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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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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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