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  • A Simple Favor
    NEW YORK (CNS) — "A Simple Favor" (Lionsgate), director Paul Feig's glossy screen version of Darcey Bell's 2017 novel, is undeniably ingenious.
  • History of papacy needs to be read with critical eye
    Early in "Absolute Power," Paul Collins says 1799 "was probably the lowest point in the history of the papacy." What follows is a look at Catholic history as shaped by world affairs, the institution of the papacy and its power, and how the successors of St. Peter from the early 19th century through Pope Francis have used that power.
  • The Predator
    NEW YORK (CNS) — "The Predator" (Fox), that angry, and very hungry, monster from outer space, returns for its sixth film appearance and leaves predictable mayhem and bloodshed in its wake.
  • White Boy Rick
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Set in early 1980s Detroit, "White Boy Rick" (Columbia), a gritty fact-based slice of working-class life, is intended as a critique of hypocritical law enforcement officials and of excessively harsh sentencing.
  • 'Unbroken' sequel's focus on spiritual struggles, not physical hardship
    SAN DIEGO (CNS) — Almost four years ago, Louie Zamperini's life story received its first big-screen treatment.
  • Sociologists refute stereotypes about religious views toward science
    If you think religion and science are mortal enemies in the United States, this book might change your mind. Based on extensive research across a wide swath of religious perspectives, it shows that the relationship between religion and science is much friendlier — and also more complex — than one might have imagined.
  • God Bless the Broken Road
    NEW YORK (CNS) — A crisis of faith can certainly serve as the basis for a compelling drama. In the case of the Evangelical film "God Bless the Broken Road" (Freestyle), though, the cards feel stacked, albeit for the right outcome, with the result that the protagonist's doubts themselves seem unconvincing.
  • Lucky there's a 'Catholic Guy'
    MINNEAPOLIS (CNS) — Lino Rulli doesn't have any children of his own. Married two years ago, the 46-year-old and his wife, Jill, are hoping that changes soon.
  • The Nun
    NEW YORK (CNS) — "The Nun" (Warner Bros.) is an ambitious undertaking with an immense budget and lush special effects. The apparent aim: to rank as the "That's Entertainment!" of Catholic-themed horror films. The movie doesn't, therefore, ask the audience for a whole lot other than attention to all the classic tropes of the genre.
  • Peppermint
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Remember the proverbial admonition not to take candy from strangers? Well, that warning applies in spades to director Pierre Morel as he tries to hand out "Peppermint" (STX), a gory, over-the-top revenge fantasy that sets Jennifer Garner on the rampage.
  • 'The Miniaturist,' Sept. 9, PBS
    NEW YORK (CNS) — In its close to 50 years on the air, PBS' venerable anthology series "Masterpiece" has featured numerous iconic shows, including "Downton Abbey," "Prime Suspect" and "Sherlock." The durable and outstanding quality of productions such as these, moreover, has garnered "Masterpiece" 86 Emmy awards.
  • TV film fare — week of Sept. 9, 2018
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Sept. 9. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence, and sexual situations.
  • Searching
    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Those on the lookout for an above-average thriller boasting both surprising plot developments and upright basic values will probably be pleased with "Searching" (Screen Gems). While it's handled discreetly, however, at least one of the many twists and turns taken by director and co-writer Aneesh Chaganty's gripping feature debut -- penned with Sev Ohanian -- places his film off-limits for most youngsters.
  • Larger-than-life, humbler figures offer glimpses of Irish lives
    Whether one's heritage is Irish or not, the inhabitants of the Emerald Isle continue to fascinate us. These two books offer a look at the past and the present, the gifts and the shadow side of the Irish and Celtic heritage.
  • BlacKkKlansman
    NEW YORK (CNS) — A few flaws notwithstanding, "BlacKkKlansman" (Focus) represents an effective — and, strange as it may sound, often entertaining — look at the vicious racism lurking at the fringes of American life and perpetually aspiring to enter its mainstream.
  • Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Aquaman — Rage of Atlantis
    NEW YORK (CNS) — For parents and comic fans weary of the adult nature of many modern superhero films, a safe refuge can be found in the "Lego DC Super Heroes" movies. Arch, colorful and free of violence and profanity, these animated direct-to-video adventures often offer what more self-serious comics-based titles don't, namely, fun.
  • A.X.L.
    NEW YORK (CNS) — OK, so there's this experimental robotic war dog, very high tech, that's been developed for the military by an evil (of course) corporation.
  • Kin


    NEW YORK (CNS) — As scripted by Daniel Casey and directed by brothers Jonathan and Josh Baker, "Kin" (Summit), a gritty but somewhat intriguing crime thriller with an overlay of science fiction, explores shades of right and wrong via a road trip through seamy swaths of Rust Belt and rural America.
  • TV film fare — week of Sept. 2, 2018
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Sept. 2. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence, and sexual situations.
  • TV program notes — week of Sept. 2, 2018
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Here are some television program notes for the week of Sept. 2 with their TV Parental Guidelines ratings if available. They have not been reviewed and therefore are not necessarily recommended by Catholic News Service.
  • Stations for the centuries
    Portland sculptor Martin Eichinger says he learns and grows with every work he creates. But the process is rarely as dramatic as when he took part in creating bronze sculptures for the stations of the cross at the newly opened Cloisters on the Platte Retreat Center in Nebraska.
  • Eighth Grade
    NEW YORK (CNS) — From a moral point of view, "Eighth Grade" (A24), a low-key, moving blend of comedy and drama, is a bit of a paradox.
  • The Happytime Murders
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Occasionally, as in "The Happytime Murders" (STX), filmmakers become enamored of the idea of foul-mouthed, sexualized puppets, as if no one had considered this idea before and there were some fresh, original way of going at this.
  • Dominican sister's pregame first pitch wows crowd, online world
    CHICAGO (CNS) — Not only is Dominican Sister Mary Jo Sobieck a nun, she's also an internet sensation.
  • Operation Finale
    NEW YORK (CNS) — World War II movies are their own genre but not many film stories are told from the Jewish perspective. "Operation Finale" (MGM) corrects that lack, giving us a story, begun during the war but only finished years later.
  • Video releases for Aug. 22, 2018
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The following are capsule reviews from Catholic News Service of new and recent video releases available on DVD and/or Blu-ray — as well as for online viewing. Theatrical movies have a Catholic News Service classification and Motion Picture Association of America rating. These classifications refer only to the theatrical version of the films below, and do not take into account any extra content.
  • Michael Greaney ties political, social and psychological factors into his riveting history of Turkish military incursions into Europe. After opening with the 11th-century's Battle of Manzikert in Anatolia, the author spends the rest of the book examining military clashes in eastern Europe and the Mediterranean during the Ottoman's zenith from 1462 to 1621.
  • Crazy Rich Asians
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The award for the most accurate film title of the year goes to "Crazy Rich Asians" (Warner Bros), a romantic comedy about, well, members of a certain ethnic group who are insanely wealthy.
  • Alpha
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The oft-repeated tale of a boy and his dog is as old as time — or at least the last Ice Age, the intriguing setting for "Alpha" (Columbia).
  • Mile 22
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The sloppy, toxic mix of gunfire, explosions and cursing that is "Mile 22" (STX) makes it difficult to endure and impossible to recommend.
  • Video releases for Aug. 15, 2018
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The following are capsule reviews from Catholic News Service of new and recent video releases available on DVD and/or Blu-ray — as well as for online viewing. Theatrical movies have a Catholic News Service classification and Motion Picture Association of America rating.
  • Decades-long friendship with author flavors bio of activist priest
    Jim Forest has given us an extraordinary biography and memoir of Father Dan Berrigan (1921-2016), the Jesuit priest, poet and peace activist who sometimes went to jail for his convictions.
  • The Meg
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Forty-three summers ago (incredibly), Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" made moviegoers afraid to go in the ocean, for fear of getting bitten (or worse) by a great white shark.
  • Slender Man
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The plot of "Slender Man" (Screen Gems) is concisely summed up when Wren (Joey King), one of the creature's victims, screams, "He gets in your head like a computer virus!"
  • Dog Days
    NEW YORK (CNS) – Written by Elissa Matsueda and Erica Oyama and directed by Ken Marino, the new comedy "Dog Days" (LD Entertainment) is comprised of a number of vignettes, following a variety of Los Angeles residents as they navigate life through a summer of challenges. Helping them in their times of need are their loving canine companions.
  • These two books represent spiritual journeys. Evans migrates from evangelicalism to the Episcopal Church, Bergsma from a Baptist to a Catholic.
  • The Darkest Minds
    NEW YORK (CNS) — A strong sense of deja vu hovers over "The Darkest Minds" (Fox), a dystopian thriller about gifted teens running for their lives.
  • 'Hidden,' streaming, Acorn
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Its striking look and good performances can't salvage the grim and languidly unfolding psychological thriller "Hidden."
  • The Spy Who Dumped Me
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Given its blend of genres, director and co-writer Susanna Fogel's fish-out-of-water action comedy "The Spy Who Dumped Me" (Lionsgate) is surprisingly violent.
  • Christopher Robin
    NEW YORK (CNS) — It's always dangerous to tamper with perfection. And, if there were ever a perfect world, it must be that of the Winnie the Pooh literature created by author A.A. Milne and illustrator E.H. Shepard in the 1920s.
  • How big is too big? A look at media behemoths today
    WASHINGTON (CNS) — The big just keep getting bigger. Well, usually.
  • Compendium of monastic wisdom can aid in anyone's spiritual journey
    If you've ever wanted to sit down and pick the mind of a monk — a man or woman steeped in the church's monastic tradition stretching back to the desert fathers and mothers — then this is the book for you.
  • Jews saved by 'righteous' Dutch Catholic family included author's wife
    WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pardon Marty Brounstein if he's got a personal stake in his latest book. His wife is a featured character.
  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
    NEW YORK (CNS) — "Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker" (Nintendo) — a game first created in 2014 for the short-lived Wii-U gaming system — is back.
  • Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Though a mixed bag of good values and a bit of dodgy humor renders it acceptable but not ideal for kids, sharp satire makes the witty animated comedy "Teen Titans Go! To the Movies" (Warner Bros.) a hoot for their elders.
  • Mission: Impossible — Fallout
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Tom Cruise's by-now iconic American agent Ethan Hunt is at the top of his game in the engrossing espionage sequel "Mission: Impossible — Fallout" (Paramount).
  • Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The exuberant kitsch that was the trademark of the Swedish band Abba lives on in the musical romance "Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again" (Universal).
  • Music 'powerful' way for people to encounter God, says Paulist priest
    BALTIMORE (CNS) — As a 44-person choir rehearsed "O God, How Manifest Are Your Works" before a celebration concert, Paulist Father Ricky Manalo bounced on his feet as he stood next to the piano. Father Manalo served in the Archdiocese of Portland for many years, residing for some of that time at St. Philip Neri, then a Paulist parish.
  • 'Love on Safari,' July 28, Hallmark Channel
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The charming, appealing and heartwarming TV movie "Love on Safari" premieres Saturday, July 28, 9-11 p.m. EDT on cable's Hallmark Channel.
  • The Beatles, the church and the 1960s intertwine in 'Fab4 Mania'
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Cartoonist Carol Tyler's graphic memoir "Fab4 Mania: A Beatles Obsession and the Concert of a Lifetime" (Fantagraphics) owes its existence to an order of nuns. Namely, the Sisters of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ who taught at St. Bede, the school outside Chicago that Tyler attended in the mid-1960s.
  • Fascinating tale of Vatican search for Peter's tomb rivals a novel
    This book tells one of the most remarkable, and astonishing, true stories ever to come out of the Vatican. There are other books on the topic of the search for the relics of St. Peter, but this may well be the most complete and accurate one so far.
  •  Riverdance to perform for Pope Francis during World Meeting of Families
    DUBLIN (CNS) — The internationally acclaimed Irish dance troupe Riverdance will be among those performing for Pope Francis at the August World Meeting of Families in Dublin, organizers said July 19.
  • Voiceless veggie mascot offers ministry of presence
    Life’s sweet for Dillon, the 7-foot-tall former cucumber who roams the stands and bemuses fans at games of the Portland Pickles, a collegiate wood bat baseball team in Portland.
  • Unfriended: Dark Web
    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Computer hackers are sometimes just like the slashers of 1980s horror films, "Unfriended: Dark Web" (BH Tilt) shows us.
  • Dark to light: Buried under scaffolding, Holy Stairs set for resurrection
    VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With large sheets of plain plywood blocking public access to the Holy Stairs, one woman lovingly touched a large color photograph of the stairs, made the sign of the cross, lowered her head and prayed.
  • The Equalizer 2
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Reprising his role as dispenser of do-it-yourself justice Robert McCall, Denzel Washington once again imagines that vengeance is his in "The Equalizer 2" (Columbia), director Antoine Fuqua's follow-up to his 2014 thriller.
  • Young musicians serve as 'bridge of dialogue' in Jerusalem
    WASHINGTON (CNS) — Eleven young musicians from Jerusalem and the West Bank had the opportunity to show U.S. audiences that music can be a bridge across cultural divides during a brief tour of the Washington-Baltimore area.
  •  'Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived'
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Baseball fans won't want to miss the wonderfully revealing documentary "Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived." Part of the venerable "American Masters'" franchise, the film premieres Monday, July 23, 9-10 p.m. EDT on PBS. (Times may vary; check local listings.)
  • NEW YORK (CNS) — Excessive raunchiness undermines the appealing goofiness at the core of the uneven comedy "Trial & Error."
  • NEW YORK (CNS) — Like the excursion around which it's built, the animated kids' comedy "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" (Sony) makes for a pleasant diversion.
  • NEW YORK (CNS) — Way back in 1958, James Stewart's character struggled with vertigo in the Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name. But he had it easy compared to Dwayne Johnson's ex-U.S. military security expert Will Sawyer in "Skyscraper" (Universal).
  • WASHINGTON (CNS) — When most people connect sports to Lewiston, Maine — if they ever do — they probably think of Muhammad Ali defending his World Boxing Council heavyweight title, knocking out Sonny Liston, the man from whom he took it, in the first round in 1965.
  • "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," released in 1938, took 80 years to make it to your home for viewing on TV or online. "Chappaquiddick" made it instantaneously. The two productions are the latest to join the tens of thousands (millions?) available for your enjoyment.
  • These two excellent books are best read together, starting with McNamara's insightful page-turner history of the struggles and accomplishments of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, which also includes the achievements of her husband, Sarge Shriver.
  • Phyllis Tickle, who died in 2015, was relatively unknown to many Catholics but was an important figure in recent Christianity in the United States. She was the founding religion editor at Publisher's Weekly, but so much more.
  • NEW YORK (CNS) --The second season of the engaging and fascinating PBS history docuseries "10 That Changed America" premieres Tuesday, July 10, 8–9 p.m. EDT. The second and third episodes of the three-part series will air in that time slot Tuesdays July 17 and 24. But air times may vary in some PBS markets.
  • NEW YORK (CNS) — A love of violence for its own sake, a profoundly dishonest attempt to disguise itself as a political allegory and reverse racism characterize "The First Purge" (Universal), a despicable bit of slaughter porn.
  • NEW YORK (CNS) — NBA fans will likely appreciate the mostly harmless sports comedy "Uncle Drew" (Summit). Viewers without a passion for the game and its attendant culture may be less indulgent.