Sunday, July 20, 2014

Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - PG13

Set in the future, but the year was not specified.   There are many more apes than humans at this point, but the apes have not yet dominated humans.  The backdrop is that humans wiped themselves out through war.

One of the main themes is how fragile peace can be.  There were humans that want peace, and those who don't.   Likewise, there were apes who want peace, and those who don't.  For much of the movie, peace was hanging by a thread, and could be so easily derailed by those who oppose it.  

There were two things I didn't care for:  the political nature of the story, which was not necessary, and the fact that it put apes on the same level as humans, which they are not: only humans were created in the image of God, and only humans have an immortal soul.

Overall,  I did enjoy the film for what it is: entertainment.  The special effects, specifically the realism of the apes, are very well done.

Content warnings include violence, and some moderate gore. The  'Fword' was used, only once.  I saw it with my nephews (16) and they liked it too.

Movie Review: Ragamuffin

This is the story of Rich Mullins, a contemporary Christian musician.   Rich grew up on a farm, and it seemed that every time he tried to help his father, something would go wrong.   This led to a very strained relationship  between Rich and his father, and a lot of insecurity for Rich throughout his life.

I found Rich to be very self-righteous and judgmental, labeling most Christians as insincere and hypocritical.  There is a lot if irony in that statement alone;  He acted like he was the only 'honest' Christian.  Much of Rich's music was negative, which I believe was a reflection of his troubled past, and several people encouraged him to write more positive, uplifting music, which was appropriate, given that there is nothing more 'positive' than God loving us, and us loving God.

I will say that I admire his perseverance in his belief that God loves him, despite his failings, which is most certainly true.  He was strongly impacted by a preacher who coined the term 'ragamuffin', meaning those who humbly ask God for forgiveness.   

Overall, an inspirational film which overuses negativity.  The main point I came away with is how much God loves us, which is a good point to convey :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Music Review: Eventide by Voces8

This is the first album by Voces8  that I've had the opportunity to review.

Eventide is  a blend of chant and classical,  performed mostly in Latin, and some in English.  

The title theme of eventide is present in a few tracks:  Where I Sleep, The Seal Lullaby,  Underneath The Stars, and also Reflexionem.

I especially enjoy the hymns to our Lady,  Second Eve and Ave Maria.

Some of the adjectives I would use to describe Eventide are spiritual, soothing, and meditative,  the kind of album that can bring you closer to the Lord.

I highly recommend Eventide; it is a beautiful work.

Below is a sample.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Movie Review: America: Imagine the World Without her - PG13

This is more of a documentary than a movie, and in it Dinesh D'Souza discusses some of the 'atrocities' America has been accused of, ironically enough,  by enemies within, who actually reside in America who want to tear her down and 'remake' her while enjoying the liberties and freedom she offers.

These absurd accusations include 'stealing' this country, 'stealing' Mexico,  slavery, and the 'evil' of Capitalism (LOL)

The main critics of America that D'Souza focuses on are Howard Zinn, whose leftist attacks on America have , unfortunately, become required reading at universities in this country and Saul Alinsky, who has motivated such radical leftists such as Obama and Hlilary.   The most shocking point in the whole movie is that a very long time ago, Hilary was a conservative, but she was influenced by Alinsky.

D'Souza presents the issues America faces in a serious and  realistic, but not fatalistic fashion.
I  recommend America for all, as those who agree with it will be encouraged, and hopefully those who disagree may be educated :)  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Book Review: Journey of Our Love: The Letters of St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Pietro Molla

The Journey of Our Love: The Letters of St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Pietro Molla

Edited by Elio Guerriero
Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2014

St. Gianna Beretta Molla is a popular saint, not only because she was so profoundly pro-life as to give up her own life in order to save her unborn child, but also because she was a modern woman and a working mother. She is someone mothers of today can relate to and aspire to imitate as we carry out our own vocation. “Journey of Our Love: The Letters of St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Pietro Molla” allows us an intimate look at the relationship between husband and wife as they sought to establish and nurture their domestic church. While her letters were previously published, this is the first time the letters of both have been published together as Pietro Molla requested that his correspondence not be published until after his death.
As editor Elio Guerriero states in the introduction, “These letters are a convincing proof that the way of holiness does not necessarily pass through religious life or the priestly ministry, but can unfold in the midst of the world, living one’s own vocation as a Christian called to holiness with Christ in married life.”
The book offers a short biography of both St. Gianna and her husband, who met when he was 42 and she was 32. Their friendship quickly grew to love and they married in September of 1955. Their marriage would last seven short years until Gianna died soon after giving birth to their fourth child. They packed a great deal of love and joy into those years which is revealed in their letters. 
“Journey of Our Love” includes letters from their dating and engagement period as well as their marriage. They were separated frequently due to Pietro’s work travel as well as during vacations. While they did have access to the telephone and made use of it, they often wrote each other every day during these separations, leaving a wonderful record of their relationship. The copious footnotes provide the reader with background information and allow for a greater appreciation and understanding of the text.
In the days of their courtship and engagement, we see two people who want to make each other happy and who delight in each other. As Pietro wrote on September 6, 1955, “Your love makes everything more beautiful to me.” Their love, even in its infancy, was always rooted in prayer and references to God and the Catholic faith are frequent in their epistles.  This love, centered on God, made their relationship more blessed. 
During their married life, they shared the joy and expectation of the birth of their children and their struggles in caring for them when they were sick. The couple comes across very human as they discuss the early hour their daughter awakes, Gianna’s fear of airplanes, Pietro’s need to have teeth pulled, their in-laws, work issues, financial matters, and the simple missing of each other. These were two people living married life, coping with all the everyday matters that entails. Where their holy virtue is evident is that all of this daily living was deeply rooted in God. In addition, their love for each other always shines through.  
“Journey of Our Love” is a beautiful book for anyone who has a devotion to St. Gianna and who wants to learn more about her married life. It also provides a wonderful look at the beauty of a married life rooted in the love of God, the ideal to which Catholic married couples should aspire.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Review: Dear God, You Can't Be Serious

Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious
by Patti Maguire Armstrong
Liguori Publications, 2014

“Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious” is the sequel to Patti Maguire Armstrong’s "Dear God, I Don’t Get It", but one need not have read the first one to enjoy the second. While the first book focused on older brother Aaron, a sixth grader who had to move to a new state and make new friends despite having prayed with all his heart to not have to move, this book puts the spotlight on Luke, the second child in the family.
Luke has just finished fourth grade and loves school. He enjoys hanging out with his friends and can’t imagine life any other way. Then, his parents decide they are going to homeschool the following year. Luke is beyond upset by the idea. As he says, “Homeschoolers are weird, and I don’t want to be one of them.” He prays for God to change his parents’ mind. 

Once again, as happened with Aaron, God does not seem to be listening, and his parents go ahead with their plan. Luke comes up with an idea to make the best of both the school and homeschool worlds, but gets himself in a heap of trouble in the process. In the end, it all works out and both Luke and those reading this story gain a valuable lesson.

Armstrong is a homeschool veteran herself and offers a wonderful perspective on homeschooling which would make this book ideal for a child whose family has decided to pull him or her out of school but who isn’t quite on board with the idea. “Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious” is geared for grades 3 – 6 and makes a great addition to a Catholic family library.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow - PG13

This story takes place in the future, where aliens, called Mimics, have invaded earth and taken over most of it.  The world's nations have joined forces to combat the Mimics.  Lt. Bill Cage (Cruise), who has never seen combat,  is literally dropped into the middle of this battle.

 As the previews indicate,Cage, keeps re-living the same events.  That is the main problem: it reduces the plot to scenes that we see over and over again.  The main redeeming quality is that Cage does get tougher, smarter and better able to combat the Mimics each time.

Cruise's acting is good and  entertaining, especially in the transformation of his character from scared rookie to  a shrewd combat leader. Unfortunately, I found Emily Blunt to be blunt (pun intended :) as his partner Rita.

There was some entertainment in seeing him handle the battle more effectively, and I enjoyed the ending.  The action was mostly battle scenes.  

Content warnings include language and violence.

Although I am a fan of Cruise, I have to be honest that this was not one of his best movies.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Movie Review: Maleficent - PG

Maleficent is a kind-hearted fairy who rises up to be protector of the moors, a peaceful and beautiful land, against the king's army and anyone who would threaten the moors.  Despite this role, she is still a trusting person, and, as a result, she suffers a devastating betrayal.  

After the betrayal, Meleficent struggles with her anger, and desire for vengeance, and the goodness and caring that are still within her; a similar struggle that we all might contend with at sometime in our lives.

Although somewhat a remake of Sleeping Beauty, it is also a story of revenge and forgiveness, and the awareness of right and wrong.  The story is captivating,  and continually entertaining The animation is outstanding and the special effects are amazing.

Appropriate for the whole family.

Definite movie of the year!
Don't miss it!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Movie Review: Godzilla - PG13

Warning: Potential spoiler.

OK, You knew I had to see it :)

Back in 1954, the government tried to kill him with atomic bombs, under the guise of weapons testing; instead, they created another terror.  Now,  mankind is threatened by two monsters referred to as MUTO's (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism),  and guess who returns to battle them and restore balance? guessed it, Godzilla.

Lt. Ford Brody's father was the first scientist to try to warn the government of the existence of the MUTO's, and after he passes away, Ford is now in the army, trying to help protect people from them and battle them, but it all comes down to Godzilla who is needed to fight and defeat them.

Don't look for a very deep plot, but if you are just looking to be entertained for two hours, Godzilla just might do it...  I found it pretty entertaining, especially how he kills one of the MUTO's :)   

BTW, the movie's website (below) is pretty cool too.

Contents warnings include violence and destruction.