Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Movie Review: Unbroken - PG13




This is the true story of Olympian and war hero Louis "Louie" Zamperini who, along with 2 fellow soldiers, survives a plane crash and 47 days in a raft, only to be captured by the Japanese during World War II. They are held in a prison camp run by a cruel commander they refer to as 'The Bird'.  He is cruel to all, but he singles out Louie for punishment because of his notoriety as an Olympian.   But the Bird can't break Louie.  

Louie was a troubled kid who often got into trouble, and fights.  That led to his joining the track team and, eventually, running in the Olympics.

Louie and the others are held for the duration of the war.   The part that most surprised me is the lesson of forgiveness at the end, when Louie forgives his captors (the Bird won't meet with him).

A truly inspirational story about endurance, perseverance and forgiveness.  To keep in mind that it is a true story makes it even  more touching.

I especially like the filming techniques used in the story, such as the view from within the plane while shooting at enemy planes, and the view from a space below the blindfold when they are blindfolded.  

Although there is violence and brutality, there is only an aappropriate amount to support the story, and there is little 'gore'.  I would recommend this story of America's greatest generation.





Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Movie Review: The Lumo Project


Available on Netflix


This is a new portrayal  of the Gospel of John.  I reviewed the  NIV version, but it is also available in the King James version and a Spanish version.  Although many of us have heard or read most of the Gospel story, the story of Christ, I feel that seeing it told on screen somehow makes it more relevant, more real, to us.

The only aspect I am ambivalent about  is that, although the story is taking place on screen, the whole story is told by a narrator.  I would have preferred to hear the story through the dialogue.  However, I do realize this would have made the story longer.  It is 2 hours 40 minutes, and the narration allows them to tell more of the Gospel story in this time frame.  

The narration also provides some additional description and explanation of the events on the screen.

An authentic and moving portrayal of the Gospel.  I highly recommend it, as it will deepen your understanding of the Gospel.  A great way to begin the Christmas season!
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Movie Review: Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I - PG13


As was hinted at the end of part II, Katniss Everdeen is asked to be the 'Mockingjay', the face of the revolution against the tyrannical and corrupt Capitol.  She agrees, with the condition that the victors of the Hunger Games will not be prosecuted.  Katniss makes a couple of messages encoraging and motivating the revolution.    I especially like the haunting tune they come up with to motivate the revolution; it is pretty cool.  Even though Gale is helping her, Katniss is especially concerned about Peeta, who is being held by the Capitol.   

Peeta is shown in several messages that are released by the Capitol, and one of the questions that is present throughout the story is  where does  Peeta stand?...is he still Peeta or has he been brainwashed?    

I actually enjoyed Mockingjay more than the first two, because there was more emphasis on the story, than the action or fighting, although there is enough of those to support the story.

A well-written and well-acted story that you'll enjoy.  
I am looking forward to Mockingjay part II.




Monday, November 24, 2014

Music Review: The Rosary Mysteries, Meditations and Music


I pray the Rosary daily, and I've heard the Sisters' beautiful music before, so I jumped at the opportunity to review this CD.  And it exceeded my expectations.

After introducing each mystery, a sister reads the relevant bible passage.  What distinguishes this Rosary recording from others, is that she cites the book and verse of the passage in case you wish to make note of it, or read further in the passage.   

I especially like the echo-like sound affect that is used while reading the bible passage...it enhances it and makes it sound more powerful and  biblical..

When you finish the rosary, you can enjoy a few beautiful hymns by the sisters....two in English, one in Latin.  

The Rosary + the Sisters' beautiful singing = an awesome CD.

This is one of those recordings that I would classify as a spiritual aide...it will bring you closer to the Lord, and I can't recommend it highly enough.






Thursday, November 20, 2014

Movie Review:Susie's Hope



This true story is mostly about Donna Lawrence and her husband Roy.  Donna is attacked by a pit bull dog.  The attack has long-lasting effects on her.  A short time after that, Donna and her friend are walking and come upon a dog that was badly beaten and burned; ironically, it is a pit bull puppy.  

Donna can't leave the puppy.  She names her Susie and, against all odds, she raises the money to pay for Susie's medical care and recovery.  Her friend Ramona is supportive,  and her husband is at first reluctant...then very supportive.  Together, Donna and Susie both recover and heal from their injuries.

Together, Donna and her husband seek justice for Susie both by seeing her attacker punished, and working to get 'Susie's Law' passed, which increased the penalty for animal cruelty or abuse..in my very own state of North Carolina :).  

Special acting KUDO's to Burgess Jenkins, who played Roy Lawrence; I felt his acting was the most realistic and credible.  His responses to various events in the story were very natural, instinctive and genuine.

I  admit I love animals and I'm a sucker for an animal story, but this is a really  heartwarming story that I proudly recommend.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Movie Review: The Vatican Museums In Cinemas


“The Vatican Museums 3D” will be in theaters everywhere beginning December 10 in partnership with Fathom Events, and will be shown in 2D and RealD 3D. Additional shows will be in select theaters December 11 and 14.

The introduction begins with the paradox of art being a means of escaping the world, while at the same time, highlighting the beauty of the world.


For me, I am best able to appreciate art by hearing  the story behind the art.  A few  of my favorites: 

  • When The priest Laocoon opposed Minerva, she sent a giant serpent to strangle his two sons, and then him.  This statue was the beginning of the Vatican Museums in 1504.   
  • Da Vinci's 'Saint Jerome', while still unfinished, was used as a she maker's bench and was rediscovered two centuries later.
  • Did you  know that Michaelangelo inscribed his signature on the Pieta, on the ribbon of the Blessed Mother's dress? I didn't...


There were several references to these works of art bringing us closer to God, and I do believe that is true.   Whether you are seeking that, or if you are just someone who appreciates beautiful art, I strongly recommend that you see this movie. It will bring you closer to the art than you could get even by being there.  The photography  is outstanding, and brings the art to life.




For Theaters and Showtimes:

 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Book Review: Yes, God! What Ordinary Families Can Learn about Parenting from Today’s Vocation Stories



In a recent address, Pope Francis described the family as the, "primary place for education, the community of love and life in which every person learns to relate to others and to the world." He continued, "All vocations make their first steps in the family."
We Catholics know this, deep down, but we have a tendency to deny the latter part of that statement. Vocations are for other people’s kids, we tell ourselves, our families aren’t perfect enough. We over-idealize those families who have produced vocations to the priesthood and religious life. We place them on a pedestal; imagining a large family filling the pew each morning at Daily Mass, homeschooling in Latin, cheerfully doing farm chores all afternoon, then serenely kneeling in the living room each evening for the family Rosary. These ideal Domestic Churches have no loud arguments, no black sheep, and no doubts that their children would serve the Church. Since our own families are not like those, we reason that our children could not possibly have vocations to the religious life.
 Susie Lloyd, the best-selling Catholic humorist, and homeschooling mother of her own large family, assures us that these lofty images are accurate, some of the time. But there’s much more to depth to families who produce vocations than we think, and in exploring their various characteristics, we just might find our families have more in common with them than we think.
In “Yes, God!” LLoyd chronicles the childhood and vocation stories of nine men and women religious, describing the details of their family which she believes brought each of them to say “yes” to God’s call to religious life. Chapters are named for the predominant strength which those religious and priests learned from their families. There is “Yes to Strength”, “Yes to Duty”, “Yes to Generosity”. No matter what the inherent strengths of a family, a vocation always begins with a “yes” and a family which strived to serve God with their lives. Families bring their particular gifts to their vocation whether their home was rural or urban, athletic or artistic, rowdy, quiet, or just plain contentious!
These families are not perfect. At times, Mrs. Lloyd points out; even the challenges in the home were used by the Lord to help the future religious transform weakness into virtue. This is true in the family of Sister Marie Jose de la Rosa S.C.C. whose chapter is subtitled, “Yes to Spiritual Poverty”. Her father’s long term unemployment and depression posed a daunting challenge for her mother who worked to support and raise her children singlehandedly. For Mrs. Lloyd, it’s not about perfection, number of children, or proximity to a Church building, it’s about the attitude which engenders the person’s “yes” to God.
And the attitude is not always universal. Sometimes a vocation comes as a surprise. One of the funniest stories in the book involves Mrs. Lloyd’s inability to see the great potential in a college friend, Fr Jeremy Paulin, OMV, now a Vocation Director.
 So it seems no one is off the hook when it comes to raising Catholic children considering religious life, since no two vocation-producing families are alike. Mrs. Lloyd’s characteristic humor keeps the Catholic guilt light-hearted as she brings to light helpful habits which an aspiring mother to a religious can implement in her Domestic Church. It’s a lead by example book on Catholic parenting, and it will have you smiling at both the strengths and faux pas of your own family as you read the captivating stories.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Movie Review: Saving Christmas


Kirk is enjoying his sister's Christmas party,  until he discovers how down his brother-in-law Christian has become on Christmas.  Kirk goes and talks to Christian, and although Christian is a Christian (no pun intended),  he cites all the nonsense anti-Christian theories that atheists and/or Satanists use.  One by one, these fruitless arguments fall as Kirk responds to them.  here are a couple of my favorite points:

Where are trees (as in a Christmas tree) in the Bible?  In the Garden of Eden, for starters...God gave Adam and Eve a garden full of fruitful trees to eat from...He only forbade them from eating of one.  When they disobeyed Him, it was not possible to put that fruit back on the tree, so Jesus, the new Adam, made things right by putting Himself on a tree...for us.

Christmas is a Pagan holiday...SANTA=SATAN...get it?  :)  After I stopped laughing, Kirk explained about the real St Nicholas and how he fought heresies promoted, ironically enough, by a Bishop named Arius that labelled Jesus as less than God.  St. Nicholas fought these Arian heresies vigorously, and as a result, became popular with the people, and children in particular, to whom he was generous...the beginning of Christmas.


Basically, Kirk  conveys the point that Jesus is the center of Christmas, and as such, we should joyfully celebrate it 

An excellent movie that will get you in the mood for Christmas and help make it even more joyful!
By the way, the website is pretty cool also...check it out too :)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Music Review: O Day of Resurrection! by New Camaldoli Hermitage


A beautiful collection of 27 hymns, prayers and psalms from the Liturgy of the hours, sung by the Camaldolese Benedictine monks. It was recorded in their chapel in Big Sur, CA. 

I used to pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily, but unfortunately I am not always able to do so due to my work hours.  This album helps me with that.   If you are not able to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, it is beautiful enough to listen to anytime for anyone who enjoys chant. One unique quality of  this CD is that it uses both two and three part harmony, which makes it all the more beautiful.  Two of the best tracks are  the Magnigicat and the Our Father.

The album is chanted in English, which makes it easier to follow and to use it to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

A very beautiful CD that will bring you closer to the Lord.




Also available on Amazon

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Movie Review: Interstellar - PG13




In the future, earth is becoming inhabitable, with dust storms happening, and crops gradually dying out.  A group of NASA scientists set out to find another inhabitable place for earth's people.  A gripping combination of science fiction, drama and intrigue.

The story was well-written.  The acting was very good, with some well-known names: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, John Lithgow and Matt Damon.

The coolest part of the story, by far,  is the element of time travel and existing in other dimensions.  I won't spoil any details, but the travel to another galaxy takes years, which is different than the travel time in space.

It is a fairly long movie, close to 3 hours, and I look at in in thirds...the first third is good, introducing the characters and setting the basis for the story.  The second third is tedious, and just when it was losing my interest, the final third advanced the story, and had the most exciting scenes.  I enjoyed it, but I must admit I found the ending pretty vague and unsatisfying.

A good movie worth seeing.