‘Coco’ celebrates the Mexican Day of the Dead.
Pixar Animation Studios’ new release Coco tells the story of young musical hopeful, Miguel, whose family bars music from the house after a grandfather abandons the family to follow a musical career generations earlier. The plucky Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) has no choice but to sing and strum his guitar quietly in the attic of one of the rooms where his family lives in the bustling town of Santa Cecilia, Mexico. There, alone with his guitar and street dog Dante, Miguel plays along to VCR recordings of mid-century heartthrob Ernesto de la Cruz.
An impoverished childhood spent near Magic Kingdom shows that reality and mystery are both important.
Kids are seen and heard a lot in The Florida Project, set during one hot, sticky summer in a $35-a-night motel near that true Orlando resort Walt Disney World.
The title of Angela Alaimo O’Donnell’s new volume is both a paradox and an invitation.
by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell (Paraclete Press, 2017)
The title Still Pilgrim is both a paradox and an invitation. As Christians we are called to be pilgrims—to move and journey both within and outside ourselves—and yet we are also called to contemplate. Angela Alaimo O’Donnell quotes both T. S. Eliot and Psalm 46 to show that stillness is a deliberate action in an endlessly moving world. In O’Donnell’s poems, stillness means devotion.
Timothy O’Malley’s new book answers questions about the Mass you didn’t even know you had.
Growing up my parents made me and my siblings go to Mass every Sunday. As a teenager I remember thinking it was way too much church. Most of my friends didn’t go to church at all. They went waterskiing in the summer, snow skiing in the winter, or just hung out on Sundays and slept in. And yet there I was in church praying the Lord’s Prayer for the 1000th time while my little brother painfully squeezed my hand.
‘Anne with an E’ explores the complexities and nuances of female adolescence.
Judging by the stories media tell us, boys are the only humans perplexed by puberty. Film and television tales of moving from adolescence to adulthood focus primarily on young men, as though girls did not also lurch awkwardly toward maturity. Think of Boyhood, The Sandlot, Stand By Me, This Boy’s Life, Almost Famous, Big, The Summer of ’42, Breaking Away.
The United States is still waiting to hear if black lives matter.
Entirely too much attention has been paid this year to the 50th anniversary of the 1967 “Summer of Love.” That’s when a small fraction of America’s white youth deranged itself and outraged its elders with a very public fit of drug-induced self-indulgence. But in black America, 1967 was a summer of uprisings as African Americans reacted to decades of police brutality with a display of long-suppressed rage. In city after city—from Houston to Newark—the rebellions bubbled up.
‘The Little Hours,’ the recent film that fixates on nuns having fun, isn’t all that funny.
Even the Old Testament writers—not generally thought of as a funny lot—knew the healing power of humor:
“A cheerful heart is a good medicine,” says the book of Proverbs (17:22).
Revolution Come… Revolution Go
Gov’t Mule (Fantasy Records, 2017).
Gov’t Mule started recording this album on election night in November 2016. According to the band’s lead singer, songwriter, and guitar virtuoso Warren Haynes, the songs were written on the road observing the bitter political divisions around the country.
Brother Ali’s latest album offers beauty and gratitude in an anxious time.
All the Beauty in this Whole Life
Brother Ali (Rhymesayers, 2017)
You’d be hard pressed to find an article about Brother Ali that fails to mention his unique story: He’s a white rapper from Minneapolis and a devout Muslim. Or that he was born with albinism, a condition that causes a deficiency of pigment in his skin and hair as well as impaired vision.
In ‘Wonder Woman’ accomplishment trumps beauty.
In Wonder Woman, there are moments so uncommonly witnessed in film that the audience can almost hear paradigms shifting, like giant tectonic plates of cultural attitudes grating over one another as they struggle to realign. Of course, such shifts should have happened long ago, or should have never been needed at all, and there have been lesser and occasional positive tremors along the fault lines before, here and there in film.