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High school teens graduate ‘Into the Storm’

August 11th, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

Perhaps you were under the impression that tornadoes are no big deal.

Max Deacon, Richard Armitage and Nathan Kress star in a scene from the movie "Into the Storm." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

Max Deacon, Richard Armitage and Nathan Kress star in a scene from the movie “Into the Storm.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

If so, along comes the old-fashioned, special effects-driven disaster movie “Into the Storm” to prove you wrong.

Essentially a found-footage “”Poseidon Adventure” for the landlocked, director Steven Quale’s film, as scripted by John Swetnam, does boast helpful touches of humor as well as such unimpeachable values as family solidarity and life-at-stake altruism. Still, the intensity of the building peril, together with the vocabulary it elicits from the cast, makes this ride on the whirlwind best for fully-grown thrill seekers.

Silverton is home to widower Gary Fuller (Richard Armitage) and his two teenage sons, Donnie (Max Deacon) and Trey (Nathan Kress). Alas for the lads, especially Donnie, Gary is the vice principal of the high school they both attend. He’s also demanding and emotionally aloof, which leads to the odd intergenerational skirmish.

When not squabbling with Dad or pining for his seemingly unattainable schoolmate Kaitlyn (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Donnie occupies his time videotaping everything in sight, a predilection that allows Quale to go (mostly) hand-held. Quale gets additional aid to that end from a crew of professional storm chasers who arrive on the scene just in time to commit Silverton’s impending demolition to pixels.

They’re led by peevish documentarian Pete Moore (Matt Walsh). Pete is on edge because he and the gang have been wandering the countryside for a year without bankable results, a failure for which he blames their brainy meteorologist, Allison Stone (Sarah Wayne Callies).

Even if he is on the professional and monetary skids, though, Pete ought to console himself with the thought that the steel-plated, tank-like vehicle in which he pursues unsettled conditions hither and yon across the heartland is one uber-cool ride.

Naturally, Gary’s boss, who doesn’t seem to spend much time watching the Weather Channel, insists on holding graduation outside. And naturally Donnie and Kaitlyn, with whom he’s finally connected, end up — for reasons too complicated to bother with — in an abandoned factory on the outskirts of town where all manner of rusty debris is just waiting to fall on and entrap them.

Well, at least it makes for a memorable first date.

The film contains occasional grim violence and pervasive menace, a few sexual references, a couple of uses of profanity and frequent crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13, parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

 

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Irish priest marked for death in ‘Calvary’

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Catholic News Service

Set in rural Ireland, the bleak but powerful Calvary” kicks off with a startling premise.

In the confessional, a grown victim of childhood sex abuse by a priest tells Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson), the dedicated pastor of the County Sligo parish where he now lives, that in a week’s time he intends to avenge himself by killing the innocent clergyman.

Brendan Gleeson stars in a scene from the movie "Calvary." Gleeson portrays a priest who is faced with troubling circumstances brought about by a mysterious member of his parish. (CNS photo/Patrick Redmond, Twentieth Century Fox)

Brendan Gleeson stars in a scene from the movie “Calvary.” Gleeson portrays a priest who is faced with troubling circumstances brought about by a mysterious member of his parish. (CNS photo/Patrick Redmond, Twentieth Century Fox)

With the perpetrator of the crimes against him dead, and despairing of being healed by therapy, Father James’ unseen interlocutor reasons that it would be a futile gesture to slay a bad priest. But to take the life of a good cleric, that would certainly be an act that would draw people’s attention.

This opening scene, which establishes the kind of extreme situation that such Catholic authors as Graham Greene or Flannery O’Connor might once have played on, also makes it clear, through the sufferer’s harshly candid description of his experiences, that this is not a film for the summer popcorn set.

Mature viewers prepared for rugged material, on the other hand, will likely consider their investment of time and attention well rewarded.

As writer-director John Michael McDonagh chronicles the seven days that follow Father James’ life-threatening encounter, we learn that this thoroughly decent but otherwise ordinary man of the cloth is a widower and father ordained after his wife’s death. This aspect of his past is revealed when his emotionally fragile, Dublin-based daughter, Fiona (Kelly Reilly), comes to town, looking for his support in the wake of a romantic crisis.

Along with nurturing Fiona, Father James also tends to the varied needs of the errant or merely eccentric souls who make up his small flock.

They include Jack (Chris O’Dowd), the local butcher, a wronged husband who’s not overly anxious to reconcile with his wife, Veronica (Orla O’Rourke); Michael (Dylan Moran), a shady business tycoon out to use a donation to the church to assuage his conscience; Frank (Aiden Gillen), an atheist doctor who has nothing but contempt for believers; and Gerard (M. Emmet Walsh), an elderly expatriate American novelist who hopes to evade a lingering end by committing suicide.

They’re a challenging lot, but Father James does his best with each. Less laudable is his response to the plight of socially awkward, sexually frustrated bachelor Milo (Killian Scott). Unsettlingly, Father James advises Milo to move to a city where he’ll probably find the girls more open to his casual advances.

McDonagh is mostly respectful, if unsparing, in his treatment of the contemporary church as he ably explores a range of hefty themes — faith, moral failure, reconciliation and sacrifice among them.

He’s sustained throughout by Gleeson’s memorable performance during which we watch Father James display understandable uncertainty about how to respond to the existential threat confronting him. Should he arm himself? Involve the police? Flee the vicinity until the danger has past? Or should he offer himself in Christ-like expiation for the sins of others?

Watching him decide makes for thoughtful drama, though the demands of the process mean that the appropriate audience for “Calvary” remains a narrow one.

The film contains brief but extremely gory violence, drug use, mature themes, including clergy sexual abuse, homosexual prostitution and suicide, a few uses of profanity and much rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

 

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‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ keep turtle tongues in cheek

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Catholic News Service

Thirty years after bursting onto the comic book scene, the wise-cracking, pizza-loving “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” re-emerge from the sewers of New York City. Their mission, once again: to save the world.

This reboot marks the fifth film to feature the reptilian heroes, created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman.

Animated characters Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael,  and actress Megan Fox as April, center, appear in the movie "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS

Animated characters Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, and actress Megan Fox as April, center, appear in the movie “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS

Fortunately, the script, by Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Evan Daugherty, honors the ridiculousness of the subject matter and keeps tongue firmly in cheek. Director Jonathan Liebesman (“Wrath of the Titans”) joins in the fun while slipping in a few good lessons about honor and family.

The backstory and mythology surrounding the Turtles are extensive, to say the least. Simply stated, there are four, each named (for no particular reason) for an Italian Renaissance artist: Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), and Donatello (Jeremy Howard).

Products of an experiment gone wrong, they have grown into rambunctious anthropomorphic teenagers, mask-wearing 6-footers who shout “Cowabunga!” and scarf down ’za.

The turtles live beneath the Big Apple with a wise Japanese rat named Splinter (Danny Woodburn), who has trained them in the martial arts.

“My sons, you will become the warriors that legends are made of,” Splinter says. “You live, you die, you fight as brothers. Remember, nothing is as strong as family.”

As Leonardo admits, “We were created as weapons, and we knew the world would never accept us … but one day, it would need us.”

That day is now, for a reign of terror has gripped Gotham, thanks to the notorious Foot Clan, a seemingly invincible gang of criminals led by a razor-sharp monster appropriately dubbed Shredder (Tohoru Masamune).

At first, the turtles do battle at night, fighting the Foot Clan while protecting their identity. All that changes when April (Megan Fox), an intrepid TV reporter, stumbles upon their ninja moves.

Excited by her first big scoop, April has a hard time convincing Vern (Will Arnett), her cameraman, and Bernadette (Whoopi Goldberg), her skeptical boss, of the turtles’ existence.

So she turns to an old family friend, billionaire industrialist Eric Sacks (William Fichtner), for help. He’s a scientist, with more than a passing interest in mutated reptiles — and a wicked secret alliance with Shredder for (of course) world domination.

If it all sounds silly, it is, and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is more thrill-ride than serious drama. As such, the action sequences may be too intense (and loud) for young viewers. Everyone else, however, will have a ball careening down sewer tunnels as though they were water slides on steroids.

The film contains intense but bloodless cartoon violence, some bathroom humor, and a few vague references to sexuality. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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Pope sending envoy to Iraq, calls on world to ‘stop these crimes’

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis condemned the actions of Islamic State militants in Iraq, saying that persecuting Christians and other minorities “seriously offends God and seriously offends humanity.”

“One cannot generate hatred in God’s name,” he said Aug. 10. “One cannot make war in God’s name!”

A woman and several children who fled from violence in Nineveh province in Iraq, arrive in a covered truck at Sulaimaniya province Aug. 8. Pope Francis asked Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, to travel to the region to meet church and government officials as well as Christians chased from their homes by militants of the Islamic State. (CNS photo/Reuters)

A woman and several children who fled from violence in Nineveh province in Iraq, arrive in a covered truck at Sulaimaniya province Aug. 8. Pope Francis asked Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, to travel to the region to meet church and government officials as well as Christians chased from their homes by militants of the Islamic State. (CNS photo/Reuters)

After reciting the Angelus, Pope Francis asked tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to join him for a moment of silent prayer for peace in Iraq and for the tens of thousands of people forced from their homes in northeastern Iraq as fighters from the Islamic State tried to increase the territory under their control.

“The news from Iraq leaves us incredulous and appalled,” Pope Francis said. “Thousands of people, including many Christians, have been chased from their homes in a brutal way; children die of thirst and hunger during the flight; women are kidnapped; people are massacred; violence of every kind; destruction everywhere.”

The pope also used Twitter to appeal for peace and for the protection of innocent civilians. Instead of one daily general message about faith on his @Pontifex account, Pope Francis sent three tweets each day Aug. 8-10 urging people to join him in prayer.

At the Angelus, he also called on the international community and Iraq’s beleaguered government to “stop these crimes” and reestablish law and order.

Pope Francis thanked “those who, with courage, are bringing aid to these brothers and sisters of ours” and told people he was sending Cardinal Fernando Filoni as his personal envoy to Iraq.

Cardinal Filoni, a former nuncio to Iraq and current prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, met the pope privately the evening of Aug. 10 to receive instructions for the mission and a financial contribution “for the urgent needs” of the victims, according to Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.

The cardinal told CTV, the Vatican television center, that he had the impression Pope Francis “would like to go himself to be with these poor people. He entrusted this mission to me precisely so that I would make his affection, his profound love,” clear to the people.

The Vatican said Aug. 11 that the cardinal was expected to leave Rome Aug. 12 and visit Baghdad as well as Iraqi Kurdistan, where many of those displaced by the Islamic State are seeking shelter.

Along with perhaps hundreds of thousands of Christians and tens of thousands of members of the Yezidi religious minority, the cardinal said, there probably are “a million displaced people looking for a safe place” to live free from the threat of the forces of the Islamic State, which the U.S. government defines as a terrorist organization.

The U.S. military began airstrikes against the Islamic state Aug. 8 as well as airdrops of food and water for Iraqis forced to flee their homes.

Vatican Radio asked Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the Vatican nuncio to Iraq, about the U.S. airstrikes.

“This is something that had to be done, otherwise (the Islamic State) could not be stopped,” the archbishop said. “But, we should wonder why we have arrived at this point: Was it not a lack of intelligence? Were we not able to understand what was going on? And then: who gave these (Islamic State fighters) such sophisticated weapons?”

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Viewpoint: Jesus’ tips for true happiness

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It was a list delivered around the world. Pope Francis, who has a humble way of explaining Gospel truths with clarity, suggested 10 ways for “bringing greater joy to one’s life” to an Argentine weekly last month.

Faster than a video of a cat playing the harmonica, the pope’s tips were uploaded on websites, shared online and broadcast around the world. (See the list on page 5.)

Was it because Francis’ tips for increased happiness weren’t particularly religious at first glance? Read more »

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Women’s Conference planned for Nov. 1 at St. Joseph’s Middletown

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The Diocese of Wilmington is holding a Women’s Conference Nov. 1 at St. Joseph Parish in Middletown.

The day, sponsored through the Office for Marriage and Family Life, will feature Johnnette Benkovic, president and founder of Women of Grace, who is an author, retreat director and speaker. Nancy Burke, director of the Marriage and Family Life office, said the day’s theme will be from the diocese’s patron, St. Francis de Sales, “Be who you are and be that well.” Read more »

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Lebanon’s Maronite bishops condemn Islamist incursions

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Catholic News Service

BEIRUT (CNS) — Lebanon’s Maronite Catholic bishops underscored their “full confidence” in the country’s military and security forces as the Lebanese army battled Islamist militants’ incursion into Lebanon near the border with Syria.

Clashes erupted Aug. 2 in Arsal, about 55 miles northeast of Beirut, following the arrest of a man said to be linked to al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, the al-Nusra Front. Read more »

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Pope asks for international action to help Iraq’s persecuted Christians

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis asked Catholics around the world to pray for tens of thousands of Christians from villages in northeastern Iraq who were forced from their homes in the middle of the night by Islamic State militants.

The pope also made a “pressing appeal to the international community to take initiatives to put an end to the humanitarian drama underway, to take steps to protect those involved and threatened by violence and to ensure the necessary aid for so many displaced people whose fate depends on the solidarity of others,” the Vatican spokesman said Aug. 7. Read more »

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Annual diocesan Marian pilgrimage set for Sept. 27 at Holy Spirit Church

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Father Andrew Apostoli, CFR, an author of books on the Blessed Mother and a producer of TV shows on the EWTN network, will preach at the holy hour during the annual Diocese of Wilmington Marian Pilgrimage.

The pilgrimage is set for Sept. 27 at the Shrine of Our Lady, Queen of Peace at Holy Spirit Church in New Castle.

The events begin at 1 p.m. with the holy hour and Benediction. The pilgrimage will include a Mass in honor of Mary celebrated by Bishop Malooly at 4 p.m. Read more »

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Actor describes faith journey, commitment to serving nation’s veterans

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Catholic News Service

ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) — His knowing smile and everyman disposition are instantly recognizable on screen.

Those qualities were not lost on some 2,000 Knights of Columbus, their families and church leaders who were delighted by a surprise encounter with actor Gary Sinise during the fraternal organization’s Aug. 5-7 convention in Orlando.

He spoke at the States Dinner Aug. 5 about his love for wounded veterans and a new collaboration between the Knights and his own charitable foundation. Read more »

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