Movie News

{mosimage}NEW YORK - Played out on a vast — sometimes overcrowded — canvas, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Warner Bros.) is a richly textured adventure narrative in which good and evil are clearly delineated, but characters present a range of moral shading.

As they did in the franchise's earlier films, magical elements in this sixth adaptation of J.K. Rowling's hugely popular fantasy novel series serve merely as props in a study of loyalty, friendship and the varied human responses to temptation. Unlike the moral lessons on display, these spells and potions are not intended to have any more application to real life than the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz.

He who is without sin...

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{mosimage}Just last year, a Pakistani couple was stoned for adultery, a Somali woman met a similar fate on the same charge and two Iranian men were executed in this excruciating manner. Five of the world’s predominantly Muslim countries, as well as about one-third of Nigeria’s 36 states, still include stoning among the penalties in their criminal codes.

This barbaric practice is depicted unflinchingly in The Stoning of Soraya M. (Roadside/Mpower), a compelling, often moving film version of Freidoune Sahebjam’s 1994 best-seller, based on an actual incident in 1986. Set in a remote Iranian village, the narrative charts a harrowing chronicle of oppression and community corruption.

Anti-gang film Mouse takes top prize

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{mosimage}TORONTO - Mouse, the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board’s anti-gang film, has won a top prize at this year’s ReelWorld Film Festival.

The film beat out 19 other  submissions as the Best Canadian Short Film. The annual festival, in its ninth year, highlights diversity in film, video and new media.


Holocaust survivor spreads anti-bullying message through film

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{mosimage}TORONTO - The story of a Holocaust survivor who uses her experiences to relate messages about bullying, racism and tolerance to students has been captured in a feature documentary.

Stronger than Fire, by Toronto filmmaker Don Gray, captures the powerful tale of Eva Olsson, an 84-year-old woman from Bracebridge, Ont., who discovered a passion for speaking to students more than 12 years ago. She began facing her past after one of her three grandchildren convinced her to do a short presentation at her school.

The story behind the Irish invasion of 1847

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{mosimage}It was either death or a long voyage to Canada for the Willis family and more than 38,000 Irish immigrants who landed in Toronto in the summer of 1847.

But the story of how that impacted the city of 20,000 and its wave of new citizens who fled from a deadly typhus outbreak and the potato famine of 1845 to 1851 in their Irish homeland has gone untold for more than a century, now to be uncovered in a docudrama called Death or Canada: Fleeing the Famine . It will air on History Television March 16.

The Innocent Oscars

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Oscars09.jpgIn “Songs of Innocence and Experience ,” William Blake, poet of the industrial revolution, asks the Tiger (or Tyger, as he spelled it), “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” He asks the lamb, “Dost thou know who made thee?”

Old, mad Blake seems to haunt Hollywood this Oscar season. Each of the five films nominated for best picture in the 81st running of the Academy Awards Feb. 22 tells a story of innocence and experience — of how we pass from trust to terror, and what we lose and what we gain when we learn the truth about the world and our role in it.

Bringing family values back to Hollywood

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{mosimage}The spirit of Frank Capra — the Depression-era director who made such hope-filled family fare as It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington — still haunts Hollywood as America stares down its worst economy since the 1930s, according to Siobhan Fallon, the veteran Catholic character actor who co-stars with Renée Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. in the romantic screwball comedy New In Town .

That Capra-like embrace of American ideals includes the film’s PG rating. Just weeks before New In Town’s Jan. 30 release, the movie was recut to remove mild profanities and avoid a PG-13 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America .

Innocence among the horror

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{mosimage}As an eight-year-old boy begins to ask questions about the “farmers” he can see through his bedroom window, the atrocities of the Holocaust start to unravel in a touching and dramatic tale.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a great movie that brings a fresh look at the degradation of Nazi concentration camp prisoners through the eyes of a German child. This powerful film is definitely worth seeing.

Debunking the Pius XII myths

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{mosimage}As this year marks the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII’s death, the release of A Hand of Peace: Pope Pius XII & The Holocaust is timely for yet another reason. With accusations, past and present, that the late pope did nothing to help Jews during the Holocaust, Salt + Light Television’s documentary dispels the rumours and provides historical accounts of the real story behind Pius’ actions.

“Working on this project the past two years has been an eye-opening experience,” said David Naglieri, the film’s writer and producer. “I came to understand that the black legend surrounding Pope Pius XII is, in fact, founded upon distortion and lies and that Pius XII was directly responsible for saving tens of thousands of Jews.”

Movie tackles doubt, hope, despair and faith without sentimentality

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{mosimage}It's not often that an explicitly Christian movie, indeed an explicitly Catholic one, escapes the toxic treacle of sentimentality and nostalgia or the pompous pedantry of polemics. Henry Poole is Here tackles miracles, faith, hope, doubt, despair and the difference Christ makes in real lives with straightforward honesty, intelligence and heart.

It's a good movie.

Hollywood's summer of morality

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{mosimage}The first big summer blockbuster movie was about an enormous, morally neutral, ravenous shark who arrived on a New England beach ready to punish everything from skinny dipping to political hypocrisy and capitalist greed. Jaws was big, loud, spectacular and scary.

In the 33 years since Steven Spielberg’s most original film, directors have dedicated each summer to overwhelming our senses, scaring us silly and making a pile of cash out of young audiences on vacation.