Bewitching as these ‘Beautiful Creatures’ may be, they’re a cauldron of confusion for teens

NEW YORK (CNS) — On its surface, the gothic romance “Beautiful Creatures” (Warner Bros.) comprises a passable if pretentious blend of supernatural elements reminiscent of the “Twilight” franchise and a lush setting straight out of a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. But a mixed religious outlook makes the occult elements underlying writer-director Richard LaGravenese’s screen version of […]

The top 10 movies and family films of 2012

NEW YORK (CNS) -- With awards season in full swing, it's time for the Media Review Office of Catholic News Service to offer its top 10 movie selections -- and top 10 family films list -- for 2012.

Which ‘Side Effects’ you? R-Rated, or something less vulgar?

NEW YORK (CNS) — Intriguing but somewhat sordid, the psychiatry-themed drama “Side Effects” (Open Road) messes, quite successfully, with viewers’ heads. Mature moviegoers may enjoy following the twisting trail of director Steven Soderbergh’s clever puzzler. Yet a number of red-flag elements preclude not only youngsters but those in search of casual diversion as well. This […]

Maker of Our Lady of Guadalupe docufilm hopes for wide circulation

  WASHINGTON (CNS) — Before making his documentary on Our Lady of Guadalupe, “The Blood & the Rose,” director and co-writer Tim Watkins said, “I knew very little about Our Lady of Guadalupe.” Now, with his film out and available on DVD, he wants the world to know about her. “I reinvigorated my faith about […]

Gun violence leads to closer scrutiny for links with media violence

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- It was bound to happen. After the massacre in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26 people, Americans started looking for ways to curb gun violence. Inevitably, that search has extended to violence in media, including movies, TV shows and video games.

Books on Spain’s ‘Camino’ offer little for serious Catholics

“A Room with a Pew: Sleeping Our Way through Spain’s Ancient Monasteries” by Richard Starks and Miriam Murcutt. Globe Pequot Press (Guilford, Conn., 2012). 244 pp., $16.95. “The Way of the Stars: Journeys on the Camino de Santiago” by Robert C. Sibley. University of Virginia Press (Charlottesville, Va., 2012). 170 pp., $23.95.    Like early […]

Film on Roosevelt echoes theme of ‘morals don’t matter’

NEW YORK (CNS) — “Oh, Those Randy Roosevelts!” might be a better title for “Hyde Park on Hudson” (Focus). This comedy-drama purports to chronicle — and blithely celebrates — the real-life sexual indiscretions of the 32nd president of the United States, his first lady, his cousin and assorted members of his staff. Director Roger Michell […]

Sociologist responds to atheistic views on how Americans see faith

“The God Problem: Expressing Faith and Being Reasonable” by Robert Wuthnow. University of California Press (Berkeley, Calif., 2012), 304 pp., $34.95. Studies of religion in the United States have for many decades tried to understand faith by looking at everything except what people say about it, declares Robert Wuthnow in “The God Problem.” Poll-takers ask […]

Joseph Kennedy biography comprehensive, but may be too much for many

Before one even begins to read "The Patriarch," David Nasaw's comprehensive biography of Joseph P. Kennedy, there is a 10-page listing of the "Cast of Characters" in Kennedy's life. This section not only explains relations but it also reads as a "Who's Who" of the first seven decades of the 20th century. It shows how a young man fromBostonbecame a multimillionaire and reared a family that would be dominant in American politics.

4 seniors in ‘Quartet’ can’t resist the stage, even in retirement

NEW YORK (CNS) — Dustin Hoffman steps behind the camera for his directorial debut with “Quartet” (Weinstein), a comedy-drama about musical artists who face the ultimate curtain call: a date with the Grim Reaper. Based on the play by Ronald Harwood (who also wrote the screenplay), “Quartet” casts senior citizens in the same warm and […]