Deliver Us From Evil

 Posted by on 21 February 2008 at 8:04 am  Film, Religion
Feb 212008

We just finished watching Deliver Us From Evil, an excellent 2006 documentary. Ugh, I haven’t felt so nauseated in quite some time. I need a shower.

You need to rent it.

I didn’t really know what it was about, other than that it was a documentary having to do with religion that Tammy had put in our Netflix queue. It started simply enough, circling around the mid-70′s activities of one Oliver O’Grady, a Catholic priest in California. “I want to promise myself this is going to be the most honest confession of my life.” Confession? The interwoven interview snippets began turning south as the potential for some “inappropriate contact” with a child was turning up in the discussions. With every chapter of the film, it only got worse.

Not one, or even a few, but dozens and dozens and perhaps hundreds of children. Both females and males. Sex with parents to get to kids. And he didn’t have sex with just young teens, but adolescents, and children… down to five years old, two years old, nine months old! Chapter after chapter showing his eluding prosecution by way of upper-management promises to victims and government officials to get this dirtbag out of the priesthood and away from kids — only to be quietly moved to another priesthood with more victims another city or two over. Decades of honing and using his predatory skills with the knowledge of the Church. More chapters with the focus shifting out to the patterns of buck-passing, indifference and coverup in the Church leadership as it struggles to deal with similar “issues” across the US, with culpability all the way up to the current Pope who (just prior to becoming Pope) was accused of conspiracy to cover up rampant sexual abuse in the US. He was granted immunity against prosecution for that by President Bush.

The film closes with where-are-they-now summary screens and various factoids: “Since 1950, sexual abuse has cost the Church over one billion dollars in legal settlements & expenses.” “Over 100,000 victims of clergy sexual abuse have come forward in the United States alone.” “Experts say more than 80% of sexual abuse victims never report their abuse.”

I was struck by how O’Grady’s “most honest confession” was nonetheless incredibly evasive; how his ongoing efforts at (ostensively) trying to make himself and his victims better were manipulative and oriented toward excusing and limiting the mind-bending scale of his atrocities. It was particularly chilling to watch him deploy some of the same disgusting manipulations he used on his young victims right before our eyes — and sadly, we get to watch some of them continue to let him manipulate them.

Many of these victims still see the Church in a good light. Just one fellow, the father of a girl of five who was being raped by this monster, was shown feeling such outrage and betrayal that he wouldn’t step foot in another church and had dropped his faith. Meanwhile, his daughter is shown smiling toward the Vatican buildings on a present-day trip by victims to address the Church (rebuffed). Near the end of the film we see her kneeling in prayer in some cathedral.

This is what faith and submission to authority wreak.

Three Bourne Movies?!?

 Posted by on 18 January 2008 at 8:30 pm  Film
Jan 182008

Over the past week, Paul and I watched all three Bourne movies: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Bourne Ultimatum.

In a sense, they weren’t terrible. The plots were basically coherent. The characters were mostly consistent. Yet the movies added up to nothing but a series of totally forgettable zeros.

The action, particularly the all-too-regular chase scenes served no purpose, except to inadvertently suggest (1) that Jason Bourne wasn’t terribly good at the stealth for which he was supposedly trained to perfection and (2) that for all his angst about his prior killings, Jason didn’t mind killing and maiming commuters and pedestrians.

The characters were just puppets acting out their parts, without rhyme or reason beyond “that’s just who he/she is.” Heck, they weren’t even interesting puppets. Jason Bourne is driven to uncover his past, whatever the cost, but without any compelling reason for doing so except some nightmares. His years-long love affair with Marie was absurd: two people meet accidentally then fall deeply in love for no reason whatsoever.

None of the movies had any theme or purpose or point whatsoever. They were just playing out the plot for its own sake. Basically, the movies consisted of very boring naturalism marginally spiced up by one chase scene after another.

Paul and I both regarded them as a waste of time. Honestly, I think I’d rather endure the active pain of watching The Last Samurai again than endure the numb boredom of watching the Bourne movies again!

NetFlix Update

 Posted by on 30 December 2007 at 12:15 am  Film
Dec 302007

Of the people who’ve signed up to be my NetFlix “friends”, Greg Perkins rates second with 80% similarity to me. (Paul and I are about 95% similar, so he doesn’t bother rating his own movies.)

Then again, Greg gave The Last Samurai five stars. I’ll admit, it was a well-constructed movie. However, Paul and I both thought it revoltingly vicious in its philosophy from start to finish, with the single exception of a comment about the perfectionism of the Samurai culture in all its pursuits. Its noble ethic was that of senseless sacrifice in the fulfillment of duty. It was anti-industrialization, anti-technology, anti-civilization, and (as if that’s not enough) anti-American. Blech!

Of course, the fact that it was a well-done movie, with a coherent plot and well-drawn characters, only made its thoroughly awful philosophy so much more clear. Normally, I can tolerate well-done movies with vicious themes… but not this time.

So Greg: Five stars?!? Explain yourself, man! ;-)

300, Again

 Posted by on 27 December 2007 at 9:08 am  Film
Dec 272007

Paul and I just finished watching the movie 300 again. I disliked it as much as ever, if not more. I stand by my original objection that the loudly proclaimed ideals of reason, justice, and freedom were blatantly contradicted by the concretes of Spartan life. To that, I would add that the movie portrays the Spartans as much worse than they were — for example, in their political system of hereditary kingship, in their ideals of blind duty and obedience, in their law against retreat, and most of all in their explicit worship of utterly pointless “glorious” death in battle. That’s bad enough, but what’s so much worse is that the film deeply admires the Spartans for those vicious qualities — and expects us to do the same. Toward the end of the battle, the death-worship is so perfect and complete in both word and deed that I can’t even enjoy it as an action film.


District B13

 Posted by on 24 December 2007 at 1:10 pm  Film
Dec 242007

If you liked the opening chase-and-fight sequence of Casino Royale, you’ll probably also enjoy District B13, a French film chock full of the same kind of nimble chasing and fighting techniques. The technique used in both movies is “parkour“: “an activity with the aim of moving from one point to another as efficiently and quickly as possible, using principally the abilities of the human body.” It was invented by David Belle, one of the two main characters in the movie. He’s phenomenal to watch in action.

The movie isn’t profound, but it’s enjoyable for what it is. It has a engaging plot, a non-horrible theme, and well-drawn characters. That’s already better than most of what’s produced today!

Also, the other main character in District B13, Cyril Raffaelli, also worked on Brotherhood of the Wolf, another French film I like enough to own. It’s a well-done historical thriller with some kick-ass fight sequences.

The Departed

 Posted by on 17 December 2007 at 9:57 pm  Film
Dec 172007

I just finished watching The Departed. It wasn’t bad, but I’m pretty well floored that Martin Scorsese won an Oscar for his directing — given that so much, not just the basic story but even particular scenes — were taken directly from the much better Infernal Affairs. What gives?!?

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