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The Darkest Hour

Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service

Olivia Thirlby and Emile Hirsch star in the thriller "The Darkest Hour."
In an earlier era, "The Darkest Hour" (Summit)—a weak entry about plucky youngsters running away from invading aliens—would have been marketed as cheap thrills for drive-in moviegoers.

That era having passed, the flick is instead being retailed as a collection of expensive 3-D thrills, a ploy that only serves to highlight its stale plot. As sketched for us by director Chris Gorak and screenwriter Jon Spaihts, said story line depends on characters making bad decisions about going through the deserted streets of Moscow to see whether someone will get blown up by those aggressive intruders.

Moral behavior, for good or ill, doesn't enter into it.

Sean, Natalie, Ben, Anne and Skyler (Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor and Joel Kinnaman, respectively) are Americans visiting the brightly lit Russian capital for a variety of purposes. Just as everything starts hopping at a noisy disco, though, the aliens, in the form of lethal golden balls of microwave radiation, drop from the heavens like so many untoward versions of Peter Pan's Tinkerbell.

They promptly suck all the power from the electrical grid and all electronic devices, and display further bad manners by slaying folks—right, left and center. The first time it happens, it's perhaps morbidly interesting to see someone explode in a shower of 3-D crystalline flakes. The second, third and umpteenth time, not so much.

The aliens always give themselves away because their presence makes the lights flicker. So it's relatively easy to hide from them.

Viewers of any cinematic taste, however, would be better advised not to seek them in the first place.

The film contains action violence and fleeting profane, crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

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James of the Marche: Meet one of the fathers of the modern pawnshop! 
<p>James was born in the Marche of Ancona, in central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. After earning doctorates in canon and civil law at the University of Perugia, he joined the Friars Minor and began a very austere life. He fasted nine months of the year; he slept three hours a night. St. Bernardine of Siena told him to moderate his penances. </p><p>James studied theology with St. John of Capistrano. Ordained in 1420, James began a preaching career that took him all over Italy and through 13 Central and Eastern European countries. This extremely popular preacher converted many people (250,000 at one estimate) and helped spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His sermons prompted numerous Catholics to reform their lives and many men joined the Franciscans under his influence. </p><p>With John of Capistrano, Albert of Sarteano and Bernardine of Siena, James is considered one of the "four pillars" of the Observant movement among the Franciscans. These friars became known especially for their preaching. </p><p>To combat extremely high interest rates, James established <i>montes pietatis</i> (literally, mountains of charity)--nonprofit credit organizations that lent money at very low rates on pawned objects. </p><p>Not everyone was happy with the work James did. Twice assassins lost their nerve when they came face to face with him. James died in 1476 and was canonized in 1726.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us never tire of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.


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