Reel Reviews

‘Mary of Nazareth’

Audience:
A-II – adults and adolescents

 

Watch Trailer

 

More Movie Reviews


 

The story of the Gospels unfolds through the eyes of the mother of God in “Mary of Nazareth” (Ignatius Press Films), a beautiful, often moving depiction of the life of Mary from her childhood through the passion and resurrection of her son.

Italian director Giacomo Campiotti (2002’s “Doctor Zhivago”) has produced a handsome and respectful film, with a gifted international cast and some luminous cinematography shot in Tunisia. The script, by Francesco Arlanch, more or less follows the biblical account, with a few intriguing departures, inspired by apocryphal writings, that heighten the drama.

For example, we are told that King Herod (Andrea Giordana) heard a prophesy of a girl who would one day bring forth a savior, prompting him to terrorize Judea, in a precursor to the slaughter of the innocents. Mary’s parents, Ann (Antonella Attili) and Joachim (Roberto Citran), hide their young daughter, keeping her safe.

Mary (Alissa Jung) is a joyful but special child, one whom dogs and snakes fear. Her parents are happy but often perplexed.

After Mary's betrothal to Joseph (Luca Marinelli), and the Annunciation, a resigned Joachim tells Mary, “Forgive me. I always knew you were a mystery, but I never knew how great a mystery.”

The Nativity (unfortunately, Joseph misses the birth, as he leaves the cave to fetch water) is beautifully rendered. Mary possesses a strong, almost psychic bond with her young son, aware when he is hurt or in danger, and experiencing visions of his future Passion in her mind.

Once Jesus (Andreas Pietschmann) begins his public ministry (“He couldn’t stay and be a carpenter forever,” Joseph says), Mary is always present, strong and compassionate, helping when she can. But when she asks him for assistance with the wine at Cana, she later worries she was impulsive, forcing Jesus to act before he was ready.

Mary not only shares her son’s ministry, but also his pain. Every blow during the scourging is felt by Mary, as is the slow agony of Crucifixion. She literally crawls up the hill of Calvary on her hands and knees to be near her dying son.

The depictions of the slaughter of the innocents and the Passion are graphic, even harrowing, which preteens might find upsetting.

But for the rest of the family, “Mary of Nazareth” makes for an enriching catechetical experience that's also both inspiring and entertaining. The film is fittingly dedicated “to all mothers, whose life-giving, sacrificial love, like Mary, changes the world.”

“Mary of Nazareth” is available for sponsored screenings in theaters, and is expected to be released on DVD later this year. For more information, visit maryfilm.com. The film contains several scenes of bloody violence and death. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.

By Joseph McAleer, Catholic News Service

‘The Nut Job’

Audience:
A-I – general patronage

 

Watch Trailer

 

More Movie Reviews


 
Animated fun with moral message

The multilayered plot of “The Nut Job” (Open Road) might confuse smaller children. However, this animated feature’s continuous action and theme of the importance of living in community make it both splendidly entertaining and morally appealing.

Not all the humor will please accompanying parents, though. Potty jokes seem to have become an unavoidable ingredient in children’s movies, and “The Nut Job” is no exception.

In this case, the flatulence afflicting the hardworking groundhogs who populate the film serves as an unfortunate go-to gag. Still, director and co-writer (with Lorne Cameron) Peter Lepeniotis keeps this aspect of the proceedings reasonably restrained.

Surly the squirrel (voiced by Will Arnett) is a lone operative in a parkland community of critters who rely on Raccoon (voice of Liam Neeson) to supervise their coordinated gathering of the wintertime food supply. When one of Surly’s elaborate plans to raid a nut vendor’s wagon goes explosively awry and destroys the oak tree holding their food stash, Raccoon and the others ban him from the park.

Forced to fend for himself in a harsh urban landscape dominated by evil rats, Surly comes across a nut shop he regards as his holy grail. But his find raises a moral dilemma: Should he keep the contents of this treasure trove for himself or share it with the others?

Though Surly makes the right choice, all is not what it seems. The store turns out to be a front for thieves who are tunneling into the bank next door. Raccoon, moreover, is not the benevolent leader he initially appears to be. Rather, he’s an Orwellian dictator served by lackeys. “Animals are controlled by the amount of food they have,” he intones. “It is our job to keep it from them.”

Loyalties shift as the animals learn to work together, build a new food supply and ultimately confront the truth. Surly longs for the affection and respect of Andie (voice of Katherine Heigl) and also learns to control Precious, a pug (voice of Maya Rudolph), in order to sneak around the robbers.

With its action set in the 1950s, “The Nut Job” uses coal bins, cars with running boards and electric streetcars with overhead wires to create a nostalgic atmosphere grown-ups of a certain age will appreciate.

The film contains some intense action scenes and mild scatological humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I – general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

By Kurt Jensen, Catholic News Service

Monthly List of Recent Film Ratings (December)


A
Admission, L (PG-13)
After Earth, A-III (PG-13)
Amour, L (PG-13)
Anna Karenina, A-III (R)

B
Beautiful Creatures, L (PG-13)
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, A-III (PG-13)
The Big Wedding, O (R)
The Bling Ring, O (R)
Broken City, L (R)
Bullet to the Head, O (R)

C
The Call, O (R)
Christmas for a Dollar, A-I (PG)
The Collection, O (R)
The Conjuring, A-III (R)
Conviction, L (R)
Creature, O (R)
The Croods, A-I (PG)
Crooked Arrows, A-III (PG-13)

D
Dark Skies, A-III (PG-13)
Dead Man Down, O (R)
The Dictator, O (R)
Django Unchained, L (R)

E
End of Watch, O (R)
Epic, A-I (PG)
Escape From Planet Earth, A-I (PG)
Evil Dead, O (R)
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, A-III (PG-13)

F
The Five-Year Engagement, O (R)
Flipped, A-III (PG)
42, A-III (PG-13)

G
Gangster Squad, L (R)
Getaway, A-III (PG-13)
G.I. Joe: Retaliation, A-III (PG-13)
A Good Day to Die Hard, L (R)
The Grace Card, A-II (PG-13)
Grown Ups 2, A-III (PG-13)
The Guilt Trip, A-III (PG-13)

H
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, O (R)
A Haunted House, O (R)
Haywire, L (R)
The Heat, O (R)
Hellbound?, A-III (no rating)
Hereafter, A-III (PG-13)
Hitchcock, A-III (PG-13)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, A-II (PG-13)
The Host, A-III (PG-13)
Hyde Park on Hudson, O (R)

I
Identity Thief, L (R)
The Internship, L (PG-13)
Iron Man 3, A-III (PG-13)

J
Jack Reacher, L (PG-13)
Jane Eyre, A-III (PG-13)
Jobs, A-III (PG-13)
Jurassic Park, A-II (PG-13)
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, A-I (G)

L
Last Ounce of Courage, A-II (PG)
The Last Stand, L (R)
Les Miserables, A-III (PG-13)
The Lucky One, A-III (PG-13)

M
Mama, A-III (PG-13)
Man of Steel, A-III (PG-13)
The Master, O (R)
The Mill & the Cross, A-III (no rating)
Monsters University, A-I (G)
Moonrise Kingdom, A-III (PG-13)
Movie 43, O (R)
Mud, A-III (PG-13)

N
Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D, A-III (PG-13)
Now You See Me, A-III (PG-13)

O
Oblivion, A-III (PG-13)
Of Gods and Men, A-III (PG-13)
Olympus Has Fallen, L (R)
The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, A-I (G)
Oz the Great and Powerful, A-II (PG)

P
Pacific Rim, A-III (PG-13)
Pain and Gain, O (R)
Paranoia, A-III (PG-13)
Parental Guidance, A-I (PG)
Parker, O (R)
Peeples, O (PG-13)
People Like Us, A-III (PG-13)
The Perfect Family, O (PG-13)
Pitch Perfect, A-III (PG-13)
Planes, A-I (G)
Playing for Keeps, A-III (PG-13)
Promised Land, A-III (R)
The Purge, O (R)

R
RED 2, A-III (PG-13)
R.I.P.D., A-III (PG-13)

S
Safe Haven, L (PG-13)
Scary Movie 5, O (PG-13)
The Sessions, O (R)
Seven Psychopaths, O (R)
Side Effects, L (R)
Sinister, L (R)
Snitch, A-III (PG-13)
Somewhere Between, A-II (no rating)
Star Trek Into Darkness, A-III (PG-13)
Stella Days, L (no rating)

T
Texas Chainsaw 3D, O (R)
This Is the End, O (R)
To the Wonder, A-III (PG-13)
The Tree of Life, A-II (PG-13)
Turbo, A-I (PG)
21 and Over, O (R)
2 Guns, L (R)
Tyler Perry's Good Deeds, A-III (PG-13)
Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, A-III (PG-13)

W
Warm Bodies, A-III (PG-13)
We're the Millers, O (R)
The Way, Way Back, A-III (PG-13)
White House Down, A-III (PG-13)
World War Z, A-III (PG-13)
The World's End, A-III (R)

Z
Zero Dark Thirty, L (R)