Powerful memoir takes readers into Catholic family’s life in Maine

“When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine” by Monica Wood. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Boston, 2012). 235 pp., $24.  Memory is a wondrous, awesome thing. Sometimes you can’t remember what you want to remember; other times out of the clear blue the most trivial, oddball things pop into awareness, and you say to […]

Green Arrow: God’s justice, or man’s?

NEW YORK (CNS) — Although superhero movies have been all the rage in recent years, the superhero TV series is more of a rarity these days. Once upon a time, Adam West’s Batman was a staple of primetime television; the caped crusader is now almost exclusively a movie franchise. While comic book adoptions for TV […]

New books offer wealth of options for spiritual reading during Advent

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Here is a selection of recent releases that might be suitable for your spiritual reading during Advent and the Christmas season: — “Exploring Advent With Luke: Four Questions for Spiritual Growth” by Timothy Clayton. Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, Ind., 2012). 149 pp., $13.95. — “A Catholic Family Advent: Prayers and Activities” […]

‘Facing the Screen Dilemma’ helps navigate ‘media-saturated’ culture

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Every time you ask a question about your TV, even if it doesn’t answer back, you’re doing the right thing. You are becoming more media literate. It’s perfectly fine to ask questions about the pervasive influence of commercials, the content of programming, and the seductive spell cast by the glow of the […]

‘Killing Them Softly,’ and gruesomely, and cynically

NEW YORK (CNS) — Though ambitious and well-acted, the crime drama “Killing Them Softly” (Weinstein) is also brutally violent and deeply cynical. Taken together, its explosive gore and jaundiced view of the world make it unsuitable for audiences of any age. That’s all the more unfortunate since, like some of its best Depression-era predecessors, writer-director […]

“First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty,” to air on PBS

NEW YORK (CNS) — As numerous church leaders have warned in recent years, the rights of believers are increasingly under threat — not only around the world but within the United States as well. So the documentary “First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty” — a look at the origins of the religious guarantees enshrined […]

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 […]