Catholic Comedy Night (The Laugh Factory in LA) July 11, 2012

The Adjustment Bureau: A cry for freedom

See my review of

The Adjustment Bureau: A cry for freedom.


“Brothers” and “Bandslam” to receive Gabriel Awards

Jim Sheridan's taunt family drama about two brothers, one a felon recently out of jail, and one an Army officer in Iraq. Relationships. Choices. Family. And the terror of war.

45th Annual Gabriel Awards to Brothers; Bandslam; Gifted Hands; KNOM Radio (Alaska); WWJ-AM Radio (Southfield, MI); and CatholicTV (Watertown, MA); receive station honors; Univision KTVW Channel 33 (Phoenix) and EWTN honored for Spanish-language programming

The Gabriel Award winners for 2010 have been announced. This year’s honorees include two motion pictures, fourteen television programs, ten radio programs and four Spanish-language television programs. The annual awards are presented to film, television and radio programs and a distinguished individual whose body of work nourish and uplifts the human spirit. One religious radio and one television station and one secular radio are also honored as “Station of the Year.”

The Gabriels, presented by the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals, honor industry professionals who produce films, television and radio programs, features and spot announcements that serve viewers and listeners through the positive, creative treatment of human concerns.

This year’s winners include broadcasters from across the United States and Canada – recognizing achievements produced for national release as well as for markets 1-25 and 26+.  A Gabriel-worthy program affirms the dignity of human beings and recognizes and upholds universally-recognized human values such as community, creativity, tolerance, justice, compassion and the dedication to excellence. (A complete list of winners is attached.)

Each year a Station of the Year Award is presented to a radio and television station recognized for their community service.  This year’s Religious Radio Station of the Year Gabriel goes to KNOM Radio, Nome, Alaska. This is the 18th year KNOM has been honored with the award. The station serves one of the most remote regions of the North American continent, providing information, education, and public service programming to Indian and Eskimo villages.  This year’s Religious Television Station of the Year Gabriel goes to CatholicTV, Watertown, MA.  Secular Radio Station of the Year goes to WWJ-AM Radio in Southfield, MI.


The 2010 Gabriel Award film winners are: Drama – “Brothers”, Lionsgate and Family − “Bandslam” Walden Media.

Gabriel competition takes place in 21 television categories, 18 radio categories, 20 Spanish-language (10 Television and 10 Radio) and 3 Film (1 Drama, 1 Family, and 1 Documentary) categories in the Gabriel competition, but a Gabriel is not awarded in a category when the standard of Gabriel excellence is lacking.  Judges may also award Certificates of Merit to programs considered worthy of special recognition.  Eight Certificates of Merit have been announced in this year’s judging.

The Gabriel award is a nine-inch silver figure of Gabriel, the angel who first announced to Mary of Nazareth (and to the world) the coming of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38). The statue symbolizes the communication of God’s Word to humankind.

The members of the Catholic Academy include broadcasters, journalists, producers, syndicators, public relations and other media professionals who work for both Church-related and secular radio and television stations, production facilities and communications organizations.

Music makes life easier for the new kid in school, as teens face teen, family and life issues.

Sister Rose’s reviews of Brothers and BandSlam

Precious: Based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire and The Blind Side reviews

Precious: Based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire – The newly emerging screen actress Gabourey Sidibe plays the teen girl Claireece “Precious” Jones in a film about courage, hope, physical and emotional child abuse, rape, incest, determination, tempered with a tiny touch of humor and humanity. Precious lives in Harlem with her no account mother, Mary (Mo’Nique). She already has a Down syndrome child by her father (her grandmother takes care of him) and now she is expecting another. She leaves high school to attend a special school for teens and young women trying to earn their GED’s. She is befriended by a teacher, Miss Rain (Paula Patton) and a social worker, Miss Weiss (Mariah Carey) but her mother’s irrational rages are beyond belief. She accuses Precious of stealing her partner away from her and violently punishes her on any pretext. The film follows several months in Precious’ life. We see that there are people in a limited broken system that do care. Yet it is Precious’ own courage and dignity that transcend her horrible existence, even when she finds out that her father has died of AIDS and that she is HIV positive (but her baby is not). Mo’Nique is terrifyingly good as the wounded mother and will get Oscar notice, as will Gabourey Sidibe. I liked Mariah Carey; she was believable though I could hardly recognize her. This is very much a woman’s film, though better and more nuanced that typical Lifetime channel fare. The only positive male character is that of Lenny Kravitz as a nurse’s aide who shows that men can be kind and caring. “Precious” is an indictment of American society. The message is that young women in poor areas are on their own, but they are strong and they can make it against the most devastating adversity. The question is: how long will children continue to take it? Precious says, “Some folks has a lot of things around them that shines for other peoples. I think that maybe some of them was in tunnels. And in that tunnel, the only light they had was inside of them. And then long after they escape that tunnel, they still be shining for everybody else.”

The Blind Side – Sandra Bullock is Leigh Ann Touhy in what may be her “Erin Brockovich” role that wins her an Oscar. She becomes a crusader for a homeless African American boy, Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) gives him a home, and she and her family (husband Sean is played by Tim McGraw, son S.J. is played by Jae Head and daughter Collins by Lily Collins) shepherd him to university and a pro-football career. This is the ultimate holiday film guaranteed to put a smile on your face and holly in your heart. It is based on a true story and the best-selling book my Michael Lewis. Director John Lee Hancock, who made “The Rookie” (2002), takes on another sports film with élan and joy. The performances are entertaining and Jae Head steals the show, one scene after another. There is a Christian flavor to the story but it is one of possibility rather than a moralistic stereotype. This is a film from the dream factory about a dream that came true. Hurray for Hollywood!

A Christmas Carol, The Last Station, Up in the Air reviews

A Christmas Carol – Comedic actor Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty) gives voice to the character of Scrooge in Robert Zemeckis’ animated version of Charles Dickens’ (1812-1870) classic novel. The story of the miser Scrooge is always relevant and Zemeckis (Who Framed Roger Rabbit; Forrest Gump) presents another timeless Christmas film for families to watch together. His beautifully animated “The Polar Express” (2004) remains one of my favorites. What I liked about Scrooge this time around (this is at least the ninth time it has been made into a film, the first in 1910) is the theological dimension that emerges from the choice of Christmas hymns. They are almost all religious and together with Scrooge’s story present the real story and meaning of Christmas – the saving relationship of heaven and earth. This adaptation also avoids all sentimentality; Tiny Tim has a very tiny role to play indeed. The film is also dark; for example, “death” hangs around a long time in cinematic time, as it does in the book. One of the phrases that attracted my attention was, “Being a good man of business will not save your soul.” I think we need “A Christmas Carol” now as much as the people of industrialized Victorian England’s rich and poor classes, as much as every era that remakes the story for film or television and then watches it. What is it about the meaning of “A Christmas Carol”, and real Christmas carols, that we don’t get?

The Last Station – Michael Hoffman’s (The Emperor’s Club) historic drama about the Russian writer and pedagogue, Lev Tolstoy (1828-1919), is the story of a marriage. After 48 years of marriage to Sofia (Helen Mirren; The Queen) and thirteen children, Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer; Syriana) is restive. He is torn between his longing to give up everything and live an ascetical life and the life of luxury on his family estate. Spurred on by his secretary and leader of his followers, Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti; John Adams), he signs over the copyrights to his works and flees his needy, loving, volatile wife. At one point she confronts him yelling, “I am the work of your life! And you are the work of my life!” It is one of the most powerful and sacramental moments in any film I have ever seen. This film is already on my list of top films for 2009. And just when I think Meryl Streep is the best actress of our generation, along comes Helen Mirren again.

Up in the Air – is a strangely affecting movie – in a good way, even though it is about bad times and the dreadful things people do to one another in the name of “it’s only business” and “don’t take this personally”.  George Clooney is Ryan Bingham, a man who lives in Omaha who is hired to fire people when their positions have been eliminated. He spends most of the year flying from city to city. He has no personal life, no responsibilities, and no goals except to hit the 10 million sky miles mark.  When a young woman, Natalie (Anna Kendrick; The Twilight Saga: New Moon), designs a way to fire people via video conferencing, Bingham convinces his boss to let him take her on the road to find out what it is really like to fire people (though really it is to find a way to keep flying.) Ryan meets Alex (Vera Farmiga; The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) and they start a casual relationship that turns serious – for Ryan.  Alex objectifies Ryan just as Ryan is a functionary in a system that objectifies him and the people he fires. What does Ryan learn in this film that is both a comedy and a tragedy? There is no grand sweeping gesture but he seems to become a bit more human, more aware of others and himself.  I laughed and felt like crying as I watched the film. Can one person make a difference in this soulless secular system? Maybe just a little.