Sunday, September 21, 2003


Did I say a few weeks back that my schedule would be getting back to normal in September? I guess it has, only "normal" now seems to mean plain old inconceivably hectic. Life is leaving very little time for blogging...which is unfortunate, because, in being so busy, life is giving me lots of cool things to blog about. Tonight is also one of the high holy days here in L.A. - Emmy night - and as my friend Rob King's project Door to Door is nominated in 11 categories, I can only type in between his categories.

So, I'm going to be pithy and just throw random news down here.

.....I went to a screening of the new feature film Luther. ... And Luther said there is no such thing as purgatory.... The film stars Joseph Fiennes, Alfred Molina and Peter Ustinov. The production values are good - certainly not epic level, but solid, and the cast is very talented. The actors do the the best they can with a script that is really draggy and episodic. There is no arc for the main character, Luther, who is written as, uh, well, the holiest, brilliantist, deepest, sincerest, articulatest, goodest damn guy on the planet. His principle flaws are his consuming passion for crippled children, his blinking-eyed fervor for the good, and his zeal for God. Bad film. Luther is, however, a huge leap forward for Evangelical film-making if Left Behind and Omega Code were the previous standard. But there are no pretensions to art here. Unless revisionist history and anti-Catholic bigotry is an artform. My main quandry is, where are all the people who are so enflamed about subtle anti-Semitism in The Passion? The historical Luther was a fire-breathing anti-Semite if ever there was one. Where is the outrage that a bigot is being portrayed in this film in a favorable light? Where is the outrage?....

....I quit my job as the monthly Media Matters columnist for Liguorian magazine. They refused to print my review of The Passion because they are afraid of siding with a film that some people are saying is anti-Semitic. They wanted to me rewrite my review to be less of a rave and "more balanced" - whatever that is in a movie review. My sense is the anti-Semitism thing is just a blind for the real issue - if Mel was a liberal, they would have no problem with the film. The magazine is setting itself on the wrong side of this whole question...and I do not choose to be on the wrong side with them.

P.S. The Vatican apparently released an official statement this week that The Passion is just fine theologically and Scripturally, thank you. I'd say, "Nah-nah nah-nah-nah", except that I feel sure that the approval of the Vatican will not matter at all to the folks who are against this film. "Even if a man came back from the grave, it wouldn't be enough for them."

.....I got hired as a monthly media columnist for the National Catholic Register. I'll start sometime in January. Oh, and my first column is a review of The Passion.

....On October 4th, philanthropist Tom Monaghan is generously hosting a gala fundraiser for Act One at his home in Ann Arbor, MI. I will be giving a speech and we will have clips from The Passion and Radio (an upcoming release - very sweet film). If anyone wants to attend, email for an invitation.

...The Fighting Temptations is not intelligent, but fun for pre-teens. At least the ones in the screening I attended were practically throwing themselves on the floor in sheer glee and mirth. Maybe they were paid to impress us press? That's too cynical. The film has nothing objectionable and has a sweet little redemption story, but the music is really the only thing excellent thing here. The film comes from MTV productions, so hopefully if it does well, they'll pass on the next feature-length sado-masochistic gangsta rap music video, and do another sweet movie about Gospel choirs. Yeah right.

...I was interviewed by a reporter for Daily Variety last week. They are doing a story on Act One and other Christian initiatives in Hollywood. Roles reversed for a moment during the interview, and I asked the reporter why he thought Christians get so much bigotry and intolerance in this town. He didn't even think for a second. "It's because of abortion. If you all were on the other side of that issue, I don't think anybody would care about you at all." Shockingly refreshing bit of truth. I think that it is amazing that with all of our problems in the Church, we can still manage to earn some martyr points for a legitimate reason. "What further need do we have of witnesses?..."

I debated The Passion on NPR last week with Michael Medved with me on the "Yeah, rah, great film!" side vs. arch-Biblical deconstructionist Paula Fredricksen and The New Yorker's oh, so earnest Peter Boyer on the "this is a Jew baiting, pogrom in celluloid" side. It is, of course, interesting to "debate" a movie's merits with Fredricksen, as she has not even seen the film -- but clearly she makes up in gaul and fury what she lacks in perspective. Michael and I didn't even get to speak until 35 minutes into the hour-long show. They kept us on mute, while the NPR host and the other two guests did tag-team character assassination of Mel, using as responsorial psalm the mantras, "The Passion is not Biblical and is anti-Semitic," and, "Oh, yeah, the New Testament is anti-Semitic too." I think it is curious that Fredricksen takes issue with Gibson for not being truly, truly Scriptural, and hence anti-Semitic, and at the same time takes issue with the Scriptures for being truly, truly anti-Semitic. In the end, we "Yeah, rah" people only got to talk in about 15 minutes of the hour. Unfair, but, as always, tolerance and consistency are only ever required of people on the right.

...I'll be giving a day-long presentation on screenwriting in Jacksonville, FL this coming Friday, the 26th of September. There are still openings if anybody out there wants to come. Email for more information.

...And the Red Sox are 1.5 games ahead of Seattle in the Wild Card race. As my sister noted to me on the phone, "They can still blow it, Barb." Yes, the Sox can and probably will still blow it. But I do take comfort in the fundamental odds of the universe: You can't lose 'em all. Maybe this year. Oremus....

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