(Saint) Ralph needs a miracle


Whether it’s tenacity at its best or just plain stubborn resolution, the 2004 drama Saint Ralph has you pulling for this high-schooler to win the Boston Marathon. Young Ralph, played by Adam Butcher, whose father was killed in WWII and mom is comatose, overhears that “it will take a miracle” to bring her back. Headmaster Fr. Fitzpatrick labels Ralph a troublemaker, forces him to join the crosscountry team, but nixes his entering the race.

Fr. Hibbert (Campbell Scott), a former world-class marathoner, rescues the boy’s ambition by offering to coach him. The trials and tribulations Ralph endures make this film fun and compelling. Those who believe in miracles will find Saint Ralph charming.

"It will take a miracle"

“It will take a miracle”

For Greater Glory is the Story of a Fight for Freedom

“Freedom cannot be compromised. Freedom is absolute.” For Greater Glory-the true story of Cristiada
Did you know about the people’s revolt in Mexico during the 1920’s Cristero War? I didn’t. Nor did I know about the epic 2012 film, For Greater Glory, about those who risked everything for faith, family, freedom—the very future of their country.
The story’s theme is religious persecution foisted on Catholics in Mexico by a president who began his crusade by banishing or killing the priests and bishops believing the faithful would eventually abandon their practices and beliefs.
Though my daughter Virginia had not seen Glory, her comments about it caught my attention. I’m glad I bought it before I read the reviews. Critics scorned the religious references; but to ignore religion would be a deception. To ignore the Catholic faith of a rag-tag band of rebels with no resources for battle would negate the only asset that brought them to victory.

Andy Garcia plays General Gorostieta, a retired military man and an atheist whose willingness to lead is his belief in freedom—“absolute freedom.” The courage and faith of these idealists begins to fill the spiritual void in this self-sacrificing leader.
The DVD lists a special feature that gives the true story of the Cristeros. Don’t miss it! In fact, the similarities of compromised freedom and trampled religious rights have already infested our hallowed ground.

John Adams and the Declaration of Independence


Patriotic plot: This Golden Globe and Emmy-winning TV miniseries about our second president, John Adams (Paul Giamatti), and his role in establishing the United States starts with the Boston Massacre and ends with his death on July 4, 1826, 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress.  (LA Times)  

For more on this topic check:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Declaration_of_Independence

and don’t miss watching the film!200px-JohnAdamsHBO

Even better (and to correct film deviations/errors) read David McCullough’s book.

Forget “HUSTLE” & see The MONUMENTS MEN!

The Monuments Men began with George Clooney much like Oceans 11, choosing a team and ended the same with him getting the woman—(spoiler) except in this case, it was the Madonna & Child statue.  I will never forget the scene with the barrel of gold—the fillings of Jews and other German prisoners.


Clooney’s record is one of promoting the liberal cause; however, in this film he revealed the value of individualism, with the art and the risks one must take to hold on to what we value—who we are as a people.

I found myself emotionally reacting to what our soldiers were doing in WWII.  I thought of my own father who was there when thousands of lives were being tortured and burned in ovens.  He was never the same.  Clooney may have not developed the story to the liking of critics—who could?  These men who CHOOSE to be part of his team—and those who followed—have preserved the art, the history, the identity of who we are as a people.  This is not trite. They had to question, “Should we sacrifice a life for art?”  I ask, “Should a madman rob us of who we are?”

Monuments left me proud of our soldiers in WWII—and yes, Dad, I’m proud you were there.   See the movie.

For reference check the author of the book on this subject:  http://www.mensjournal.com/magazine/the-true-story-behind-the-monuments-men-20140206

SAVING MR. BANKS – a “step in time”


Full disclosure:  I like the movie Mary Poppins; and I admire and appreciate Walt Disney—big time.  Until I saw Saving Mr. Banks, (2013) I knew nothing about Poppins author, P.L. Travers.

Disney’s (Tom Hanks) hurdles to make a movie based on Travers book has more story to it than her book.  Travers character (Emma Thompson) is so well performed that my husband found himself in the theater lobby after listening to her diatribe.  (Mike returned with red licorice for me!) “She’s rude and ungrateful,” he complained, “she drives me nuts.”

There you have the movie in a nutshell.  Haunted by childhood memories of her alcoholic father, Travers penned Poppins, a magical nanny who appears to rescue of two children—scratch that.  She came to save their father, Mr. Banks.

Travers nit-picked everything about Disney and his staff to a degree the only recourse was for her to refuse the rights to use her book and return to England.  Disney’s persistence is masterly and a darn good example to admirers of all ages.

I was both entertained and exhausted by the time the film ended.  Bravo to the script-writers and casting directors; but, most of all, thanks for the memories, Walt.

FROZEN is not chilly–it’s enchanting


Today’s freezing temps in much of the country won’t chill movie-goers to the beautiful icy settings in Disney’s offer of FROZEN.  Brrrr factor aside, the scenes in FROZEN were eye-catching and the animation magical.

The story moves quickly about two princesses with a problem.  Elsa must keep her gloves on or sister Anna will freeze! She heads for the hills to avoid the curse that could destroy the kingdom and worse, her sister.

Anna’s quest to find Elsa introduces new characters along the way.  But, unlike Dorothy on the road to Oz, her companions lack the depth of brains, heart and courage.  Yet, the enchanted snowman was fun as simply a tag-along.

Upon the return to the kingdom, Anna doesn’t need to “kiss a frog” or a prince to fulfill her heart’s desire.  She simply needs to perform an act of true love to save her sister.

FROZEN may rank with other Disney offerings when it comes to beauty and charm, but the score, though delightful, is not memorable.   FROZEN is entertaining for all ages; and, who knows, might be just the ticket on a sweltering summer day.



Film critic Kevin McCarthy believes director Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity is among the “milestone films that advance the art form.”

McCarthy’s Nerd Tears blog review perfectly describes why the hype:  “Gravity is the game-changing film of our generation and a cinematic masterpiece that elevates the art form for filmmaking.”

Whether you’re a huge Sandra Bullock fan like my husband, in Gravity you will find yourself drawn to her emotionally, basically, in her corner. So much of what makes Bullock’s performance Oscar material is her facial expressions and breathing. I felt I was with her, fearing for her safety; so unlike Kate Winslet in James Cameron’s Titanic.  I was never with them in the freezing water.

Our daughter Laura and her family saw Gravity in 3D Imax—the best choice.  She was breathless describing the sensation of being lost or hit in space.  This is what Cuaron is so successful at delivering.  He gets your attention; and then he lets you know why you should care.  How well I remember his Children of Men.  We’re talking about it to this day.

The excitement for me is that Cuaron’s “milestone” appears in an era that lacks new fashion or dreamy car designs.  Gravity gives us something fresh.

Escape Plan – muscles, explosions & a black helicopter

After the drama and tense Gravity trip followed by nail-biter Captain Phillips, what I needed was something fun, something uplifting.  My husband Mike must have misunderstood when he asked for tickets to the action, mystery, and thriller, Escape Plan.

The film warms its audience to Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) and his jail-breaking team.  A twist in plans pairs Breslin with Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) for the action portion of the film.  Action?  Just the appearance of Sly and Ah-nold make the film explode—glad this one was not in 3D, I would have left the theater with a black eye.

Jim Caviezel as Jesus

Jim Caviezel as Jesus

We liked the story-line and oohed about the prison design.  But, for me, I was most impressed with Anne McCarthy and Kellie Roy’s casting (The Conjuring, Insidious, Wild Hogs).  What a surprise to see Jim Caviezel  as Warden Hobbs and Law and Order’s Vincent  D’Onofrio as Ray’s associate.   While Caviezel may be best remembered in his role as Jesus in Passion of the Christ, my favorite was 2002 Count of Monte Cristo D’Onofrio’s  role as Edgar “Get me sugar” 1997 Men In Black  Why these two actors are not cast in more films in leading roles is a mystery to me.

If you’re looking for excitement, Escape Plan is for you.  And yes, I’m expecting a sequel—why not?   Rottmayer all but said “I’ll be back!”

Skip the popcorn——-Captain Phillips is a nail biter!



What’s a nice girl like me doing at Captain Phillips, a blood and guts movie about piracy on the high seas?

A number of years ago my husband Mike was reading Dangerous Waters: Modern Piracy and Terror on the High Seas by John S. Burnett.  Mike was mystified to learn that pirates who prey on cargo ships are getting away with it.

Both of us watched FOX News last week as the Captain Phillips briefly told of his experiences and meeting with the film’s star, Tom Hanks.

The Maersk Alabama ship sails into pirate-infested waters.  Somali pirates enter the ship with automatic weapons.  The Captain and his crew have only hoses and water for defense; they are not armed.

The next 2 hours are film frenzy at its optimum.   Tom Hanks delivers as Captain Phillips and is sure to be an Oscar contender in 2014.  Before this year is over, however, the crew has filed a lawsuit with the cargo company.

Lawsuit aside, it’s one nail biter of a movie, superb acting with a darn good feeling about the men and women who serve in the finest Navy in the world.