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 www.MediaApostle.com film update!

YES, that's the amazing www.SpiritJuiceStudios.com 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: www.BestofSpiritJuiceStudios.blogspot.com

"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. www.DaughtersofStPaul.org are just one of those 10 congregations!) www.Alberione.org

"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: www.MediaApostle.com
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: www.AlberioneFilm.blogspot.com 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 www.imdb.com. 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 www.imdb.com !

October 1, 2012



 --Parents should get off media more when we're doing something as a family like shopping or amusement parks

--Parents should put more safety features/parental controls on computers (3)

--Turn on Google safe search (6) ("for kids AND adults")

--PLEASE don't look at porn. (4) ("and if you do, don't tell me about it")  :(

--Stop watching "Real Housewives...."

--Stop watching "Dr. Phil" and telenovelas

--Don't get addicted

--No cell phone use when you're driving

--Parents: just because you don't SEE kids doing it doesn't mean they're not

--Parents SHOULD know what their kids are doing on the internet. But don't spy  (2)

--Some friends online are better friends than people I know in real life. Even if they do not know my real name or see my picture. It might sound naive, but good people do exist online.

--Check the "history" often

--Just because they were your friends in high school doesn't mean you have to reconnect with them. they may not be wholesome for you now

--don't click on random links

--Limit media time (5) ("use a stopwatch")

--I wish my mom would spend less time on the phone because she works a lot, so when she's on the phone at home, it feels like she's not there

--Spend less time on the phone (texting, tweeting, facebook) and more time with ME!

--Invite your child to do something that doesn't involve screen time (e.g., go for a bike ride, walk, or play a family board game. pray together.) Don't spend hours on the computer because your loved ones/children only go online because they're bored or lonely. They need you to fill their hearts with your presence.

--It would be nice to watch movies together as a family so that media could be family time instead of splitting us apart. Also, it can be aggrevating when you guys (parents) watch movies and tell me to leave (because it's  inappropriate). I think we should pick movies that interest everyone in the family.

--Be careful what you share with YOUR friends about OUR lives

--I wish my Mom would turn off the Wi-Fi at 9pm so I could get my homework done because I'm addicted to Tumblr and my One Direction blog. Peace & Love.

--I wish everyone would stop technology use at 10pm

--Not everything we look at it porn. don't be so suspicious/afraid when I'm alone in my room on my laptop and such (2)

--Use your technology MORE often, get more in touch with it (4) (don't be afraid of it. learn how to use it.)

--Stop asking me questions all the time. There's this thing called Google. Just because you're old doesn't mean you can't learn things on your own.

--Don't be so clueless

--Instead of always being on the computer, do something else. like workout.

--Just give me advice, don't ORDER it

--Talk to your kids, then trust them (2)

--Spend more time with your family than watching tv or using computer (4)

--Don't use your phone/devices/computer ALL the time (7)

--I'm proud of my parents for not being on their electronics all the time.

--Sometimes turn off the computer and spend time with your kids, do family stuff (5)

--Don't let kids have computers in their rooms, particularly when they're developing, like 8-14. teach them limits and what's wrong BEFORE they have the capability of getting into it

--Please don't use the SAME sites as me: Facebook and Twitter (4)

--When parents post on their childrens' social media sites, they not only embarrass them, but also their friends

--Parents, when advising teens about media use, try to talk about positive uses for media as well as negative. Many teens do not like the idea of parents or anyone else controlling their lives.


--Don't ignore life for media. enjoy real life and unplug. go outside: the graphics are great!

--Make sure parental controls on computers/devices

--Too much media time is erasing who you are

--Remember, your surfing time can be seen, too (2)

--Employers will check on what you're doing on computer (also before they hire you) (2)

--Don't post anything you wouldn't want your grandparents to see

--The choices you make will live in your heart forever, as well as the shame and regrets. People will remember you according to your choices. Be the person you want others and God to know you as.

--"I can't be with you all the time. PLEASE remember what we talked about!"  Love, Mom

--Our TV at home can get porn (satellite). I pray no one in our family will never use it.

--Use common sense

--WHENEVER you're with your family, don't prioritize your phone over us!

--Be careful not only about sharing YOUR personal info, but family members', too!

--Talk to your parents! (3) ("you can always ask me any question")

--No phones/devices at the table (4)

--Less YouTube

--Don't give out too much info and choose your online friends wisely (2)

--Pay attention to what's going on around you. Don't be rude to people around you by using your devices and ignoring what people are saying. We need human contact and verbal conversations.

--What you text never goes away and can always be forwarded forever (4)

--Don't use screens after 9pm, for example: make that family time--reading, praying, GAMES, talking to fam  (6)

--What you see on media is not necessarily reality, your worth doesn't come from societal approval but from God. Everyone is NOT doing it. Saints are different.

--Parents should disable ability to send/receive pics on kids' cell phones. Contact your cell phone carrier for how.