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by Sister Rose Pacatte, FSP


The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Cindy Green (Jennifer Garner) is a guide at a pencil museum. Her husband, Jim (Joel Edgerton), is a manager at the small midwestern town’s key industry: a pencil factory. They meet with adoption counselors to express why they would make good parents.

When Cindy and Jim learn that their efforts to have a child fail, they are crushed. To heal, they write the characteristics of their dream child on small pieces of paper, place them in a box, and bury it in the garden. Now they can move on. But during a thunderstorm that very night, a young boy appears covered in mud. His name is Timothy (played by CJ Adams), and he has green leaves growing from his legs.

Cindy and Jim are astonished and accept Timothy as a gift, despite the challenges of explaining his origins and the green leaves to family and friends. Kids bully Timothy, but he makes friends with Joni (Odeya Rush), who is also different. Timothy loves nature and thrives in the sunlight.

The film, written and directed by Peter Hedges, is a charming fantasy parable about life, adoption, and care for the earth. It is crafted with gentle humor, love for humanity, respect for creation, and parenting—all rich themes for catechesis.

Not yet rated, PG ■ Thematic elements.

The Dark Knight Rises
After eight years, Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) has finally rid Gotham of its criminal element, but he conspired to cover up deceased District Attorney Harvey Dent’s crimes and implicated Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in his murder. Bruce has spent these years as a recluse at Wayne Manor. Now, Bane (Tom Hardy), a masked mercenary, has come to rid Gotham of the dominance of Wayne Enterprises and replace the city’s new civic order with anarchy.

Bane targets a nuclear reactor that Fox (Morgan Freeman) has been keeping for a peace project along with other weapons to prevent them from ill use. Against the wishes of his faithful butler, Alfred (Michael Caine), Bruce returns to Wayne Enterprises. But when he is voted off the board, he asks Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), a humanitarian, to take his place. Meanwhile Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), makes a pact with Bane to obtain information she needs.

Director/writer Christopher Nolan’s trilogy is one of the most dramatic renditions in the comic book-into-movie genre. He fills each moment of the almost three-hour film, but the emphasis is on action over the drama that we have come to expect. There is no real character development.

The shooting last July at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, has marred the experience of this film for many. The film employs violence to resolve conflict—albeit bloodless.

This continual failure to show the consequences of violence—even in a fantasy genre, whether on film, TV, or in video games—may prevent vulnerable audiences from seeking other ways to solve problems and to realize their actions can hurt people.

A-III, PG-13 ■ Action violence, peril, mature themes.

The Amazing Spider-Man
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) grows up with his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) because his parents disappeared when he was a baby. When Peter comes across his father’s briefcase, he learns of his scientific work to crossbreed species. Peter contacts his dad’s old partner, the one-armed Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), head of the research company Oscorp Industries.

A lab spider bites Peter and this begins his transformation into Spider-Man. He and a fellow student, Gwen (Emma Stone), share an interest in science, but her dad, Captain Stacy (Denis Leary), does not approve. When Dr. Connors decides to cross his genes with a lizard to regenerate his arm, the scene is set for Spider-Man to emerge.

This most recent Spider-Man movie is a coming of age story. Peter struggles with adult issues, such as taking responsibility for his own actions and choosing to act to solve crimes and protect the city’s people. His changing body stands in for the many changes adolescents go through as they strive to define themselves.

The emphasis on character, so well developed in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 (2004), continues in this latest installment. I liked the story, and the performances were solid. I was disappointed in the ending, but we can expect a sequel or two that may offset that final scene.

A-III, PG-13 ■ Action violence and peril; mature themes.

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.

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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The Church really is my mother, too. She isn’t a vague maternal force for a generic collection of anonymous people. This Mother truly nurtures us—each one of us. And for those of us who are baptized Christians, the Church has actually given birth to us on a spiritual level.

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Lord of the harvest, thank you for all those Men and Women Religious who have answered your call to service.

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Students and staff will appreciate receiving an e-card from you to begin the new school year.

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