NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of movies recently reviewed by Catholic News Service.
Daniel Day-Lewis' bravura performance in the title role is the highlight -- but by no means the only asset -- of director Steven Spielberg's splendid historical drama. The plot focuses on the Civil War president's passionate yet wily struggle, during the closing days of that conflict, to steer a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery through Congress. Aided by his secretary of state, William Seward (David Strathairn), but distracted by his troubled personal life -- Sally Field plays his famously high-strung wife Mary -- Lincoln uses rhetoric to win over his hesitant Cabinet and patronage to woo his opponents. The trajectory of the tale is, by its nature, uplifting, while Lincoln's multifaceted personality -- which encompassed idealism, political shrewdness, melancholy, humor and even a few endearing foibles -- is vividly illuminated in Tony Kushner's screenplay. The educational value and moral import of the film may make it acceptable for older adolescents. Intense but mostly bloodless battlefield violence, a scene involving severed limbs, cohabitation, about a dozen uses of profanity, racial slurs, a couple of rough terms, occasional crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
"The Sessions" (Fox Searchlight)
Paralyzed from the neck down by a childhood bout of polio, a 38-year-old journalist and poet (John Hawkes) engages the services of a so-called sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) to help him lose his virginity, an undertaking in which he gains the misguided support of his sympathetic but irresolute parish priest (William H. Macy). Writer-director Ben Lewin's adaptation of Mark O'Brien's autobiographical writings displays an initially ambiguous, but ultimately negative attitude toward the memoirist's devout Catholic faith -- which is predictably identified as a source of guilt and inhibition. As for the titular encounters between the two main characters, while not prurient, they are nonetheless excessively explicit. And scenes showing the surrogate's home life with her husband and teenage son raise the ethical stakes by introducing the element of adultery. Anti-Catholic bias, a priest character who fails to uphold church teaching, strong sexual content, including graphic scenes of adulterous sexual activity with full nudity, a benign view of nonmarital and aberrant sex, at least one rough term, occasional crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of movies recently reviewed by Catholic News Service: "Lincoln" (DreamWorks); "The Sessions" (Fox Searchlight)