when she meets Paolo, a handsome knight, she accepts his offer of marriage. Her new family isn't as welcoming as she would wish and she soon finds that her husband's brothers are involved in violence and murder. Determined to reform her husband, Rita succeeds in winning him over. She and Paolo are blessed with two sons and living happily when tragedy strikes...and Rita loses everything. Set against he turbulent background of 15th century Italy, this story of forgiveness, faith, and virtue is an inspiring tribute to this brave, saintly woman.
The only criticism I have about this movie is the fact that when someone does have a conversion of heart and asks for forgiveness, for example after killing someone, a priest is not present; Rita is the one who listens to the cry for forgiveness. My son counters that it is to be understood that the individual goes to confession.

I was also wondering why Saint Rita is named Patron Saint of Impossible Causes. It was only after watching the movie a second time did it become clear on many occasions. I will leave it at that.

We watched the movie in English with English subtitles (my family's favorite way to watch a movie). However, I am not sure if some of the actors were speaking Italian and some English. Hard to tell in what language it was filmed in. My guess would be both languages.

My husband commented that the intrigue, storyline would be one that one would find in a movie about the Mafia such as The Godfather. It is an intriguing movie and will have the excitement of any epic movie.

This movie would not be suitable for young children. I think it would be more for teens and up.

Ignatius Press has a trailer

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Movies with Educational Magic

From the makers of
"Beethoven Lives Upstairs"...

Additional favorites for your family! Devine Entertainment Corporation. Check out all their movies, sets, AND teacher's guides:

The movies are short (55 minutes) and not animated (both seem to be key to making the context of history come alive for my older elementary and high school students!) These educational films bring the world's most famous figures to life in historically beautiful locations.

We own most of the Artist Series:
- "Mary Cassatt: American Impressionist"
- "Degas & The Dancer"
- "Winslow Homer: American Original"
- "Rembrandt: Father & Sons"
- "Goya: Awakened in a Dream"
- "Monet: Shadow & Light"
and The Inventor's Series:
- "Edison: The Wizard of Light"
- "Leonardo: A Dream of Flight"
- "Galileo: On the Shoulders of Giants"
- "Einstein: Light to the Power of 2"
- "Newton: A Tale of Two Isaacs"
- "Marie Curie: More than Meets the Eye"
Now I want to start acquiring the Composer's Series:
- "Strauss: The King of 3/4 Time"
- "Rossini's Ghost"
- "Liszt's Rhapsody"
- "Bizet's Dream"
- "Handel's Last Chance"
- "Bach's Fight for Freedom"

(Just think!) IN DEVELOPMENT
The Writer's Series:
- Alexandre Dumas "Three Musketeers"
- Mark Twain "Huckleberry Finn" 
- Molière "The Misanthrope"
- Cervantes "Don Quixote"
- Edgar Allan Poe "The Tell-Tale Heart"
- Lewis Carroll "Alice in Wonderland" 

*spoiler* = I can't seem to get any on NetFlix, but a few are available at my library. I'll be pushing for both to acquire more copies! (Often I have found them cheaply on auction sites.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Love Comes Softly

Love Comes Softly, Hallmark film.

We watched a copy borrowed from the library last night. The girls and I had fun catching all of the out-of-period idiosyncrasies: hair, mannerisms, situations. The male protagonist reminded us immensely of Colin Firth! All in all a predictable yet pleasant family show about courage and love.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Way Home

We watched it last night, and it felt like being inside a Flannery O'Connor story: the accurate, painful slice of a sick modern society embodied in a spoiled, unpleasant and mean child--and then the long-awaited, fulminating moment of grace and redemption, forgiving, transforming. Few films cause me to cry, much less at home with the family, but this one did.

The Way Home is a film that transcends the ordinary, a serious non-romantic study into a young soul in a journey towards the encounter with Charity.
Posted by Picasa

"Follow the Stars Home" by Hallmark

Here's another movie with pro-life themes. Hallmark made "Follow the Stars Home" in 2002, based on the book by the same title. I highly recommend this inspirational tale for families because it shows the strength and blessings that come from making "good" decisions. Love is a decision -- not just a feeling. This movie touches on both sides of dating, broken marriage (some alcoholism and domestic violence are suggested but not clearly shown), abortion, and birth defects.

*spoiler = Younger children might be scared by the scene when a puppy is put in a pillowcase and thrown into the river.

The happy ending of this movie ultimately shows that loving sacrifice, patience, and hope make for a better life.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Henry Poole is Here

Three parents and nine teens from our Catholic homeschool group went to see "Henry Poole is Here." All of us really, really liked this movie. It is definitely hard to write about it without giving away the whole plot. It's also hard to find the right adjectives to describe it. Henry Poole knows he is going to die soon, and takes a sad/angry/depressed approach to meeting his death. He uses the Lord's name in vain twice, but he says it in the context of moaning in exasperation (and for deliverance). It was very appropriate to the script, no matter how offensive to my 40-something ears.

Henry's conscience is being pricked by the "religious" neighbors. Esperanza is a beautiful Catholic woman, who cares for his feelings and his eternal soul. She brings her priest over (George Lopez?!) and he says all the right things about the apparition on Henry's house. It is not an anti-Catholic movie at all! That's all the spoilers I will give away.

Prepare yourself for a slow-moving plot. Stretches of silence give you the depths of Henry's despair and his solitude actually brings him to reflect on his childhood and make sense of his life. The background music is very "techno" (Bob Dylan, Ben Harper, U2) - I don't know how to describe it. The music and the main character are very odd! I probably would not take my 10-year-olds because they might think it moves too slow. However, there is nothing to prevent that age group from going! I can heartily endorse this movie for showing the honest struggle of man's deepest questions about life and death. It is both funny (we laughed out loud) and sorrowful (we passed out tissues). Enjoy!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Miss Potter

Miss Potter
After a summer of watching films my family chose, Iron Man, Wall-E, The Incredible Hulk, There Will Be Blood, 3:10 to Yuma and finally the Dark Knight, I was happy to see them sit down to watch one of my movie choices without me even asking them to do so. Tonight's movie was 2006's Miss Potter starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan MacGregor and directed by Chris Noonan.Peter Rabbit

The movie tells the story of the author and illustrator of the beloved Peter Rabbit and the other delightful animals still popular with children worldwide even after all these years.
Peter Rabbit cover
As I watched the beginning of the movie, I was not sure that the actor chosen to portray Miss Potter was the right choice. I felt Miss Zellweger's acting was too stilted and that she made too many exaggerated facial expressions. However, as I continued to watch, I found her portrayal of Beatrix Potter to be charming. She was the right actor for this part.Beatrix Potter

This movie that had elements of romance, fantasy, conservation, etc. was good enough to capture and hold the attention of two action/adventure loving guys. They even thanked me for movie selection.Jemima Puddle Duck

The way the movie was created was quite clever. I really enjoyed seeing the familiar characters come to life.

I fell in love with the movie and the characters. This is now on my list of favorite movies.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Kit Kittredge - An American Girl movie

For 5 years I was known locally as "The American Girl Club lady" so I simply had to take my daughter to see the newest American Girl movie. My boys thought they were too old for a G rating - especially one about a girl. To their surprise, there was not one doll in the whole movie. It was a funny yet poignant hit with all of us (ages 10 to 42).

Based on the Depression-era series of books by Valerie Tripp, this short film offers a sneak peak into Cincinnati during 1934, and kids today would do well to learn from it. Soup kitchens, hobo secret symbols, and feed-sack dresses are just some of the lessons Kit experiences firsthand. American Girl afficianados will be pleased with the attention to details, like Kit's necklace, pet dog, desk lamp, typewriter, ball mitt, and friend Ruthie. Why not take the kids out for a little unit study before school begins? And we can all be thankful for our blessings from God.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

First review of Brideshead Revisited

I heard about it at Standing on my Head...

A great quote from the Telegraph:

In its obsession with sex and scenery, the film has lost the elegiac, wistful quality of the novel. Worse, it has missed the chief matter of the book.

As Waugh wrote in 1960: "Its theme - the operation of divine grace on a group of diverse but closely connected characters - was perhaps presumptuously large, but I make no apology for it."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Dark Knight

For a very interesting, thoughtful take on the hot movie showing right now, see the First Things blog.

Disclaimer: I am not recommending it. I have not/will not watch it. Not my genre at all. My 13 yr old did not wish to go. I heard praises from Husband and two 14 and up sons.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Great Debaters

Althought it's rated PG-13, I allowed my whole family (aged 10 and up) to watch "The Great Debaters" last night. I was glad we did. Based on the true story of the first African-American college debate team, the drama revolves around Melvin Tolson and his Wiley College students. I was impressed how Tolson taught his debate team to stand up for themselves and use their God-given intelligence. I was impressed how James Farmer, Jr. attended college at age 14. I was impressed that he quoted from Saint Augustine in his final rebuttal agains the Harvard University national champions. But Texas in the late 1930s is still mired in Jim Crow rules and blatant racism.

*Spoilers* We skipped the bedroom scene between the Wiley College sweethearts. But I was able to narrate in whispers while playing through the lynching scene. The car-load from Wiley accidentally comes upon a mob who has just lynched a black man, and they narrowly escape back down the dirt road.

The special features include a live interview with the living members of the Wiley College debate team and Denzel Washington. An inspirational drama produced by Oprah Winfrey.

Happily, this movie shows that people of all colors can be very smart and very stupid. It opened the door for a good discussion of slavery and would work well as a follow up to a Civil War unit study. We also watched "Black Ulysses" which is an episode in "The Young Riders" DVD #2 about the underground railroad helping slaves escape in 1961.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

More thoughts on WALL•E

My friend Susan P. and I took a bunch of kids to see it--as a matter of fact, there were... eleven kids in all! At $3 a kid in a small town theater, we were even able to purchase a large refillable popcorn!

We liked it and talked later about some of the pluses of the film:

  • the delightful absence of the usual and vulgar bodily noises
  • the courtship between WALL•E and Eva is pure and innocent
  • the imaginative portrayal of what humans are doing 700 years from now
  • creative "hieroglyphics-like" animation during final credits

Sunday, June 29, 2008

WALL•E Won Us Over

I talked myself into taking the kids to WALL•E yesterday. (The kids themselves didn’t need much convincing.) My husband was pessimistic—not about the movie itself, mind you, but about the cost of such an outing. I gave him my most winsome smile and told him not to worry. I’d take care of the expense myself.

And then I raided the kids’ piggy banks.

With their permission.

We arrived just in time for the 4:30 matinee and shelled out $50.00 for the six of us. (Hubby stayed home. Go figure.) I bypassed the concessions thinking I’d save a penny (ha) or two.

Well, here’s a riddle: What do you do when you take a 3-year-old into a darkened movie theater? You (quickly) leave when she (loudly) requests some popcorn.

I will tell you that I hated to miss a single minute of this movie. I want to go back to see what I’ve missed. I want to go back to see it all over. I want…

…to stop getting ahead of myself.

Angela and I followed the smell & sounds of popcorn. I held her small hand and felt thankful for the moment. (Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!) As I stood there scanning the options, the guy in the tie behind the counter asked if we’d like to try one of their “specials.”

“Um,” I responded, “How much is a ‘Number 1?’” None of their prices were listed and so I had to ask. A large popcorn and two large sodas sounded good to me, though—just the trick for our group of six.

“$17.00,” the kid replied.

An exclamation point flash over my head. Was he crazy? Are they crazy? Am I crazy? I certainly felt so as I dished out a mere $12.00 for a large tub of popcorn and a single medium soda.

Angela & I made our way back to the movie where my other kids were watching—rapt and laughing—and where I felt both entertained and fairly guilt-ridden. On the one hand, I felt privileged to be watching one of the best family movies that I’ve ever seen. On the other hand, I just felt privileged.

You could say that WALL•E won us over…at a cost.

I wonder why it has to be like this, why the price of a movie & snacks has to be so darned prohibitive? It’s ridiculous. We’ve a throw-away mentality—the theme of this movie attests to that—and it would seem that we are now being asked to throw away our money, too.

Anyway. I’ll stop with my budget-oriented rant now.

I am not at all going to discourage you from going to see WALL•E. It’s brilliant; he’s sweet; I think you should. The irony is that this movie goes “green” in its take on environmentalism—in a good way, in an amazingly creative way—and yet, sitting there with my jumbo tub of overpriced popcorn, I felt much like one of the big fat American consumers that this movie portrays.

Perhaps I’m just a tad too sensitive.

Perhaps I’m just mad at the economy.

Perhaps I should just pack my own snacks next time!

(Would that be cheating? I don’t think so.)

Ad Jesum per Mariam,

PS. If you do go, plan on arriving early and staying late. First off, Pixar throws in an animated short film (“Presto!”) that’s hilarious. And then, at the end of WALL•E (during the closing credits) is a history of art that is not to be missed. Do you hear that, all you movie-goers who were in the theater with us? Plus you’ve got a theme song by Peter Gabriel! Why would you leave?

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Catholic Take on WALL-E

Catholic Exchange has a very nice review of Pixar's WALL-E. I haven't seen the movie yet, but now I certainly will.

The Young Riders

Another NetFlix recommendation...
My family cannot get enough of "The Young Riders" whose 67 episodes ran on TV during 1989-1992. The movie is an exciting series of western adventures based on the boys who actually worked for the Pony Express. Our family LOVES this historical connection because we live in St. Joseph, MO -- the location of the Pony Express National Museum and original Stables. My daughter even works there giving tours to school children.

The riders include the future "Buffalo Bill" Cody; James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok; Ike, an orphan who is a mute; Buck, a half-White/half-Kiowa scout; and the Kid, a quiet Southerner similar to "Billy the Kid." They also ride with Lou, a young woman who keeps secretly disguised as a boy.

Although highly fictionalized, there are many facts woven into the tales of this group of Express riders based at a waystation in Sweetwater, Kansas. The station is run by an ex-Texas Ranger and all-around eccentric named "Teaspoon" Hunter, and Emma, who is their cook, housekeeper, and mother hen and tries to keep them out of trouble.

Bless me Father

We've been watching this as a family nightly, courtesy of netflix. The Amazon link will give you a glimpse of how well-loved this series is--it has a solid 5 star rating from numerous customer reviews. Now available as a complete set on DVDs. Filmed in the 70s, set in the 50s, supposedly pulled from BBC in the USA.

The old pastor of St. Jude and the new, inexperienced young priest and their housekeeper is a hilarious trio. Family fare, and not at all disrespectful of the Catholic Church, although of course a bit politically incorrect for these days: the doctor is always smoking and carries a bottle in his bag!

Monday, June 16, 2008


A movie adaptation of Dan Brown’s book, Angels and Demons, is now in production; it is the prequel to the film, “The Da Vinci Code.” There are reports today that the Vatican has banned those associated with “Angels and Demons” from shooting in Catholic churches in Rome or in the Vatican itself. This is important because there are scenes in the movie that are supposed to take place in the Vatican and in two churches in Rome.
You can read the rest of the Catholic League's current alert here

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One movie, two titles

We have watched both the new Indiana Jones film and the latest sequel of National Treasure within a few days of each other, and we realized it's the same movie! Both deal with finding the pre-Columbian lost City of Gold, both deal with older males re-encountering their old true love. Neither is excellent, and the Indiana Jones', albeit all of Harrison's Ford's continuing charm, is pretty violent. But depending on your kids/ages, both may provide fun family time. Never mind that one version of the City of Gold ends up being in Black Hills and the other in Iguassu Falls, which they want us to believe is a series of waterfalls in the Amazon somewhere. They cannot fool this Brazilian. This has been tried before--in James Bond's Moonraker--which I watched as a teen in Brazil. I joined in the general laughter in the theater as James Bond entered the Sugar Loaf cable car, ran behind that mountain (in Rio) to find himself in the Amazon River (5000km or so away, mind you) and then falls off the Iguassu Falls, 7000 km away? I don't think so.

Educational aspects? The Resolute story--and the two desks made from it, one in the White House, one in Buckingham Palace. The nuclear mushroom cloud/testing done is NV is pretty well done. Any others anyone can think of?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Review of The Nun's Story

I'm glad that I previewed the Audrey Hepburn movie "The Nun's Story" from 1958. Although unrated, it was classified as "PG" by our library. I would probably let my high school aged children view this one -- because there is no bad language and only mild violence. In the end, however, **spoiler ** = she leaves the convent! I would want to know this beforehand, and so would other Catholic mothers.

The movie is based on Kathryn C. Hulme's book about the experiences of her friend, who was a nurse and an ex-nun in Belgium. "Sister Luke" is portrayed quite respectfully during her novitiate and up to making her final vows with the Carmelites. For its day, this was probably an intimate view of the clergy and convent that many had never seen before. Sister Luke finds her faith tested and struggles with obedience in quite normal ways. She is very smart and full of good intentions. The elder nuns are very supportive and gently loving towards her. But working in the Congo hospital with Dr. Fortunati, she wrestles with her growing esteem for the good doctor. Their interactions are portrayed more like a secular flirtation/attraction, although the author claims this was a fictatious addition by the Hollywood writers. There are also personal conflicts for Sister Luke because of World War II and her Belgian patriotism. In the end, she chooses to leave the convent. Unfortunately, the movie does not address her difficulties after she is free of the convent. The Catholic Bishops web site is kind to this movie, but I doubt it serves much usefulness amongst those discerning a vocation.

Note: Audrey Hepburn actually met Marie-Louise Habets (the former nun) while preparing for the role, and Habets later helped nurse Hepburn back to health following her near-fatal horse-riding accident on the set of the 1960 film "The Unforgiven." Hepburn earned her third Academy Award nomination for "The Nun's Story."

Review of Prince Caspian

MacBeth's opinion has a very good review of the new Narnia film here...

I was impressed by her balanced enumerating of the well done Vs. badly done points.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Persuasion" on PBS

I was persuaded to like the new PBS version of "Persuasion" upon my second viewing tonight with the local Jane Austen Book Club. The hero and heroine are sublime, and the first three-quarters of the movie are excellent! (Could have been a better casting of Lady Russell and Mrs. Smith, but sister Mary is QUITE hilarious.) There's an excess of running -- without bonnets, my dears -- in the final three scenes! Overall, Anne is a dutiful girl, who keeps her sense of humor and perspective through many trials. Another fine message that modern daughters would do well to imitate! Available at many libraries (the book is even better) or online.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A new review of Juno

Elena at Tea at Trianon has an interesting take at the much spoken about film...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

New Catholic Website - SoulFoodCinema

An email was sent to me regarding this new site and it looks quite promising. Be sure to check it out.
Catholic-Christian insights into cinema’s finest character studies and family films

A new Catholic website (SouldFoodCinema) launches today with the aim of educating and evangelising through the medium of the movies.

SouldFoodCinema differs from other faith and film websites, in that the focus is on providing education and insights for those that are curious after having watched a film, rather than providing extensive ratings and reviews for those that are curious before watching a film.

Managing Editor Mark Banks is keen to remind people that the worldwide film industry now produces hundreds of films each year that can primarily be described as ‘character studies’, and says that these films, whether we are aware of it or not, are all communicating a message to us, either implicitly or explicitly, on how to lead our lives. In such a world Mark believes it important that Catholics filled with the Holy Spirit and a love for Jesus Christ, use their wisdom, knowledge and discernment to understand these messages and to communicate them to as wide an audience as possible; especially amongst young people. For this reason SouldFoodCinema enables readers to contribute essays on one of over 700 films already viewed by the Managing Editor, which can then be published on the internet.

SouldFoodCinema also features weekly updates of links to news stories in the field of faith and film, as well as a community chat room dedicated to discussing all aspects of the movies from a Catholic-Christian point of view.

Through his letter to the Romans Saint Paul reminds us "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will" (12:2). Mark asks that Catholics pray SouldFoodCinema will assist the Church in doing just that.


Interview with Prince Caspian's director

Read it here!

H/T: Ignatius Insight blog

"Bella" now available from Ignatius Press

"Bella" now available from Ignatius Press

The well-received, award-winning movie can be ordered online from Ignatius Press. Or place your order toll-free at 1-800-651-1531.

And if you missed it last summer, here is Steven Greydanus's article, "Bella," about the making of the movie, written for the August/September 2007 edition Catholic World Report.

H/T: Ignatius Insight blog

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

New version of Brideshead Revisited

I found a new blog, Andrew Cusak, thanks to Tea at Trianon.

He alerts us to a new film version of Waugh's masterpiece coming this summer. Here is the trailer.

Some say that the BBC version is the best literary work ever brought to screen. The dialogs are are all there, and most of the descriptions. Cordelia’s entire and crucially Catholic conversation. In any event I never did like Jeremy Irons–I like the looks of this Ryder better. But if the film doesn’t show the bedside repentance/conversion scene, or worse yet, the final redemption of Sebastian– what a nasty betrayal towards Waugh.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

August Rush: A Review

Warning: Contains Spoilers

August Rush is a movie for people who love music. Rumor has it that my children’s choir director enjoyed the movie so much that she went out and bought it! (It's not a rumor, actually. It was her copy that I watched on Friday.)

I agree that the soundtrack is extraordinary and I am clearly not alone in thinking so. When I went to request it at our library, I saw that I was number 17 in the queue. I am itching to give it a listen, though, and for that reason may have to purchase my own copy before then—of the soundtrack, though, not the movie. The music is just that good.

Unfortunately, I cannot say that I enjoyed this movie as much as I should have—not the first time that I watched it, anyway. A little boy gets separated from his mother at birth and spends the rest of the movie looking for her. I assumed that things would go well for him and yet…I didn’t know! I didn’t relax until the credits rolled, which is often the case for a heart-on-her-sleeve sort of gal like myself.

Keri Russell is as beautiful as always and Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays one of those Irish cuties that seem all the cinematic rage these days. (Though frankly I have yet to meet an Irishman who uses “me” as an adjective the way that he does. But that's just me.)

Robin Williams costars in one of his most unnerving roles to date—a “tricky person” of epic proportions. He seems to have channeled both Bono and a Terri Shields-type stage mom to get into this character, and I spent the entire movie being thoroughly creeped out by the incredible creepiness of his role.

For that reason, and a couple of others, I would have to watch this movie a second time to truly enjoy it. It is to the credit of its direction that you don’t know if things will go well for the leading character—a little boy (Freddie Highmore) whose dimples alone are worth your time, Yet, because you don’t know you wind up…waiting. The ending, though cheesy, does not disappoint.

August Rush is a modern day fairy tale. Once you accept that—and hand over your cynicism at the door—you are in for a very good movie.

Another Warning: This movie is not for children under 13. There is too much that you’d have to explain to anyone much younger—homelessness, street violence, and one-night-stands being at the top of the list.

You decide for yourself.

Meanwhile, here is a clip of some of that amazing music that started out my discussion of this movie:

Cum gaudio et pace,

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Expelled review

Read the review here, as posted in the LifeSite news website.

Update April 27: I went to watch it last night. It was funny! The whole theater laughed together many times. And then we also balked together at some of the incredible assertions made by some of the atheists interviewed. One thing both my friend Mary and I were astounded to find in the film was the crystal clear connection he makes between Nazism, Eugenics and ... Planned Parenthood. Loud and clear. Amazing. The film may truly open so many people's eyes! And then there is the creative camera angle on the statue of Charles Darwin... and the reading aloud of some of his lines, verbatim. Very cleverly inserted: how many of us have always known of Darwin but never actually did read what he wrote?

The five minutes in the final segment/interview with Richard Dawkins is worth the price of the ticket, I told Mary and her husband Mike as we discussed it over a cup of coffee afterwards. His admitting that there may have been an alien, more advanced civilization who implanted the signature found in early life form... let's say it raises questions to say the least. The first would be the obvious question: if another civilization started life on earth, then there is still the question of who created that other one. Good grief. And the second question would naturally follow: isn't believing in God more sensible than this nonsense?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Catholic Priests and the Holocaust: A Book and A Movie

9th day
If you were fortunate to watch Fr. Mitch Pacwa last week, you saw his interview with his guest, William Doino, Jr. His guest spoke with enthusiasm about the book Priestblock 25487: A Memoir of Dachau | Fr. Jean Bernard. It was a book written by Fr. Jean Bernard and fairly recently translated into English.

In May 1941, Father Jean Bernard was arrested for denouncing the Nazis and deported from his native Luxembourg to Dachau's "Priest Block," a barracks that housed more than 3,000 clergymen of various denominations (the vast majority Roman Catholic priests).

Priestblock 25487 tells the gripping true story of his survival amid inhuman brutality, degradation, and torture.
This important book, originally published in Germany in 1963, was adapted by director Volker Schlöndorff into the film The Ninth Day in 2004.
Introduction by Robert Royal. Preface by Archbishop Seán Cardinal O Malley, Archbishop of Boston.
The above description from Ave Maria Radio where you can also purchase the book.

To read the first chapter of this book, check out Ignatius Scoop

Fr. Bernard's book was adapted into a film entitled The Ninth Day. To watch the trailer and learn more about this movie, be sure to click on the title above.
Abbé Kremer is released from a living hell in the Dachau concentration camp and sent home to Luxembourg. Upon his arrival, he soon learns that this is not a reprieve or a pardon of his crime – voicing opposition to the Nazis’ racial laws – but that he has nine days to convince the bishop of Luxembourg to work with the Nazi occupiers. Gestapo Untersturmführer Gebhardt is under pressure from his superior to have the Abbé succeed in creating a rift between the Luxembourg church and the Vatican – or be transferred to duty in the death camps in the East. Gebhardt, a former Catholic seminarian, uses theological arguments to bring the Abbé around but when they don’t work he resorts to more draconian measures. The Abbé is torn between his conscience and his horror of returning to Dachau...

I regret that I didn't know about this film when it was first released. I hope to find it on DVD somewhere. I hope you do too.

Note: This movie is not for younger viewers.

Monday, April 21, 2008

"Enchanted April"

"The Enchanted April" book from 1922 was made into a wonderful film back in 1992. Some libraries and rental stores should still have it. Best watched during your own rainy season – such as this 4th week of April! You cannot help but feel warmed by the Italian sun. The story revolves around four British women who leave damp and rainy London to go on a holiday at a secluded coastal villa in Italy (Portofino). Two housewives, each in her own way suffering through an empty marriage, are joined by a beautiful young socialite and an elderly dowager. Two are selfish and two are unselfish, but all four find hope again through the beauty of their surroundings and a good bit of reflection and humor along the way. The book "The Enchanted April" by Elizabeth von Arnim is available to read online at: and would be a perfect supplement to any British Literature unit (grades 7 and up).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Women of Hollywood

Interesting way to look at the history of Hollywood.

The Women of Hollywood

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Charlton Heston, Rest in Peace

I just heard that Charlton Heston passed away at the age of 84. May he rest in peace.

We love the old epics that he helped bring to life. Ben Hur and the Ten Commandments will always be favorites in our home.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Horton Hears a Who

I haven't seen this movie yet, but thought I'd mention one aspect which you may want to know before going to see this movie. I've heard from several reliable sources that this movie goes out of its way to portray homeschooling in a negative fashion.

My suggestion: don't make a big fuss or a boycott; that often draws more attention to a movie (and movie-makers LOVE attention!). The best remedy, I think, is watching something else instead.

Friday, March 28, 2008

In Defense of Fairy Tales

We finally saw Disney's Enchanted after many lovely recommendations. I don't think I could possibly say it better than Barb Nicolosi's brief recommendation:

It is smart and at moments hilarious and consciously uncynical. And when Disney is on the dock at the last judgment, they will just show this film and say, "The defense rests."
G.K. Chesterton would love this story that not only defends fairy tales, but gives us a quirky look at our world from someone who finds it completely foreign.

I'm kind of a crazy person sometimes. I've been known to cheer (very loudly) at the television - during football games, spelling bees and *some* political speeches. It doesn't happen a lot in movies, but when there's a glorious moment of truth proclaimed on screen, I can't help myself. I found myself cheering and yelling at more than one point in this story. Good stuff!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Paul Scofield, Rest in Peace

I heard today that actor Paul Scofield died yesterday at the age of 86. Although I've seen him in several movies (mostly Shakespearean), I'll always remember him for his incredible portrayal of St. Thomas More in the 1966 film, A Man for All Seasons. I should write a more thorough review at some point, but suffice it to say for now that this is a beautiful period film, serious and yet very human.

By a funny coincidence, John and I just re-watched this film in the last few days.

Scofield had the loveliest voice. His role as narrator is one of my favorite things about Focus on the Family's Radio Theatre adaptations of the Narnia stories.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Just for St. Pat's day, a great Irish family film

This weekend my family had the joy of watching The Secret of Roan Inish. We honestly didn't get it for St. Patrick's day, that was just a happy coinciedence. Until now, I hadn't seen this film, but remembered hearing good things about it. What a delightful movie!

The film is the story of a girl, who is sent to the country to live with her grandparents. She is actually returning to the place to her birth, as her family moved to the city. Her life has not been cheery and blissful, but hard and sad. Her mother has died, and her baby brother was lost at sea and the family has been displaced from there ancestral home. Fiona, the young girl, is told tale after tale about her family's history, including the legend of the selkie, or seal bride. The stories interweave to create a mystery for Fiona, and great hope that she will see her baby brother again.

The film is rated PG, and some younger children may find it intense. My 6 year old son really enjoyed it and was not scared at all. There is toddler nudity, but it is not distasteful. I was surprised how much my kids enjoyed The Secret of Roan Inish, they have told every person they have seen in the past 2 days about the movie. It was so charming and innocent, yet thoroughly entertaining.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sacred Music on Netflix

I just discovered that Netflix has a "Sacred Classical Music" genre which includes many fine-looking choices. Here are a few that I've added to my queue:

Live in Rome: The Tallis Scholars (we actually have this one at home right now)

Purcell: Sacred Music

Gregorian Chant: Songs of the Spirit

Faith of Our Fathers

Ave Verum: Popular Choral Classics

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Saint John Bosco, Mission to Love

Saint John Bosco, Mission to Love

Our family watched this film last week, borrowed from the parish's Youth Group's DVD library. We loved it! The actor who played the saint of the youth is wonderful, likable, believable.

I read tidbits of this saint to the kids during homeschool through the years, but the film really brought it to life: his choice to be with troubled kids and to transform them by the power of God's love is very well demonstrated in the film.

Little Saint Dominic Savio brought tears to all of our eyes, and I think helped all of us to desire holiness more deeply!

Description from Ignatius Press:

Flavio Insinna gives a winning performance as John (Don) Bosco, the great priest and educator of youth from the tough streets of Turin, Italy. Beautifully filmed in Italy, this epic movie dramatizes the many challenges that Don Bosco had to overcome from this childhood through founding his religious order, the Salesians, for helping educate boys. Growing up without a father gave him compassion for the many orphans that he cared for, while he faced persecution from both secular society and the Church as he fought to build a place to house and educate the homeless, outcast youth of Turin. His deep faith, creative imagination and profound charity shine through in this wonderful film. Also stars Charles Dance (Gosford Park) and popular Italian singer and actress Lina Sastri.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Watch the preview of this fascinating documentary about to hit the theaters!