‘Repent and Submit’: The Catholic Hipster and Steve the Missionary Take Over CatholicTV

On Oct. 1, CatholicTV premieres Repent and Submit, a new series featuring two of social media’s favorite Catholics: Tommy Tighe (a k a the Catholic Hipster) and Steven Lewis (a k a Steve the Missionary).

Tighe, who tweets under @theghissilent and, and Lewis, who tweets under @SteveMissionary, are known for using lots of original humor to talk about their personal faith and to evangelize. Here’s a quick sample of recent tweets:

 

Tighe is also an author, having written “The Catholic Hipster Handbook” for Ave Maria Press. Here’s his bio there:

Tommy Tighe is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has worked in community mental health since 2006. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2003 from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Antioch University in 2005.

Tighe has contributed to Catholic DigestAleteia, and CatholicMom.com. He records The Catholic Hipster Podcast with cohost Sarah Vablulas. He has appeared on Relevant Radio, EWTN Radio, and The Catholic Channel on SiriusXM Radio, which runs his podcast The Chimney.

He lives with his wife, Karen, in Livermore, California. They have four sons. (Ed: His website says five. He and his wife lost one, and they have another on the way — so far healthy!)

Lewis is a video blogger (his YouTube channel is here), has worked as a campus missionary and focuses on evangelizing the young. He’s also single and worried he’s not doing it right.

Together, the two plan to take a humorous look at topics large and small. Or, you can hear them describe it themselves.

In a recent piece for Angelus News, Tighe wrote:

Repent & Submit is a fast-paced show covering tons of Catholic topics in a brief amount of time, all aimed at helping you have a great time because these are the exact conversations you’re probably having with your Catholic friends on a daily basis. We try and show that, while we may have drastically different opinions on issues within the Church (music style, prayer life, the best way to highlight the younger voices in our parishes), we can still come away as friends and hopefully learn a little something at the same time.

If you’re excited to see something new, something fresh, and something exciting in the world of Catholic television, you’ve got to put Repent & Submit from CatholicTV on your calendar! You can catch it live on air every Wednesday 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CatholicTV starting the first week of October, or stream it any time at CatholicTV.org or on the CatholicTV app (available for pretty much every device out there).

CatholicTV is indeed available live online, as an Amazon app, on Roku devices, on select cable systems and in lots of other ways.

Repent and Submit premieres live on Monday, Oct. 1, at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. You can read more about it here, in the digital version of CatholicTV’s magazine; check out the show’s official homepage here; and follow it on Twitter @RepentSubmitCTV, and Catholic TV on Facebook.

Image: Courtesy CatholicTV

Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

‘The Nun’: FTP’s Father Guffey Reviews the Horror Hit and Shares Memories From the Set

Father David Guffey, C.S.C., is the National Director of Family Theater Productions and our Head of Production — and he also writes movie reviews! Here he examines “The Nun,” the latest film in “The Conjuring” universe, which is proving a hit with audiences.

The Nun was the box-office favorite of last week ($54 million domestic). Starting with The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2 and the Anabelle films, this is the sixth film in The Conjuring series from producer James Wan, which feature demonic possession and the people brought in to expel it. As with other films in this series, there is a willingness to admit that evil exists in the world and that it looks for opportunities to insert itself into the life of unsuspecting, usually vulnerable people.

The Nun is rated R, mainly for gore, so it is not a kids’ film. The posters and trailers make it look as though it will be a hit job on the Church. If you see the film, reserve judgement to the end. You may be surprised, as you find that people of faith are the protagonists in the struggle to contain evil.

The Nun begins as Father Burke (Demian Bichir) is summoned to the Vatican and assigned to investigate a recent suicide death in a remote Romanian convent. From the look on the cardinals’ faces, there is more to it, but you knew that from the posters. Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), a novice who has yet to take final vows, accompanies him.  They travel to a mountainous area in Romania, guided by Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), a local character who discovered a nun hanging from a ledge outside the convent walls.

Inside the walls, awaits a Gothic scare fest. The order of nuns holds evil at bay by their “Perpetual Adoration” (though there is no sign of a monstrance or a clear understanding of the Eucharist). Father Burke and Sister Irene work to solve the mystery of the convent, as they avoid the Demon Nun, which we first saw in a painting in the home of Catholic exorcists Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Taissa’s sister, Vera Farmiga) in the first film in The Conjuring series. Then the Demon Nun itself showed up in The Conjuring 2.

Thanks to Warner Brothers, I was invited to tour part of the set in Romania as the film was being shot. The sets were nearly as eerie on the tour we received as they were in the final cut of the film. Another priest had been called to set earlier to bless them. Director Corin Hardy comes from an artistic family and he was trained in art, sculpture and design. He told us, “In painting, I learned to begin with a dark page and then bring the light out of that.”

This vision clearly influences the design of the sets and lighting throughout the whole film. Shadows are thick with bits of light as the only guide and hope. There is, however, light. Light shines through the faith and courage of the good guys (and nuns). Bichir portrays Father Burke as a humbled man with a centeredness and sense of resolve. Farmiga’s Sister Irene brings light to the film with a sense of innocence and confidence that evil can be overcome.

As a Catholic priest and a member of a religious order, the film’s lack of Catholic cultural authenticity was striking, probably more so to me that the average church-going viewer. As a filmmaker, I would argue that more attention to the some of the customs, practices and objects of priests and sisters might have added texture to the beautiful production design, helped give more depth to the characters and accentuated the ultimate conflicts of the film.

The Nun would be a better horror film if it had been written with more Catholic details to add to the contrasts of darkness and light.

Nevertheless, it a watchable and exciting film. Horror fans proved their interest in this series of films, believers will find comfort in the power of faith and I hope there are more films like this coming.  There is evil in the world and it does prey on the most vulnerable.

Faith and the courage are the greatest weapons against such dark forces. Light shines forth in the darkness.

Images: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

‘God Bless the Broken Road’: Mixed Reviews for New Faith-Based Film

In theaters Sept. 7, “God Bless the Broken Road” tells the story of a Kentucky-based Afghan War widow, church musician and single mother struggling with her faith and the possibility of a new relationship.

Here’s how the official Website describes it:

God Bless the Broken Road tells the story of a young mother who loses her husband in Afghanistan and struggles to raise their young daughter in his absence. The film combines elements of faith, country music, and stock car racing while paying tribute to those who serve in the United States Military.

Harold Cronk (“God’s Not Dead”) directed the movie and is credited as co-writer with Catholic Jennifer Dornbush, who wrote the book version, which came last summer. Cronk specializes in films aimed at the faith audience, but with the mainstream success of recent films like “I Can Only Imagine,” mainstream news outlets are taking more notice of films targeted at the faithful.

And, like “I Can Only Imagine,” “God Bless the Broken Road” is inspired by a song, this time one by Rascal Flatts called “Bless the Broken Road.” And, like “I Can Only Imagine,” it features actress Madeline Carroll.

Lindsay Pulsipher (“True Blood”) stars as widow Amber; Makenzie Moss plays her daughter, Bree; Kim Delaney (“NYPD Blue”) is Amber’s mother-in-law; and Andrew W. Walker plays Cody, a NASCAR driver who is interested in Amber. Making his film debut is NFL great LaDanian Tomlinson, who plays Amber’s pastor.

Early reviews are positive about the performance of Pulsipher’s performance but not so much about the movie itself.

From The Washington Post:

There are powerful themes of doubt and redemption here, and character actor Gary Grubbs (“The X Files”) is convincing as Joe, the avuncular auto repair-shop owner who teaches “Speed Racer,” as he calls Cody, to slow down when he takes a curve. Ironically, this faith-based film requires a suspension of disbelief: Joe’s lesson is an apt metaphor for life, sure, but how could Cody have had any success on the track if he didn’t already know when to slow down? The parables of Jesus are instructive because they speak to real struggles, but Cody’s hubris is pure contrivance.

… The filmmakers display technical proficiency — shot rhythms and graceful camerawork suggest an omniscient power gently observing His charges — and there is a natural drama in seeing flawed humans struggle with their belief.

But aside from Grubbs’s genuine wisdom, the characters for the most part play inspirational pawns more than three-dimensional people, their relationships held together by the most slender of threads. “God Bless the Broken Road” plants a seed of evangelical drama, but its efforts to proselytize are unlikely to bear fruit.

From the Tribune News Service:

“God Bless the Broken Road” is a very strange Frankenstein’s monster of a film, the story trying to combine too many elements while reverse-engineered into incorporating the title of a popular country song. It is unclear what anything in the movie has to do with Rascal Flatts or the song, except that Amber sings it at the end in her triumphant return to church, after her many come-to-Jesus moments: losing her home, her daughter running away on a go-kart and going to live with her judgmental, multi-level-marketing-shilling mother-in-law, finding out the story of her husband’s death from his Army pal, a climatic NASCAR race wherein her new boyfriend drives a commemorative car decked out in pink camouflage and eagles.

What “God Bless the Broken Road” does have going for it is a better-than-expected performance by Pulsipher, who plays the winsome but broken woman with a deep sense of sensitivity. At the center, she holds together this hodgepodge of random story elements that otherwise don’t make much sense together at all.

And, from AZCentral:

Just to be clear: “God Bless the Broken Road” would be just as bad a film if it were set in, say, an Orthodox Jewish community, rather than the Bible Belt (specifically Kentucky). Like nine out of 10 faith-based films, it lets the message crowd out the other elements of good art: character development, thematic complexity, even basics such as a compelling conflict.

After nearly two hours of plodding storytelling, and despite an affecting performance by Pulsipher, we know nothing about Amber other than her difficult circumstances and maybe the fact that she likes Rascal Flatts and Scrabble. And the world she lives in is equally gauzy, filled with good-willed people of faith who, except maybe for her mean boss, all have her best interests at heart.

None of this reaction is surprising, and some of it may be accurate. But it comes from reviewers who are very unlikely to be counted among the film’s target demo. So, faith-based viewers will have to decide for themselves about “God Bless the Broken Road.”

Images: Courtesy 10 West Studios/A Really Good Home Pictures

Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

BASED ON: Our Father Vince Kuna Looks at Spike Lee’s ‘BlackKkKlansman’ and the Book That Inspired It

Editor: First in a new series by our producer-at-large, USC film school grad Father Vince Kuna, C.S.C., that looks at a movie based on a book.

He begins with the recent feature film “BlackKkKlansman,” co-written and directed by Spike Lee, based on a memoir by Ron Stallworth by the same title.

It’s R-Rated and definitely NOT for the family audience.

Set against the idyllic mountains of 1970s Colorado Springs, “BlackKkKlansman” tells the real life story of Ron Stallworth, police officer and the Jackie Robinson of his profession. Stallworth put up with a tremendous amount of discrimination in breaking the color barrier for black detectives in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Prior to going onto a long and distinguished career in law enforcement, Stallworth infiltrated the city’s growing chapter of the Klu Klux Klan.

The set piece of both the memoir and film begins when the department quickly promotes Stallworth (played by John David Washington (HBO’s “Ballers”; yes, Denzel’s son) from archival work to the more enviable intelligence division. Upon discovering a promotion for the KKK in the local newspaper, Stallworth leaves a message for the answering machine. To his surprise, the local knight calls him back and invites him to meet some of the other Klansman. His first investigation begins. Stallworth’s colleagues are less impressed and in fact are amused at the phone call … Stallworth accidentally gave his real name. Rookie mistake! As KKK members would never accept someone not of their own skin color, it will be up to Stallworth’s Jewish partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) to be the face of Stallworth, while the real Stallworth will continue to supply his own voice.

As you probably have gathered by now, Stallworth’s memoir achieves an absurdist, yet comedic vibe. The film’s best attribute lies in Spike Lee’s ability to pull off this very tone. Phone conversations between the real Stallworth and Grand Knight, David Duke (Topher Grace), are guffaw-inducing and would be more hilarious, if not for the racist content serving as a disturbing undertone. Real-life encounters between Zimmeran’s “Stallworth” and Klan members are well-executed by Driver. He quite capably feigns a racist persona for the sake of the investigation. Both characters, in effect, do as Christ did, not fighting ugliness with more ugliness, but absorbing some of the worst parts of their enemies and turning it against them, exposing evil for what it is. “Infiltrate hate,” the tagline goes of the film goes. Not “flee” or “fight” hate as the world often demands.

The biggest addition to the film, not found anywhere in the memoir is the romance between Stallworth and Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier), a fictitious Colorado College student and leader of the school’s Black Student Union. This subplot was to enhance Stallworth’s character: he’s sympathetic to his people’s cause and even smitten with Dumas, but nonetheless doesn’t fall in with the militant means of affecting change that at times, plagued civil rights activism.

The better story lies in reality, however. In his memoir, Stallworth recounts a concurrent episode where a 15-year-old black boy named David Scott Lee murdered a young white male outside a 24-hour diner. Stallworth agreed with the conviction as it was a clear cut, cold-blooded murder. The local predominately black Baptist church took issue with the ruling and, in what Stallworth felt was a desperate plea for self-promotion, invited Dr. Ralph David Abernathy (successor to MLK as Southern Christian Leadership Conference leader) to bring attention to the closed case and thus, their church. Stallworth warned Abernathy of his being co-opted by the local church.

Lee makes no mention of this story. It’s a shame, because the real-life Stallworth rose above partisan politics, living out his profession in terms of right and wrong, the criminals and the innocent, irrespective of whether they wear police blues or not. Lee on the other hand, can’t quite seem to extricate himself from seeing the world solely in black and white, ending the film with an upside down Old Glory drained of its Red, White and Blue. The film ends on a downer, whereas the real-life Ron Stallworth provided hope. The reality of his memoir, it seems, is indeed better than the historical fiction of the movie.

Image: Courtesy Focus Features

Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

New Animated ‘Pete the Cat’ Lands at Amazon Prime Video on Sept. 21, With Diana Krall and Elvis Costello!

After Amazon Prime Video’s holiday special, “Pete the Cat: A Groovy New Year,” a new series based on the hit children’s book series hits the streaming service on Sept. 21.

Created by author/illustrator James Dean, “Pete the Cat” spreads over 40 books, translated into 13 languages and the recipients of 18 literary awards, including the Theodore Geisel Seuss Award.

Here’s what Amazon had to say about the new series (click here for the homepage):

Amazon Prime Video today announced Friday, September 21 will be the global premiere date for the anticipated animated kids series Pete the Cat. Based on the best-selling children’s books, Pete the Cat is a fun, musically driven series about exploring your world and trying new things, while being smart, accepting, and optimistic. Whether you’re making new friends or facing all of life’s ups and downs, Pete always finds a way to put a groovy spin on things. The series stars Jacob Tremblay (Room) as Pete the Cat, and musicians Diana Krall and Elvis Costello as his Mom and Dad. Pete the Cat features original music from Grammy Award-winners Costello and Krall, which will also be available to stream via Amazon Music. Jessica Biel (The Illusionist), Atticus Shaffer (The Middle) and internationally acclaimed musician KT Tunstall also star in the series.

In season one of Pete the Cat, the show highlights themes of self-discovery. Pete stays cool as he tries new things, sets out for picture day, writes his first song, learns to surf and even has his first performance for his band. Scored with an upbeat, groovy soundtrack, Pete the Cat encourages children to be curious, creative, and positive while rockin’ to their own beat.

Pete the Cat is a co-production with Amazon Studios and Alcon Television Group. It is developed by Jeff “Swampy” Marsh (Phineas and Ferb) and Appian Way Production Company. Marsh serves as executive producer along with Alcon’s Andrew Kosove, Broderick Johnson, and Laura Lancaster, as well as Appian Way’s Jennifer Davisson.

Take a peek:

Image: Courtesy Amazon Prime Video

Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

The Eucharist: Bishop Barron, Flannery O’Connor, Catholic Central and the Real Presence

What is the source and summit of the Catholic faith? The Eucharist. And, according to author Flannery O’Connor, when a fellow writer said it was a beautiful symbol: “If it’s a symbol, to hell with it.”

Bishop Robert Barron is busy traveling, shooting new episodes for his “Catholicism: The Pivotal Players” series, including one on O’Connor, whose sometimes hard-edged tales touch on the deepest recesses of the human heart and the ever-present chance of redemption.

In the clip below from the O’Connor episode, posted Aug. 14, Barron can be seen in the rose gardens at Yaddo, an artist’s colony and retreat near the famed Thoroughbred racecourse in Saratoga Springs, in upstate New York. It includes the above quote and more.

As demonstrated by the exodus of many disciples as soon as Christ started talking about the true nature of the Eucharist, it’s a hard thing to accept: that the Son of God can be fully present — Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity — under the appearance of bread and wine.

In Family Theater Productions’ online series “Catholic Central,” we consider the Eucharist to be so important that we dedicated two episodes to it. It’s a serious subject, and host Kai (Kaiser Johnson) and Libby (Elizabeth Slater) treat it as such, but with the lighthearted touch seen throughout the show (which is still releasing new episodes regularly).

So, how lighthearted?

Take a look at “Eucharist 101” (full episode page here, with transcript and study materials):

And the follow-up episode, about the “Real Presence” (full page here):

Catholics love Mary and the saints, but Jesus is the undisputed Lord, Savior and King, who gives Himself to us at every Mass, in the humblest and most miraculous of ways.

Enjoy all the episodes at CatholicCentral.com.

Images: Courtesy Word on Fire; Family Theater Productions

Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.