AmericanCatholic.org
 
Skip Navigation Links
Home
Catholic News
Saints
Seasonal
Special Reports
Movies
Shopping
Donate
Share:
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus
LinkedIn
Email
RSS Feeds

advertisement

The 2010 CineRose Awards View Comments
by BY SISTER ROSE PACATTE, F.S.P.


Movies

It is always a pleasure to look back over the year in film and highlight those movies that tell the human story through beauty, truth and goodness. Sometimes this means exploring the meaning of sin and redemption, which some viewers find discomfiting.

The great Catholic American novelist Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964) had a nuanced way of assessing fiction that I think applies to cinema as well. She once wrote: “I’m not one to pit myself against St. Paul, but when he said, ‘Let it not so much be named among you,’ I presume he was talking about society and what goes on there and not about art. Art is not anything that goes on ‘among’ people, not the art of the novel anyway.

“It is something that one experiences alone and for the purpose of realizing in a fresh way, through the senses, the mystery of existence. Part of the mystery of existence is sin. When we think about the Crucifixion, we miss the point of it if we don’t think about sin” (1956; The Habit of Being: The Letters of Flannery O’Connor).

Nevertheless, 2010 was not a banner year for films that embraced human dignity. In fact, many of the films fell apart as stories because human dignity was not considered very much, such as in Love and Other Drugs. Yet the 100 that I saw among the 341 films in theatrical release in the United States last year did include many outstanding documentaries and some feature films that deserve recognition.

A Bouquet of Roses

The King’s Speech (not yet rated, R)
My favorite film of the year. In his victory over fear, King George VI found his own voice, and we are given the ultimate film about learning one’s own worth and dignity. The performances of Colin Firth, as the king, and Geoffrey Rush, as a speech therapist, are among the best of the year.

Waiting for Superman (not yet rated, PG)
This is my favorite documentary of the year because it is an important exposé on the host of problems that undermine the public education system in this country. In addition to covering teacher unions, charter schools and increased spending on prisons with decreased spending on education, the film offers ideas for purposeful action and involvement in our public schools.

127 Hours (not yet rated, R)
James Franco plays Aron Ralston, a 27-year-old hiker who must cut off his own arm to survive when a boulder pins it to a canyon wall. The theme of this true story is that none of us can go it alone. We all need help sometimes.

Conviction (L, R)
This quiet film, based on a true story, has a loud roar. A man is convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murder in Massachusetts, based on false evidence and police collusion. His sister gets her GED, bachelor’s and master’s in education and a law degree so she can work to free him, which she does 18 years later. The film inspires us to question the death penalty.

How to Train Your Dragon (A-2, PG)
This animated tale is a course in peacemaking. While the young Viking Hiccup learns to hunt dragons, he decides to try to understand them and “walk in their shoes.” This is a brilliant story of empathy and character-building.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (A-2, PG)
Lucy and Edmund Pevensie return to Narnia to help Caspian find the seven lords of Narnia. A thrilling and visually stunning catechism of the seven deadly sins, virtue and character. It’s the best Narnia film yet.

Countdown to Zero (not yet rated, PG)
This informative, sensible documentary about the continuing threat of nuclear waste and the lack of oversight and regulation is enough to give those of us who grew up during the Cuban Missile Crisis recurring nightmares—and with good cause. It also offers several practical things that global citizens can do to make peace and secure the world from the nuclear holocaust that few want to acknowledge is more than possible.

Four Roses

The Social Network (A-3, PG-13)
This film may very well sweep the Oscars because it tells so well the story of a vibrant aspect of contemporary life: social networking. It is great entertainment, exploring the necessity of good character (that is, doing the right thing especially when no one is looking) in this virtual, dynamic universe of social networking where once you say or show something, you can never take it back.

True Grit (A-3, PG-13)
Hats off to the Coen brothers for remaking this classic and quirky Western based on the 1968 novel by Charles Portis. They stayed true to the story by keeping a young girl as the heroine. Excellent performances by 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross and, of course, Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn, the role that earned John Wayne an Oscar. Matt Damon, as the freelancing Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (“La Beef”), is very good, too. A lot more could be said about Portis’s Bible-quoting characters who hold revenge as an American virtue.

Get Low (not yet rated, PG-13)
Robert Duvall is superb as a recluse living in obscurity who suddenly wants to plan his own funeral party because he knows he needs the forgiveness of the community. The story is sound, and Duvall has never been better.

Toy Story 3 (A-1, G)
The toy gang faces change and abandonment with their usual teamwork approach to problem-solving. I loved the Spanish version of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” (“Tienes un amigo en mí”), because it involves the bilingual reality of the audience, teaching Spanish to the English-speaking and English to the Spanish-speaking.

Secretariat (A-2, PG)
I enjoyed this small-scale, based-on-a-true-story film about the red horse that won the Triple Crown in 1973. Gorgeous cinematography, solid writing by Mike Rich (The Nativity Story) and direction by Randall Wallace (who wrote Braveheart), both of whom are Christians. Many critics think it is a better film than 2003’s Seabiscuit. I don’t think the films are comparable, but Secretariat is exciting and great viewing. The film opens with a marvelous quote from the Book of Job 39:19.

Three Roses

Letters to Juliet (A-2, PG)
An engaged young woman visits Juliet’s house in Verona, Italy, and joins a group of ladies who answer letters that women leave in the garden wall. This throwback to Hollywood’s feel-good romantic comedy era is at once original and predictable. It is possible to make a nice film without cluttering it up with meaningless content that can offend some sensibilities. The film won’t win any awards, and has no other message than true love, but for an enjoyable winter Saturday afternoon armchair matinee, it’s just the ticket.

Winter’s Bone (not yet rated, R)
A small film about the consequences of drug use and trafficking on an Ozark family. Their eldest daughter makes every sacrifice for her family, looking for a father who is never coming home. Poignant and extremely well-acted.

Television

The Lost Valentine (January 30, CBS, check local listings)
Betty White and Jennifer Love Hewitt co-star in this made-for-television movie about a TV reporter, Susan (Hewitt), assigned to cover the story of a World War II Navy widow. Caroline (White) makes a yearly pilgrimage to the train station on February 14 where she last said good-bye to her husband, Neil, in 1942. He was soon listed MIA and never found. At first, Susan dismisses the assignment but, after meeting Caroline and her grandson, she is drawn into the story and the mystery of Neil’s disappearance.

This is a gentle Valentine’s story of the first order, and a Hallmark weeper, co-produced with Paulist Productions and based on the 1996 novel by James Michael Pratt. Betty White is a treat, and there is good chemistry among the cast. Family viewing from young adolescents to adults.

CATHOLIC CLASSIFICATIONS
A-1 General patronage
A-2 Adults and adolescents
A-3 Adults
L Limited adult audience
O Morally offensive

The USCCB's Office for Film and Broadcasting gives these ratings. See www.usccb.org/movies/index.htm.

Find reviews by Sister Rose and others at www.CatholicMovieReviews.org.

Thank you for your comments. Editors will review all posts before they are visible on the website.

blog comments powered by Disqus



John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
PICKS OF THE WEEK
When the Church Was Young
Be inspired and challenged by the lives and insights of the Church's early, important teachers.
Newly released in audio!
One of Merton's most enduring and popular works, now in audio!
Fearless
Learn about the saints of America: missionaries, martyrs, bishops, heiresses, nuns, and natives who gave their lives to build our Church and our country.
New Seeds of Contemplation
One of the best-loved books by one of the greatest spiritual writers of our time!
Catholics, Wake Up!
“A total spiritual knockout!” – Fr. Donald Calloway

 
CATHOLIC GREETINGS
St. John Paul II
“…let us always give priority to the human person and his fundamental rights.” St. John Paul II
Godparents
For the one to be baptized, godparents represent the Christian Catholic community, the Church.
Birthday
You have the heart and soul of a child of God, no matter how long you've been around.
World Mission Sunday
The Church in North America sprang from the blood of martyrs such as this missionary and his companions.
St. Luke
Author of two books of the New Testament, this Evangelist’s primary audience was Gentile Christians like himself.

Come find us at: Facebook | St. Anthony Messenger magazine Twitter | American Catholic YouTube | American Catholic


An AmericanCatholic.org Site from the Franciscans and Franciscan Media Copyright © 1996 - 2014