Frozen  (PG / A-I - 4 Stars) - At near year’s end, IMHO the best animated picture of the year about two young princesses growing up in Disney/Fairy Tale Scandinavia and a special gift (that often feels like a curse) that one of the sisters has to deal with. Great parable about growing up, family bonds and even parenting.
Nebraska  (R - 4 Stars) - “Gift” to those who think their families “have issues.” Dad’s an old drunk and sweet ma’ actually doesn’t like ANYBODY. All things come to a head when good old dad receives a sweepstakes letter and thinks he’s won a $1,000,000. What would _you_ do? Would you indulge or pop the fantasy? Why/how? Much ensues. And yes, it’s a comedy ;-)
Burning Bush (orig. Hořicí Keř) [HBO-Europe Miniseries 2013] (UR would be R - 4 Stars) - Searing three part European miniseries (Czech with English Subtitles) by Polish born director Agnieszka Holland about the probably the most emblematic moment of protest against the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. On Jan 15, 1969 a Czech university student Jan Palach poured gasoline on top of himself by the monument to St. Wenceslas (the Czechs’ Patron Saint) in Prague’s Wenceslas Square and like the Buddhist monks in Saigon protesting the Vietnam War at the time, set himself ablaze. No matter what the Czechoslovak Communist authorities tried to do in the 20 years afterwards, they could not erase the memory of what this young person did for his country. And arguably the protests commemorating the 20th anniversary of his death in January 1989 began the year of escalating protests that brought Communism down.
Delivery Man (PG-13 / L - 3 1/2 Stars) - Remake of a successful recent French Canadian film “Starbuck” now a funny / thought provoking Vince Vaughn vehicle. Not exactly for kids (the PG-13 rating is IMHO laughable) but offers young adults / adults opportunity to reflect on Catholic Church Teaching about Sexuality, Life and above all Reconciliation / Forgiveness. There’s one big (or 533) felix culpas presented here.
Catching Fire  (PG-13 - 3 Stars) - Part II of Hunger Games Series, IMHO more believable than Pt I — Defiance “Catches Fire” and spreads in decadent / totalitarian U.S. of the future. Not bad teen / young adult fare ;-)
Flying Blind  (UR would be R - 4 Stars) - A middle-aged, single aerospace engineer enters into a relationship with an attractive 20ish engineering student from Algeria. But is she choosing wisely? Who is he? Who is he indeed? But then why should people be questioning her judgement to begin with? Great suspenseful / thought-provoking / challenging film.
Viva Belarus! (orig. Żywie Biełaruś!)  (UR would be R) - Film about “Stalinism meeting the Internet” and the largely youth-led opposition in Belarus, the last dictatorship in Europe. Based largely on the experiences of pro-democracy activist Franak Viačorka whose somewhat clandestine blog “Life of a Belarusian Soldier” went viral and did result in some changes over there, including, (duh…) the acceptance of the BELARUSSIAN LANGUAGE as the SECOND official language of the BELARUSIAN ARMY to the “powers-that-be” preferred still Soviet-era evoking Russian…
Best Man Holiday (R / O - 3 1/2 Stars) - Definitely not for “the kids” but CERTAINLY FOR THEIR PARENTS. A “Holiday” Dramedy that proved MUCH BETTER than I thought it would be — about friends, family and, yes GOD. Made by and acted by African Americans, this is one “Xmas story” where CHRIST is definitely present.