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Violent ‘John Wick’ offers an antihero who’s hard to like

Keanu Reeves stars in a scene from the movie "John Wick." (CNS photo/Lionsgate) Posted on October 24th, 2014

True to form, Keanu Reeves plays a man of few monotone words who leaves a high body count in his wake, in the new action thriller. In so many words, it’s unconvincing, unglamorous, offensive — and avoidable.


Book explores complex balance between charitable acts, religious values

Posted on October 24th, 2014

The work of religious philanthropic organizations came into clear view during the summer of 2014 when two Christian mission groups serving people in need around the world arranged to fly two of their medical missionaries suffering from the Ebola virus out of Liberia to a hospital in Atlanta, where they were treated successfully.


As a game or movie, ‘Ouija’ isn’t fun or fitting

From left, Douglas Smith, Olivia Cooke and Ana Coto star in a scene from the movie "Ouija." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS photo/Universal) Posted on October 24th, 2014

Part half-baked cautionary tale, part dangerous pastime, “Ouija” lurches from one horror genre standby to the next. Its ultimate impact on moviegoers is to offer an alternate spelling of “board.”


Steal this book? No, ‘Shoplifter’ is worth paying for

Posted on October 23rd, 2014

Sometimes we commit a sin because we feel unable to control our situation. If we’re lucky, we encounter someone who shows us mercy and convinces us to take a different path. That’s the story arc of a new graphic novel.


Movie review: Fury

Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Brad Pitt, Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal star in a scene from the movie "Fury." (CNS photo/Columbia Pictures) Posted on October 22nd, 2014

Brutal realism in the depiction of combat and scripturally inspired spirituality hardly make an obvious pairing.


Chapels on campus seen from religious, architectural perspectives

Posted on October 17th, 2014

During the mid-1990s, while my oldest son was shopping for a college, we toured Washington University in St. Louis. There in the heart of the campus was Graham Chapel — a stately edifice that could have been a European cathedral. Our guide informed us that it was used for concerts, lectures and plays. She did not mention it being a site for prayer and worship.


Movie review: The Book of Life

This is a scene from the animated  movie "The Book of Life." (CNS photo/Fox) Posted on October 17th, 2014

Who knew the Day of the Dead could be so much fun? The Mexican method of observing All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2, is the backdrop for “The Book of Life” (Fox), an entertaining and visually stunning 3-D animated film.


Whole family gets to share in Alexander’s very bad day

Ed Oxenbould stars in a scene from the movie "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." (CNS photo/Disney) Posted on October 13th, 2014

If you can look beyond the relentless physical gags, a peeing baby and a vomiting teenager — and a long film title — there’s a small lesson in how a family pulls together through adversity in “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”


For a warmhearted film with seamy underside, you be ‘The Judge’

Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall star in a scene from the movie "The Judge." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.) Posted on October 10th, 2014

The movie’s most troubling element is treated so nonchalantly that ethically acute moviegoers are likely to shake their heads even as they squirm.


A cleaner Dracula story that still raises red flags

Dracula Untold Posted on October 10th, 2014

If viewers dig beneath “Dracula Untold’s” special effects-driven mowing down of Islamic extremists — perhaps sending a message — they might discover the movie’s moral and spiritual ambiguities.


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