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  • New film tells true story of broken marriage restored by God's grace
    SAN DIEGO (CNS) — Most people will never know firsthand what it's like to see their real-life marital struggles played out on the big screen.
    But Darren and Heather Turner do and, as Darren freely admits, "It is surreal, for sure."
  • New documentary reveals rare interview of Blessed Oscar Romero
    VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A new documentary about Blessed Oscar Romero, featuring a rare interview with him, revealed the martyred archbishop's thoughts regarding accusations that he became too progressive.
  • Author recounts unconventional life of 16th-century Italian noblewoman
    With "Renaissance Woman," Ramie Targoff, a professor of English and co-chair of Italian studies at Brandeis University, offers readers not only an intimate portrayal of the life of Vittoria Colonna (1492-1547), but a wide-ranging and detailed background to her life.
  • Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
    NEW YORK (CNS) — In 2015, Jack Black portrayed real-life author R.L. Stein in the eponymous cinematic adaptation of Stein's phenomenally popular "Goosebumps" series of horror tales for kids.
  • Bad Times at the El Royale
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Religion in general and Catholicism in particular are central to writer-director Drew Goddard's intense, challenging drama "Bad Times at the El Royale" (Fox).
  • 'The Rookie,' Oct. 16, ABC
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Two years after his eight-season run as mystery writer Rick Castle on the popular ABC series "Castle" ended, Nathan Fillion returns to that network this fall with "The Rookie."
  • John Gagliardi dies at 91; was winningest college football coach ever
    ST. CLOUD, Minn. (CNS) — What must the opposing football team have thought when they began their vigorous calisthenics before the game while the St. John's University Johnnies were stretched out on their backs glancing up at the heavens?
  • Brewers chaplain finds joy in connecting his love of priesthood, sports
    MILWAUKEE (CNS) — Champagne corks popped in the visiting clubhouse Oct. 7 as the Milwaukee Brewers celebrated their sweep of the Colorado Rockies, advancing to the National League Championship Series.
  • Theater program helps young Kenyans develop critical thinking skills
    NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) — A theater education program at schools in one of Africa's largest slums is instilling critical thought in participants as well as providing fun, said a 25-year-old whose ambition is to enter politics to represent the poor residents in Kenya's Parliament.
  • 'The Circus,' Oct. 8-9, PBS
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Understandably, Phineas Taylor ("P.T.") Barnum, whose name is practically synonymous with the big top, figures prominently in PBS' marvelous and engrossing documentary "The Circus."
  • Essays honor work of Servite priest in Catholic-Jewish relations
    The essays in this excellent book are written by scholars from the Americas and Europe, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims, reflecting on interreligious dialogue in our time.
  • First Man
    NEW YORK (CNS) -- By turns the intimate portrait of its elusive subject's inner life and a lavish look back at the sometimes tragic, ultimately triumphant race to the Moon, "First Man" (Universal), director Damien Chazelle's multidimensional profile of astronaut Neil Armstrong (1930-2012), is a splendid piece of moviemaking.
  • Venom
    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Whatever you do, don't call that alien who has taken up residence in your body a parasite. The polite term, it seems, is symbiote.
    Such is the dubious lesson in etiquette conveyed by the sci-fi-driven, Marvel Comics-based bit of nonsense "Venom" (Columbia).
  • A Star Is Born
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The third remake of that sturdy warhorse "A Star Is Born" (Warner Bros.) pays occasional homage to its forebears, particularly the 1954 version starring Judy Garland and James Mason, which only serves to indicate that its formulaic "stand by your man" story is somewhat tattered and dog-eared.
  • Catholic coach's story of loss and redemption told in new book
    WASHINGTON (CNS) — Longtime baseball writer and broadcaster Tim Kurkjian has called it "the greatest baseball story ever told." And one of its central characters is a Catholic who never played an inning in the big leagues, but got to coach for 30 years in the majors.
  • What hath MTV wrought?
    WASHINGTON (CNS) — In an effort to explore the youth culture of the early 1980s, The Washington Post interviewed several people, some famous, some not.
  • Is 'God Friended Me' beyond the rescue of even the Almighty?
    NEW YORK (CNS) — CBS boasts that it's America's most-watched network. But a trio of its pilots premiering soon — a drama and two comedies — will do little to sustain such popularity.
  • Update: Catholic actor says improv offers lessons for life, faith
    WOODSTOCK, Ga. (CNS) — It's a pre-eminent rule for performers under the bright lights: Make the other actors look better. That's solid advice for life, says improvisational actor Joe Lemmo.
  • 'Bird's-eye view' of famed evangelist chronicles his strengths, flaws
    The Rev. Billy Graham was just shy of his 100th birthday when he died last November. His death meant the loss of one of America's best-known Christian leaders. He was widely respected and dedicated to an evangelical ministry that ultimately found him preaching to large gatherings in some 185 nations.
  • Hell Fest
    NEW YORK (CNS) — With "Hell Fest" (CBS Films), director Gregory Plotkin serves up a decidedly unoriginal film filled with screams, sickening gore and a masked serial killer wielding an ax. It's an extreme parade of mayhem moving toward a perverse conclusion and, as such, unsuitable for viewers of any age.
  • Smallfoot
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Turning the legend of Bigfoot on its head with plenty of laughs along the way comes the animated musical comedy "Smallfoot" (Warner Bros.).
  • People helping people is what attracted actor to 'God Friended Me'
    WASHINGTON (CNS) — Television audiences may recall seeing actor Joe Morton as Eli Rowan Pope, the father of professional Washington fixer Olivia Pope, on the hit series "Scandal."
  • Assassination Nation
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The messy teenage satire that is "Assassination Nation" (Refinery29/Neon) devolves into an often violent, heavy-handed morality tale about our online lives, dark sexual secrets, scapegoating, public shaming and mob violence.
  • Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'
    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being more protected than the victims. And you could see the pain in his face."
  • Book on Ignatian pilgrimage offers much for travelers, stay-at-homes
    If you've ever made a pilgrimage, or you wish to, then this book will interest you. It answers the question: What can a pilgrimage do for me?
  • Life Itself
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Somewhere inside writer-director Dan Fogelman's drama "Life Itself" (Amazon/Stage 6) lurk the makings of a good movie.
  • The House With a Clock in Its Walls
    NEW YORK (CNS) — For all its spells and incantations, the witchcraft-themed fantasy "The House With a Clock in Its Walls" (Universal) lacks magic. Though some of the humor works, the film makes little impression and registers as only passable entertainment.
  • Disney animator credits Catholic schools with foundation for his success
    SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the 2017 blockbuster "Moana."
  • 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

    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.