An (Almost) Faultless Masterpiece | Nick Olszyk | CWR
The Fault in Our Stars can be seen as a theodicy of sorts, a film about how to find love and meaning amid so much pain and suffering
MPAA Rating, PG-13
USCCB Rating, A-III
Reel Rating: (4 Reels out of 5)
The Fault in Our Stars is a difficult, painful story about cancer-stricken teenagers; it is also one of the most beautiful films ever made about romantic love. It has the courage to approach the frequently trodden—yet nearly always disappointing—genre of “Young Adult” (YA) romance with surprisingly youthful vigor considering its deep subject matter (and without Mandy Moore or sparkling vampires). What a treat! It’s rare to see a film turn almost every expectation on its head in such thrilling fashion.
Put simply, this is a tale of true love, a love forged in the crucible of pain, suffering, and devotion. While it is lacking in addressing spiritual questions, it is profound in its approach to human relationships.
Hazel Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is an average sixteen year-old girl who likes books and thinks her parents are embarrassing. But she also has cancer, which requires her to carry around extra oxygen wherever she goes. Her mother forces her to go to an unreasonably lame Christian cancer support group where she meets Gus Waters (Ansel Elgort), a likeable dreamboat whose recent and successful battle with cancer left him without one leg but in possession of a fresh, exciting perspective on life.
Hazel is obsessed with a serious, dark novel titled, An Imperial Affliction, written by a recluse Salinger-esque Dutch author, which is about a similar cancer patient and which ends, maddeningly, in mid-sentence.
An Iconic Screen Presence | Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle | CWR
Actress Olivia Hussey discusses starring in Mother Teresa: “I had always wanted to play her…She was one of the saints that I revered—absolutely!”
Actress Olivia Hussey was so sick during the filming of the movie Mother Teresa that she could have easily given up. During intense moments, she felt she lacked the strength and health to continue. But one day, out of sheer necessity, she sat down in her chair on the set, closed her eyes, and asked God and Mother Teresa to help her. Unexpectedly, a profound peace instantly came over her. And when a “bright light” came into her head as she finished voicing the prayer, she felt an unfathomable calm envelop her which thoroughly convinced her that she would be able to get through each intense day of filming on location in Sri Lanka and Italy.
Ms. Hussey was born in Buenos Aires City, Argentina on April 17, 1951. She began drama school in England at age seven and delighted in the creative acting education for the next five years. Soon after, Ms. Hussey landed a role, portraying Jenny in a stage production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. As it happened, Italian director and producer Franco Zeffirelli—who had auditioned over 500 young actresses for the role of Juliet in his film of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1968)—was in the audience watching.
Zeffirelli subsequently awarded Ms. Hussey the part of Juliet. Just 15 during shooting, Ms. Hussey played the celebrated role to great acclaim. Her acting won a Golden Globe and two successive Best Actor Donatello Awards (Italy’s Oscar equivalent). Interestingly, since Ms. Hussey was under 18 years of age, she was not legally allowed to attend the London premiere of Romeo and Juliet since the film contained nudity—even though she was the one who was nude in the film.
Ms. Hussey has appeared in over two dozen films and guest-starred in numerous television series. Continuing in an acting career throughout her life, she has portrayed some notably “holy” roles: the Virgin Mary in Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth; Therese, the faithful wife and mother in the screen adaptation of The Jeweler’s Shop, Karol Wojtyla’s (now St. John Paul II) play; and most recently, as Mother Teresa.
Ms. Hussey renders an inspiring and compelling portrayal of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the determined and compassionate saint of the gutters. Portraying Mother Teresa was a long-awaited dream role for Ms. Hussey, and she was delighted when an Italian film company invited her to take the part.
“I had always wanted to play her … She was one of the saints that I revered—absolutely! This little lady, just through her sheer faith and will stepped out into the streets of Calcutta and founded an order of nuns and helped the poorest of the poor. I mean, I get goose bumps thinking about it!”
Ms. Hussey recently took time from her busy schedule to speak with The Catholic World Report about her roles as Mother Teresa and Therese. Incidentally, Pope John Paul II called The Jeweler’s Shop film “the best possible film based on my play.” And, according to Ms. Hussey, sisters of the Missionaries of Charity told Ms. Hussey, “We felt as if we were watching Mother. It’s as though Mother came through you!”
Catholic World Report: I observed on your website that you completed “your life’s dream” in portraying Mother Teresa. Would you kindly explain?
Olivia Hussey: I was shooting Jesus of Nazareth with Franco Zeffirelli. After it was over, we did a lot of interviews and publicity, and some publicity people started saying, “What do you do after playing the Virgin Mary? [She chuckles.] You’ve played Juliet, and now you’ve played the Virgin Mary. What role could you possibly want to play?”
Without hesitation I said, “Mother Teresa of Calcutta!”
CWR: Wow. You said that before—
Hussey: Yes, I did! This was a long, long time ago. I was 27 years old. So, interviews and things over the years—people would ask, “If you could play anything what would you like to play?” And I said, “Mother Teresa of Calcutta!”
CWR: That’s great! What happened next?
From the Turner Classic Movies website:
Rev. Mother Dolores Hart, a former film star who became a Roman Catholic nun, is the TCM Guest Programmer for May. Now Prioress of the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn., Hart made 10 films in six years in the 1950s and '60s, appearing with such costars as Elvis Presley (Loving You, 1957), Anna Magnani (Wild Is the Wind, 1957) and George Hamilton (Where the Boys Are, 1960).
Hart chooses Lisa (aka The Inspector, 1962), a film in which she starred as a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. She remembers the film (a TCM premiere) as "a deep experience of the meaning of suffering." Laura (1944) is a reminder of Hart's childhood, when she gazed at Gene Tierney and thought, "I want to do that too!" She also has fond memories of The Song of Bernadette (1943) and agrees with host Robert Osborne that Jennifer Jones was "luminous" in that movie. Hart's final pick is The Rose Tattoo (1955), because Magnani, its star, "taught me what acting was about."
For more about Mother Hart's amazing life and her decision to become a nun, visit www.EarOfTheHeart.com.
A Really Funny Movie About Real Motherhood | Sarah Reinhard | CWR
Moms’ Night Out is a celebration of the everything that parenthood and family life is, including the chaos and the crazy and the comical
So, which of the following was true of the day I tried to sit down with my BFF and watch Moms’ Night Out?
A. I had a “moment” wherein I threw out my coffee, locked the bathroom door, and ignored the noise in the other room.
B. I texted said BFF and told her to forget it, because there was just no way I could endure the whining. (I didn’t specify if it was mine or theirs.)
C. I realized that I broke the screener and used up all my chances to watch the movie, thereby ruining all of our chances to even see the movie (and my shot at writing about it for the deadline I had).
D. My car broke down, people broke into my house, the kids ran around naked, and the internet was down.
The good news is that the answer is not “all of the above”—but just barely.
It was the perfect introduction to a movie that I’ve seen so hyped in my circles that I couldn’t decide if I really wanted to see it or if I would be vastly disappointed.
Within the first five minutes, I knew the answer, and it wasn’t disappointment.
Noah: A Theological Reflection | Steven D. Greydanus | CWR
Darren Aronofsky’s controversial film is sometimes divisive and divided, but is also deeply serious about essential questions
Neil deGrasse Tyson—the prominent astrophysicist and science popularizer whose reboot of Cosmos is currently airing on Fox and the National Geographic Channel—was asked a few years ago “which books should be read by every single intelligent person on the planet.” Tyson’s #1 pick, the Bible, would have been unremarkable if not for his flippant parenthetical rationale for this choice: “to learn that it’s easier to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for yourself.”
Reading those words (tossed off, to be fair, in a comment on Reddit), I wonder how many nonreligious scholars of the humanities have winced at Tyson’s parched, polemical assessment of the value of reading the Bible. As basic cultural familiarity with the most elementary aspects of the Bible’s contents dwindles in our post-Christian culture, a complacent dismissiveness toward the Bible as an antiquated compilation of benighted Bronze Age myth and superstition unworthy of any educated person’s time (except perhaps to understand the opposition) becomes ever more viable.
Taking Scripture Seriously
Some might argue that Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, with its wild elaborations upon the text of Genesis, can only further contribute to biblical illiteracy. Yet for all its dramatic and cinematic liberties, Noah is profoundly engaged with its source material. Noah takes Genesis seriously as a text worth reading carefully and thinking about deeply in its own right.
Raised culturally Jewish, Aronofsky is an atheist, but has long been fascinated by the story of Noah (since writing a contest-winning poem about the dove and the ark in 7th grade, and reading it aloud at the United Nations). Development on the film dates back over 15 years. (With co-writer Ari Handel, Aronofsky has also scripted a graphic novel about Noah based on an early screenplay for the film.)
Noah is the work of a filmmaker deeply familiar with the story of the great flood, not only in its canonical form in Genesis, but also in other ancient Jewish texts, from the books of Enoch and Jubilees to rabbinic commentaries and midrashic retellings. In some ways it reflects the influence of our secular age; in offer ways it a bracing challenge to it. It is a divisive film and a divided film, one that seems almost to be arguing with itself, and about which those arguing on all sides may at turns have a point.
Why I’ll Be Seeing Noah | Dr. Leroy Huizenga | CWR blog
My suspicion is that suspicious viewers will find the film stimulating, helping them see fascinating facets of the story they’ve not seen before
My wife and I were avid moviegoers once, often heading out to dinner and a film twice a week. We seldom go anymore. Children are one reason, and another is the move from two incomes to one that came with them. The biggest reason, however, concerns the product: we feel Hollywood hasn’t made films worthy of the big screen for some time, movies that must be seen in the theater. If there is something worth seeing, it’s usually worth the wait for its rental release on Amazon Instant Video or iTunes. For something epic, we’d make the effort.
Noah promises to be epic, if the terrific trailers and reliable reviews are any indication. And thus it’s a pity many in the wider Christian world seem to be writing off Noah without having seen it while flocking to supposedly safe-and-sound movies made for the pious multitudes not worthy of regard as cinematic art.
Christian complaints about Noah are often fundamentalist in character, finding fault either with the director, and alleged atheist, Darren Aronofsky (there are differing claims about Aronofsky's actual beliefs) or with the supposed liberties taken with the text of Noah’s story as found in Genesis. I would maintain that Christians who know a bit about art and texts should consider seeing and supporting Noah, for what matters is the film itself, and (while I haven’t screened it yet) the film promises to be a creative, faithful, and stimulating exploration of the biblical story.
Artists matter for their art, but not necessarily as much as many might think.
Now available from Ignatius Press:
by Robert Ovies
When nine-year-old C.J. Walker touches the arm of his mother's dead friend at her wake service and whispers the wish that she wouldn't be dead, he's just trying to do the right thing. But when the undertaker sees the woman's rosary sliding off her outstretched fingers and tumbling down her raised left arm, the firestorm can't be held in check. Frightened people near and far demand to know how many of their own loved ones might have been buried alive by the same undertaker, or by any undertaker.
But proof that C.J. Walker can indeed raise the dead is secretly videoed, then publicly aired. In a single morning, C.J.'s mother, Lynn, watches their home becoming a fortress and her son becoming a target. Grieving individuals desperate to see death let go of their loved ones; representatives from news, medical, and scientific organizations; influential religious representatives; and powerful government agencies all move in to gain maximum positions of influence over the greatest power on earth.
Through the ordeal, Lynn and her separated husband, Joe, struggle to find a way to escape with C.J., to keep him hidden from every pursuer, and somehow to make it possible for him to live a normal life again. But to do it all they must act quickly, before he's stolen away by authorities in high places.
Robert Ovies is a former Director of Chevrolet's U.S. advertising, an ordained Deacon, an MSW Counselor, and with his wife he was a mission worker on Arizona's Navajo Reservation. For ten years he was a live-in Director of a communal Halfway House in Detroit offering support to broken families, the homeless, runaways and abused women. He and his wife created a widely used marriage support program called "Together with Jesus Couple Prayer Series." The Rising is Robert's first novel.
Praise for The Rising:
"Ovies is a highly skilled writer of prose. But what we have here is more than a bravura performance: we are taken to that point at which eternal mysteries touch our ordinary world. Is it realism? Read this tale and decide."
- Thomas Howard, Author, Dove Descending: A Journey into T.S Eliot's Four Quartets
"Not only is this book difficult to put down, it is impossible to forget. When fine writing and compelling ideas combine, the result is essential reading. Works like this do not come along very often."
- Michael Coren, Author, Gilbert: The Man Who Was G. K. Chesterton
"A mesmerizing and provocative story packed with vivid characters and told with an easy elegance. The Rising makes you think, wonder, and then ponder what death, life, and love really mean."
- T.M. Doran, Author, Towards the Gleam
by Carl E. Olson | CWR blog
The big release in movie theaters next weekend is Darren Aronofsky's epic film, Noah, starring Russell Crowe. In a short piece, "The Thing About Noah and the Ark", on the New York Times' site, Aronofsky wrote:
When I asked Russell Crowe to star in “Noah,” I promised him one thing: I would never shoot him standing on the bow of a houseboat with two giraffes sticking up behind him. That’s the image most people have of Noah and the ark and I didn’t want to give audiences what they were expecting. I wanted to break the clichéd preconceptions we have from children’s toys, adverts, 1950s biblical epics and even much of the religious art of the last two millennia: the old man in a robe and sandals with a long white beard preaching in some Judean desert. I wanted Noah’s story to feel fresh, immediate and real. So when my team and I started to imagine how to bring the prediluvian era to life, we threw away all the tropes and returned to the Bible. …
We realized that if we listened to the original text we would find a blueprint for a Noah story that was unique and unexpected. For instance, returning to the ark: When you look in Genesis, you find exact measurements for a big rectangular box, a giant coffin. It makes perfect sense. The ark didn’t need a curved hull of planed wood with a pointed bow and stern. The world was entirely covered with water and there was no need to steer and nowhere to go. So we created the rectangular-shaped ark for the film, biblically accurate down to the last cubit.
I've not seen the movie yet, but I think Aronofsky makes many good—even excellent—points. And it's notable that he appears to take the biblical account quite seriously, yet with an understanding that the early chapters of Genesis were not penned by scientists or modern historians. This, of course, is a sticking point for both some Christians and certain secular-minded folks; both, at times, try to force such literature into boxes it was not intended to fill: the box of "history" as understood by moderns and the box of "fairy tales" as derided by moderns. And, as soon as you say so, some folks will defensively retort: "You're denying the historicity of Genesis!" No, I'm saying, as I think Aronofsky is also stating, that those first chapters of Genesis are narratives produced and eventually written down by folks who had very different perspectives on, well, nearly everything than those of us living in the 21st-century West. That doesn't mean they aren't true; it does mean that they require some hard thinking and a refusal to find false comfort in knee-jerk reactions.
Anyhow, with that said, here is a very intriguing review of the movie, penned by the exemplary Steven D. Greydanus for National Catholic Register:
The Sound of Music: The Last Drop of Golden Sun | Patrick Coffin | CWR
“Only grown-up men are scared of women.”
The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music marked the culmination of creativity by the teams that wrote Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, and The King and I. It also marked the end of an era. In a sense, it was released at the pre-dawn of the Sixties—not the numeric decade we call the “1960s,” but the cultural one, the Age of Aquarius, LSD, Woodstock and the Kent State shootings.
The musical was already a smash hit on Broadway and London’s West End years before director Robert Wise agreed to helm the big screen version. It was shot in 1964 on sound stages in Century City, California, and on location in and around Salzburg, Austria. The musical on which it is based was the last project by Oscar Hammerstein II who, after a career of co-writing an astounding 850 songs, died of cancer shortly after the show’s 1959 Broadway debut. His last creation was the ballad “Edelweis”.
The first half of the (numeric) 1960s was marked by relative stability and what might be called American cultural gentility. The assassination in 1963 of President John Kennedy was a world-rocking exception to the rule, providing as it did a kind of dark prophecy of the social vicissitudes that would roil the country in the decade to come.
Movie content provides a lens through which to see the shift from communitarian concord to anti-authoritarian animus—not that all traditions and authorities were respected before 1965 and not that the post-1965 world had no gentility. And by movie content I don’t just mean what the movies “are about.” I mean what they presuppose and how they were critically rewarded as artifacts of show business. Here’s a snapshot of the movies that won Academy Awards for Best Film in the 1960s, before and after The Sound of Music:
Available from Ignatius Press, the complete, unedited, original full-length 177 minute film never before seen on DVD:
In an acclaimed film portrayal, Olivia Hussey illuminates the life story of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the selfless missionary who brought hope, love and salvation to the poorest of the poor. The movie examines the fundamental moments of Mother Teresa's life from her childhood in Albania in the 1920s to her first calling as a nun, the decision to leave her order and live with the poorest of the poor, the vicissitudes of founding the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity, and her great work of service in Calcutta and the rest of the world.
A shrewd diplomat and an indomitable force, Mother Teresa was unwilling to accept what others deemed impossible, fearlessly fighting for the unloved and the forgotten. She was regarded as one of the most significant personalities of the 20th Century, although she never owned more than a white and blue sari. She influenced the decisions of the most powerful men on Earth, although she always stayed close to the poorest people of the world.
The film follows her through the slums of Calcutta as she mingled closely with her people, dispensing help, joy and smiles to everyone, with her loving embraces, and also shows her stubbornness with the people who wanted to block her way.
Her faith and good works transcended hardships and ultimately earned her international acclaim, including the Nobel Peace prize. The many small miracles, great charity and humble triumphs of Mother Teresa will inspire you in this poignant tale of a modern-day saint.
The complete, unedited, original full-length 177 minute film never before seen on DVD.
Includes a 16 page Collector's Companion Booklet.
This DVD contains the following languages: English with English or Spanish subtitles.
Casting Out Satan With Satan: A Review of 300: Rise of an Empire | Christopher S. Morrissey | CWR
This cinematic myth sacrifices history in order to seek one overriding purpose: maximum pleasure for a crowd seeking bloody satisfaction
The anti-war song “War Pigs” by the heavy metal band Black Sabbath plays over the closing credits to 300: Rise of an Empire. It is also featured in a trailer for the movie.
It is odd to hear this song’s denunciation of the demonic evils of war paired together with the film’s nauseating spectacle of cruel violence, which even includes graphic sexual violence. But the song’s prominent placement reveals a strange form of magical thinking. Apparently audiences want both to take pleasure in the most perverse displays of torture and murder, and yet at the same time to adopt a pose of moral superiority towards it all, as if their delight in the spectacle is not a real delight.
On its opening weekend, the movie earned an estimated 45 million dollars on 3,470 screens in the United States and Canada. Overseas, it earned an additional 87 million dollars in diverse locales: Russia ($9.2 million), France ($7.2 million), Korea ($6.5 million), Brazil ($5.8 million), Mexico ($5.5 million), and India ($3 million).
Even if the film’s opening numbers seem to predict that it will fail to match the box office success of 300, its predecessor from 2007 which earned over $456 million in 18 weeks, nonetheless the new film’s ambitions as a successor are even greater.
The violence is even more explicit this time around. And the outsized story acts both as a prequel (it begins with the battle of Marathon), a companion piece (it depicts the sea battle of Artemisium which happened at the same time as the land battle of Thermopylae depicted in 300), and also a sequel (it concludes with the battle of Salamis, in which the Greeks defeated the invading Persians).
But if its audience is interested in a 5th-century B.C. history lesson, they are coming to the wrong movie.
San Francisco, March 4, 2014 – An exciting, new, comprehensive, faith formation video-based program known as Symbolon is being launched by the Augustine Institute, in conjunction with Lighthouse Catholic Media and Ignatius Press.
Through beautifully crafted presentations and state-of-the-art video, speaker and author Dr. Edward Sri leads a dynamic team of outstanding teachers to provide a clear and compelling vision of Catholic beliefs and practices. Featured presenters include Dr. Tim Gray, Johnnette Benkovic, Patrick Coffin, Teresa Tomeo, Jason and Crystalina Evert, Leah Darrow, Jim Beckman, Curtis Martin, Chris Stefanick, and Ted Sri.
Featuring on-location filming in Rome, the Holy Land, Calcutta, and elsewhere, Symbolon opens up the “big picture” of the Catholic faith. It provides pastors and other leaders with a superb resource for the New Evangelization as well as authentic and engaging catechesis.
Symbolon comes in two parts, the first of which—Knowing the Faith (ten episodes; 5 DVDs)—is being released now, the second part—Living the Faith (ten episodes; 5 DVDs) will come in the fall. Knowing the Faith focuses on the core beliefs of the Catholic Church: the Trinity, the story of creation, the fall, and redemption; the Church, Mary and the saints, and the Last Things. Living the Faith will focus on the sacraments and the moral life.
Excellent for RCIA, parish adult faith formation, men’s groups, women’s groups, family life ministry, catechist formation, and individual home study, Symbolon includes full-color companion resources—a Leader’s Guide and a Participant’s Guide to take people deeper into the life of faith.
“Many people have a fragmented understanding of the faith, " notes Dr Sri, who is an Augustine Institute professor of theology and director of the Symbolon program. "They might know there are 12 apostles, 10 commandments, 7 sacraments and 3 Persons of the Trinity, but how does it all fit together? We wanted to build a series that walks through the entirety of the Catholic faith in a way that would shape their lives.”
“We wanted to build a program that walks through the entirety of the Catholic faith in a way that would shape people’s lives. This series will help people know their faith and how to live it, as they grow in their relationship with Christ and the Church”, Dr Sri adds.
The Augustine Institute, a nationally known graduate theology program, produced Symbolon, and has joined forces with two major Catholic media apostolates, Lighthouse Catholic Media and Ignatius Press, to distribute Symbolon through parishes, bookstores, and online.
“It is truly amazing that the Augustine Institute and Lighthouse Catholic Media were both ‘officially’ founded in the same year, in the same month, and on the same day: the Feast of the Assumption 2005. We believe that through God’s Grace and the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession, this new partnership will help millions of more Catholics fall more deeply in love with our Lord and His Church!”, says Mark Middendorf, President of Lighthouse Catholic Media.
“We at Ignatius Press are excited by our evangelical collaboration with the Augustine Institute and Lighthouse Catholic Media”, according to Mark Brumley, President of Ignatius Press. “These are two apostolates thoroughly focused on serving the Lord and his Church. Symbolon is a great resource. May the Lord bless the users of Symbolon!”
More information on the Symbolon program, including video clips and sample resources pages from the series, is available at www.lighthousecatholicmedia.org/symbolon and www.ignatius.com. Symbolon is available for order at those websites and at local Catholic bookstores.
Symbolon director Edward Sri, Lighthouse Catholic Media President Mark Middendorf, and Ignatius Press President Mark Brumley are available for interviews about Symbolon. To request an interview, please contact: Rose Trabbic, Publicist, Ignatius Press at (239) 867-4180 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Gimme Shelter is beautifully written, features amazing performances, and has the real capacity to change lives
MPAA Rating, PG-13
USCCB Rating, A-III
Reel Rating: (4 Reels out of 5)
Note: Spoilers Alert!
In the 1938 classic Boys Town, Fr. Flanagan famously said, “there is no such thing as a bad boy.” He didn’t mean males never sin; rather, the worst social situations and bad habits of the homeless rebel teenager do not remove his God-given dignity or opportunity for redemption. The same is true for Apple, a poor, expectant teenager who escapes her abusive mother in search of a home. Gimme Shelter is the best pro-life movie yet made, mostly because it is an actual movie rather than a two-hour sermon. It is beautifully written with amazing performances by A-list actors. Most importantly, it has the real capacity to change lives.
The film opens with Apple Bailey (Vanessa Hudgens) brutally cutting her hair and calling a cab to pick her up. It is unknown who this girl is, why she is changing her looks, or where she is going in such a hurry. Gradually, it becomes clear she is fleeing her monster of a mother, June (Rosario Dawson), and seeking her biological father, Tom (Brendan Frasier), with only a decade-old letter to guide her. Tom, now a successful stock broker, is open to helping her, but his wife Joanna is less keen, especially when it is revealed that Apple is pregnant from a brief affair (not unlike Tom and June). They arrange an abortion for Apple. Waiting at the clinic, Apple takes one last peek at the ultrasound picture and runs away weeping.
When Apple emerges from the clinic, she will not return to her father and becomes homeless. While fleeing a prospective pimp, she steals a car and promptly crashes. In the hospital, she meets Fr. McCarthy (James Earl Jones in an amazing performance). He gently tries to lead her soul to peace while guiding her to Catholic shelter for pregnant mothers in need run by a saintly woman named Kathy (Ann Dowd). The shelter provides Apple with her first genuine security in life including protection from June, spiritual guidance, financial assistance, and, most importantly, love. While initially hesitant, she eventually connects with the other woman at the shelter over their common struggles and finds a true home.
This film is a tremendously effective treatise on abortion because it connects the situation of Apple with that of her child. It handles abortion in a direct, realistic fashion without dramatic music, screaming, or political overtones.
The Lingering Trance of Green Dolphin Street | Patrick Coffin | The Cinephile | CWR
"Our whole marriage has been a...slip of the pen?"
Some movies linger in your spirit for long stretches. They put you in a trance—disturbed, humorous, or charmed, depending. You re-watch them (let’s call them atmospheric films) and the trance returns thicker, and even more pleasant.
Green Dolphin Street (1947) belongs in this charming category. Directed by Victor Saville and based on the 1944 novel of the same name by English novelist Elizabeth Goudge, the movie has a haunting quality, a la Frank Capra’s dreamy epic Lost Horizon (1937).
Screenwriter Samuel Raphaelson condenses Goudge’s floral, unusually vivid descriptive style into a 161-minute adaptation that became MGM’s highest grossing film of 1947. Nominated for a handful of Academy Awards it took home the Special Effects statuette for the then state-of-the-art earthquake and tsunami scenes, which cost MGM $500,000—a whopping budget item at the time.
The movie-going public was primed for a change of pace from rah rah World War II dramas, rugged Westerns, and light Bing Crosby-Bob Hope comedies. The last successful “costume drama,” as they were called, was the gigantic hit Gone With the Wind (1939), and the studio brass were evidently convinced that it was an anomaly at the box office. By the end of the war, the poofy dress genre was ripe for a reboot. In acquiring the rights to the Goudge novel, they hit pay dirt.
Like all classic stories, Green Dolphin Street makes use of an epic backdrop (complete with glorious nineteenth-century sailing ships and an august cliff-top monastery) to tell a simple story of love found, betrayed—and regained, but in a in a way that brims with bittersweet irony.
It’s also a depiction of the dynamics behind the way some families seem to pass identical patterns of bad luck.
Summarizing the plot makes it inevitably sound like a cross between Downton Abbey and a Mexican TV novella.
Now available from Ignatius Press:
DVD | 197 minutes
Saint Peter tells the epic story about the key event in European and World history, the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire, focusing on the leader of that new religion. St. Peter is played by the renowned
Egyptian actor, Omar Sharif (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago).The film illustrates the strong reaction of Romans and Jews from a political and religious standpoint, and it also deals with the immense obstacles Christianity found along its path in the early stages of its development.
As a dedicated follower of Christ, Peter spreads the message of the Gospel across the land, often staying only one step ahead of those determined to persecute him. As the tension between the Christians and the Romans grows, blood runs in the streets. Peter and Paul meet and together they form a strong friendship in preaching about Christ.
While fleeing persecution in the Eternal City, Peter sees Jesus walking toward him saying, "Peter, I am coming to Rome, to be crucified again." Peter realizes he must follow Christ to the end, and returns to Rome to be crucified like his master.
Also stars Lina Sastri, Daniele Pecci, Flavio Insinna, Claudia Koll and Sydne Rome. Directed by Giulio Base.
Special Features: 16-page Companion Collector's Booklet (by Carl E. Olson); "Behind the Scenes" Film; Film Trailer; Scene Selections
This DVD contains the following language options: English with English or Spanish subtitles.
Stills from the film:
by Carl E. Olson | CWR blog
Filmmaker Ronald Krauss sees connection with Pope Francis' warnings about “a throwaway culture”
The movie, Gimme Shelter (www.gimmeshelterthemovie.com) which opens in theaters tomorrow, January 24th, features a rising young star, the talents of a gifted director/writer, and a story based on inspiring true events. The star is actress (and singer) Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical series), the director/writer is Ronald Krauss (Amexica, Puppies for Sale), and the story is rooted in the work and experience of Kathy DiFiore, founder of Several Sources Shelters. The film depicts the struggles and eventual redemption of Agnes “Apple” Bailey (Hudgens), a homeless and pregnant teen. Having run away from her abusive mother (Rosario Dawson) and spurned by her white collar father (Brendan Fraser), she eventually meets a caring stranger (James Earl Jones), who introduces her to a shelter for homeless teenagers.
The movie has been praised by several prominent pro-life leaders, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who described Gimme Shelter as a “moving film with an uplifting message of hope and the dignity of human life—and the fact that it is based on real people and events makes it all the more compelling. I hope that this film finds a wide audience—particularly among teens and young adults!”
I spoke by phone recently with both Kathy DiFiore and Ronald Krauss, and the passion of both for helping troubled youths and building a culture of life was obvious. Gimme Shelter, Krauss said, “was 33 years in the making”, a reference to DiFiore establishing her first shelter in 1981. He had heard about Kathy's work through various contacts, and then he learned that her first shelter was less than two miles from his brother's house in New Jersey. “I was immediately intrigued,” Krauss says. “I arranged to visit one of her shelters and I was awed by what I saw.” He visited and met Kathy, discovering a devoted woman who was humble and free of any interest in the spotlight.
Krauss was immediately moved by what he witnessed at the shelter. “I was especially inspired by a couple of the girls” as he learned about their pasts and their struggles. “This movie,” he explains, “is about the new face of homelessness: young women, mostly teens, who are often single mothers.”
He talked with Kathy about a possible documentary. True to form, she didn't want it to be about her, but she did have an idea: making a film focusing on the girls and the shelters. Krauss began working on a script, spending time in shelters getting to know the people there and hearing their stories. He eventually spent a year visiting shelters, recording nearly 200 hours of interview with various young women.
“I'm just one link in the chain”, Krauss insists about the making of Gimme Shelter. The word he kept coming back to is “selflessly”: helping those who have no other means of support and assistance. In order to insure the film's authenticity, Krauss had several of the girls help in the writing process, scheduling “script nights” where they would read some of the script while sharing their thoughts about the story line. “They helped me find the reality of their lives,” Krauss says about the process. “They shared their deepest emotions about what it is to be homeless, to not know where you’re going to be tomorrow.”
Krauss never thought he could cast an established Hollywood actress in the lead role, and planned to cast an unknown. But after meeting with Hudgens, he changed his mind. He noted her hunger for a different role; she wanted to challenge herself as an actress and a person. And after Hudgens accepted the role, Krauss was taken back by her intense preparation. “She spent three weeks living in a shelter, she gained weight for the role, and she chopped off her hair. She really did become 'Apple', her character!” So much so, says Krauss, that he would call her “Apple,” not “Vanessa”, even off the set—“that's how much she became the character.” And that is what Hudgens was hoping to accomplish, having stated that it an “an opportunity to completely transform myself. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see myself. The story, which is based on the lives a several young women who stayed at the shelter, is completely terrifying, which was all the more reason why I wanted to do it.”
DiFiore began sheltering several young pregnant women in her home, free of charge, in 1984. Soon thereafter, the state of New Jersey fined her $10,000 for running an illegal boarding home. Her story and her work gained attention in the media, and eventually Sen. Gerald Cardinale sponsored a bill exempting non-profit groups from the legislation. When it appeared that the bill would be vetoed, DiFiore had the idea of contacting Mother Teresa to see if she could help. But she thought the idea was unrealistic—until the next day she “heard a loud voice telling me: call Mother Teresa!” She knew a man who worked in Mother Teresa's soup kitchen, so she called him. His wife answered and told Kathy that her husband had just spoken with Mother Teresa the night before. After a few calls, she got in touch with Mother Teresa, who worked to help her get rid of the fine and to persuade lawmakers to pass the bill.
DiFiore has written a soon-to-be-published book, Gimme Love, Gimme Hope, Gimme Shelter, featuring stories about women like Apple, as well her stories about Mother Teresa and others.
As DiFiore continues her tireless work, Krauss hopes Gimme Shelter will open eyes and hearts. “This is a crucial movie for a crucial time,” he says, “It provides a window into our society. These homeless women are not outcasts; they could be anyone.” The movie, he reflects, will means different things to different viewers, depending on where they are coming from and what their own experiences are. “This is not just a movie; it is a movement to change the culture.”
Krauss sees a strong connection between the film and Pope Francis' warnings about “a throwaway culture” and a “consumerist” mentality that is focused on things rather than on people. He hopes that Francis can see the film as it echoes his messages about the poor, needy. “The Prayer of St. Francis is in the movie,” he says, “and that was shot before Francis was elected.”
Trailer for Gimme Shelter:
Not a Christmas Carol | K.V. Turley | CWR
The constant bustling of London often hides a dark loneliness at its core
London is a strange place, and the longer one lives in its shadows the stranger it seems to become.
Commuting home, we hardly notice those sitting or standing around us, our hands so full of newspapers and books, our heads crammed with the day’s ups and downs—some of import, most not. The last thing on anyone’s mind is the person sat opposite.
Until, that is, something extraordinary throws it all into relief.
And in this city, a few years back, that something crawled to the surface and, for a while at least, stood in full view for all to behold: proving too much for some, too little for others, and altogether too late for the unfortunate woman concerned.
This city: so full of people and things, and, yet, seemingly with such an emptiness at its core. A recent film documented this like no other I have seen. Paradoxically, it has a Festive setting; but this is definitely not A Christmas Carol, or for that matter It’s a Wonderful Life—quite the reverse in fact. There is no redemption here, and, perhaps, therein lies the reason why it still haunts me so.
Documentaries rarely make any money when shown in cinemas. One released at Christmas, dealing as it did with a lonely death, was always going to be a hard sell. And so, not surprisingly, Dreams of a Life made a pittance at the box office when released in 2011, but it did gain some impressive reviews.
The subject? A young woman who died alone in a drab apartment, remaining there for three years until the property was repossessed; by which time, her skeletal remains were waiting for the bailiffs. During those years, she had been sat in front of a television set that was still on, surrounded by recently wrapped Christmas presents. It couldn't get any more pathetic, or maybe more insightful, into an aspect of London life many would prefer not to know about. In this Christmas tale, there is to be no comforting ending: no ecstatic Scrooge, no overjoyed George Bailey reunited with his family. Instead, it is one that ends in tragedy, with an accusing finger pointing at all of us.
And yet, there is something “Dickensian” about the scene nevertheless.