Monday, January 30, 2023

Film Flash: You People (Netflix)


You People Film Poster.jpg

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)

A 20-minute joke stretched out to 2 hours that is filled with podcast-like noise.

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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sunday Best: Oscar Nominations 2023

 (Dear Reader, thank you for your patience regarding my lack of content these last few weeks.  I've had about four time-intensive projects drop into my lap recently, so the time I usually spend on this blog has had to be diverted to these efforts.  Things will hopefully get back on track very soon.)

 So the nominees were announced this past week for the 95th Academy Awards.

These awards remain the most prestigious in film.  And while many of you, dear readers, are of the opinion that all awards shows are terrible and should simply be shunned, it is my perpetual hope that Hollywood will reform itself and once again nominate movies that matter.

While there were a few happy nominations, there are a few hopeful signs, but none that make me think that the redemption of Hollywood is just around the corner.  Once again, the elite in the industry will gather together, kick out the homeless from the streets, and congratulate themselves.

The movies nominated for Best Picture are:

“All Quiet on the Western Front”

“Avatar: The Way of Water”

“The Banshees of Inisherin”


“Everything Everywhere All at Once”

“The Fabelmans”


“Top Gun: Maverick”

“Triangle of Sadness”

“Women Talking”

The top 10 highest grossers for 2022 are:

Top Gun: Maverick
Avatar: The Way of Water
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Jurassic World: Dominion
Minions: The Rise of Gru
The Batman
Thor: Love and Thunder
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Black Adam

I think that it was smart of the Academy to nominate the two top grossing films of all time and to put an actor from the 3rd highest grossing film into a very competitive Oscar race.  I think that if the Academy read the room a bit better, Top Gun would have received more nominations, in the same way that Titanic did in 1997.  

Admittedly, there is a box office issue when things are released on streaming either simultaneously or exclusively.  All Quiet on the Western Front  is a Netflix film.  But even the ones that were in theaters did not make that much money.  The total box office for the bottom six movies nominated is $109 million.  To be clear, box office is not always a consistent measure of quality.  You need only look at the success of Jurassic World: Dominion for that.  And on my own top ten list, I have small earners like Father Stu at the top.

So as you can see, there are very few films for viewers at home to root for.

 My own top ten of the year include:

1. Top Gun: Maverick
2. Father Stu
3. The Batman
4. Vengeance
5. Spirited
6. What is a Woman?
7. Bullet Train
8. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
9. Rosaline
10. Black Adam

So below are my thoughts on some (not all) of this year's nominees.  


I've seen six of the nominees on this list.  While Top Gun: Maverick is the best movie of the year, it will not win.  There are some pretentious pieces on this list like Elvis, The Fabelmans, and Tár.  

If there is an underdog to root for in this fight with a chance to win, it is Everything Everywhere All At Once.  While this movie is horribly flawed in moments of execution, it is an incredibly original, visually stunning, and wonderfully acted piece that kept going strong by word of mouth to become A24 studio's highest grossing film.  Since Top Gun won't win, this is the one I am rooting for.


Martin McDonagh, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Steven Spielberg, “The Fabelmans”

Todd Field, “Tár”

Ruben Ostlund, “Triangle of Sadness”

I have not seen Triangle of Sadness or Banshees.  Tár has some really great moments, like the one where the main character breaks down the prejudices of a student in one continuous shot.  But most of it is boring pretention.  I might say the same thing about The Fabelmans, but is done with a bit more skill in the right places.  Once again, I am going to root for EEAAO for their daring and bold vision.


Cate Blanchett, “Tár”

Ana de Armas, “Blonde”

Andrea Riseborough, “To Leslie”

Michelle Williams, “The Fabelmans”

Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

I haven't seen Blonde or To Leslie.  I don't think Michelle Williams should win in this category, though she did a decent job.  For me it is between Blanchett and Yeoh.  Blanchett's Tár commands a room whenever she walks into it and does a great job of showing her slowly lose that control over the course of the film.  But Yeoh gives, to my mind, the best performance of her career and has to embody a wonderful range of characters, so I will be hoping for her to win.


Austin Butler, “Elvis”

Colin Farrell, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Brendan Fraser, “The Whale”

Paul Mescal, “Aftersun”

Bill Nighy, “Living”

Of these, the only one I've seen is Butler's Elvis.  His work in this film is Oscar-worthy, though I am very happy for the successful return of Brendan Fraser.


Angela Bassett, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Hong Chau, “The Whale”

Kerry Condon, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Jamie Lee Curtis, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Stephanie Hsu, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

I've only seen EEAAO, but between the two nominated here, I would go with Hsu for her wild performance.  Although Curtis has never been nominated and this might be her year.  The Supporting Actor/Actress category is often one where the voters reward someone for an entire body of work and not just for a particular film.


Brendan Gleeson, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Brian Tyree Henry, “Causeway”

Judd Hirsch, “The Fabelmans”

Barry Keoghan, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Ke Huy Quan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Key Huy Quan is my choice to win and I truly hope he does.  Not only was I a big fan of his back when I was a kid, but his performance deserves all the accolades that it is getting.  Hirsch is a scene stealer in his small role in The Fabelmans.  And Henry does a heartbreakingly restrained performance in Causeway.



“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”


“Everything Everywhere All at Once”

“Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris”

This category is notorious for snubbing original sci-fi and fantasy costuming.  EEAAO or Black Panther should clearly win, but I think they will go with something like Babylon.  Although I have a soft spot for Mrs. Harris, which used the clothing to make you feel what the main character felt.


“All Quiet on the Western Front”

“Avatar: The Way of Water”

“The Batman”


“Top Gun: Maverick”

There was some great sound work in many of these films, but the one that really made the experience pop was Top Gun.


“All Quiet on the Western Front”


“The Banshees of Inisherin”

“Everything Everywhere All at Once”

“The Fabelmans”

Even though I was not a fan of the movie, John Williams scores never fail to touch the heart.


“All Quiet on the Western Front”

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”


“Top Gun: Maverick”

“Women Talking”

I honestly don't know why Glass Onion is on this list.  It had a terrible screenplay that thought it was way smarter than it was.  If I was conspiratorially minded, I think that this was a set up to give Rian Johnson an Oscar as a reward for his hatred towards Star Wars fans.  I think Top Gun should be up here, since it does the rare thing of improving upon the story found in the previous film.


“The Banshees of Inisherin”

“Everything Everywhere All at Once”

“The Fabelmans”


“Triangle of Sadness”

I have a feeling that Spielberg and Kushner are going to win for this one.  While this makes me happy for Spielberg (even though I didn't like the movie), I think the most interesting script is the one for EEAAO


“The Banshees of Inisherin”


“Everything Everywhere All at Once”


“Top Gun: Maverick”

This is actually one of the toughest categories for me.  The most challenging editing would definitely be EEAAO.  But we also have to take into account the effectiveness of the edit: how does the edit make us feel.  Whether it is Elvis' manic cuts or Tar's long, slow takes, there was some mastery in some of those scenes.  And Top Gun is almost perfect in its action movie execution.  I'm actually not sure who should win here.


“All Quiet on the Western Front”

“The Batman”

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”


“The Whale”

On principle, I oppose Black Panther here for the way they ruined the look of Namor.  I'd actually go with The Batman on this one, particularly with the way it let Colin Ferrel disappear into his role as the Penguin.


“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”

“Marcel the Shell With Shoes On”

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”

“The Sea Beast”

“Turning Red”

The only movie I've seen on this list is Turning Red and it was the worst film of the year.


“Applause” (“Tell It Like a Woman”)

“Hold My Hand” (“Top Gun: Maverick”)

“Lift Me Up” (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”)

“Naatu Naatu” (“RRR”)

“This Is a Life” (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)

The only on her that sticks with me is the one from RRR.  That was a fantastic, show-stopping number that I hope wins.


“All Quiet on the Western Front”

“Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths”


“Empire of Light”


I've only seen two movies on this list.  I think that it once again shows the Academy's prejudice against action films that Top Gun is not on here.  The mastery of camera work that was necessary to give audiences that experience is fantastic and worthy of an Oscar.


“All Quiet on the Western Front”

“Avatar: The Way of Water”



“The Fabelmans”

Even though it was a mediocre movie, I would give this one to Avatar, for its sheer visual power.


“All Quiet on the Western Front”

“Avatar: The Way of Water”

“The Batman”

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

“Top Gun: Maverick”

Again, this should be Avatar's category to lose.

Soon I will be posting my annual OSCAR GAME for anyone who wants to participate.


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

New Evangelizers Post: The Best Translation of the Bible



I have a new article up at  

If you’ve ever gone to purchase a Bible, you know that you have many different translations to choose from. There are so many that it can be overwhelming.

There’s the King James, the Revised Standard Edition, the New Revised Standard Edition, the New American, the Jerusalem, New English, New International, New Living Translation, the Douay-Rheims, etc.

One of the main issues is that when we read the Bible in English, it is a translation of a translation (sometimes of a translation). Anyone how has taken in the most basic foreign language courses knows that even the simplest words can have a multiplicity of translations. In Spanish, if I say “Yo quiero,” I could validly translate that as “I want,” or “I like,” or “I love,” or “I desire.” But in English, these distinctions can make important differences in meaning. Those who’ve been through high school know that there is a world of difference between “like” and “love.”

So when translating the Bible into English, this multitude of translation options can lead to several varying choices. On top of this, the English language is not a static thing. Words change in their meaning over time. When the word “nice” was first invented, it meant “feeble-minded.” But nowadays if someone calls you nice, you are not liable to be insulted. That’s because over time, the word has changed in meaning. Words can also change in meaning across cultures using the same language. If you don’t believe me, try asking for an eraser in England and find out what they call it.

The point is that when picking a Bible, often people put a lot of thought into what translation they are buying.

But what is the best translation of the Bible?

The other day I was speaking to my spiritual director. We were about to celebrate the Vigil Mass. As you may recall this past weekend was “Word of God Sunday.” Pope Francis requested that at the liturgies, a special emphasis would be given to the place the Bible has in Catholic life. At my church, we were asked to bring our Bibles to mass where they were blessed and we were charged to take the scriptures to heart.

In my discussions about this with my spiritual director he said to me, “One of my teachers at the seminary once got the question: ‘What is the best translation of the Bible?'” I then asked my spiritual director what the answer was. He told me that he teacher said:

“The best translation of the Bible… is the one you read.”

While the technical issues of translating the word of God are important, they are not nearly as important as simply reading the Word of God itself. I have a friend of mine who gave me a beautiful Protestant Bible. On Word of God Sunday, I found myself in the church reading its pages, letting God’s Word speak to my heart.

I remember in college, I had a little pocket New Testament given to me by a Protestant friend. I can recall all the times in prayer or in times of trouble, I could reach into my pocket and let God’s Word guide me.

Again, I do not want to minimize the important work of the translators. Finding the most faithful translations of the original text is God’s work. I learned an important principle from a local rabbi that “God does not stutter.” This means that all the words of the Scriptures are important.

But the work of translating is at the service of the work of reading. The Bible has the power to change us and change the world. But that only happens if we read it.

I am reminded of the words “Tolle Lege.”

You can read the whole article here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Trailer Time: The Mandalorian Season 3

I really think that The Mandalorian cracked the code for modern Star Wars entertainment.  The show found the perfect balance between kick-butt action and heart-touching adorableness.  It is a difficult thing to harmonize, but it really works with Mando and Grogu.  

I would have liked more content regarding the upcoming season, other than that they go to Mandalore.  But after being disappointed by Willow and completely skipping Andor, I have to say I am very excited about this new season.


Sunday, January 15, 2023

Sunday Best: Winter/Spring Movie Preview 2023


Now it is time to turn to the upcoming Winter-Spring movies.  

Here is a list, with a few brief thoughts of my own, including on a scale of 1-5 stars my likelihood of seeing it in theaters (1 being “Not at all” 5 being “Cannot wait!”).

So here are some of the movies that are coming out along with my level of excitement.  My ability to get out to the theater may be limited this time around.  But I will try to get to the ones that really excite me.

January 7-13

These movies have already come out, but are currently in theaters as of this writing.

M3GAN (***)
M3GAN Poster.jpeg
I am not into horror movies, but this one looks to be less gory and it seems to be about something: how outsourcing parenting to technology leads to disaster.
A Man Called Otto (***)
A Man Called Otto poster.jpg
-For a Tom Hanks movie, this film looks very middling.  The trailers look fine, the movie could be good, but there is nothing about it that is getting me excited

Plane (**)
Plane (2023 film) poster.png
This looks like typical Gerard Butler action fare, which is not bad.  But I will probably wait for streaming.

House Party  (**)
House Party (2023 film).png

The trailer did not make me laugh, and that is an essential selling point for a comedy.

January 20th

Alice, Darling (***)
Alice darling.jpg
-I really like Anna Kendrick as an actress and this looks like it is going to be a good performance.  The tone and the visuals also look intelligent and intense, but this doesn't look like it will pleasant viewing experience.

Women Talking (**)
Women Talking poster.jpeg

From what I understand, the title sums up almost all of the content: women talking in a room about a horrible situation.  It looks like it could have some good performances and the writing, I heard, is very good.  But I might wait for this one.

February 3

Knock at the Cabin (*)
Knock at the cabin.jpg
-Four people show up to a cabin and tell the people inside that one of them must die to prevent the world from ending.  Intense and scary premise, but I have no faith in M. Nigh Shyamalan any more.

80 For Brady (***)
80 for Brady.jpg

The cast for this is great and it looks to be different than a lot of other comedies for young people.  If they play this right, it could be some nice fun for an older crowd (like me)

February 10th

Magic Mike's Last Dance (*)
Magic Mike Last Dance Poster.png

Did not see any of the others.  Literally no interest in this one.

February 17th

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (*****)
Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania poster.jpg

The MCU ain't what she used to be, but at least each film still feels like an event.  The Ant-Man movies have always been middling in the collection of Marvel films.  I am hoping with the raised stakes that this one will break through.  The trailer looks much more intense and emotional than we are used to in an Ant-Man movie.  

Marlowe (***)
Marlowe (2022 film).png
I saw the trailer.  The cast is good and I like the idea, but there is just something missing, that X-factor that seems to bring it all together.  I'm curious, but I may wait.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey (*)
Winnie the Pooh, Blood and Honey Film Poster.jpg

I will not be seeing this, but I am impressed that the film makers were ready to take a unique vision on this world once it went into the public domain.

February 24th

Cocaine Bear (***)
Cocaine Bear poster.jpg
-Like Snakes on a Plane, the title says it all.  If I was a younger man I might be interested, but this looks like it might too much.  It has potential Bullet Train vibes (which I loved), but I might wait.

The Jesus Revolution (***)
Jesus Revolution (2023) - IMDb
-I will be honest, the thing that has me most intrigued is that the actor who plays Jesus on The Chosen is also in this.  And it doesn't hurt that an actor of Kelsey Grammar's caliber is staring.  Most Christian movies are not very good, but this has my attention.

March 3rd

Creed III (****)
Creed III poster.png
-I know that Stallone has washed his hands of this franchise, but the trailers have be very intrigued.  The idea behind it is very good: Adonis Creed is fighting the person that he would have been had he not been adopted.  There is fertile ground for some really good character study to complete his arc.

March 10th

Scream VI (*)
Scream VI poster.jpg
-the last film in this franchise I saw was Scream II in 1997.  I have no interest in this one.

Inside (*)
This looks like it could be a good performance by Willam Dafoe, but beyond that, there is nothing very interesting.

March 17th

65 (****)
65 film teaser poster.jpg
This looks like it could be a better dinosaur movie than the most recent outings of the Jurassic films.  The trailer is excellent, so I might have to see this in the theater.

SHAZAM! Fury of the Gods (*****).
Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023) poster.jpg

-I really liked the original SHAZAM! movie and I want to see the story of the family continue.  I don't know that this is going to be as good, but I will be there opening night.

March 24th:

John Wick Chapter 4(*****)
John Wick - Chapter 4 promotional poster.jpg
-You get what you pay for when you go to see a John Wick movie and it is well worth the price of admission.  Even if none of the sequels have matched the raw fun of the first, I have enjoyed every single outing with the character and I don't see that changing any time soon.

Champions (****)

-this looks like just a simple, mid-budget fun an uplifting movie.  Sometimes you just need that in a movie.

March 31st

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (*****)
Dungeons & Dragons Honor Among Thieves.jpg

The last Dungeons and Dragons film was a complete and total disaster.  This movie could be as well.  The trailers show a tongue-in-cheek humor that could completely derail the entire movie or it could give it a stroke of fun that it needs.  I am taking a big leap of faith on this one, but there is a certain charm in the trailers that I hope is present in the final film.

A Good Person (***)
A Good Person poster.jpg

Zach Braff is an excellent writer/director.  I have like both films of his that I have seen.  This melodrama might just work, especially with its fantastic cast, but I will have to see.

April 7th

The Super Mario Bros. Movie (*****)
A poster featuring Mario (shown from the back) looking from within the Mushroom Kingdom.
-everything about the trailers tells me that they nailed to the look and the tone of the video games while adapting for all-ages audiences.  I predict that this movie will be bigger than any Disney animated film to come out this year.

The Pope's Exorcist (**)
-The only reason that this interest me is that the movie looks like it stars Russell Crowe, who can still turn in some great performances.  Other than that, I might skip.

April 14th

Renfield (**)
Poster Renfield.jpg
-this could be fun, but there is something about director Chris McKay that I find rather mean-spirited.  The feeling from the trailer is that the violence of the movie will cancel out any of the humor.

Sweetwater (*)

-this looks like a vile, violent, anti-Christian waste of time.

April 21st

Evil Dead Rise (*)

-this looks scary as heck, but I have not taste for horror.

April 28th

Untitled George Foreman Movie(***)

-I am incredibly intrigued by this movie because I find his story fascinating.