Good evening Mr. & Mrs. Catholic, and all you other Christians at sea. Welcome back to the Newsreel, sponsored as always by the fine folks at Acts of the Apostasy, home of the 3 1/2 Time-Outs Tuesday. Now off to press.
In case you haven’t yet heard about it elsewhere, acclaimed director Nick Cassavetes recently destroyed most of his credibility in an interview with The Wrap wherein he defended the incestuous relationship portrayed in his latest film Yellow. “We had heard a few stories where brothers and sisters were completely, absolutely in love with one another.” Cassavetes said, “You know what? This whole movie is about judgment, and lack of it, and doing what you want. Who gives a **** if people judge you? I’m not saying this is an absolute but in a way, if you’re not having kids – who gives a damn? Love who you want. Isn’t that what we say? Gay marriage – love who you want? If it’s your brother or sister it’s super-weird, but if you look at it, you’re not hurting anybody except every single person who freaks out because you’re in love with one another.” Well, gee whiz, Nick, perhaps you missed the extensive studies made on the subject of sibling incest (Cole, 1982; Higgs, Canavan, & Meyer, 1992; Russell, 1986) which concluded that “long-term effects on the individual include: shattered trust of brothers and men in general; never marrying or making poor choices in marriage; poor self-concept; sexual promiscuity and using sex as the only way to relate to men; a tendency toward revictimization, sexual and otherwise; substance abuse; depression and other psychiatric symptoms such as dissociative experiences or loss of memory for large periods of the past; confusion between intimacy and sexuality; and a lack of support from family and society, who tend to blame the victim.” You see, Nick, (or perhaps you’ll still refuse to) there’s actual real scientific reasons behind the Church’s disapproval of non-traditional sexual relationships besides some twisted desire to meddle in people’s private bedrooms.
Speaking of misguided filmmakers, you may remember a few weeks ago when The B-Movie Catechism poked a little fun at our Protestant brethren who make well meaning, but often not very good, movies. Well, turnabout is fair play (or so we’ve heard), so it’s only right that we pass along a link to an article by Br. Gabriel Torretta, O.P., who asks the simple question, “Why are Catholic movies so bad?” “We can learn a lot about the problems of Catholic filmmaking from Christian Duguay’s new film Restless Heart, a dramatized account of St. Augustine’s life and conversion.” Br. Torretta posits. “As a film, Restless Heart has its high points, even if in general it suffers from poor pacing and uninspiring dialogue. As a biography of a great theologian, the film fares worse; recognizing the difficulties in staging most of Augustine’s life (How does one film a gradual conversion from Skepticism to Neo-platonism?), Restless Heart blithely invents a more exciting history for him, turning the troubled young professor of rhetoric into a hotshot lawyer with a devil-may-care attitude who, after cooperating in a massacre of Milanese Christians, miraculously converts and triumphs over all his adversaries, notably including a scene in which all the heretical Donatist bishops in North Africa agree that the Roman Church has the true faith, and seal their conversion with group hugs. If we abstract from the religious character of the film, we can easily understand why Restless Heart is unlikely to win any Academy Awards; whatever its other problems, it ultimately fails to entertain. Viewed from a Christian perspective, the occasional moments of real drama don’t justify vitiating one of Christianity’s most compelling conversion stories and replacing it with a boilerplate fourth-century knock-off of a John Grisham novel.” Harsh, but Br. Torretta does offer some suggestions along with his criticisms, however, so the article is definitely worth a read.
While not everyone agrees, one of the films which is generally considered among the best examples of mixing religion and celluloid storytelling is The Exorcist. So it is with some trepidation that we hear from The Vulture that writer-director Sean Durkin “is adapting the fiendish classic into a ten-episode television series… Unlike the iconic 1973 film, Durkin’s version of The Exorcist follows the events leading up to a demonic possession and especially the after-effects of how a family copes with it: In short, not well, and when medical and psychiatric explanations fail, the desperate family turns to the church, with Father Damien Karras finally brought in to attempt the exorcism.” We’ll reserve judgment until more details come out. Ten episodes could allow the story some breathing room to include details in the novel the original film didn’t have space to include. But it could also allow the whole thing to become a meandering mess. About all we can say right now is that as long as the project doesn’t take the route of John Boorman’s Exorcist II: The Heretic, which completely missed the point and tried to be spiritual without being religious (has that ever worked), it should have a decent chance of being interesting.
Whether it be due to over-familiarity with the material or just jaded modern sensibilities, there are some out there who have forgotten the impact The Exorcist’s portrayal of the evil of Satan had upon its release. To help you remember…
Well, we won’t wish you pleasant dreams after that, but we will, as is our custom, sign off the Newsreel with the immortal words of the great Les Nessman. Good evening, and may the good news be yours.