Visually impressive ‘Life of Pi’ problematic with multi-religion adherence

NEW YORK (CNS) — Religious themes are central to director Ang Lee’s visually artful screen version of Yann Martel’s best-selling novel “Life of Pi” (Fox). Indeed, this exotic 3-D fable bills itself as a story calculated to make the agnostic reporter (Rafe Spall) to whom its unlikely events are recounted “believe in God.” Regardless of […]

With ‘Breaking Dawn 2,’ Twilight saga comes to an undead end

NEW YORK (CNS) — Those tears glistening in the eyes of teenyboppers everywhere are a sure sign that a franchise beloved by their demographic is coming to an end. Yes, folks “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2” (Summit), the fifth installment of the blockbuster series, is also its finale. The wrap-up finds our […]

‘Lincoln:’ Blockbuster movie of the season

It's hard to imagine that any actor has ever inhabited the persona of the legendary rail-splitter quite as convincingly as Daniel Day-Lewis does in director Steven Spielberg's splendid historical drama "Lincoln" (DreamWorks). Day-Lewis' bravura performance is undeniably the highlight -- though by no means the only asset -- of this engrossing profile.

More than flash, 007 battles weighty issues in ‘Skyfall’

NEW YORK (CNS) — Don’t be misled by the Chicken-Little title, “Skyfall” (Columbia) is high-flying entertainment, a rousing return for James Bond and a much-needed injection of vitality into the 50-year-old film franchise built around him. Director Sam Mendes (“Revolutionary Road”) helms British Secret Agent 007’s 23rd adventure, a smart mix of reverence, nostalgia, and […]

Interviews, diplomats’ archives help clarify Vatican role in WWII

“The Pope’s Jews: The Vatican’s Secret Plan to Save the Jews from the Nazis” by Gordon Thomas. Thomas Dunne Books (New York, 2012). 336 pp., $27.99.  Gordon Thomas, the author of “The Pope’s Jews,” is a British journalist who has written numerous works, a number of them on the intelligence services of Great Britain and […]

Considering international adoption? See ‘Somewhere Between’ first

NEW YORK (CNS) — Happily ever after can be an elusive goal when it comes to international adoptions, as the documentary “Somewhere Between” (Long Shot Factory) explains. Eighty thousand Chinese children, most of them girls, have been adopted in the United States since 1991, when China — which imposed a strict, morally unacceptable “one child” […]

‘Wreck-It Ralph’ looks for goodness among video-game bad guys

NEW YORK (CNS) — Cross “Toy Story” with a video arcade game and you get “Wreck-It Ralph” (Disney), a clever 3-D animated adventure that explores the meaning of life inside the machine, once the “Game Over” message appears. Director Rich Moore is a veteran of “The Simpsons” television series, and it shows, for better and […]

Great expectations: Book weakly tells how art relates to Bible

“Sister Wendy’s Bible Treasury: Stories and Wisdom Through the Eyes of Great Painters” by Sister Wendy Beckett. Orbis Books (Maryknoll, N.Y., 2012). 228 pp. $35.  Sometimes good ideas don’t click in practice, as is the case with this book. For adolescents and young adults, it could have been an excellent introduction to understanding masterpiece paintings […]

Video game review: New ‘Super Mario Bros. 2’

NEW YORK (CNS) — With apologies to Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump, “Super Mario” games are not at all like a box of chocolates — you pretty much know from the start exactly what you’re gonna get. Yet, while the morally unobjectionable entries in the “Super Mario” series may be predictable as far as their run-and-jump […]

Exploring the power of words as catalyst for controversy

“The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide and Define a Nation” by Stephen Prothero. HarperCollins (San Francisco, 2012). 531 pp., $29.99.    Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University, has compiled diverse texts and genres — song lyrics, letters, legal documents, essays, proverbs and fiction — into an American bible, a canon […]