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Won't Back Down View Comments
by Sister Rose Pacatte, FSP


Won't Back Down
Jamie (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a single mom in urban Pittsburgh, struggling to support her 7-year-old daughter, Malia (Emily Alyn Lind). At Malia’s new school, Jamie learns that while some teachers are very effective, not every teacher or administrator has the best interests of students at heart.

There is no extra help for Malia, whose teacher is the highest paid but with the lowest job performance for the past several years. Overall, the school is failing. Jamie tries to enroll Malia in private school, but she cannot afford it.

Nona (Viola Davis) is a mom and a teacher at the school whose marriage is failing. While she is concerned about the level of teaching, she is reluctant to take action. Jamie and Nona evoke the “parent trigger law” to take over the school’s administration and form a charter school.

The two women and the other teachers they engage in their cause run up against every administrative hurdle possible. The head of the teachers’ union, Oscar-winner Holly Hunter, tries to bribe Jamie to send Malia to private school. The school board puts up every block possible and has a history of denying petitions on the smallest pretext.

Won’t Back Down is a movie with a message and a mission. Walden Media co-produced the very important Waiting for Superman (2010), an unflinching documentary that examined failing public education in the United States as well as successful innovations. Now the education-centered company wants to bring the debate about public education to mainstream America by putting the good of children firmly at the center of this story.

Won’t Back Down has a brilliant cast. While the script employs everything we’ve heard about the reasons for our failing schools, it deftly pushes away every excuse for change in order to motivate audiences— and citizens—to pay attention and act for the sake of children.

Not yet rated, PG--Thematic elements.

The Bourne Legacy
Jason Bourne has gone underground and exposed two possibly illegal Department of Defense “black” operations. At the same time, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), part of the secret project “Operation Outcome,” makes his way across the state of Alaska. He is almost a superman because he takes special chemicals that enhance his physical and mental abilities through genetic manipulation.

Aaron pretends he has lost his medication in view of obtaining extra when he reaches the operational outpost. When a government drone destroys it, Aaron heads to Washington, DC, to obtain more little blue pills from the source.

But the Department of Defense has set in motion a self-destruction protocol for those involved in these black ops, including the lab workers who developed them. Aaron tracks down a research doctor, Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), and convinces her to go to Manila to survive and to obtain the pills from the manufacturer.

The film asks—in typical heart-pounding Bourne technique—if the ends justify the means in today’s ethical quagmire of world events created by the powerful. Considering this makes the film worth seeing.

A-3, PG-13--Action violence, peril, mature themes.

Sparkle
Three sisters, Sparkle (American Idol-winner Jordin Sparks), Sister (Carmen Ejogo), and Dee (Tika Sumpter), live on the fringe of the waning music scene in 1968 Detroit. Sister is now 30 and just returned home after disappointment in New York. Dee wants to be a doctor, and Sparkle writes lyrics.

The group performs one of Sparkle’s songs and impresses a music executive, Stix (Derek Luke), who is attracted to Sparkle. A ladies’ man and sometime comedian, Satin Struthers (Mike Epps), and Sister are attracted to each other and later marry with devastating results.

Emma (the late Whitney Houston) is mother to the sisters and disapproves of their being anywhere near the music industry. She was a singer and is a recovering alcoholic, now dedicated to the church and Bible study, certain that this is the only way for her daughters to succeed.

Sparkle is a message movie that promises music but doesn’t really deliver until the very end.

This film seems more like a cautionary tale about the life of Whitney Houston herself, who died earlier this year, and whose one song in the film appears to confirm this.

A-3, PG-13--Mature themes, drug use, domestic violence.

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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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

 
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