'Bless Me, Ultima' has moments where its magical realism shines

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

'Ultima' strains to be a classic, but the film does have lovely sections.

Arenas Entertainment/AP
'Bless Me, Ultima' stars Luke Ganalon (l.) and Miriam Colon (r.).

Rudolfo Anaya’s 1972 novel “Bless Me, Ultima” is a classic of Chicano literature and the movie it’s based on strains to be a classic as well. It’s about 6-year-old Antonio (Luke Ganalon), who comes of age in rural New Mexico when his native healer grandmother Ultima (Miriam Colon) comes to live with his family. Antonio witnesses all manner of grace and bloodshed. He tries to reconcile the teachings of his Roman Catholic education with the mysticism all around him as incarnated by Ultima.

Writer-director Carl Franklin offers up a tone of heightened reverence that weighs down the material, but there are small, lovely moments when the magic realism approaches the magical. Grade: B (Rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual references.)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.