Catholics See Rallying Cry for ‘Religious Freedom’ in ‘For Greater Glory’

The film shows a burning crucifix, gun-toting priests and the torture of a young boy. And the Roman Catholic hierarchy is loving it.

The film, “For Greater Glory,” hits theaters on June 1 and tells a little known chapter of Mexican history -- the Cristero War of 1926 to 1929, which pitted an army of devout Catholic rebels (led in the movie by Andy Garcia) against the government of Mexican President Plutarco Calles (played by Ruben Blades).

For Catholics enraged by the Obama administration’s proposed contraception mandate, the film about the Mexican church's fight in 1920s is a heartening and timely cinematic boost in the American church's battle to preserve "religious freedom" in 2012.

QUIRK: Smell Ya Later, Kristen Wiig. We'll MISS YOU!

From Huffington Post: Kristen Wiig got a musical sendoff on the season finale of "Saturday Night Live" as the popular and versatile cast member made her exit after seven years. In the show's final sketch, guest host Mick Jagger played the principal at a high school graduation and brought up Wiig, in cap and gown, as "one particular student who is leaving this summer."

'Sound of My Voice': Belief, Skepticism and Cults

Apple image by OlegSam / Shutterstock.

Apple image by OlegSam /Shutterstock.

Typcially, cults don’t garner media attention unless they do something really big, like when Heaven’s Gate rose to the public eye in 1997 after 39 members committed mass suicide. And while cults may welcome newcomers openly or warily, it seems they prefer to remain elusive and secretive.

In the feature-length drama Sound of My Voice, Peter Aitken, a 20-something school teacher, is angry at the cultish fanaticism that led to his mother’s death (per her cult’s teaching, she refused to take medicine when she was gravely ill) and turns a cynical eye toward belief patterns he believes distort reality.

Shaped by an experience that left him void of parental companionship, he searches for meaning alone, not knowing what to believe.

'The Avengers' Lives Up to the Hype

Dave Hogan/Getty Images

R Jonathan Ross, Jeremy Renner and Robert Downey Jr. at the European premiere of The Avengers. Dave Hogan/Getty Images

Ladies and gentlemen, summer has arrived.

This past weekend I joined the ranks of moviegoers and saw the action-packed and highly anticipated superhero movie, The Avengers, and the film lived up to its hype.

To those more familiar with the comic book storylines, please forgive me for any glaring reduction of the plot. I stand with you in my enthusiasm for the film, and I appreciate your full understanding of the respective stories leading to this reunion. 

Top Ten Favorite Celluloid Sisters

++ Join us in showing our appreciation for Catholic women religious (aka nuns or "sisters") on Thank-a-Nun Day, May 9. Click HERE to send a thank-you note online. ++

Silly and serious, strict and kind, profoundly faithful and sometimes hilarious — Catholic nuns are evergreen characters on the big (and the small) screens. Here's a list of some of our favorite portrayals of Catholic women religious from film and television.

1. Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon) in Dead Man Walking

2. Mother Abbess (Peggy Wood) in The Sound of Music

The Power of Attention in East Jerusalem

Photo of Mohammed and Zvi, Courtesy of Just Vision

Photo of Mohammed and Zvi, Courtesy of Just Vision

The problem with peaceful protests is that they lack all the headline-grabbing horror of wars and terrorist attacks. They lack the “power of attention” as filmmaker Julia Bacha likes to say, and that is part of what compelled her and others to produce the documentary, “My Neighborhood,” premiering this week at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Bacha and her team from Just Vision are best known for their award-winning film “Budrus,” the story of a peaceful protest by Palestinians against the Israeli “security wall” that was planned to bi-sect their village.  The film, shown in theatres, churches and on campuses, has helped create a dialogue not only about peaceful Palestinian protests, but also about the Israeli activists who have allied with them.  

Lessons from Caine’s Arcade: The Vital Joy of Making Things

Caine's Arcade in his dad's auto parts store

Caine's Arcade in his dad's auto parts store

In case you missed it, the viral video of the week is a delightful short film called Caine's Arcade. In the video, a 9 year old from East L.A. constructs an elaborate cardboard arcade in his dad’s used car parts store and dons a custom-made shirt on days the arcade is open for business.

But because of their location and changes in the parts market that have moved his dad’s business mostly online, Caine gets no customers until a filmmaker named Nirvan walks in one day.

At long last, Caine gets to present the ticket options (a handmade fun pass costs $2 for 500 turns) When Nirvan wins a game, Caine crawls inside the box to manually dispense Nirvan’s winnings from a the roll of tickets.

Watching the film for the first time this week, I was filled with a joy so overwhelming it eventually brought tears.