July 31, 2011


This is the movie poster.

This should have been the movie poster.

Lest the dreamy title throw you, this is not a dreamy film. The title means, quite literally, that in this film there is another Earth dangling above us, quite visibly. But the film is not really sci-fi. It’s a drama. A tad existential, but for those of you who did NOT appreciate “Tree of Life,” “Another Earth” is linear and very easy to follow.

“Another Earth” is a young film—its writers/director hovering around 30 years old. I have found that this generation of filmmakers tells stories very succinctly (perhaps also because they are used to online short form video?) We are out of the gates in the least amount of time possible and have just a ton of information in the first few minutes. Without the exposition being crammed, we know everything we need to know and are propelled very quickly into the action and the heart of the story.

A young woman with her whole life ahead of her—just accepted into MIT—is driving and staring up at “Earth 2” when she plows into a minivan, killing the driver’s little son and pregnant wife. The driver survives. The film then takes on a silent, but not somber tone. After serving time in prison, the young woman adopts a penitential lifestyle which eventually leads her to the man whose family she wiped out.

Much of the film has an air of quietude. There is very little talking except for radio, TV and other devices keeping us abreast of the news after the appearance of “Earth 2.” However, there is plenty of story development, all told visually—as a film should be! In fact, the audio of the film becomes so nonexistent at certain points that you can hear people munching their popcorn. The young adults in my theater (there were only young adults) squirmed a little at first, cleared throats, but then bought fully into the experience of silence and actually imitated it. Nobody stirred during the quietest on-screen moments. After a while, “Another Earth” becomes mesmerizing. Even when the young woman begins to talk again, the economical tale-telling, consistent pace and precise camera angles (with a generous amount of handheld) have locked us in.

The story is strong and suspenseful. When the judiciously-utilized music isn’t percussive, it’s a lone piano or violin (the soundtrack is by musicmakers “Fall on Your Sword”—how tragically romantic is that?) There is a noticeable lack of music-video-like sequences or even contemporary rock or hip-hop. The color palette is blue and brown, the visual style is simple but not minimalistic. The acting is naked, exposed and very good, shot in a kind of neo-realism. There are really only two main characters, but it doesn’t feel sparse.

The main question posed seems to be (since everyone has a double on “Earth 2”): “What would you do if you could meet yourself? What would you say? What would you see?” I’m not sure this is a worthy, serious question to form a whole movie around, but I can’t stop thinking about it.


--THEOLOGY OF THE BODY: This is a great male/female collaboration. Kudos to Brit Marling and Mike Cahill.

--This film only cost $500,000 to make! It can be done, people!

--I have, like, NO interest whatsoever in space travel.

--I always ask myself about a film: What’s the takeaway? What’s MY takeaway? What (if anything) will I remember about this film a year from now, six months from now, 3 weeks from now? I think I’ll remember the stellar acting (especially the cosmonaut joke scene), and just how this young woman handled an “unforgivable” tragedy that she was responsible for.

--If this IS sci-fi, it’s Ray Bradbury-style: a little outlandishness for the sake of reflecting on some profound moral truth. However, Mike Cahill, the filmmaker, is actually very, very excited about planets. AND the ending actually doesn’t make sense WITHOUT the parallel Earth, so maybe it’s more sci-fi than it seems at first.

--Not fond of the movie poster. Doesn’t say anything. Made me not want to see the film.

--Great awkward moments.

--Subtle metaphors everywhere.

--Incredibly sharp verbal audio.

--This style of indie film reminds me of how 90’s grunge music wanted to dress down the over-the-top 80’s hair bands. Nirvana thought even their drum kits were ridiculous and just pared everything down to “melody.” I think this has been achieved in the realm of film by “Another Earth.”

--You realize just how well-made the film was AFTER you leave the theater. Very well-thought out and executed story. Brilliant exposition. There’s a studied ordinariness to everything in the film that rings true and makes you comfortable at the same time.

--Seriously? It made me think of the many times I could have killed somebody because of my carelessness in a car!

--VERY little technology-use by characters in the film. The young woman is also a reader. I wonder if there is a contingent of the younger generation that yearns for less technology use in daily life. Or perhaps just a simpler life.

--I think there is an obvious redemption theme here AND a less obvious one.

--Why are we so obsessed with "out there"? Is it:

a) longing for the transcendent?
b) "because it's there" (like Everest)?
c) escapism?
d) we don't want to deal with "here"? (but the young woman DID deal with "here")
e) it's the only way we can bear to look at ourselves?
f) all of the above?

At least in "Another Earth," I think the answer is "in order to understand." To gain understanding. I think Jesus approves because He said: "Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door will be opened to you."

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July 26, 2011


On Friday, July 22, I attended a screening at the Wit Hotel in Chicago's Loop of "If Only We Had Listened"--a new documentary by Immaculee Ilibagiza and Sean Bloomfield (available at
www.kibeho.net ) who were both present for the evening. Immaculee Ilibagiza is a Rwandan genocide survivor who lost most of her family in the massacres, but managed to escape by hiding in a tiny bathroom with several other women for three months. Her story is movingly told in her book, "Left to Tell."

This fine documentary is a combination history of the genocide, Immaculee's story and return to Rwanda today, as well as a chronicling of the Vatican-approved apparitions of Our Lady at Kibeho, Rwanda. Our Lady began appearing in Rwanda in 1981 (the same year as Medjugorje), calling herself "Mother of the Word," and warning of the horrors to come. (The visionaries saw visions of rivers flowing with human blood--which came to pass during the murders of over 1,000,000 people in a country of 7.5 million.) Immaculee's narration fills in many details about this furiously short but horribly dark period of recent history.

There is something very alive about this documentary. I was already very familiar with what transpired during the genocide (having followed it in the news as it unfolded in the 90's). I was familiar with Immaculee's story (having read her book). But I was not familiar with the aftermath of Rwanda's unspeakable anguish. Due in part to finally heeding Our Lady of Kibeho's message to "turn back to God, pray, forgive, love each other," Rwandans have reached down deep into their hearts and forgiven those (often their own neighbors) who slaughtered their families. While many of the killers are in jail, others have already been freed. The cases of revenge have been few.

But Our Lady of Kibeho's messages were not just for Rwanda. She warned of a "world running to its destruction, running to the fire." She tells us to "pray without hypocrisy." She urges us to "resist with all your might the temptations of Satan which lead away from God's light and into darkness." These messages--and others put forth in the documentary--are still ringing in my ears. I feel like she is saying them to me, personally! Kibeho is slowly becoming a place of pilgrimage, peace and reconciliation for Rwanda, other parts of Africa, and the whole world.

The documentary moves along at a rhythmic clip, carried by an undercurrent of African dancing, joyful songs of praise in glorious harmony, bright colors, drumbeats and lush Rwandan landscapes. Actual footage of the visionaries witnessing Our Lady's visits is a highlight. Scenes of dead bodies are tactfully done, often in black and white or with muted effects, but without diminishing the tragedy. We witness Immaculee forgiving and comforting the man who killed her family. Out of all of her and Rwanda's unimaginable pain, rises hope. Immaculee tells us (as we witness carefree Rwandan children at play): "Maybe we suffered so they don't have to." Today, Rwanda is one of Africa's most peaceful countries.

Only once the documentary lagged for me: when Immaculee visited her old house and reminisced at length about her childhood. I also wanted to hear more about her process of forgiveness (starting from rage and a desire for revenge). However, these are extremely minor flaws, and all pertinent bases are covered at least briefly in this film that will leave you wanting to know more about this both scarred and blessed land, these blighted and blessed events.

At first, I didn't like the title: "If Only We Had Listened." To me, it sounded like Rwandans were bad people being punished, while in reality the historical roots of the genocide are to be found in the "divide and conquer" tactics of foreign colonists, knowingly pitting tribes against each other. But I came to realize that the title was a taking responsibility for one's actions, the actions of one's country, in order to move ahead. It's also a warning to the rest of us to listen to God, to listen to His Mother, because what happened in Rwanda could happen anywhere. Immaculee cautions: "Don't play with hatred because it is a terrible thing." Undoubtedly, there was also something diabolic afoot in Rwanda during the genocide, as eyewitnesses attest. What I learned from the documentary, is that for Immaculee, the viciousness and magnitude of the genocide calls for a lasting spiritual and divine solution, not a tenuous human or political one. She puts everything firmly on the grounds of faith, as have many of her countrymen, and they have been proved right. Love, forgiveness and non-violence WORKS.

I believe this documentary will do great good. I love all of Our Lady's apparitions, but right now, Our Lady of Kibeho is speaking to me loudly and clearly. I'm not someone who struggles with the need to forgive, but it's more Our Lady's call to get my own spiritual house and relationships in order that touches me. (Immaculee has also written a book called: "Our Lady of Kibeho: Mary Speaks to the World from the Heart of Africa.")

For media relations, screenings, distributions and wholesale DVDs, please contact Royce Hood: royce@kibeho.net

"Don't wear your faith like a coat you take on and off during life. That won't save you when you die." --Our Lady of Kibeho

"This is not your home. You are temporary travelers here." --Our Lady of Kibeho

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July 22, 2011


“Captain America” is yet another superhero movie in what an “Entertainment Weekly” columnist calls a “glut” of superhero movies. What makes “Captain America” different from the others? It’s a period-piece (WWII), it takes a profound look at the very specific nature of Nazi evil, has visual effects and action scenes to give Michael Bay a run for his money, and has miles and miles of heart.

There are several poignant, small, quiet, touching scenes in the beginning of the film that set-up Captain America’s inner self. Captain America is actually Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a slight little guy from Brooklyn who never backs down from a fight, and who is desperately trying to enlist in the military but keeps getting rejected because of his size and health. An Einstein-like doctor (Stanley Tucci)—before transforming Rogers into Captain America (also Chris Evans)—gives him advice about not changing from the good man he is after he gains his mighty new powers. He also tells him: “Strong men don’t value strength, they take it for granted, but a weak man values strength…and compassion.” Rogers takes this advice, and in a biblical-style showdown with evil he readily admits to his “nothingness,” wherein lies his strength.

Eviler-than-thou Johann Schmidt aka “The Red Skull” (alter egos abound!) is Captain America’s nemesis. In a fresh antagonist-twist, Schmidt decides he’s greater than Hitler and quests after his own world domination. Schmidt is played to the teeth (he has great teeth) by Hugo Weaving (remember creepy Agent Smith in “The Matrix”? He’s also “V”--whose face we never see--in “V is for Vendetta,” AND the voice of Megatron in “Transformers”!)

For all the red, white, and blue splattered everywhere, and the moniker “Captain America,” the “rah, rah, USA!” factor is played way down. The war effort is clearly an international affair with Brits and Frenchmen, and the Americans include various nationalities, with a special nod to Japanese-Americans.

“Captain America” is a lush, all-stops-pulled-out, old-fashioned, movie-going extravaganza experience. So even if you don’t like comic book culture or wham-bang action/explosion movies, you’ll probably enjoy “Captain America,” which leaves plenty of room to breathe between shoot-‘em-up scenes, developing some surprisingly finessed dramatic storytelling along the way.

The philosophical/occult roots of Nazi science-meets-mythology ambitions are well portrayed.

Captain America is a great “David and Goliath” story, really. Brains and guts win the day. Steve Rogers is not a lover of violence. When asked if he wants to kill Nazis he says: “I don’t want to kill anybody, I just don’t like bullies.”


--How did they make Chris Evans so skinny as Steve Rogers?

--Chris Evans is from Massachusetts. He turned down the role several times before signing on. The studio was totally justified in waiting for him.

--Kudos to director Joe Johnston and cinematographer Shelly Johnson (a dude) who hadn’t really done anything spectacular until CA!

--Marvel Comics has a very cool video-logo of actual comic pages scrolling in a whizzing-filmstrip fashion.

--(The philosophical/occult roots of Nazi science-meets-mythology ambitions are well portrayed.) Nieztsche’s “superman” is called “strongman.”

--Stan Lee’s comic book debut was in 1941 with issue #3 of “Captain America.”

--Norway is the fitting locale for the secret hiding place of a powerful force (riffing off nuclear power, no doubt). In reality, during WWII, the Nazis were trying to develop an atomic bomb in Norway. Of course, it takes time, and they were at the heavy water stage or something, but it was foiled by some heroic Norwegians, several of whom lost their lives in the process, first by breaking into Nazi labs, and then by sinking a ferry containing important bomb-making components, forcing the Nazis to scrap the whole program as their fortunes turned in the War.

--The screenwriters did their historical homework.

--Checkout the loooooong list of credits for “Visual Effects” on www.imdb.com. Wowza.

--So grand to see Tommy Lee Jones in a made-for-Tommy-Lee-Jones role!

--Stunning art direction, framing, mise-en-scene.

--Prediction: Chris Evans shall go places. He has that “stillness” that is needed in actors (as opposed to “twitchy”). I get the feeling he’s just at the beginning of his range of what he can do. He didn’t overreach in this movie, which I think was wise. There’s a vulnerability/humility to his acting and to the way he portrayed Rogers/Captain America that is endearing. Unlike "actor" Daniel Craig who is just ALL smug swagger and he has nothing to be smug about because he is NOT an actor and besmirches the profession. I just had to say that because I just saw him in a preview.

--There can never be too many movies about Nazis. We really need to be reminded of the whole scope of what happened there.

--Sweet love story between Steve Rogers and a female officer of higher rank.

--Strong bookends and ending that segues us for the sequel(s).

--“Stay a good man.” Isn’t that the conundrum of every soldier? But often they can wind up simply trying to “preserve their own humanity.” Of course, the big picture of WWII was so much more clear-cut than other modern wars as far as good vs. pretty pure, unadulterated evil.

--The hands-down BEST Holocaust movie for kids is “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.”

--There’s still that “invincible American” feel to the movie, AND defying authority/orders and then being rewarded for it. However, there are lots of battles where CA is fighting alongside others, so he’s not quite the “lone ranger.”

--Science enables brute power. Brute power enables science. Watch out for those little bespectacled guys scurrying around with briefcases full of equations. They’re just as dangerous as the brawn.

--Red Skull thinks he’s the man of the future and Captain America is just in denial. Captain America simply says: “Not my future.” That’s right, folks! We don’t have to buy into any evil future we don’t want to!

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July 21, 2011


Can you say "best movie poster of 2011"? VERY smart to only have ONE poster for a movie to "brand" it! (Especially when it's this good and says everything about the movie in a nutshell.) Not only is it totally eye-catching (especially if you like Van Gogh, which I pretty much do), but it's truly evocative of the story.

"Midnight in Paris" is being called by some "Woody Allen's best." Only having seen a handful of Allen's movies, I wouldn't be a good judge, but "MIP" is enjoyable, even with its kind of low-tech, simple 70's-style cinematography (whether intended or not, I don't know). And Owen Wilson proves his mettle by pulling off an act that maybe only Owen Wilson could. The part he plays is deceptively difficult, because it seems like he's actually playing the part Woody would play: a funny, neurotic mess. As someone said: "This is Woody's best because he wrote it, directed it and stayed out of it."

I don't think I'm giving too much away when I say "Midnight in Paris" involves time travel. Another feat for Wilson. It also involves the literary/artistic past, but you don't have to be an effete snob to know who Hemingway or Picasso is. OK, I was a little shaky on Gertrude Stein, but I just went with it and got it from the context, OK? "MIP" is laugh-out-loud funny. One woman in my theater laughed out loud at all the NON-funny obscure literary/artistic references just so we'd all know she got it.

Being incredibly cultured myself (except for Gertrude Stein), which means I was forced to read "The Old Man and the Sea" in high school, I got into a fit of laughter when Hemingway starts TALKING LIKE HE WRITES, which you--being equally cultured--know is short, bold, staccato sentences. Hemingway is played by Corey Stoll--who outshines every other minor character in the movie. Adrien Brody is a close second as Salvador Dali (but he should have had a longer, twirly moustache), and Carla Bruni (France's first lady) comes in third as an understated, lowly tour guide.

Indubitably, Woody Allen had his actors ad-lib in that wonderful, overlapping, realistic, interrupting, Jewish kind of way. Wilson was frighteningly superb here, whereas Rachel McAdams seemed to be striving to keep up. Lots of funny two-ring circuses going on in backgrounds....

My one big gripe with the film is what my screenwriting professor at UCLA, Hal Ackerman, called "the blurt." Where you just spill your guts and tell us exactly what we're supposed to know with no artistry or hidden exposition. It happens at the end of "MIP." Owen Wilson and the Marion Cotillard character just start disgorging themselves (to us) as to what the whole movie is about. We get it! We get it! A million times over: We get it!


--Great Woody Allen "old time music" soundtrack

--Should have kept to the "bells tolling at midnight" trope for Cotillard's time travel!

--No one from yesteryear seems to notice or mentions how weirdly they're dressed. That didn't ring true.

--Great audio-only lead-in at beginning of film, setting the scene.

--"Nostalgia is denial of the painful present."

--"The present is a little unsatisfying because life is a little unsatisfying."

--Absolute funniest time-travel line from a hypochondriac: "They don't even have antibiotics."

--I was asking myself why these particular writers'/artists' art has endured.

--A lot of butt-focused shots. Of the female variety. A lot.

--It's interesting that the French (as many cultures today) have separated love from life (including infidelity, contraception), but they make it LOOK like they have all the trappings of love. Tres interessant: the visceral reaction of French women to the IMF's Strauss-Kahn rape accusation. The "dirty little secret" is that sexy, enlightened, liberated French women feel...wait for it...used and abused??!!

--Hemingway's (good) advice to writers: "A writer needs time to write." "You don't want the opinion of another writer: writers are competitive." "You'll never write well if you're afraid of death."

--My mother sez halfway through the movie: "This is fun!"

--"MIP" is a great concept. Feels like there could be lots of spin-offs!

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July 8, 2011


Um, everyone seems to be trashing “Transformers 3” as badly as Michael Bay trashed the city of Chicago, but I thought the story-line was great, and of course, Bay is THE master of non-stop, can’t-look-away, how-did-they-film-that action films. A true master of an art can make even the uninterested interested in their craft or genre. Even me, who doesn’t care for rock ‘em, sock ‘em Big Violence Fantasy Wars and Explosions. Bay has a way of keeping the camera in motion, the undulating action on screen in synch with the human eye in a most pleasing fashion. I think he’s following some law of physics. Even the slo-mo ever-falling debris while Chicago is under siege from the sky is not only realistic and detailed, but provides a fascinating backdrop. There’s also an eye-popping scene when a building is cracking in two and the building becomes one great big slide for the characters.

The dialogue is far more sophisticated and quirky than most comic book flicks with their obvious, over-the-top declarations and lingo. But it still maintains and masters the non-realistic comic book campiness. In contrast, in “T3,” the emotional tenor of each scene truly varies (it’s not just all tension and “let’s get the bad guys”). Most of the scenes had more going for them, and more nuance than movies I’ve seen that had no special effects, and were SUPPOSED to be pure dramas!
In installation “3” of “Transformers” (“Transformers—Dark of the Moon”), Optimus Prime and the Autobots, who lost the war against the Decepticons, have stayed on Earth to save humans from destroying themselves. But they’re not finished with their nemeses yet! The war isn’t over, it’s just been moved to Earth!

“Transformers 3” is phenomenally well-cast (all except for military dude Josh Duhamel who looks like he skipped Basic Training and isn’t sure what he’s supposed to be doing). Shia LaBeouf (Sam) proves himself a solid actor once again and is required to express quite a range of emotions. British import (and Victoria’s Secret model) Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (Carly), Megan Fox’s replacement, isn’t just a pretty face, but holds her own as a thesp. John Malkovich is just delightful as Sam’s bizarro boss. Frances McDormand plays the no-nonsense, “don’t call me ma’am,” head of some kind of National Security. Ubiquitous character actor, John Turturro, also has a leading role. Patrick Dempsey is winning as the villain.

Bay’s action scenes always maintain their humanity. To me, this is what makes his movies so watchable. They’re not just big, dumb plot points and special effects. Human touches, conversation, personalities, virtues, rich character choices and development abound throughout the action. Just when you think an interminable sequence of chases and battles (often reaching from outer space to Earth) is never going to end, there’s a change of pace, an actor’s moment to shine, a close-up, an unusual situation we’ve never seen before. (How about that Jerry Wang? The Russians?)

I loved the beginning set-up of the 1969 moon landing. Real news footage interwoven with simulated footage. Some reviewers/moviegoers think Bay has sort of plundered American history or something by doing this. I think it’s right in keeping with comic book lore! Comic books often use actual historical cities and events (how many use Nazi themes?) In actuality, this and Chernobyl are the only two historical events “plundered.” Sam starts of in D.C., so we see the landmarks there (very cool—in a bad way—what happens to the Lincoln Memorial), and then we move to Chicago. That’s about all the plundering.


--Way to use the planet as an arena for a great comic book/sci-fi saga, Michael Bay! Not even African wildlife are safe from Megatron! Bay must have so much fun shooting his epics. He spent way more time in Chicago than he was supposed to because he "fell in love with the city and was finding any excuse to stay."

--“T3” is FUNNY.

--Bay got his Megan Fox digs in in one of the first scenes. The scraggly little comic-relief Autobots talk about how they didn’t like “the other girl.” “Yeah, she was mean.” I like these little guys and wish we saw more of them, and wish they had even funnier lines/parts.

--Lots and lots of adrenaline-inducing aerial shots. Take your Dramamine.

--I would have a lot more nice things to say about “T3,” but for the first time in my life, in a super-dark theater in Burlington, Massachusetts, I took 7 pages of notes with a dried-up ballpoint. Yup. Not a word came out! A movie reviewer’s NIGHTMARE!!!

--Product placement: RED TWIZZLERS, of course. Note that they always EAT them, too. It seems that the GIRL always eats them. Gonna check on that in the future. LENOVO computers, and….TRANSFORMERS! Opening credits: “Made in collaboration with Hasbro.”

--I can’t even begin to imagine what one little part of one scene’s storyboard must look like! The thing about a Michael Bay movie is, you’d think it would take 10 years to make. But it doesn’t.

--What age is “Transformers 3” appropriate for? Lots of machine on machine violence, (the sparks do fly) and the occasional human on human. A few quick racy shots/conversations involving Rosie’s long legs and Sam’s matchmaking mother, but both may be lost on children. If your kids are enured to comic book/fantasy violence, “T3” probably won’t harm them. The most violent scene, IMHO, was when a nasty Decepticon in a spaceship zaps some teens and kids running away in the streets and they instantly become skulls and bones. Again, a quick shot.

--Guys must love the concept of talking to their cars. And they talk back. But even better than Herbie—they can fight and stuff.

--What was real and what was CGI? I can speak for the city of Chicago which Bay and his army of Hollywood crews took over for a good chunk of the summer! We didn’t see any Transformers, of course, but all the piled-up cars, broken pavement, explosions, fires burning and rubble were ALL OVER the city. The base-jumping off the Trump Tower was also real (of course they didn’t zoom around the city like they had jet packs on). Our back alley was the scene of the Parking Garage and school bus with Shia and Rosie and the rebel Decepticon. They were filming there for over a week and we got to meet Shia and Rosie. Michael Bay is known for filming as much as he possibly can LIVE and leaving what he can’t film to CGI. It really makes a difference in the realism, but the CGI is so well blended, it’s hard to tell what’s what.

--Most of the soundtrack is typical symphonic stuff, but every so often there’s a full, emotional , ballad-y song with words. An upbeat sung anthem plays while the credits roll.

--There’s a certain sense of patriotism throughout: young men rally to defend their country, the Earth, “freedom is for everyone,” taking sides and allegiances.

--There are some great—mistaken—philosophical/political bromides bandied about (and proven wrong): “You have to choose the winning side to have a place in history.” “We have to do what the majority wants, not the minority.” “We had to cut a deal.”

--Yay, Optimus Prime! He’s just so noble. For a robot (that used to be a “god” on his planet, yadda, yadda), he has such a great voice, that narrates the beginning and end of the film.

--Here are my blog posts from when “T3” was shooting in our back alley:

1. http://hellburns.blogspot.com/2010/08/transformers-3-filming-in-our-back.html

2. http://hellburns.blogspot.com/2010/08/more-transformers-3.html

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July 6, 2011


In 1947, Fr. Alberione wrote to Don Cordero (the SSP's first director-priest): "This morning the Lord answered me that the mission of the film is serious….and those who want to heal the cinema are still so poor in virtue, faith, and grace!…Success depends on three points:

a) great purity of heart, intentions, and works (single-heartedness);

b) to live the “without me you can do nothing” from real sacrifice and a crusade of prayer;

c) to set out with small steps, humbly, constantly toward the great goal…God wills it.”

“For your apostolate, so broad and urgent, no human restrictions or insurmountable bounds. The means, the instruments, the commitment are to be in proportion to the needs of humanity. Difficult and complex duties await you, that require boldness and specialized skills, in a society undergoing rapid progress, as is the press, the image, sound, and electronics. God wills it! It is necessary to begin!”

As early as 1939, the Founder had already prepared the Daughters of St. Paul for the film apostolate by asking them to place the intention for the film apostolate in their hour of adoration. Meanwhile, Mother Thecla Merlo absorbed the Founder’s personal spiritual formation for the project—discipline, sacrifice and the apostolic spirit—and guided the FSP in that same way according to three fundamental values:

¨ clear principles (broad vision),

¨ ardent desires (God’s glory and peace to humankind),

¨ and intense commitment to the interior life (humility and trust).

Mother Thecla herself worked IN the film apostolate. (No wonder she's helping us with film now!) One of the Daughters who spent most of her life working in the film apostolate, Sr. Luigina Borrano, fsp, called it a "martyrdom."

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July 4, 2011


Not bad! I was pleasantly surprised and caught off-guard! My 8-year-old nephew rates it: "medium." (He needed a little help following the plot.) His favorite line: When Cap'n Jack Sparrow calls the King "His Hiney" instead of "His Highness."

"Pirates" 4 starts off without any belabored "catch ups" from the previous installations--a welcome relief. It's just all Johnny Depp all the time which is the whole reason we go to see "Pirates" anyway, right? Lots of chases and swashbuckling.

Penelope Cruz is Jack Sparrow's new love interest which is fitting because "Angelina" is supposed to be from Spain. Ian Mcshane is a fantastic, heartless Black Beard (or "Mr. Beard," as Jack Sparrow addresses him). There are cameos by Keith Richards and Judy Dench.

Geoffrey Rush reprises the role of the
(peg-legged) Captain Barbossa. (He's the only one that does convincing ARRRGGG pirate-speak.)

There is a prominent role for religion(!) in this "Pirates."

The absolute coolest introduction is the MERMAIDS. They're a little on the vampire side (you'll see). A mermaid's tear (how cool is that?) is needed for a ritual, so one mermaid is captured for the sake of a fresh tear. The mermaids may have shown a little too much skin(?), but I would need a man's honest opinion on this. Sometimes they had scales covering them up to the collarbone, sometimes the scales were only to the waist (with their long hair cascading strategically). Methinks they should have been consistently to the collarbone. Of course, it's not only a man's opinion that needs to weigh in here. Females need to reflect on how they're portrayed and how that makes them feel/act/react/try to imitate.

Astrid Berges-Frisbey (also a Spaniard!) plays Syrena, the captured mermaid. She manages to create this ethereal, other-worldly character so astonishingly well that she has set the new standard for cinematic mermaids (all apologies to Daryl Hannah), and there will be an outcry to see lots more of her (and mermaids in general) in the future.

I've only seen "Pirates" 1 and 4 and should probably backtrack to 2 and 3, because Angelina screams at the end to Jack Sparrow: "This isn't over yet!!!" which, of course, means there will be a "Pirates" 5.

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