Movie News

On Christmas day a film adaptation of Victor Hugo’s book Les Miserables made its debut in theatres. Though Hugo had a less than perfectly benign view of the Catholic Church, his masterpiece is, from beginning to end, conditioned by a profoundly Christian worldview. It is most important that, amidst all of the “Les Miz” hoopla, the spiritual heart of Hugo’s narrative not be lost.

Year of Faith cinema

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In Porta Fidei (The Door of Faith), an apostolic letter announcing the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI urges us to study the history of Catholicism, which he describes as “marked by the unfathomable mystery of the interweaving of holiness and sin.”

The Hobbit and its Gospel ethics

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Like Star Wars, The Divine Comedy and Moby Dick, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is the story of a hero’s journey. This helps to explain, of course, why, like those other narratives, it has proved so perennially compelling.

Zero Dark Thirty 

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Zero Dark Thirty (Columbia) offers moviegoers a challenging account, based on real events, of the decade-long hunt for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

Les Misérables makes the transition from stage to screen

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Once thought unfilmable, the musical classic of Les Misérables has transcended the stage onto the silver screen.

Raising awareness through film

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TORONTO - In Mervi Junkkonen’s After Life: Four Stories of Torture, we are told the plight of four survivors seeking refuge in Finland but never finding complete peace of spirit.

Their story is one of 12 “inspiring and heartbreaking” films playing this month at the seventh Amnesty International Reel Awareness Human Rights Film Festival, running at Toronto’s Carlton Cinema Nov. 15-18.

“Each film was chosen because they focus on a specific Amnesty International concern or priority campaign,” said festival co-ordinator Elena Dumitru.

Amnesty International is a global movement to protect and promote human rights.

The festival kicks off with A Whisper to a Roar, a film shot over three years about democracy activists in five countries — Egypt, Malaysia, Ukraine, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

“It’s a positive film, it’s uplifting,” said Dumitru.

Festival organizers say they always try to begin with a film that is not well-known.

“It’s a film that looks at activists, at people who are doing the work our volunteers do every day,” she said. “So we hope it will be an inspiration to our own members and to the public to take action on human rights issues, get involved, do more.”

The festival’s two main goals are awareness and engagement. So at the Carlton Cinema there will also be an action centre where festival-goers can find out how to become involved with Amnesty International.

“We still find that people are surprised when they come and see a film and they find out about the specific human-rights violation,” said Dumitru. “Many times the reaction is ‘Oh my God, I didn’t know that this was happening.’ ”

But films like After Life demonstrate how it is possible for suffering to go unnoticed and ignored by many.

Loneliness, isolation, depression, anger and helplessness are all expressed in the steady voices of the men featured.

There is Kebi, who is fighting deportation; Serge, whose will to live hinges on seeing his three surviving children again; Musa, who spends less time at home because he fears being rough with his two kids; and Hector, the artist who found it difficult at first to paint anything beautiful.

“Problems are not like clothes that you can take off and wash,” says Musa.

Their faces are never fully visible, at times blurred, with the only exception being the elderly Hector who has had 40 years to settle in the country.

The film is intentionally often out of focus. It’s as if the lives the men are living now are mere dreams, as if they are really still imprisoned in their home countries, as if the world around them is in focus while they are not.

As the men speak about the real life nightmares they suffered and the memories that still haunt them at night, the moviegoer will see extreme close ups of eyes, lips and hands. These images make the men’s existence seem concrete and yet still keeps their identities anonymous. They each could be almost any immigrant walking the cold streets of Finland.

“This is an outstanding lineup of films that... show deeply compelling personal struggles against difficult odds,” said Dumitru in a press release.

Each man’s deep, contemplative thoughts and reflections, the real draw of After Life, can be seen on Nov. 18.

For more on the festival, see www.aito.ca/reelawareness.

Catholic Movie Reviews - The Amazing Spider-Man, Ted, Magic Mike, Stella Days & more

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The latest adaptation of the Marvel Comics favourite Spider-Man hits theatres today. We've also got reviews for some of the other latest releases including Ted and Magic Mike.

Catholic Movie Reviews - Brave, Rock of Ages, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter & more

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This week sees the release of the new Pixar movie Brave and a new fun take on the life and times of Abraham Lincoln.

Catholic Movie Reviews - Prometheus, Madagascar 3

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Ridley Scott's Alien "prequel" is finally arriving in theatres, does it live up to the hype? And if you're wondering what the gang of the Madagascar movies have been up to, then you're in look as part three in the series hits theatres.

Catholic Movie Reviews - Snow White and the Huntsman, Chernobyl Diaries, Crooked Arrows

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This week's big release is another modern re-telling of the classic Snow White fairytale. Is it worth your $13?

Catholic Movie Reviews - Men in Black 3, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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The Men in Black franchise is back after ten years, can it topple The Avengers from the top of the box office? Elsewhere we also have a review of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the new film about seven elderly Brits who travel to India.