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  • The Call of the Wild
    NEW YORK (CNS) — "Never was there such a dog," says grizzled Yukon explorer John Thornton (Harrison Ford), admiring the antics of Buck, the canine star of "The Call of the Wild" (Twentieth Century).
  • Priest hopes being in spotlight at Josh Groban concert can inspire good
    WINDSOR, Ontario (CNS) -- Everything about that Sunday night was a surprise for Father Patrick Setto, starting with his cousins surprising him with tickets to a Josh Groban concert in Windsor, across the border from Detroit, and ending with the world-famous tenor passing off his microphone to the priest.
  • Former Catholic's Canterbury-Rome 'pilgrimage' not exactly as billed
    Timothy Egan, author of "A Pilgrimage to Eternity," writes a biweekly opinion column for The New York Times. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and the winner of a National Book Award for nonfiction. He also grew up in a large Catholic family in the Pacific Northwest where he graduated from a Jesuit high school.
  • New books offer spiritual nourishment during Lent, Easter season
    WASHINGTON (CNS) — Here are some new books that might be useful for your spiritual reading during Lent and the Easter season:
  • Les Miserables
    NEW YORK (CNS) — "Les Miserables" (Amazon) has no connection to Victor Hugo's classic novel of the same name other than its setting — the rundown Paris suburb of Montfermeil, where the poor still struggle and continue to distrust authority figures.
  • Downhill
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Awkward moments abound in the comedy "Downhill" (Fox Searchlight) while laughs are likely to be far less frequent. In fact, the film's premise is at least as well suited to be the basis for a tragic story as for an amusing one.
  • 'War of the Worlds,' Feb. 16, Epix
    NEW YORK (CNS) — On Halloween Eve 1938, the CBS radio series "The Mercury Theatre on the Air," hosted by and starring storied actor and director Orson Welles, broadcast its legendary adaptation of British novelist H.G. Wells' 1898 novel "The War of the Worlds."
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Not that the intended core audience of children is likely to notice, but many of the adults who take them will find that there's something oddly mechanical and even maladroit about "Sonic the Hedgehog" (Paramount).
  • Authors celebrate cathedrals in wake of devastating Notre Dame fire
    Among the many disasters of 2019, the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris evoked, possibly, the most universal sadness as this cathedral and the Eiffel Tower are the two most famous symbols of Paris. The cathedral fire which started April 15 destroyed the roof, brought down the spire and damaged many precious objects housed in by the cathedral.
  • The Photograph
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Aesthetically impressive but morally flawed, "The Photograph" (Universal) is a mature romantic drama leavened with some canny humor.
  • Fantasy Island
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Film fans looking for the cinematic equivalent of rich Corinthian leather will be sadly disappointed by the muddled horror flick "Fantasy Island" (Sony).
  • Book examines the interwoven nuances of the Crusades
    Untangling the nuanced religious, political, economic and territorial complexities of the Crusades is an endless task. The complexities are so interwoven in the 200-plus years of fighting between Christian kingdoms and Muslim empires that eight centuries later people are still trying to untie the knots.
  • Mosaic of Blessed Frederic Ozanam unveiled at basilica
    WASHINGTON (CNS) — A mosaic of Blessed Frederic Ozanam, founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, was unveiled in Washington Jan. 26, in time for the 175th anniversary of the society's establishment in the United States.
  • Baltimore museum showcases St. Francis' missal
    BALTIMORE (CNS) — More than eight centuries ago, St. Francis of Assisi and two companions randomly opened a prayer book three times inside their parish church of St. Nicolo in Italy.
  • Birds of Prey
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The DC Comics adaptation "Birds of Prey" (Warner Bros.) — which, for the record, carries the exhausting subtitle "(And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)" — is presumably intended as a tart treat. Instead, it comes across as a sour exercise in random mayhem.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
    NEW YORK (CNS) — "Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot" (Bandai Namco), the latest title in a franchise that reaches back to 1984, brings a fresh spin to the long-standing saga. However, martial arts combat, together with some strong images and mildly off-color language, make the game best for teens and their elders.
  • Dorothy Day film tops Amazon documentary chart
    WASHINGTON (CNS) — Dorothy Day, whose life was a series of seeming contradictions, might be bemused at this one: The DVD version of a documentary about her life has, more than a month before the film reaches the PBS airwaves, made it to the top spot on the Amazon documentary sales chart.
  • Children's book teaches lessons in overcoming racism
    WASHINGTON (CNS) — "Everyone Belongs," a new children's book published by the U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and Loyola Press, "is a book about recognizing the image of God in all people, valuing our differences, righting wrongs and forgiveness," said the ad hoc committee's chairman.
  • 'Tommy,' Feb. 6, CBS
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Cast in its leading role, exceptional actress Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie") is the best thing the heavy-handed new drama "Tommy" has going for it.
  • Best-selling author formed enduring bond with worldwide readership
    TORONTO (CNS) — Mary Higgins Clark, known as the "queen of suspense" to her millions of readers throughout the world, died of natural causes in Naples, Florida, Jan. 31. She was 92.
  • The Rhythm Section
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Two score and six years ago, Charles Bronson introduced moviegoers to a new kind of anti-hero in "Death Wish," the first in a series of ultraviolent thrillers featuring an ordinary man turned vigilante to avenge his wife's murder.
  • The Turning
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Over the years, Henry James' classic 1898 novella-length horror story "The Turn of the Screw" has proved fertile soil for movie adaptations. Of the numerous big-screen takes, 1961's "The Innocents" is probably the most distinguished.
  • Gretel & Hansel
    NEW YORK (CNS) — "There are things here — bad things."
  • 'Little America,' streaming, Apple TV+
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, who co-wrote the popular and awarding-winning 2017 romantic comedy "The Big Sick" — in which Nanjiani also starred — are among the numerous writers and executive producers of the engaging anthology "Little America."
  • Author explores literature from Homer to Tolkien
    Every day, television headlines are more tiring, the social media scrolling more soulless and popular culture continues its pursuit of "relevance" over actual meaning. It might be time to sink your teeth into written works that actually sought to plumb the depths of humanity and have withstood the test of time.
  • WASHINGTON (CNS) — There was plenty of glitz and glamour at the Grammy Awards Jan. 26.
  • SAN DIEGO (CNS) — A powerful new documentary on sex trafficking, being shown in select theaters Jan. 23 only and then for a month at churches that sign up to host a screening, makes its intentions clear from the outset.
  • Excerpt of retired pope's essay on priesthood and celibacy
    VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The following is a short excerpt from the essay, "The Catholic Priesthood," by retired Pope Benedict XVI. The essay appears in the book "From the Depths of Our Hearts," a defense of priestly celibacy written by Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, with the contribution of Pope Benedict. Ignatius Press, which authorized publication of the excerpt, will release the book in English in February.
  • Looking East: Book on celibacy barely acknowledges Eastern tradition
    VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The controversy surrounding retired Pope Benedict XVI's contribution to a new book on priestly celibacy demonstrates just how much both substance and appearances matter.
  • The Gentlemen
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Throughout the darkly sophisticated, but sometimes wildly wayward crime saga "The Gentlemen" (STX), writer-director Guy Ritchie keeps his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.
  • Author well-versed in law but has gaps in religious perspective
    Luke Goodrich is an attorney who has represented clients from various religions in cases involving questions of religious freedom. Some have gone to the Supreme Court. He has represented Catholic nuns who serve the elderly and the poor, and the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby.
  • Tools Up!
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Real-life home improvement can be hard work. But even the most amateur handyman can make a masterpiece out of a mess in "Tools Up!" (All In! Games).
  • Stations of the Cross at St. Stanislaus
    St. Stanislaus Parish celebrated Christmas this year with a special gift, a new collection of paintings depicting the Stations of the Cross. The paintings were a collaboration between artists Sarah Crow and Tomasz Misztal. Each of the pieces measures 18 by 24 inches. They were done in oil paints on linen. Archbishop Alexander Sample celebrated the Christmas Mass at the parish, allowing him to be one of the first witnesses of parish’s new sacred art.
  • Parasite
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The South Korean feature "Parasite" (Neon) is a bit of a roller-coaster ride. The film begins as a sly comedy, then takes a surprising turn that leads on to a bloody, operatic climax laden with grim social commentary about class conflict.
  • Books offer powerful testimony on difficult work of forgiving others
    Forgiveness. It may sound easy, but in fact it's one of the toughest challenges for us as humans and as Christians. Two new books point the way to new perspectives on this key experience that holds so much promise as well as so much difficulty for us.
  • Jesuit uses hard data to assess where church is headed with Pope Francis
    What difference is Pope Francis making on the church? This is the basic question on which this book reports. Rather than being a summary of wishful thinking on the church's future, it's based on empirical data collected by the Jesuit author over a number of years. Founder of the Parish Evaluation Project in 1973, Father Thomas Sweetser continues to serve as a facilitator and consultant to parishes. 
  • Seasoned musician inspires people to sing, raise voices 'in honor of God'
    PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — With the start of the new year, a seasoned Philadelphia musician is taking on a new challenge as director of the Philadelphia Catholic Gospel Mass Choir.
  • 'Vienna Blood,' Sunday, Jan. 19, PBS
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Set in its titular city in 1906, the PBS period murder mystery "Vienna Blood" features only a cameo appearance by the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (Franz Josef Koepp). Yet Freud's radical and controversial theories figure prominently throughout the limited series.
  • Jojo Rabbit
    NEW YORK (CNS) — As with many satires, the makers of "Jojo Rabbit" (Fox Searchlight) don't care much whether an audience likes their film — or understands all of it.
  • Marriage Story
    NEW YORK (CNS) — At first blush, the title of the drama "Marriage Story" (Netflix) may strike some as ironic. This is, after all, at least on the surface, an engrossing study of the divorce process in contemporary America.
  • Dolittle
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Exactly a century ago, British author Hugh Lofting published "The Story of Doctor Dolittle," the first in a long series of books for children that have won lasting popularity for their protagonist, a physician-turned-veterinarian who has, need it be said, the unique ability to communicate with the critters he treats.
  • Bad Boys for Life
    NEW YORK (CNS) — After lying dormant for more than a decade and a half, the action-comedy franchise that gave us "Bad Boys" in 1995 and the imaginatively titled sequel "Bad Boys II" eight years later makes an unwelcome reappearance.
  • 'Messiah,' streaming, Netflix
    NEW YORK (CNS) — "Messiah," one of Netflix's first offerings of the new year, landed amid controversy. Intriguing, if overly complex, the limited-series topical drama is currently streaming in 10 episodes.
  • Encore: Catholic press continues mission to reach today's film audiences
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The once influential Catholic film office had been able to get Hollywood studios to change content in movies it deemed morally offensive for decades, but that power was extinguished as the 1970s rolled into the 1980s.
  • Encore: Church changes course to maintain guidance on film as culture shifts
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Songwriter Bob Dylan wrote his celebrated anthem "The Times They Are a-Changin'" in 1963 and though it was penned as a hymn to the civil rights and anti-war movements of the era, it could also speak to the changing culture reflected in motion pictures.
  • Encore: Catholicism influenced moviemaking from the early days of film
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Motion pictures have enchanted the public since the late 19th century, providing audiences with vivid storytelling on a host of topics and conceptually transporting them to distant places.
  • 1917
    NEW YORK (CNS) — "1917" (Universal) is a great movie about the Great War. By turns harrowing and lyrically beautiful — and deeply humane throughout — director and co-writer (with Krysty Wilson-Cairns) Sam Mendes' gripping historical drama displays both the horrors of trench combat and the endurance of fundamental decency and spiritual striving.
  • Arise: A Simple Story
    NEW YORK (CNS) — "Arise: A Simple Story" (Techland) dips deep into the well of emotion as an old man looks back across the highs and lows of his life. This wholesome game is suitable for all ages, but adult players will better appreciate the more nuanced aspects of the story.
  • Underwater
    NEW YORK (CNS) — Like the ocean depths in which it's set, director William Eubank's monster movie "Underwater" (Fox) is dim and murky. Though acceptable for most grown moviegoers, some gruesome deaths notwithstanding, it's a tedious survival slog on which viewers should hesitate to embark.
  • Survivors' group, archbishop back journalist sued by Sodalitium members
    VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A network of clergy abuse survivors has joined calls for an end to lawsuits against a journalist who investigated alleged sexual abuse and financial irregularities within a controversial Catholic group.
  • Brazil's high court: Netflix can continue 'First Temptation of Christ'
    SAO PAULO (CNS) — Supreme Court Justice Jose Antonio Dias Toffoli has overturned a lower court decision to temporarily suspend Netflix's Brazilian-made movie, "The First Temptation of Christ." The satirical movie has been severely criticized by Catholic organizations and hundreds of Brazilians for suggesting that Jesus had a homosexual experience after spending 40 days in the desert.
  • Like a Boss
    NEW YORK (CNS) — There's a lot not to like about "Like a Boss" (Paramount). In addition to the lazy bedroom jokes that are its stock-in-trade, director Miguel Arteta's feminist buddy comedy is tainted by a vaguely anti-family tone since it exalts friendship and professional success over marriage and child rearing and condones commitment-free hookups.
  • The Grudge
    NEW YORK (CNS) — The drab horror tale "The Grudge" (Screen Gems) has a complex history and a complicated structure. But the upshot for viewers is a simple one: Failing skillfully to interweave his various narratives, writer-director Nicolas Pesce bids for audience attention with ever bloodier deaths and ever more hideous sights.
  • Update: Writer's Southern roots inspire 'radical faith' element to her fiction
    TORONTO (CNS) — Valerie Sayers is a Catholic writer with a keen appreciation of the grand style of renowned novelists in the school of William Faulkner, Carson McCullers, Flannery O'Connor and even Walker Percy.
  • NEW YORK (CNS) — Sheer provocation designed to generate controversy often helps TV programming gain an edge over the competition in an increasingly crowded, global marketplace. With their more-than-irreverent comedy special "The First Temptation of Christ," however, the Brazilian comedy troupe Porta dos Fundos (Back Door) have gone too far.
  • Priest helps fellow homilists confront 'crisis of bad preaching'
    Is there a "secret ingredient," a special yeast that enables a homilist's words to rise to the level of something fine, something others will find worth hearing?
  • Catholic publisher reissuing book with release of Jagerstatter biopic
    WASHINGTON (CNS) — With the release of a film biography of Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, the conscientious objector who was martyred by the Nazis, Orbis Books is reissuing its 10-year-old collection of the Austrian farmer's letters and other writings from prison.
  • Little Women
    NEW YORK (CNS) – Writer-director Greta Gerwig, who proved her bona fides as a screen moralist in 2017 with "Lady Bird," has repeated the feat with her elegant, vibrantly emotional adaptation of the 19th-century classic "Little Women" (Sony).
  • The Irishman