By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — The following are capsule reviews from Catholic News Service of new and recent video releases available on DVD and/or Blu-ray — as well as for online viewing. Theatrical movies have a Catholic News Service classification and Motion Picture Association of America rating. These classifications refer only to the theatrical version of the films below, and do not take into account any extra content.
Challenging drama, set in the early 1950s, in which a young Jewish man (Logan Lerman) wins a scholarship to an elite college where he forms an unusual bond with an emotionally troubled fellow student (Sarah Gadon) and butts heads with the school’s traditionally minded dean (Tracy Letts). While writer-director James Schamus’ adaptation of Philip Roth’s 2008 novel is not for the casual moviegoer, neither the promiscuity engaged in by the unbalanced coed nor the philosophical atheism professed by the excessively intense protagonist are to be taken at face value. Grown and well-grounded viewers will recognize the subtleties calibrating the story — and its message. Mature themes, including suicide and an ambivalent treatment of religion, brief violence with slight gore, discreetly portrayed but aberrant premarital sexual activity, fleeting irreverence, a couple of uses of profanity, at least one rough term, several crude expressions. 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. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
"Under Caesar’s Sword: Christian Response to Persecution" (2016)
This enlightening half-hour documentary, produced by the University of Notre Dame and the Religious Freedom Institute, is a call to action for all believers, revealing the shocking extent to which religious liberty is curtailed around the world, and Christians in particular are targeted for persecution. Filmmaker Jason Cohen’s production team marshals grim statistics as well as interviews with scholars, church leaders and victims to harrowing — yet inspiring — effect. The result is a bracing wake-up call concerning what one expert calls "a massive humanitarian catastrophe among us." Available at no cost through http://ucs.nd.edu/film.
"Western Union" (Blu-ray Edition; 1941)
A reformed outlaw (Randolph Scott) and a rich tenderfoot (Robert Young) help a Western Union engineer (Dean Jagger) fight off Indians and Confederate raiders (headed by Barton MacLane) while stringing the last link in the telegraph line connecting the East and West coasts in 1861. The heroic theme is directed by Fritz Lang, with plenty of Western action and colorful characters galore, including Slim Summerville’s comically fearful cook. Frontier violence and Indian stereotypes. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Kino Lorber)
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
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