As a Christmas movie gift, ‘Les Miserables’ has it all

NEW YORK (CNS) — If your Christmas wish list includes a lavish, big-budget musical crafted in the classic Hollywood manner, then “Les Miserables” (Universal) is just the ticket. This rousing entertainment offers something for everyone: soaring anthems, tear-jerking romance, thrilling drama — and a positive portrayal of the Catholic faith. In fact, this faithful adaptation […]

‘Hitchcock’ shows the madness behind the genius of the man

NEW YORK (CNS) — The Greek philosopher Aristotle observed, “There is not great genius without a mixture of madness.” Case in point: “Hitchcock” (Fox Searchlight), an absorbing portrait of the legendary film director during the making of his biggest success, the 1960 horror classic “Psycho.” The “Master of Suspense” gets quite a dressing-down in this […]

Catholic faith was present, not overt in Alfred Hitchcock’s life

NEW YORK (CNS) -- To famed director Alfred Hitchcock, the ideal premise for a suspense picture -- one he used many times -- was a man wrongly accused of a crime. He thought of it as a fear to which everyone could relate. Born in 1899, Hitchcock died in 1980, long before the online era. Were he still in his prime, he would likely be intrigued and amused to observe how the echo chamber of the blogosphere can instantly produce questionable convictions based on slim evidence -- in his case, the impression that he only found religion, and specifically the comfort of the Catholic faith, at the end of his life.

Children’s books: Space, bugs, saints, humor and more

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The following children’s books, most of which may be bought through Amazon at’s Marketplace (See our Featured Books category), are suitable for Christmas giving: “Legendary Journeys: Space,” by Mike Goldsmith. Kingfisher (New York, 2012). 32 pp., $19.99. After reviewing children’s books for more than 25 years, I would have to say […]

Philosophy professor explores human origins for nonscholars

Throughout the ages, scholars have pondered the "what" and "why" of human origin. In his book "From Big Bang to Big Mystery: Human Origins in the Light of Creation and Evolution" Father Brendan Purcell, an adjunct professor in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney, Australia, attempts to provide answers to these questions, with a great deal of success. Father Purcell has delivered a scholarly work (with 625 footnotes and a 22-page bibliography) that is, at the same time, accessible to the nonscholarly reader. Because the work deals primarily in philosophy and science, the book requires effort to read and understand, yet Father Purcell makes it an interesting and enjoyable read throughout.

‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ seen as allegory to 1930s’ fascist march

NEW YORK (CNS) — First published in 1937, Catholic author J.R.R. Tolkien’s children’s novel “The Hobbit, or There and Back Again” has proved so popular in the decades since that it has never gone out of print. With “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Warner Bros.), director Peter Jackson provides movie audiences with an epic 3-D […]

The good, bad, ugly: Church can’t shy away from Twitter’s Wild West

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With Pope Benedict XVI's new presence on Twitter, people from all over the world can now post papal messages with just the push of an on-screen button. While many have welcomed the pope's foray into the virtual world, his @Pontifex handles and “reply-able” posts have also meant that rude and crude […]

Children’s book reveals pope’s sensitive side, secretary says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A new children’s book, released by the Vatican publishing house, accurately reveals the “very, very, very sensitive soul” of Pope Benedict XVI, said his personal secretary, Archbishop-designate Georg Ganswein. The Italian-language book, “The Mystery of a Little Pond,” was written and illustrated by the Russian painter Natalia Tsarkova and was presented […]

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 […]