December 22, 2012


The film adaptation of the beloved J.R.R. Tolkien classic, “The Hobbit,” has finally made it to the silver screen as a part one: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” Running at two hours and forty-five minutes, it shouldn’t disappoint fans of the Middle-earth fantasy. “The Hobbit” is, of course, the prequel to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy of films: “The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Two Towers,” and “The Return of the King.”

Gandalf the Grey (a wizard, played by the made-for-the-role Ian McKellen) invites the homebody hobbit, Bilbo Baggins (an impeccable, humble and nuanced performance by Martin Freeman), on an “adventure.” Baggins declines, but suddenly finds his hobbit hole filled with dwarves intent on a quest to win back their homeland which was taken over by the evil dragon Smaug (which the British actors pronounce very painfully: S-M-O-WWW-G). A hobbit is needed for the journey because the dragon (and assorted nefarious creatures they will meet along the way such as orcs and goblins and trolls, oh my!) isn’t used to the smell of hobbit, and being tiny, Bilbo will be able to slip around unnoticed. The “dwarf prince” doesn’t want Bilbo along, thinking he will be a burden because he is not a warrior. But Gandalf believes in Bilbo.

There are many, many action scenes and battles and one perilous predicament after another. However, the scenes are so carefully planned out, easy-to-follow, and truly interesting that our attention is held. This is not just generic swashbuckling and sword clashing. (There are many different kinds of swords in “The Hobbit.” Swords are a Big Deal.) The intense action scenes lead us from one stage of the journey to the next. We never know what our little band will encounter as they advance through diverse terrain.

At times, it almost seems that Tolkien has the mind of a child or an animator (where everything is alive, everything comes to life, even the mountains)! There is an amazing interplay of species, and animals/nature are either corralled for the service of evil or good.

There are two extremely long scenes that seemed to be smaller plot points than others: One where Bilbo tries to save the dwarves from being eaten by trolls, and the scene with Gollum and the ring in the cave. But the acting, dialogue and overall execution is so captivating, it didn’t really matter. The movie is long but never tedious.

Tolkien was a devout Catholic (and even helped translate the Jerusalem Bible), and his fantasies were really “the moral imagination” at play. Multitudes of readers have found deep purpose, hope and meaning for their lives in his yarns.

“Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament.… There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth….” –J.R.R. Tolkien 

(Apparently it's from a published collection of Tolkien's letters:


--Man, those orcs are ugly. But the goblins are uglier.

--OK, so I just have to describe the ugliness of the goblin king. He had a beard, but it wasn’t hair, it was flesh! Like a huge goiter hanging down. Groddy to the max!

--When Gandalf was uncertain, afraid, whom did he turn to? Galadriel! “A strong man of God appreciates the strength of a woman of God.” –Pastor Rick Warren

--I feel so relieved. I was beginning to think I was a moral flibbertigibbet* because after reading The Hobbit 5 times as a teen and the Trilogy about 3 times, I just DID NOT GET THE LOTR FILMS. Like the Star Wars movies, I couldn’t get past the first film. I think my problem—for LOTR—had something to do with Elijah Wood. I felt like I was drowning in his doe eyes for the whole film. I’m sorry. It’s just the way I feel. BUT I redeemed myself to myself by loving, embracing, enjoying and UNDERSTANDING “The Hobbit”! Yay! Maybe I could venture to watch LOTR?

--The whole process of Gandalf-inviting –Bilbo-on-an-adventure is really a wonderful depiction of the unfolding of any vocation/calling. I’m SURE it will be used in the future for that!

--Impromptu songs! Feasting! Dancing! Storytelling! Legends! THIS is true, organic culture.

--Dragons really like gold. They even sleep in it.

--Trolls smell real bad. Too bad my theater didn’t have 4-D. :D

--MOUNTAIN trolls are “slow and stupid.”

--The mountain trolls look exactly the same as the troll in “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

--Great costumes! Great dwarf HAIR! Great sets!

--Accurate American Robin’s song.

--“Evil is always looking for a foothold in this world.” --Gandalf
--“The world is not in your books and maps. The world is out there.” --Gandalf
--“All good stories deserve embellishment.” –Gandalf
--Gandalf has all the good lines.

--The necromancer dude reminded me of “the culture of death.”

--“The dark reign has spread.”

--The birds start returning to the dwarves' mountain after the dwarves set out on the quest and have a few victories….

--This film is VERY WELL-LIT!!!!!!      I heart YOU, PETER JACKSON!!!!!!

--The Irish dwarf (actor James Nesbitt) was the Irish guy in “The Way.” I KNEW IT.

--The eagles at the end looked a lot like golden eagles, but they had white spots on their tails….

This is a photo of a  REAL golden eagle. All Instagram-ed or something.

--New Zeelind iz vewy pwitty.

--Holy flaming pinecones!!!

--Witchcraft makes animals sick.

--As a teen, I read everything I could get my hands on by Tolkien: “Farmer Giles of Ham,” “Smith of Wootton Major,” his Father Christmas letters. But when I got “The Silmarillion” for Christmas, I decided this was too much, it was going too far. I wanted to learn about REAL history/geography/personages before I delved into mythological history/geography/personages.

--I FIRST heard, yes, “heard” “The Hobbit” when I was about 9 years old and was being babysat by the teenage maids at HoJo’s Motor Lodge in Amherst, Massachusetts, where my father would attend summer classes at U Mass Amherst to be an Assessor, and we’d vacation at the Howard Johnson’s. (They had a great pool.) These teen maids were kind of bohemian and we’d sit on the floor of the laundry room, backs against the washing machines and they’d read to my brother and I. We LOVED the Sphinx-y riddle-contest between Gollum and Bilbo, and it was so thrilling to hear it in the movie again after all these years.

--Tolkien should have put more chicks in his stuff. Do not these dwarves have dwarf-wives--at least that they left behind on the homefront? No sightings. No mentions. (It's OK that there are no female orcs or goblins.) And yet, women really like LOTR, too. Maybe the women Tolkien DOES put in are so awesome and influential that we don't mind? Or maybe we didn't fully notice because we're so used to men's stories?

--I'm thinking of including "The Hobbit" in my canon of Important Theology of the Body films. Why? Because, like "Tree of Life" (THE primordial TOB film), "The Hobbit" links all of Creation/the Cosmos together. We ALL share in this drama. No one is unconnected.

*My friend, Deb Pavelek, even sat beside me for “The Fellowship of the Rings” and tried to explain all the deep metaphors, but it didn’t help.

December 20, 2012


In honor of the Winter Solstice, and back by popular demand, I am reposting...
"The Christmas Bat: A True Story!"
(OK, nobody really asked to see this blogpost again--BUT I have included an Afterword.
Enjoy. Cringe. Laugh. Weep.)

(this is NOT my hand)

Of all the gifts Jesus could give me for Christmas (out of His whole ex nihilo world), He knew I would really, really love a bat. I'm serious. I love all His little critters (except roaches). It was Sunday, December 21, 2008, the Winter Solstice, broad daylight, about zero degrees, and I was walking to Mass between Chicago's Daley Center and the Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza, when a tiny little bat came flying straight at my midriff. At first I thought it was a little bird, but it was too thin—like a boomerang—and a super graceful double-jointed flyer. I realized immediately it was a bat. As I said, I have always loved bats, and this was a total GOD moment. Everything slowed down and it was as if he was flying in slow motion toward me. It was as if this little guy was CHOOSING me to help him and GOD was choosing me to help His little creature at the same time. It was like 3-D Cartesian coordinates.

FWUMP! He swooped up and landed on my chest, fluttered himself down to the ground, huddled on his stomach next to my boot, tucking his wings under his body, shivering for all he was worth. He was quite tiny, his body only three inches long. What could I do? I picked up this pitiful, but feisty little BLACK bat (with some silver fur on his back). I assumed that most bats around Chicago would be the common BROWN bat, so I thought: Hmmmm, he's probably a migrator. Obviously, he had not gotten the memo to migrate about, oh, two months ago.

A guard inside the closed Daley Center banged on the glass: "Is that a bat??" "Yes!" "Can I see him?" By now, baby bat had perked right up, getting warm in my cupped gloves. I put his little face against the window: pinpoint black eyes, pig snout, little bat teeth that he kept licking. He began nibbling on the leather inset of my glove. I thought: Hmmmm. I hope he doesn't have rabies. I tried to get the guard to take him inside, but she wasn't having any of that. "I'm taking him to church!" I declared. "What?" "Church! I'm taking him to church!" So off we went to St. Peter's in the Loop. If someone was going to ask me what I was holding, I was all ready to say "a bird," so they wouldn't freak out. I found an unused corner of the basement where I tried to get him to snuggle in my gloves until after Mass. But, being the bat that he was, he promptly jammed himself behind a podium (Ah! Like a crevice in a cave!) and began hibernating. OK, so what we have here is "bats in the basement" instead of "bats in the belfry." (It's amazing the number of bat puns you can come up with without even trying.)

After Mass, I grabbed Brother Gary (jazz pianist extraordinaire). "Hey, Brother, can I show you something?" "Sure." "You're Franciscan, you like animals, right?" "Um, yeah." "Like, you're not afraid of bats, right?" "Well…." I showed him his little houseguest. "I'll call some wildlife refuge if you can just leave him here for now." "Er, OK." (Brother Gary heroically kept the secret to himself until after the bat was well on his way to the "bat man," but I'm getting ahead of the story.)

On Monday, I looked online for "wildlife refuges" in the Chicago area. I found plenty, but they all said "no bats." They took "possums, skunks, squirrels, raccoons, mongoose, rats, snakes, Tasmanian devils, alligators, komodo dragons," etc. but "no bats." I couldn't figure out why bats were such pariahs. I love bats. Finally the Willowbrook Wildlife Refuge gave me a hot tip: Call the "bat man." After the WWR hung up they called me back immediately: "You're not touching this bat with your hands, are you?" "No, I have gloves." "Really thick gloves? You don't want to mess with rabies." [They were really thin gloves.] Me: "Ha ha! If I get rabies, I'll just get the tetanus shot." WWR: [Moment of silence.] "Um, no. Tetanus has nothing to do with rabies. [Somewhere along the line in my life I had gotten some very bad intel.] Rabies is basically fatal. You die. The only person to survive that we know of is a little girl in Wisconsin. They induced a coma. She was in a coma for a whole year." I was beginning to see the light regarding "No bats need apply."

Jim Rowles of Hinsdale, IL, DOES bats, aka "bat rehab." I called him forthwith. He sounded elderly. He had been out shoveling snow. At present, he had two bats hibernating in his garage that he was afraid he was "stuck with." When I inquired why he said he couldn't release them in the Spring he said: "Because one has a broken wing, and the other isn't playing with a full deck." He told me to call the "Bird Collision" people downtown. They could gather the bat and bring him to Hinsdale. He told me I had the right "battitude," and "thanks for looking out for the little guys." Turns out the "little guy" who befriended me is a Silver-haired Bat, Lasionycteris noctivagans, who likes to winter in Texas. "This species is migratory, at least in part. It spends the summer in northern latitudes and winters toward the south, even crossing several hundred kilometers of ocean to reach Bermuda. Surprisingly few winter records are available; thus, the mystery of just where these bats spend the winter is still not completely solved." Easy! Daley Plaza, the Franciscans, and the bat guy's!

A young woman from Bird Collision rode the train, woke our little guy up, placed him in a box, and took him on the first and last CTA ride of his life to the "bat guy."

"Silver Bats! Silver Bats! It's Christmastime in Chicago!" Well, isn't it appropriate? This is the Dark Knight's REAL Gotham City after all….


The more I thought about rabies, the more nervous I got. I was reading up about symptoms and effects and it was truly horrific: people chained to beds screaming and dying and slowly going mad. I called the lady at the Willowbrook Wildlife Refuge again. " does one get rabies again?" "Bat spit. People think it's the bite, but it's really the spit." Flashbacks of my little friend nibbling on my gloves with his super-miniscule teeth, and then me removing my gloves with MY teeth--as I always do--flashed through my mind like a strobe light. Me: " does one get tested for rabies?" "Oh, you don't really. By the time you test positive for rabies, it's too late. You need to be treated right away if there's any doubt." The treatments were way costly (I don't have health insurance) and seemed like a real hassle. Wildlife lady: "The other way to find out if you were exposed to rabies is to test the bat if that's still possible." How do they test the bat? [WARNING TO BAT LOVERS AND SENSITIVE SOULS: COVER YOUR EYES FOR THIS NEXT PART.] They cut its little head off and examine its brain matter. It's the only way they can know for sure. 

Well, with heavy heart, I arranged with the Board of Health for the little guy to give up his life for me. There was a huge battle with various counties and jurisdictions, and at one point I thought the poor old bat man was going to jail because one county said he had to have more than just a wildlife license but a bat license (these little guys are really in their own category) and what he was doing was illegal. Turned out that that county did NOT have jurisdiction, and the county that DID was on very friendly terms with the bat man already, and the bat man DID have a bat license. However, all did not go smoothly as the bat man was LOATHE to hand over the doomed winged-one and put up quite a fight.

In conclusion, I waited on pins and needles and finally received the phone call that the bat did NOT have rabies. I was relieved, of course, but sorrowful. The lesson I truly felt God was telling me from this is: "Look. This little bat is gone now (because of you). His life is over. What are you doing with your life? Do you treasure every second and use it well?" Turns out the bat may have had a disease that is ravaging the bat population called "white nose syndrome," a kind of fungus that disorients the bat, wakes them up from hibernation (which is very dangerous because then they need to eat and there's no food and they die).

RIP, little guy.


A meaningful movie that might help in our grappling with evil in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, CT, is M. Night Shamalyan's "The Village." The trailer below is actually very misleading (if you saw M. Night Shamalyan's "Sixth Sense," you know there's always a big twist). The movie is not a horror film, and is not even scary.

Horrific evil has been with us since Cain and Abel. There is no magic formula to insulate ourselves from it. But love is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Love is stronger than death. Love wins. Love always wins.

December 16, 2012


I am not a particular fan of James Bond movies (and not acquainted with anything more than their most superficial lore, although I have been doing some research). Neither am I a fan of Daniel (That’s Acting?) Craig (although he’s a fantastic runner). However, I found “Skyfall” mostly entertaining with an interesting back story/storyline, a theme of old-spy-world-and-technologies vs. new-spy-world-and-technologies, with one twisted-up psycho-villain.

The story was well-crafted because it incorporated the closest possible ties of family and home, making everything personal. Despite sleek, consistent set design; an organic, diverse and smooth soundtrack under sleek cinematography, the initial plot and dialogue (despite groovy action scenes: motorcycle chases on Istanbul rooftops and speeding-train-top-wrestling) were distastefully obvious, cheesy and just plain dumb. BUT everything changed when Bond has a sophisticated exchange with Severine (Berenice Marlohe) about fear, which serves as a foreboding, foreshadow-y introduction to very bad boy Silva (an exquisite Javier Bardem). Why is Silva such a “good” villain? Because he was a former operative of the British government and has a mother-fixation on “M” (Dame Judi Dench), his former boss and Bond’s present boss.

The insinuation of “Skyfall” is that Bond is getting too old for the job, too old for the field, at least (and so is “M”). Their outmoded ways of thinking/doing things are grossly inadequate for the new anonymous, ubiquitous, omnipotent cyberwarfare. Or are they?

THEOLOGY OF THE BODY AND WOMEN: Nudity, sex scenes (gratuitous or otherwise) are minimal, maybe because the tone of this Bond movie is so very grim (think “The Hunger Games,” “The Walking Dead,” and other extremely bleak purviews of   entertainment du jour). Bond beds some nameless woman during an exotic island getaway. Bond hops in the shower with Severine. That’s it. A few seconds each.

The women may be smart (“M,” Agent Eve, Severine),
but they are either quasi-men (“M,” Agent Eve)
or total and complete objects (Severine).
Where are the real women in Bond films? There’s a reason they’re called Bond GIRLS not women.

Evidently, violence done TO women (with very little chivalry to prevent/protect on Bond’s part) is par for the course in Bond movies. I took note of this in “Skyfall,” and then in my research found out it was standard fare. Ian Fleming—writer of the novels—was an unabashed misogynist. In a conversation with a friend, he once compared women to pets or dogs. In the 1953 “Casino Royale” novel, Fleming has Bond think to himself (when he is assigned to work with a woman): “Women are for recreation. On a job, they get in the way and fog things up with sex and hurt feelings and all the emotional baggage they carry around. One has to look out for them and take care of them.”

One extremely disturbing and unaddressed fact of “Skyfall” is something truly heinous that “M” did to Silva which made him the monster he is. Is it all part of “the game”? Which humans are precious and which humans are bargaining chips? What about loyalty and honor? Isn’t that what serving one’s country is all about? “Skyfall” makes MI6 seem very similar to the Mafia, and/or people working out their own dysfunctions on their own friends, their own tribe. This one action of “M” seems to dismantle and undermine everything “M,” Bond and England stand for, and the whole basis of why one sides with the “good guys” at all.


--If you think “Skyfall” refers to Bond’s tremendous fall to his “death” at the beginning of the film, you are mistaken.

--Lots of British expressions: “Yes, Mum.” “Appaling.” “Carry on.” “Vexing.” “Keen.” “Put your back into it.”

--Several long, slow scenes with general mugging, posing and mis-en-scene-ing and very little else  happening.

--Is Bond supposed to be APPEALING to women? Cuz DC is not. Just sayin’.

--Is Bond supposed to be SUAVE and rock the formalwear? Cuz DC is/does not. DC looks soooooooo uncomfortable in a suit and anywhere near a cocktail party. Just sayin’.

--Watch “Tough Guise” media literacy documentary about the changing male image (more and more violent) in films through the years.

--PG-13 is pretty accurate if your kids are used to the “usual” TV/movie violence.

--Appropriate and amusing introduction of “Q,” a young, comic-relief, upstart geek on 007’s team.

--All through “Skyfall,” the new challenges the old, but eventually learns to overlap, blend, harmonize (and vice versa). The old and new need each other.

--Those rumors  you heard about a “priest hole” (hiding places where Catholic families would put priests persecuted under Elizabeth I) in the Bond family manor are true, and one of the final scenes is in the Bond family chapel. The Catholic priests of the Anglican Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham were all a-Twitter over this: “007’s family heritage is Catholic!”

--FROM Adele’s gorgeous, sui generis, husky and plaintive vocal stylings for the impressive mixed-media opening credits sequence TO Ralph Fiennes TO British bulldogs TO reciting Lord Tennyson, this is a celebration of many things British.


--Why didn’t 007 have the shrapnel in his shoulder tested immediately?

--Could have done with less DC shirtlessness.

--What do cybercrimes effect? EVERYTHING: bank accounts, identities, stock markets, corporations, governments, elections, multi-nationals….

--Watched “Skyfall” with Ma. Ma was very into it, exclaiming as needed: “Disgusting!” “What a terrible driver!” “Darn!” “Ooops!” “Watch out!”

--Dame Judi Dench: the ultimate Bond girl? Why? Because she is more ruthless than anyone? “Why Can’t Women Be More Like Men?”

--How does Hollywood get REAL news personalities (like Wolf Blitzer) to do “fake news” for movies? Do they get permission to use already-aired clips of them speaking where it just fits? Does not this cheapen “real” news? Or is “real” news also entertainment? (Rhetorical questions all….)

--Drop-dead picturesque, rugged English moor in Act 3!

--Big story, but little at the same time. Poignant, universal symbols everywhere. Good storytelling.

--“Sometimes the old ways are the best.”

--“To hell with dignity. I’ll leave when the job is done.”

--“Skyfall” is a bit of a cyberthriller, BUT in a THEOLOGY OF THE BODY way also illustrates that “bodies are not optional.” Technology can never dispense with bodies, or rather bodies using/programming technology will always be the bottom line.

--James Bond movies are more than twice as violent as they used to be, according to a study in New Zealand. Researchers fear that exposure to such violence can contribute to aggressive behavior among children. Violent acts in Bond films were more than twice as common in 2008 film “Quantum of Solace” than in the first 1962 movie “Dr. No,” according to research from University of Otago.

December 8, 2012


Are you among the very, very few who have NOT seen one of the most recent Christmas CLASSIC movies, “Elf” (2003)? If not, and you have been nice and not naughty this year, then you need to go ahead and treat yourself! Even if you do not like actor/comedian Will Ferrell who plays the Elf in question, you are guaranteed to like this goodtime flick.

A baby human inadvertently crawls into Santa’s sack while Santa (Ed Asner) is visiting an orphanage run by NUNS and winds up in the North Pole. “Buddy” (Will Ferrell) is adopted by elves (Papa Elf is none other than the wonderfully deadpan Bob Newhart) and, of course, doesn’t fit in. He’s a giant living in a Lilliputian world, and he’s lousy at making toys. Buddy reaches adulthood and Papa Elf finally tells him he’s a human. Buddy leaves the North Pole for New York in search of his human father (James Caan). Let the fun begin. Buddy--still dressed like an elf--is a babe in the woods, a true unjaded innocent wandering the streets of New York City. Everything is new to him: everyday things like crossing the street, taxi cabs, revolving doors and escalators. He brings all the wonder of a child to every encounter (including a romance with department store employee Zooey Deschanel).

Buddy does find his father, but his father is less than thrilled at being found. Buddy’s dad has a family of his own (wife=Mary Steenburgen) and is, well, not a nice man. Buddy keeps showing up at his father’s place of work and because of his naivete, manages to wreak havoc without even trying.

The true spirit of Christmas is what animates Buddy, and those who are childlike enough to appreciate the simple joys in life also appreciate Buddy. Unlike other movies today that try to be sweet and carefree (the latest Muppet movie, for example) but don't succeed because of seemingly unavoidable tinges of irony and cynicism, "Elf" more than succeeds. There is a purity that permeates the film.

What makes “Elf” such a great film and a new Christmas classic? First of all, it references the Christmas specials we used to watch as kids, especially “Rudolph.” The magical world of the North Pole is juxtaposed with the grittiness of New York City, to hilarious effect. The soundtrack is utterly delightful, and each scene is funnier than the next. In fact, fans of the film have MANY favorite scenes. The sign of a great movie is if you can keep watching it again and again, especially because you’re waiting for all your favorite scenes which actually span the entire movie, linked together one after another. “Elf” is also imminently quotable.

The three Elf Rules are: 1.) Treat every day like it’s Christmas. 2.) The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loud for all to hear. 3.) There’s room for everyone on the “Nice” list. Not a bad philosophy, that.

December 5, 2012


For the uninitiated, seminarians pray the 4-volume Divine Office of the Church (aka The Breviary, the Liturgy of the Hours, Christian Prayer, etc.), just like priests. Advent is the beginning of the Church's Liturgical Year and necessitates a change of volumes to...the blue breviary.

November 18, 2012


Thus ends the “Twilight” series with “The Twilight Saga—Breaking Dawn, Part 2,” which could also have been entitled: “Vampire Family Values.” Edward (Robert Pattinson) the vampire and Bella (Kristen Stewart) the human turned vampire—her “turning” accomplished by being bitten by Edward--are, of course, now married, and have a half-vampire, half-human daughter, Renesmee. All should be bloody well, but the Volturi (worldwide ruling body of vampires, kinda like the Hague) think that Edward and Bella have done the strictly verboten: created an “immortal child.” (It’s a big vampire no-no because these children can decimate whole villages in their “thirst.”) In other words: PLEASE DON’T BITE THE CHILDREN.

Edward and Bella must convince the Volturi that Renesmee was “born, not bitten” (Bella gave birth to her when Bella was still human). Witnesses from around the world are gathered to attest to Renesmee’s actual nature. (As Michael Phillips, film critic for the Chicago Tribune, says: What kind of stupid vampires are these Volturi that they can’t tell what the kid is or isn’t when everyone else can? But Phillips is SO not a Twihard, and I beg to differ with him because it is well set up and it totally works.)

This last-installment-in-the-series-but-leaving-it-open-for-more-brooding-supernatural-fun does not disappoint, and is a satisfying end to the whole shebang.

Watching the film, I asked myself what exactly makes the “Twilight” FILMS so successful (I haven’t read the books) AS films. The story is a no-brainer for attracting women: an old-fashioned Prince Charming is obsessed with you and literally swoops down with his swoopy hair and sweeps you off your feet. On top of that, another man is obsessed with you, and they kinda spend a lot of time fighting over you. What’s not to like? But as for the film—and the fact that guys ARE watching them!—why? Also, the novelist, screenwriter (and director of the first film) are all female.

Some of the well-done, appealing-to-both-genders aspects of “Twilight” filmmaking are as follows:

--Gorgeous, rugged landscapes as the major setting/backdrop (we don’t see this much in films, especially an intimate-drama film like “Twilight”). Most of “Twilight” is shot outdoors.
--Lots of SPFX, action and fight scenes. Although the women have kick-butt powers, there is still some underlying male protectiveness happening.
--The intensity never really lets up—but without wearying us.
--Light touches (in “Breaking Dawn 2”): poetry, piano-playing, secret messages, contests of strength. All these keep us watching and delighted.
--There is a bouncing back and forth from the small and personal (Bella and Edward’s love story) to big and universal principles (supernatural laws, rules, territories, sacrifices, doing the right thing, loyalties, alliances, moral quandaries, issues of life and death, etc.)
--There is a hardcore consistency to each film and within each film.
--And the plot-points are just great. A great story and mythology.
--Unique mixing of genres and tropes: it’s soapy, campy, tongue-in-cheek, telenovela-esque. It sports sappy pop music with sung words over laughable dialogue alongside vampire/werewolf lore. It’s almost comic book-ish in the framing of the characters, but mixes romance, action, adventure, supernatural thriller, fantasy, teen flick, chick flick elements. A little something for everyone?


--The world of “Twilight” is just soooo perfect. Everyone is so comely, groomed, stylish, thin, good-looking with PERFECT skin and teeth. Vampire living spaces are well-appointed dream houses. Vampire ambience is so antiseptic, staid, honed and perfectly paced (unlike life). There is no chaos. No mess. Nobody interrupts each other. Nobody has anything to do. Nobody works, shops or blows their nose. ALL THEY DO IS FOCUS ON EACH OTHER AND TALK TO EACH OTHER. THEY DON’T EVEN HOLD THINGS IN THEIR HANDS. LIKE WHEN IT WAS JUST ADAM AND EVE IN THE GARDEN AND ALL THEY HAD WAS EACH OTHER. Renesmee—from babyhood on—is a glowing package of American Girl Doll polished finesse. But of course, this is NOT a human world. Maybe we just need to keep reminding ourselves of this.

--Actor Billy Burke, who play Bella’s Dad, Charlie, is THE most believable of all the actors.

--A guy friend of mine rails against the “Twilight” series as just so bad for women (“women’s porn”), fueling their unrealistic expectations of the men in their lives. PURE female fantasy. I have to agree with him, even though “Twilight” is a kind of guilty pleasure of mine….

--So many mythologies, so little time. Do we have time for the Christ mythology? The best, most beautiful, most daring, most perilous, most exciting, most shining and wondrous and glorious and enthralling mythology, and the only one we don’t have to play-act at because it is totally true and each one of us is terribly caught up in it? Spiritual warfare is real and going on every second of our journey to eternity. We need to immerse ourselves in HIS story, in HIM.

--Somebody really should compile (if they haven’t already) “BAD TWILIGHT LINES.” Example: “You look amazing!” TWICE in the first 5 minutes of “Breaking Dawn 2”!

--“GOOD TWILIGHT LINES”: “Artifice!”

--PRO-LIFE MOMENT: Renesmee “shows” (via telepathy) Bella her first memory of her Mom. It was Renesmee in the womb.

--Great “trial” of the Cullens by the Volturi at the end. Great twist.

--The decapitations are pretty awful, but not gorey. More like bisque doll heads.

--I’m glad Bella freaked out at Jacob for imprinting on Renesmee, BUT the whole thing is still wicked creepy. AND Jacob says he had “no choice.” Please see comments at the bottom of another “Twilight” movie I reviewed.   All of “Twilight” can be re-read as a super-creepy textbook abuser scenario.

--When everyone kept saying vampire-human hybrids couldn’t be done (“Impossible!”), I couldn’t help thinking of the INCARNATION….

--I don’t need a vampire to make me immortal: Jesus makes me immortal. Actually, I was conceived immortal (with an immortal soul). And Jesus doesn’t drink MY blood, He has me drink His saving blood (in non-bloody fashion). "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his bloodyou have no life in you" (John 6:53). NO life? Wow.

--The credits are done in such an unusual and personal style: showing a visual of each major actor from the beginning of the series. I wonder if that was a woman’s touch there…. I just love bursts of innovation and originality harmonizing with standardized filmmaking.

I DIDN’T SEE “Twilight—Eclipse” 2010!!!!

November 12, 2012


Drama is NOT dead! The new Denzel Washington movie “Flight”—about the aftermath of a plane crash—is living proof. Although the trailer is one of the BEST trailers I have EVER seen EVER (it’s really a “perfect” trailer), and although it portrays the film accurately, the film itself is not a “perfect” film. It’s a very good film, but too long and lacking in consistency. After an incredibly filmed, tense-to-beat-the-band action sequence (you only see a smidgeon of it in the trailer), and a graceful reveal of the full weight of the brilliant-but-addicted pilot’s (Denzel Washington) predicament, there are some incredibly slow scenes filled with nothing but bald exposition that could have been eliminated or at least shortened. Two hours and nineteen minutes=too goshdarn long.

CAVEAT: The film begins with many, many minutes of mid-range and close-up full-frontal female nudity. We’re talking groin-level camera angles (the actress walks right into the camera, lady-parts first). If this is not your cup of tea, you may wish to restrain and refrain from seeing “Flight,” or at least be prepared, look away for the first five minutes, etc.  I would love to know what the filmmakers were thinking here (besides exploiting a beautiful female form). This seemingly-minor character does become somewhat more significant toward the end of the film. Are we supposed to feel closer to her because we saw every part of her body (and very little of her face)? Are we supposed to feel that Denzel’s character was close to her because he saw (and “knew”) every part of her body? But their relationship seems to be nothing more than casual sex. To me, the immediate, in-your-face nudity was shocking and not pertinent to the story. Gratuitous female-only nudity. We get it without it: The boozy pilot is leading a dissolute life. (I hope this role isn’t indicative of any change in Denzel’s personal life. Remember when he wouldn’t even take his shirt off in a film?) The trailer gave no hint of the nudity and crudity (hey, that rhymes), so I didn’t check WHY it was rated “R” before I went to the cinema, but here’s the reason given: (you can always check the “why” of the MPAA rating on Rated R for Intense Action Sequence, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Language and Sexuality/Nudity. Information for parents: Common Sense Media says Iffy for 16+

CAVEAT:  If you do not care to hear the F-word (and lots of other crude language) more times than Carter has pills, you may wish to restrain and refrain from “Flight.”

CAVEAT: If you object to massive amounts of substance abuse of every kind--sometimes glamorized, or at least with a possible takeaway of: “I can use. Heavily. And still lead a pretty normal life. And pull myself together when I need to. And look gorgeous. And function well enough in society. And still get the girl. And still get the guy. And always bounce back"--you may wish to restrain and refrain from “Flight.” Whip (Denzel Washington) is not the only one who uses without much consequence. He meets Nicole (Kelly Reilly, with her Marianne Faithfull/RitaTushingham 1960’s beauty always intact), a fellow addict who becomes his love interest.

“Flight” is out of the gates with a bang, then simmers, then cools off. I liked it less and less as it went on. The folks in my packed theater (mostly elderly) were silently riveted during the whole thing. BUT if you have to go to the bathroom during a film (which many did, including me), the film is--I repeat--too goshdarn long.

What is the film about? I would say blame, lying and addiction. But mostly about lying as part and parcel OF addiction.

Washington—although this is not the first time he’s played a heavy—gives a fresh, nuanced performance. Reilly is perfectly cast and utterly believable. Her strawberry-blonde hair is reminiscent of Jessica Chastain, but her meek and understated performance made me think that Chastain wouldn’t have been half as good in this role. Don Cheadle is pitch perfect as the top-notch lawyer called in to get Whip exonerated. Charlie (the always solid character actor, Bruce Greenwood) is on target as the pilots’ union spokesperson. John Goodman plays a small but quintessentially outsized carnival barker John Goodman role: Whip’s pusher. His visit to Whip in the hospital after the crash and ensuing monologue is a transgressive show in itself. Melissa Leo (as head honcho of Whip’s investigation, every so delicately trying to let him off the hook) is as you’ve never seen her before: all cleaned up, authoritative, leading the pack, and with amazing diction. Yeah, I know that’s weird, but it’s the first thing you notice about her character. She should be narrating audiobooks.

All of this being said, “Flight” is a TOTAL GOD MOVIE. God is EVERYWHERE. EXPLICITLY. And when we, the audience, have forgotten about Him, the filmmakers have not and keep inserting Him EVERYWHERE. Naturally, unnaturally, organically, ham-handedly, subtly, blatantly, seamlessly, awkwardly, innovatively, tritely: He’s always bubbling just below the surface, popping up in every conceivable religious image, wall-hanging, holy roller, humble believer, church steeple, spontaneous prayer, etc. And—refreshingly enough—just when you think someone is being portrayed as a stereotypical judgmental, self-righteous, priggish, brainwashed religious pinhead…they’re not! “Where was God in this tragedy?” is the resounding subtext and is dealt with from many angles.

An ATROCIOUSLY OBVIOUS, DISTRACTING, JARRING AND AMATEUR SOUNDTRACK. “Cue The Rolling Stones’ ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ When The Character Representing Temptation Makes Their Entrance!” “Play ‘A Little Help From My Friends’ On The Elevator When Whip And His Team Head To The Hearing!” “Have The Character Sing Along With Joe Cocker’s ‘Feeling Alright’ When He’s NOT Feeling Alright! And Then Play That Song Every Time We Remember The Crash!” Truly awful. Worst soundtrack since “Miss Congeniality.” I’m NOT kidding. “Miss Congeniality” featured literally illustrative songs that were stopped and started mid-measure with no fades all through that film, exhausting the catalogue of every top bluesy hit imaginable in one film. It was so horrible that I’ve remembered it to this day, and “Flight’s” soundtrack is not far behind.

Will “Flight” garner Oscar nods, Oscars? Perhaps. Does it deserve it? Perhaps some individual performances. As a whole? Perhaps not.


--Denzel is just a 500%, consummate actor.

--This is an overtly PRO-GOD film. God is a good guy. God is THE good guy.

--The whole sequence of the flight and crash is amazing. It does not disappoint.

--“Flight” shows deep goodness in deeply flawed people.

--Some great scenes, sets and set-ups!

--The cancer guy on the stairway!

--“Flight” should enter the filmography of alcoholism films….

--Legal term for the whole situation in the film? “An act of God.”

--WAS the safe landing a “miracle”? Sure, why not? But it can also be GOD AND US WORKING TOGETHER. From the documentary script of the life of Blessed Fr. James Alberione ( ):

Alberione believed, as did St. Ireneaus, that “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.” He knew that God does not override or force Himself on our will. Alberione saw life as the interplay of God and us working things out together. In a striking way, Alberione was even able to describe rather precisely how this process works:

“God’s method is to … make one wait in peace until His time comes, to begin always from the bare necessities, to act in such a natural way as to be unable to easily distinguish grace from nature.

“We shouldn’t  force God’s hand. It suffices to be alert..and to strive in one’s various duties to employ mind, will, heart and physical strength.

 “The actions of a human being are so imperfect, unsound, inadequate and dubious that one is dutybound to put everything back into the hands of God’s Mercy and to allow oneself to be guided.”

Alberione said that he was a “half-blind man who is being led, enlightened from time to time so that he can proceed further. God is the light.”

November 4, 2012


We Now Have Gifts for Your $ Donations!

We have GIFTS for donations
to the Fr. Alberione Film now! 

(only from Nov. 1--Dec. 31)

$20 donation--Fr. A medal
$50 donation--Fr. A medal and DVD when completed.
$500 donation--Fr. A medal, book, and DVD when completed.
$1,000 donation--Fr. A medal, book, DVD, and 12" resin color resin statue.


God bless you! 
(Gifts will be shipped after New Year's.)

October 24, 2012


“Here Comes the Boom” (not to be confused with "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo") is a very worthwhile film. It’s the definitive “teachers rock,” “save the schoolkids” film as far as I’m concerned. You can just dump the rest of the sappy ones. And they’re ALL sappy. Interestingly enough, another teacher/school film was just in theaters (“Won’t Back Down”) that beats the audience over the head with self-righteous, overbearing clichés (the trailer is just one cliché stitched to the next) about putting the kids first, we can do this if we have the will to; the Mom who’ll do anything for her child, fighting against all odds, yadda, yadda, yadda, and general underdogmania. “Here Comes the Boom” is not like that. All the right things are eventually and succinctly said (no speeches!) about what’s wrong with schools today and how to fix it, much of it boiling down to individual attitudes: that of a student, a parent, a teacher. It takes everybody. Everybody belongs. Everybody can contribute. Even Martinez (see the film).

Scott Voss (Kevin James: a big guy with Chris Farley-like physical nimbleness) is the world’s worst slacker-teacher. We find out why: the system beats the idealism out of teachers, forcing them to be automatons “moving cattle through.” But when the music teacher, Mr. Streb, (a warm and wonderful Henry Winkler) is on the verge of losing his job (and the students their orchestra), Scott instinctively finds his inner hero and takes up mixed martial arts (where even losers make a lot of money per fight) to raise funds for the school. Scott’s supplementary job is preparing immigrants for citizenship (funny, of course), and through the class he meets a fighter, Niko (Bas Rutten), who can coach him.

Scott’s love interest,  the school nurse (a feisty Salma Hayek), turns down a date with him many, many times, but she’s waiting to see if Scott has any true passion and resolve for teaching (and life) left in him.

The always-slightly-offbeat situations are just delightful. The dialogue is constant, surprising, witty, and yet somehow perfectly normal—almost like a scripted Woody Allen film. The “buttons” (the end of a  scene) end on a high and hilarious note each time. There are NO false notes in this film. This is a tight little comedy with totally at-ease dramatic moments that tie each movement of character and story together like smooth jelly-roll filling. There’s almost a feeling of the most brilliant TV about it. Like one of the very best episodes of “Seinfeld.” Originality abounds, and yet it’s also incredibly familiar and homey.

Everything about the making of “Boom” shows great TLC and a deep knowledge of the moviemaking trade. THIS is how movies are made. Can a comedy be a “perfect film”? Oh yeah. There are details and “touches” everywhere—you really need to keep alert or you’ll miss them. And you don’t want to miss them.

There are natural religious touches also: prayer before a fight, quoting the Bible about Jacob wrestling with the angel, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Kevin James—in real life—is a practicing Catholic AND prays outside of abortion clinics! A few pro-life touches in the film: a very unexpected but immediately welcomed pregnancy of a 48-year-old woman, his brother’s big family.

The whole thing feels like it’s coming from a very good place, and the seasoned cast make acting look so easy. It’s obvious they were having a darned good time.


--Did you like the trailer for “Boom”? You would be correct in your affection. And there’s lots more where that came from. You did NOT see it all in the trailer.

--Who would enjoy this film? I can’t imagine anyone NOT enjoying this film. This well-lit film.

--There’s plenty of testosterone in the film, but it doesn’t feel at all like a guys-only film.

--If you’re British, however, do NOT go see this film. BRIMMING with detested American optimism.

--Totally suitable for the kids. Any age, really.

--This film does not hide. It is not snarky. It does not take shortcuts. It is not afraid to be what it is. It takes its time like the comedic masterpiece “Elf.”

--“Mr. Holland’s Opus” is one of the worst films I have EVER seen. And I can break that down for you.

--The homemade applesauce!

--Such a great trio: Scott, Mr. Streb and Niko!

--This is not a lightweight film.

--Great message about not rushing romance.

--Scott has the charmingest pick-up lines.   
--GREAT end of Act 2 reversal! (In Hollywoodspeak: “the big gloom.”)

--Scott’s married brother has a bunch of kids. The family interaction is realistically chaotic, and hubby and wife trade barbs just to let off steam. You can tell they really love each other despite.

--Best use of Neil Diamond in a film since “What About Bob.”


--Finally! A Filipina-American actress!

--Kevin James was a WRITER on the film with two guys. Wow. Some superb writing.

--The Fonz is aging so gracefully. But it’s still terrifying to watch The Fonz aging so gracefully.

--A plea to Hollywood’s male actors: PLEASE dye your hair at the first sign of gray. You don’t look mature and suave, you look old and faded. Do like the female actors. You’ll look 10 years younger and I won’t feel so insecurely old myself. Thank you.

--One most unfortunate line mars the film—TOTALLY NOT IN KEEPING WITH THE REST OF THE FILM (TSK, TSK). Scott’s married brother asks Scott if he needs to be “fixed up with some honeys, because I have some money set aside that she [his wife] doesn’t know about.” Really??? Pathetic. There should be nothing “on the side” in any marriage. If there is, you’re a tool. It’s just that simple.

October 22, 2012


IF WE CAN RAISE $10,000 BY DECEMBER 31, 2012!

OK--it's time for a film update!

YES, that's the amazing shooting our documentary film! So you KNOW how great it's going to be. (kneeling--Danny Hidalgo, cinematographer; standing: Rob Kaczmark--director/production manager; smiling--Yours Truly, writer/producer) Photo taken in Rome on the terrace of the Society of St. Paul ("Fr. Alberione's men": priests/brothers) Generalate. (Photo by Sr. Anne Flanagan, long-suffering translator and Alberione charism consultant for the film.)

Check out some of Spirit Juice's best short films:

"JAMES ALBERIONE--MEDIA APOSTLE" is a 90-minute documentary on the life, media spirituality and media apostolate of Blessed Fr. James Alberione, SSP, founder of the Pauline Family. (The Pauline Family--called to be "St. Paul living today"--is the 10 congregations founded by Fr. Alberione. are just one of those 10 congregations!)

"We are not called to save people who lived 200 years ago 
and had no radio, cinema or TV."
--Blessed James Alberione 1884-1971

Thanks to ALL who have already donated to the film! God bless you! Here's the latest donations update! 

(Donations can be made securely online at the website:
PRAYERS may also be donated. :]

MATCHING GRANT! You did it!!! Thank you!!!
Needed $10,000 by December 31, 2012.
Have $10,829 as of December 22, 2012.
Any further donations will go to DVD production,
promotion & entertainment lawyer,
which were not even in the budget! God bless you!!!

Rough cut of film due: February, 2013.

 There's also a "making of" blog: with all the latest news 
a Facebook page:

FUN FACT: In order to film in Rome and northern Italy, our four-member film crew piggybacked on an already-planned Pauline pilgrimage. Of course, we drove the Pauline pilgrims CRAZY because while they wanted to spend just 20 minutes at a location and move on, it took us 20 minutes just to put the cameras together and get off the bus. Needless to say there was MUCH patient waiting.... Rosella, our Italian tour guide, dubbed us: "the four horsemen of the Apocalypse."

The four horsemen of the Apocalypse
(aka Rob Kaczmark, Sr. Anne Flanagan, Sr. Helena Burns, Danny Hidalgo)

October 11, 2012


August 2013: I finally read the controversial book. The book is considered a kind of new "Catcher in the Rye" and is on book reading lists at many schools. This is hotly contested by parents and other and winds up on-and-off the reading lists at many schools. Here's my take on the book: Stephen Chbosky is a genius. The entire book (although you'll forget this fact) is a series of letters written to a "friend" by the lonely protagonist. Deceptively simply, the letters reveal a sweet, sensitive, innocent soul who is also blocked from much of his own inner life and feelings, prone to blackouts and fits of rage. Charlie cares deeply for others and their feelings. Most unfortunately, sex is pretty trivialized. He talks about masturbation like he's eating french fries, and his sister jokes about her abortion with him immediately afterward (Charlie accompanied her to the clinic). NEITHER MASTURBATION OR ABORTION ARE IN THE FILM AT ALL. But of course, if you see the film first, you want to read the book, right?

“Love is fair, love is beautiful. Young people are always searching for the beauty in love.” –John Paul II

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a coming-of-age story set in the early 90’s, written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, and based on his book of the same name. The film holds together well as one might expect when it’s all coming from the same source! The first thing you might notice about the film is the music. The centrality of music will continue through the whole film, and “mix tapes” are very important to the characters.

Charlie, (Logan Lerman: a REVELATION), is a freshman in high school with no friends. He’s an aspiring writer who’s had some psychological troubles in his life, and he narrates throughout the film. He’s humble and hopeful and trying to keep his spirits up. Sam (“Harry Potter’s” Emma Watson) and her stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller) are seniors and self-made hipsters who adopt Charlie into their circle. Charlie’s utter innocence, sincerity and sweetness make him charming and likeable. But his flashbacks return, and although he’s falling in love with Sam, she already has a boyfriend, and along with the other usual travails of teenagehood, the center just isn’t holding for Charlie. Something is terribly wrong.

These three apt twentysomething actors look young enough that they can pass for high schoolers. And they do a splendid job with a not-your-run-of-the-mill teen film. There are few trite and hackneyed moments, and even those turn into something unexpected. But the movie is not precious and it doesn’t try too hard. It is mostly free from self-consciousness, sarcasm and wise-cracking. I would think this would be a relief for many teens in our hyper-aware post-postmodern culture. It’s OK to just live in the moment and let life unfold simply. (Charlie’s approach.)

These three friends (with a few sidekicks) are caring and kind, and life hasn’t been easy for any of them, no matter how confident and self-possessed they first appear to be. Sam has been used. A lot. Patrick is gay, and as accepting of him as almost everyone around him is, the people he most wants to accept him—do not.

Patrick is a strong, sympathetic, take-charge young gay man (the actor is gay in real life, too). Bullying gay people is taken up in the film and can be a teachable moment.

This film seems to be about finding, creating and maintaining true friendship and true love. In that order. And what is even more vital and primary is to get a grasp on one’s own life and personhood. Self-realization doesn’t just meld into becoming a perfect pair with someone. There is also a necessitude to live one’s own integration in “original solitude.” And then join that solitude with other solitudes. Sex is not the be-all and end-all of “Wallflower," even though we are made to know that teens are having sex. (Of course, the case can be made--in a Theology of the Body way--that sex SHOULD be the be-all and end-all of everything.)  Compared to most teen films, “Wallflower” is not oversexualized, even at moments when it feels like it’s going to be. The one oversexualization (which is pretty over the top) is the characters’ obsession with the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” which they take turns acting in: half naked with lascivious dances and songs. And major half-naked crossdressing.

It becomes clear that as these blossoming young people--who are so earnest about doing right by each other in so many other ways--haven’t a clue about the body and sex, no matter how “experienced” they are or aren’t. As in real life, today’s fragmentation/separation of the person from the body/sex is so profound that the conclusion seems to be: sex is a big problem. Soooo: sex is just something you need to do, get over, get out of the way, get up front and then push it to the back and keep it simmering there in order to get on with the truly personal, the things in a relationship that really matter.

While seeming to value the body/sex to an extreme, today’s culture actually trivializes it to an extreme. And this is a logical way to deal with something so powerful, so un-ignorable, un-dismissible, and yet so mysterious and elusive; something that one has not been taught, informed, or catechized about at all or hardly at all. In the end, the richness of sex is denied and left unexplored because it is tied to what is perceived as outdated mores and moralities (self-mastery, commitment, fidelity, fecundity). And yet, what Satan tries to dress up as your whiskered, hopelessly-out-of-date Aunt Mabel is really where the unending joy, the ecstasy, the adventure, the full dimensions, the depth, the intimacy, the rock-solid security and the INFINITY actually are. I just heard Greg Willits (“The Catholics Next Door”) at a Respect Life Conference say: “If you treat God’s gifts right, they keep on giving.” But our world is not to blame for its ignorance. Those who know Theology of the Body are to blame for not sharing (fast enough) the only (devastatingly beautiful) answer/vision that our world can grasp today. Shame on us! Young people desperately need Theology of the Body and are up for the challenge. Young people DESERVE the very best, and Theology of the Body is the very best.

Chbosky was very taken with "Catcher in the Rye," and I think wanted to do an update. I think he's kinda successful. I just keep returning to the point in this movie that sex is treated a little differently than in most teen films. In most teen films, it's pretty much the ultimate, but a naughty, dirty ultimate. Not so much in "Wallflower," which is digging so deep that it comes to the conclusion: "We are INFINITE!" Jesus might say: "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." Don't young people need to hear this? As Papa B16 sez: "We are not some random mistake of evolution." I would rather say: "We have the CAPACITY for the Infinite." And yeah, that's God. And God is Eucharist. For us. For now.

"Come together in common, one and all without exception in charity, in one faith and in one Jesus Christ, who is of the race of David according to the flesh, the son of man, and the Son of God, so that with undivided mind you may obey the bishop and the priests, and break one Bread which is THE MEDICINE OF IMMORTALITY AND THE ANTIDOTE AGAINST DEATH, ENABLING US TO LIVE FOREVER IN JESUS CHRIST."   --St. Ignatius of Antioch 110 A.D.

Charlie comes from a functional, supportive, normal Catholic family. There are Catholic-friendly touches in the film. (Chbosky grew up Catholic in Pittsburgh.)

If for no other reason, this film should be watched to see how our young people are hurting. Young people carry heavy burdens at young ages. That’s not reserved just for adults.


--In this film, nothing bad comes of drug use, but sex abuse is a different story….

--Sometimes Sam and Patrick are unoriginally precocious.

--The teens in my theater seemed to love this film.

--This film is not afraid of vulnerability and human fragility. AND human simplicity. It’s OK to be unsophisticated!!!!!!!!

--“Wallflower” is about belonging. Really belonging because you are known.

--Finally. “Wallflower” made me non-abhor 80’s music for the first time in my life. AND it made me SIT IN THE THEATER TILL AFTER THE CREDITS. I haven’t done that for a long, long, long, long time. I’m usually like a bat out of hell at “THE END.” I just sat there. And that’s a good thing.

--“Wallflower” is a small, oddly feel-good film.

--In religion, we lose kids as teens because of THE BODY (see the scene that goes from Holy Communion to drugs). When they’re little we totally involved the body: Montessori and running around and popsicle sticks and glitter. And then we stop.

--“Wallflower” will remind you of “Catcher in the Rye,” “Flowers for Algernon,” and “Ordinary People”!

--“Why do nice people choose the wrong people to date?” “We accept the love we think we deserve.”

--“Write about us.”

--“I don’t want to be someone’s crush.  I want people to like the real me.”

--“We are NOT sad stories. We are INFINITE!”

--I hope this film will give quiet strength, quiet hope and quiet courage to the young people that see it.

--“Wallflower” bears out what one diocesan young adult ministry coordinator told me: “Young people have been told they are special since they were born. They have been told they’re loved, but love has proven to be very cheap. Young people today want to be known and they want meaning.” And, I might add, a recent study of Millennials found that wanting “a challenge” was high on their list of priorities.

--After seeing this film, I highly recommend reading about filmmakers and actors in Very enlightening.

--Did I mention that Logan Lerman is a REVELATION? (He told his parents at two years old that he wanted to be an actor.) Like I said, go to !