Monday, March 26, 2012

Movie Review: The Hunger Games - PG13

Warning: possible spoilers.

It is the time of the Reaping, and Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take the place of her younger sister in the Hunger Games, a competition in which each District sends one man and one woman to compete in a competition to the death where the winner's District gets plenty of food to eat.  Peeta, a man from Katniss' past, is the other entrant from her District. They are both being trained by Haymitch Abernathy,  but are they partners?

The idea of young people competing to the death for for food for their District is bad enough, but the "games" have become both entertainment and sport. There are video cameras all over the place, and everyone is watching. It is treated as reality TV.

There is an announcement made midway  through which changes the nature  of the Games.

Although it is every person for themselves, there are a couple scenes where a contestant helps another for varying reasons.

The acting was tremendous: you could see the apprehension and trepidation in the contestants faces.

Content warnings include some violence.  You obviously see some people die in the contest, but what I also found disturbing were two scenes with a closeup of a wound.
I hadn't read the book before the movie as I usually do, but I read online that the movie is pretty faithful to the book.

To be honest, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

New film starring Andy Garcia aims to answer 'Who were the Cristeros'?

A Mexican group from 1926 known as the 'Cristeros' is getting some attention in the new film 'For Greater Glory'. It's the most expensive Mexican movie ever made.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mass of Renewal is a musical disaster!

I have sung in church choirs all of my life, both traditional Mass, and more folk type Masses. I have played the violin for decades, both classical and folk tunes. Suffering poorly written liturgical music is not something I do gracefully, so if you are prepared to read a bit of a diatribe, read on.

I heard the brand new Mass of Renewal at Mass last Sunday at the parish I grew up in,  St Philip Neri parish in Northport New York. I couldn't wait for the music to end, and it was said by a holy priest who was an excellent homilist. How he suffered this music can only be explained by the presence of Our Lord and the amount of grace in his soul. I would not be able to return to such noise week after week.

The Mass of Renewal  is a musical disaster! I found the music pointless meandering which disturbed my peace with it is tuneless, show tunes type schmaltz exalting the singer at the expense of the Lord.  I would have preferred silence to this unbearable cacaphony. I found it difficult to pray and pined for the traditional Agnus Dei of the Mass of the Angels. That music helps us to focus on heaven, not the performance of the cantor.
No doubt this has already been purchased by hundreds of well meaning church music directors and thousands of Catholics will be subjected to it. No wonder we are leaving the Church!

The Holy Father  has requested Catholic liturgists give Gregorian Chant 'pride of place' in our Masses. Why don't these composters William Gokelman and David Kaufman  (I made up a new word for them!) try to adapt some beautiful ancient melodies into the New Missal t and BURY this disgraceful work before they bother more prayerful Catholics?
For two thousand years, the Catholic Church has inspired the world with soaring spires, illuminated manuscripts and exalted liturgical music. The Mass of Renewal is a disgrace to this inspired legacy and does not deserve to be played  in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Review: "Downfall" by Terri Blackstock

Emily Covington has turned her life around after a drug addiction.
It's understandable that her family may have trust issues that she might relapse.
 But it is now that Emily needs her  family most.  After someone unsuccessfully tries to kill her, Emily suspects it may have to do with her past.
The question is, will Emily be able to figure out who the killer is before he strikes again?
A good suspenseful story that will keep you on pins and needles.  Aside from that, it is about trust in each other and in God, redemption, and justice.
I also liked that it was told from a Christian perspective.  Emily and her family turn to God with their needs, something we don't see enough of these days.
 I really enjoyed Downfall.  It was the first novel by Terri Blackstock that I've read, but it definitely won't be the last.  I just purchased Double Minds to read next.
If you like a good mystery I highly recommend that you check out Terri Blackstock's novels.

Music Review: Miami Vineyard Live

The cover of this CD states "Latin, Gospel, Island and Funk Worship".   I really enjoy a variety of musical genres, so I knew I'd like this CD :)

My thoughts on a few tracks:

"Holy Spirit Come" is using any situation to invite the Holy Spirit into our lives.

In "Gloria A Dios Solo" we are giving God our praise and our whole heart.

"Breathe"  acknowledges that God's presence is the air we breathe, and our Daily Bread.  An especiallybeautiful song.

My favorite is "How Great Is Our God"

The Best aspect of this CD is the focus on worshiping and praising God.  Many times, worship/praise music tends to become more about asking God for things than worshiping/praising Him.   I'm certainly not implying that we shouldn't ask God for help or for what we need.  On the contrary,  we can do nothing without Him.  I'm just saying we need to remember to thank God and praise Him, as is His due.
A very enjoyable variety of worship music!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Movie Review: The Woodcarver -PG

Matthew Stevenson is a troubled kid from a broken home.
Because of the anger he feels, he vandalizes the church that his father is renovating. 
The pastor gives him the chance to avoid criminal charges by helping to repair the damage.  This is when he meets Ernest Otto (John Ratzenberger),  the woodcarver who did the woodwork for the church.  
Matthew learns a lot from Ernest, more than just woodcarving.  One of the more valuable lessons Ernest teaches him is that before making a decision, always ask yourself WWJD (What would Jesus do?)
This story contains lessons of repentance, forgiveness, redemption and being able to change.
And more than lessons learned, it was about how God can use people to transform the lives of others.   The whole experience affects not only Matthew, but his whole family and Ernest also.
A very good family movie that delivers a positive message and some valuable lessons.
I highly recommend for the family to watch The Woodcarver together!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Movie Review: October Baby - PG13

Hannah has long had feelings about who she is and where she belongs.  When she collapses at a school play and goes to a doctor, she finds out why;  she was not only adopted, but she also  survived an abortion.
Hannah is very shaken by this revelation and goes on a road trip with her best friend Jason and his friends seeking answers to her past.  She is  also struggling to handle the feelings this revelation has drudged up.

This story evoked many emotions for me: the story of her failed abortion was tragic,  and the love of her parents and her best friend Jason was heartwarming.  The story really emphasized the tragic consequences of abortion and how it ruins the lives of all involved.

Although the dominant message was redemption and forgiveness, I was surprised by one person's initial reaction to this possibility.
An excellent movie that will touch all your emotions and leave you uplifted.
Don't miss it!