Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Warner Bros.)
Devastated by the sudden loss of his devoted father (Tom Hanks), a victim of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, an introverted grade schooler (Thomas Horn) sets out to identify the purpose of a mysterious key he discovers among his dad's belongings. His quest gains him the friendship of the traumatized German immigrant (Max von Sydow) who lodges with his grandmother and ultimately brings him closer to his seemingly grief-paralyzed mom (Sandra Bullock). Director Stephen Daldry's grim drama, adapted from the best-selling novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, focuses on community, shared suffering and familial solidarity as it upholds positive, humanistic values. But the main character's eccentricities --- he may or may not have a mild form of autism --- and the diffuse nature of his search, which brings him into contact with a whole series of strangers, makes it difficult for viewers to establish a sense of connection with his plight, and renders his story, for the most part, more emotionally trying than cathartic. Mature themes, some disturbing images, a transvestite character, a couple of crude terms, occasional vulgar wordplay. (A-III, PG-13)
Fairly suspenseful but frequently brutal espionage thriller about a lethal operative (played by mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano) who becomes a fugitive after being betrayed during an assignment. Trying his hand at yet another cinematic genre, director Steven Soderbergh deploys a novice lead actress and a clutch of seasoned supporting players (including Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, and Antonio Banderas) with his usual stylistic aplomb, although the result is neither substantive nor original. Moreover, the protagonist's merciless reaction to her situation is morally culpable, even after allowing for the life-and-death nature of international spying and covert military operations. Much fierce hand-to-hand violence and gunplay, brief gore, an implied nonmarital encounter, at least one use of profanity and of rough language, some crude terms, an obscene gesture. (L, R)
Red Tails (Fox)
Flag-waving hokum about the all-black 332nd Fighting Group of the Army Air Forces during World War II. What director Anthony Hemingway obviously intended as an enthusiastic fact-based homage to greatest generation patriotism instead comes off as shallow and cliched storytelling about a famed group of Tuskegee Airmen (including Terrence Howard, Tristan Wildes, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Marcus T. Paulk). Extensive aerial combat violence, an instance of implied premarital sex, fleeting crude and crass language. (A-III, PG-13)
Underworld: Awakening (Screen Gems)
In this fourth installment of the horror-fantasy series, Kate Beckinsale squeezes into the black vinyl tights again as Selene, avenging warrior of the Vampire clan. She battles werewolves called Lycans as well as predatory human scientists, and learns she has a daughter (India Eisley). Co-directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein serve up a familiar and somewhat dreary formula of neck-bitings, stabbings, martial-arts kicks and more gunfire than Custer's last stand. Stylized gun, knife and martial-arts violence, brief, shadowy upper female nudity. (A-III, R)
Catholic News Service classifications: A-I ---- general patronage; A-II ---- adults and adolescents; A-III ---- adults; L ---- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; O ---- morally offensive. Full-length reviews: www.catholicnews.com/movies.htm.
Prayer of the MonthPapal intentions for November: That priests who experience difficulties may find comfort in their suffering, support in their doubts, and confirmation in their fidelity. That as fruit of the continental mission, Latin American Churches may send missionaries to other Churches.
Papal intentions for December: That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.