Culture

Hope speaks through best, worst of life in ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’

Abiding love and family ties carry the day in this film adaptation of a James Baldwin novel, in spite of an unfair legal system that attempts to deny black men their humanity. Joy finds a way to co-exist with gloom.

Julliard-trained violinist returns to N.J. roots to record first album

In recent months, violinist Alana Youssefian has performed at New York City's Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Yale University and venues in Texas, California, Washington and Canada. But she's coming home to New Jersey -- her hometown parish in particular -- to record her first album.

Murky plot not as clear as ‘Glass’

A follow-up to two previous movies by director M. Night Shyamalan has comic-book villains and heroes, and ordinary characters, muddling through an eerie atmosphere and incoherent story.

New Frankenstein motif of ‘Replicas’ dead on arrival

Emotions are shallow and moral themes underdeveloped as the plot of this sci-fi misfire -- in which a scientist tries to reanimate his dead family -- plods toward a ridiculous, conspiracy-tinged climax.

Take a spin on ‘Spider-Man’ videogame

As Spider-Man battles villains, game players also see him trying to balance his duties as an adult, including his personal troubles. One character assists the player in a tutorial mission before the main story launches.

‘A Dog’s Way Home’ trots out a bone to pick

The cute story of a healing, tail wagging dog out to be suitable for all ages, but it obviously advances the relentless Hollywood drive to mainstream homosexuality among impressionable young moviegoers.

Landmark case, landmark woman, told ‘On the Basis of Sex’

The story of how a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg took on a case to argue equal rights for women is inspirational in this telling, though its stodginess feels like cramming for a final exam.

Priest-author tells story of Catholicism in the American heartland

The story of the historic day that St. Pope John Paul II visited a small Iowa diocese is told with verve and clarity in a new book that will be of interest to Catholics across the country. It traces an overlooked story of Catholics on the American prairie.

Two books unpack religious stereotypes in difficult times

One book offers a quiet rebuttal to the current demonization of Muslims, while another looks at the experience of interreligious blended families. Together they counter a culture of growing sectarianism and tribalism.

More underlies ‘The Upside,’ than just two guys having fun

Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston have great on-screen charisma and generate lots of laughs, but the film reinforces old stereotypes of race and class that still have the power to hurt deeply.