Rightwing Film Geek

Cristian Mungiu Fan Club continues

4monthsmungiu2.jpgNot really. This is just a simple link … to an interview with 4 MONTHS director Cristian Mungiu that took up a whole hour on NPR’s Fresh Air, and I’ve already listened through it twice.¹

Mungiu talks about a score of interesting topics, besides 4 MONTHS specifically and the artistic choices he made (like never mentioning Communism per se). He talked for a long time about the system of funding movies in Romania, which is still state-run to a significant extent. As he also notes though, domestic private funding is basically nil since the Romanian box office has collapsed to 1/10 of what it had been because the country has so few theaters now. A thriving artistic culture, which includes a domestic movie industry, is part of the national common good and thus a legitimate thing for the state to support if private means do not. Mungiu tells of how he had to take 4 MONTHS on something like an old-style traveling road show, from town to town and village to village, for his film to be seen in much of Romania (a film about that will be an extra on the DVD, he promises).

He also notes that he was born in 1968, two years after abortion was made illegal, and part of the “Baby Boom” that took place in Romania in the first several years of abortion’s illegality. He says matter-of-factly that he was “not a planned child,” and this was something many Romanians of his generational cohort knew since this was something “our parents wouldn’t hide from us.” But most importantly, he says, “it’s not that our parents wouldn’t love us or that my parents wouldn’t love me.” Exactly. The very notion that Parenthood is a thing Planned is a lie or a rationalization. And every unplanned child was once an unplanned pregnancy.

I’m curious also about something Mungiu said at about the 3:20 mark. He’s giving the history of illegal abortion in Romania and noting that it had nothing to do with moral or religious reasons, especially since religion was discouraged under Communism. And then Mungiu says, with the emphasis that this is important, that in Romania “we are Orthodox, we are not Catholic.” Well, I at least knew that much. But its relevance went over my head. I had been pretty confident that the Orthodox Church condemns abortion too (less so, contraception; also outlawed by Ceausescu). So … what, if anything definitive,² does Orthodoxy teach about abortion and contraception? Peter? Rod?
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¹ Don’t let the title “Oppression and Abortion” turn you off. That’s the National Pinko Radio headline-writers. Plus there’s no denying by sane people that the Ceausescu regime was (a) oppressive and (b) did not outlaw abortion for good reason.
² I understand very generally that differences in church structures could make this question, or any similar one, a bit more complicated for the East than the West.

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February 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fisking myself on 4 MONTHS

4monthsabort.jpg

Actually, this isn’t really a “fisk,” more like my saying “Mr. Speaker, permission to revise and extend my remarks” about 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS, beyond what I said back in September when I first saw it.

unlike in VERA DRAKE, nobody says abortion is wrong

That isn’t quite true. There is a conversation Otilia has with her boyfriend where she asks what he would do if she were in Gabita’s position. He says, not to her joy, that he would marry her because he’s against abortion because it’s so dangerous. Which doesn’t actually count as “wrong” in my opinion¹ … but it is one reason to be against abortion.

There’s even a hint, only a hint, in Marinca’s performance in this scene, that her question might actually not be hypothetical. And earlier in the movie, Otilia mentions in passing getting notes to lie about her period. (This is one example of 4 MONTHS being so utterly “lived-in” and thus so endlessly rich with details that may or may not mean anything flying off like pinwheels. Another — the abortionist leaves behind his ID at the hotel desk; was it fake?)

Abortion as either a moral matter or a political issue simply does not appear, on either side.

This is mostly correct. Politics certainly never enters the picture (except to the extent that short conversations about the consequences of getting caught reflect decades-ago political actions; which is a stretch), and morality isn’t an explicitly textual matter, for the reasons I there stated.

4monthsmungiu.jpgBut it is now inconceivable to me that this movie could have been made by people who didn’t have deep qualms about abortion and the film reflects that, however far the makers may wish to take it — whether they connect the lines, or dot the i’s and cross the t’s (or whatever metaphor appeals to you). It’s not just The Shot, which seemed on second viewing last week to go on for twice as long as it had in my memory, but also the shooting of the subsequent disposal scenes, which use tropes frequently seen in horror movies — dark of night, dog on the soundtrack, running into the middle of a composition where the perspective seems to stretch into infinity.

It’s also the ending, as I wrote in the post below (and which David Edelstein rebelled against; an infallible sign that one is doing something right on this topic). It’s also how the abortion is depicted as a violation itself — Gabita says while lying down “it hurt when he put it in me,” and it’s not obvious whether she’s talking about Bebe’s catheter or his penis (though there be subtitling/translation issues). And director Cristian Mungiu has said repeatedly in interviews that under Ceausescu, “abortion lost any moral connotation and was rather perceived as an act of rebellion and resistance against the regime.” In another, he said at Cannes that he wanted people to consider deeply “the moral issue” of abortion rather than about “getting caught.” All of which presupposes that there is a moral issue in the first place.²

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February 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

The end of 4 MONTHS

 

4months3weeks2days_2.jpg

In a discussion at the Arts & Faith discussion board, Steve Greydanus asked a question about the ending of 4 WEEKS, 3 MONTHS AND 2 DAYS (SPOILER warning), and a good one that speaks to part of what the film says and shows about abortion:

Is it Gabita or Otilia who comments in the final scene that “we must never speak about this again”? I remember it as Gabita but I’m not sure. Also, I don’t have the exact wording in my notes — anyone have it? Thanks.

Actually, that final line was spoken by Otilia, the women who arranges the abortion for her friend Gabita and whom the movie mostly follows. And the context is particularly damning. Here is the last exchange from my notes, which obviously are fallible in small details but not the ones I’ll emphasize. The pair are sitting down at a restaurant.

Gabita: Did you bury it?
Otilia: You know what we’re going to do. We’re never going to talk about this. OK?

Then a lengthy, lengthy pause and no words are exchanged between the women, until the film suddenly cuts to black.

Leading into that conversation, they had been served their dinner, and Steve describes it thus in his excellent review:

4 Months comes closest to commentary in the final scene, which finds one of the main characters sitting down to a meal in the restaurant of the hotel where the abortion was performed. A wedding reception is in full swing in the next room, but a fight has broken out in the party. The waiter brings a dish from the reception menu: beef, liver, kidneys, breaded brains. What happens when human beings treat one another as no more than this? 4 Months offers queasy but meaty food for thought.

Look at all the signifiers here: a wedding, the icon of sex, gone wrong; body parts served, as if in response to the “never speak of this again” answer; a lengthy shot of silence, as if absorbing the unspeakable. And then there’s that last question, thus prompting that answer.

The women had been told, quite pragmatically, by the abortionist not to flush the baby down the toilet (it’ll stop up the plumbing and prompt an investigation) and not to bury it (dogs will dig it up for food), but to toss it down a high-rise garbage chute (untraceable and probably never to be noticed). Otilia considered both these alternatives while carrying the towel-wrapped corpse; she even gets the attention of some dogs who can smell the blood in her bag. She did what the abortionist told her. But Gabita asks her “did you bury it?” The answer is unspeakable … and so, we’re never going to talk about this. OK?

February 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Romanian baby killers!!!!

This trailer for 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS, which opened Friday in New York and expands at least to Washington this Friday is really one of the most expert ones I have seen in a long time. (I saw it at THE SAVAGES last weekend.)

It’s incredibly effective at selling the movie, without simply aping the movie (in fact, stylistically, it’s nothing like Mungiu’s film). The short shots, the sharp cuts, the sudden blackouts, the flash edits, the constant motion of both the camera and the things within the frame (amped up by the shortness of the shots) and the “zzzzmmmmppppp” sound effect really wind you up for a tension-filled thriller — what the film is, in many respects. But the trailer does this in the only way you can in 2 minutes. And then there’s hose musical thumps on the soundtrack that you realize eventually become … the sound of a heartbeat.

I’ll try to have something to say in the next few days about some of the reviews I’ve read. But in the meantime, here’s what I wrote back in September about 4 MONTHS, which I thoroughly recommend and would be perfectly happy to see atop my 10 Best list this time next year. (I see that Peter Chattaway and Steve Greydanus agree with me, so this isn’t a case of “Victor’s iconoclastic tastes setting him apart from other Christians.” Can there be a better recommendation for an abortion movie than that the Academy snubbed it for Best Foreign Film?)

January 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

The Goddess of wisdom

juno3.jpg

JUNO (Jason Reitman, USA, 2007) — 8

JUNO began as an at-festival add to my Toronto schedule (based on sky-high buzz filtering in from the Telluride Festival) and the subject of conflicting advice — Noel Murray was convinced I’d hate it, based on my famously low tolerance for Indiewood emo quirkfests; Josh Rothkopf thought I would like it, noting that I’d loved Reitman’s THANK YOU FOR SMOKING and adding that he’d want to discuss the film’s portrayal of abortion with me. But the only time I could see it was only one hour after the start of ATONEMENT. I got a ticket anyway planning to leave ATONEMENT midway through if it wasn’t working. Well … that plan to see JUNO didn’t work out. So, I saw it last week … and Josh is correct. I even upgraded the film from a 7 to an 8 sitting in my memory and after a conversation with a colleague at work (more on that shortly).

To state the obvious stuff: Diablo Canyon’s script about an unexpectedly pregnant teen girl who searches for the perfect parents for her unborn child is more than just very funny. It’s also smart in how teens talk — constantly smart-alecky, but also self-deprecating, i.e., smart-aleckness applied to oneself. And that’s the other key to the film’s success. Juno (unlike, say, Enid in GHOST WORLD, the kind of movie Noel knew I hate) is a *lovable* character because her wit isn’t just bile directed out at a world she looks down on as beneath her.

mcdormand.jpgIn fact, Juno may be the most memorably lovable character in an American movie since Marge in FARGO, another pregnant woman (though pregnancy is merely a fact about Marge, not the movie’s (surface) subject like here). Like Frances McDormand, Ellen Page’s open-faced performance creates a fundamentally good person, albeit a very sassy one, and Page’s ease in tossing off all the sarcastic barbs in Canyon’s script erases all hint of Hallmark saccharinity. Nothing here about motherhood as a sacred calling or anything like that, but I would go so far as to say Juno is what Generation Y virtue looks like.

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January 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

The bad “choice”

Peter Chattaway makes some good and valuable points about the role abortion plays (or rather, mostly doesn’t play) in a few recent films about pregnancies, reacting to this (subscriber-only) piece in Canada’s National Post. To speak only of WAITRESS (I have not seen KNOCKED UP, but probably will — I do not go to blockbusters on opening weekend), as Peter puts it:

I think there may be a little more “discussion” in the American films than Knight allows for — and what’s more, I think the films derive some of their power from the fact that they raise the issue and then point beyond it, claiming the thematic high ground as it were. …

[C]onsider Jenna’s declaration that “I respect this little baby’s right to thrive.” If one believes that preborn children have a “right to thrive”, then what is there to discuss? And consider the powerful, transformative effect that the birth of this child has on Jenna — giving her the courage to ditch her abusive husband and the strength to put certain other aspects of her life in order.

I didn’t buy this last plot point at all — it was far too sudden, far too quick and far too total, and thus came off as a twee affectation, i.e., exactly what I didn’t care for in WAITRESS overall. But it was still a very pleasant surprise in an Indiewood film (and one that has found a wide audience, no less¹) that the a-word was raised immediately, only to be dropped instantly and never seriously noted afterward.
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¹ At the other end, I find it amusing that so many see ZOO as some great landmark in cultural degradation, when it hasn’t played on but five screens nationwide, to audiences that are already “degraded,” and grossed about the annual income of a middle-class household.

June 9, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Cannes winner controversy?

fonda.jpgHopefully, there won’t be a big stink in conservative circles over the fact that 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS — a movie about a quest for an illegal abortion in Ceaucescu-era Romania — won the top prize at the world’s most prestigious and important film festival.

I fear the worst though, if there’s much knee-jerking or the word about this film gets out the wrong way. Especially given the headlines from the US press — CNN: “Cannes’ top prize goes to film about abortion” (complete with a picture of Jane Fonda granting the top prize and kissing the director; how many buttons could they push if trying); ABC/Associated Press: “Romanian Abortion Film Wins Cannes Prize”; Drudge (from Agence France-Presse): “Top Cannes award for harrowing Romanian abortion film.”

The film has been noted in the Catholic blogosphere — at American Papist, Catholic Fire and Creative Minority Report — and the common ground is sight-unseen suspicion without very good or even much-stated reasons, even of the kind that are justified sight-unseen. I certainly understand the suspicion to a degree, but VERA DRAKE a “rather mediocre” movie? I didn’t think so. Peter Chattaway didn’t. Jeffrey Overstreet didn’t. I asked Mike D’Angelo, who saw 4 MONTHS at Cannes, how he’d guess I’d react to the “abortion film.” Though Mike is, in his words, “a fairly devout atheist,” he knows my tastes and dispositions (including my religious beliefs) fairly well. This was his answer, cited with permission:

I can’t say, but if you don’t like it I doubt it’ll be for political/moral reasons. It’s an “abortion film” the way SAFE is an “environmental illness” film.

4-months.jpgSo I remain very optimistic that 4 MONTHS will be a good film in itself though, and it’s not simply because I had VERA DRAKE in my Top 5. I really liked THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU, the last “harrowing” Romanian movie to come garlanded with Cannes prizes, and also dug 12:08 EAST OF BUCHAREST when I saw it last year.

There is neutral-to-favorable comment at Lifesite; (some AFP versions of the story even labeled the Cannes prize-winners as “death-obsessed”); nobody from Cannes that I’m aware of was calling 4 MONTHS a great blow for women’s freedom or against the fascist godbag patriarchy or any of the rest of that. And the comments from the director Cristian Mungiu in this Australian ABC article are somewhat encouraging, given the audience and the fact that he was speaking in a language not his own:

Because of the pressure of the regime, women and families were so much concerned about not being caught for making an illegal abortion that they didn’t give one minute of thought about the moral issue … [putting the baby onscreen] makes a point — people should be aware of the consequences of their decisions.

OK, not Father Pavone, but certainly no reason to be suspicious of his movie, which is for most, still sight-unseen. Given the reports the Cannes lineup was unusually strong this year, I am psyched.

May 28, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lab-coat Killers

This is the kind of news that makes you angry at God for not smiting the people doing this and raining fire on the culture that loves it. Some Korean scientists have cloned human beings and then killed them at the embryo stage for use as spare parts. And this is hailed as a great scientific breakthrough, because these Dr. Frankensteins succeeded for the first time in actually harvesting the cells they wanted, actually getting the gold from the teeth. Though not without some collateral damage: “the Seoul team … succeeded in cloning 30 blastocysts — early-stage embryos containing a mere 100 cells. From those, they harvested just one colony of stem cells.”

This is murder, blessed by a lab coat. Which of course means, in the Culture of Death, that the “objective” media will hail it as a very good thing. And sure enough, they got as weak-kneed as a bobby-soxer within 100 feet of Frank Sinatra. This is the sort of story that tells me that the so-called “objectivity” of the mainstream media is nothing but a sham. Several things worth noting about the first version of the Associated Press story.

We aren’t even finished with the first paragraph before we get told of all the wonderful things cloning does. The third paragraph begins “This is not cloning to make babies” (can you hear the writer emphasize the word NOT, NOT, NOT, DAMMIT?) as though some other purpose makes it something other than cloning. It is reassuring, though, that this “cloning” is not gonna result in something as horrible as babies. Can’t have that, can we, in this overpopulated, messed-up world?

The rest of the paragraph gives us a soothing bit of doublespeak — “embryos … are grown … to supply,” like they were a herd of cattle and with no mention of how this “supplying” is achieved. The herd needs to be culled, though at least the farm industry is honest enough to call them “slaughterhouses.” In fact, you’ll see words like “kill” or “slaughter” more often in stories about mad cow disease than about human embryo and tissue research.

Throughout, the story pays obeisance and hinges around this nonexistent and evil (CQ) distinction, dreamed up by self-justifying researchers and medical “ethicists” (sic), between “therapeutic cloning” and “reproductive cloning.”

Since when have medical or scientific procedures been distinguished according to the use to which identical products from the identical process would be put? It’s like saying there’s some ontological or definitional difference between building “bank-robber getaway cars” and “nursing-home trip cars.” It is pure euphemism designed to hoodwink gullible people and illiterate lawmakers into thinking scientists aren’t “really” cloning human beings, and thus what they are doing is somehow morally acceptable. But cars is cars. Judging from history on partial-birth abortion, you almost expect the next edition of the AP stylebook to make the preferred style “so-called ‘cloning’,” or “the procedure opponents refer to as ‘cloning’.”

Then in the 15th paragraph of the story that we get this little sentence. “Culling stem cells from embryos kills them…” What is so remarkable about this is not just that it uses the world “kills,” but that it considers 14 paragraphs of material somehow more important than this indisputable scientific fact about “culling” — what an unintentionally revealing metaphor, human beings as livestock herd. Imagine, if you can, 14 paragraphs about Jack Kevorkian (or a state executioner, pick according to ideological fancy) “giving chemicals” and “providing injections” and then a casual aside about the fact that people die from these “chemicals” and “injections.” No worry; they were just culled from the herd so to speak. Actually, my 10 years as a daily newspaper wire editor tells me I hardly have to “imagine” such blowsy euphemism in stories about subjects such as abortion, euthanasia or the other Blessed Sacraments.

What’s even more contemptible and disgusting is that later write-thrus of the AP story in question, such as this one, cut that paragraph down, and eliminated the word “kills.” But it keeps this odd locution: “Bush administration policy forbids any federally funded research on stem cells from embryos destroyed after Aug. 9, 2001.” How is “embryos destroyed after …” in any sense different from “embryos killed after …”? Oh, it’s less direct all right and different in connotation. The word even has literal meanings other than “kill”: “The detonation destroyed the building and cleared the way for a new development”; or “Manning destroyed the Chiefs secondary, throwing five TD passes and no interceptions.” Something tells me that was the point.

But journalists are supposed to be the enemies of obfuscation, cant and euphemism. Either “culling” does not mean killing, and hence “destroyed” is inappropriate; or it does, in which case, it’s euphemistic in meaning and the story also buries the most-important detail. Why bury the fact that human embryo research kills the human embryos? To ask the question is to answer it.

February 12, 2004 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Oh happy day, Blessed Mother Teresa

Yesterday was not a good day for the Culture of Death, losing on two fronts.

First, the Florida Legislature and governor intervened to stop Michael Schiavo’s bid to kill his brain-damaged wife Terri by removing her feeding and hydration tubes and starving her to death. This in spite of the wishes of her parents and their offer to turn over all of Terri’s assets to her husband, despite the lack of a living will or any other form of contemporaneous evidence about Terri’s wishes other than her husband’s present-day say-so, despite disputes over her precise medical diagnosis (there were doctors testifying both that she could be rehabilitated and that she couldn’t), and despite the fact that by any standard that would be applied if Terri were fully ambulatory, her husband had abandoned her (his live-in girlfriend is expecting their second child).

Last Wednesday, the “husband” had finally prevailed in court and removed Terri’s food and water tubes, but on Monday and Tuesday, the Florida legislature passed and Gov. Jeb Bush signed, a bill essentially giving the governor the power to intervene in this case and order the tubes put back in. At least the husband’s <s>ambulance …</s> er, lawyer George Felos has a sense of humor: “It is simply inhumane and barbaric to interrupt her death process. Just because Terri Schiavo is not conscious doesn’t mean she doesn’t have dignity.” (It would take a heart of stone not to laugh here.) The “husband,” hellbent on killing his wife, launched another court challenge late last night, but lost. Now those of us who’d been praying and calling and e-mailing Florida officials just hope that the five days of forced starvation haven’t wrecked Terri’s organs and made a recovery impossible, thus potentially vindicating the Death Cult through their self-fulfilling prophecy about her prospects.

motherteresa.jpgThis was beautiful news to happen on the same day that Congress again passed a ban on partial-birth abortion but this time was finally able to send it to a president who will sign it. And what a gift to Mother Teresa, who devoted her life to serving the inconvenient and the helpless and who denounced abortion and euthanasia at every opportunity, to have these events happen just two days after her beatification.

It might not be a miracle attributable to Mother Teresa in the fullest sense, but state legislatures just don’t ordinarily do in 1 1/2 days what the Florida lawmakers did. Susan Carr, Terri’s sister, called the vote: “a miracle, an absolute miracle.” Others in the Catholic blogosphere like Mark Shea, Amy Welborn and Father Rob Johansen (see his Sunday homily here) kicked up holy hell for weeks, much more than I did publicly. Other Catholic sites, to which I don’t have permanent links, to do yeoman work were Times Against Humanity and Envoy magazine. Christian talk radio, briefly mentioned in this fine article, and the disability movement also participated in the efforts, both political and spiritual, to save Terri — although I’m more familiar with the first group than the other two. (I was a lowly foot soldier — a half-dozen e-mails, a couple of on-hold calls, and some financial support, but the Florida Legislature’s phones and mail system shut down on the crucial day). But there was Providence too. A reader at Mark’s blog said he saw Columba Bush, the Catholic wife of Jeb, in Rome as part of the U.S. delegation to the 25th anniversary celebration of John Paul II’s papacy, on her knees praying before St. Peter’s bones. “I’m betting Mrs. Jeb got on the phone to her husband and had a frank exchange of views,” the writer said.

Now you might also think, given all this, that the bishop in whose diocese this is occurring would be out there picketing trying to impose his rosaries on her ovaries, or something like that. Uh-uh. This is the diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, you understand, which is led by Bishop Robert Lynch, who outlawed regular Eucharistic exposition and adoration (4th item here). For the first several days of the meltdown period (when it looked like the die had been cast and Terri would be starved, and the first few days of her being starved), he was supposedly out at a staff retreat, maybe doing stuff like this, leaving a phone message and no way for people to even leave a message to tell him that … y’know … one of his daughters was being murdered. Then, after it looked like the “husband” would win the right to starve Terri to death, the “bishop” issued this statement here. The text is as follows:

“With the news that the feeding tube has now been removed from Terri Schiavo, my own prayers and those of thousands of other people go out for Terri and for her family. May the author of all life look kindly on Terri and provide consolation and hope for those who love her.
“I continue to believe that such decisions should not be made in the court system but must be made on a case-by-case basis by families and/or other responsible parties at the clear direction of each one of us well in advance of a crisis.”

Excuse my French, but what the samhell is a bishop for if he’s just gonna issue a tepid press release indistinguishable from something that might have put out by the offices of Olympia Snowe or Blanche Lincoln. I’m not crazy about public showboating and planned arrests and whatnot, but if ever there was a time for fire and brimstone, for Jeremiah, for prophetic judgment, someone being starved to death because she’s handicapped and inconvenient is it. Why would Jesus even trouble Himself to get nailed up to some wood and rise from the dead if *this* is the kind of leadership we get in defense of the least of us from those who represent Him, and therefore them? It’s wishy-washy and bureaucratic in its language; it’s just an after-the-fact “what are you gonna do” acceptance of a fait accompli; and it’s dubious on church teaching to boot (we DON’T have a right to starve the inconvenient “on a case-by-case basis” in the privacy of our own abode, any more than we have the right to kill the unborn or ourselves). It’s the classic case of offering stones and snakes instead of loaves and fishes. Even my own bishop, Paul Loverde of far away Arlington, Va., said something far closer to what needed to be said: “The inherent worth of the life of Theresa Schiavo obligates all concerned to provide her with care and support and to reject any omission of nutrition or hydration intended to cause her death. May God continue to bless you in your work in defense of life.”

Further, a couple of people at Amy’s site surmised (not unreasonably in my view) that “bishop” Lynch had ordered his priests not to be there. Amy said she was “exceedingly puzzled by the absence of any priests beside this Monsignor in this situation.” Did no local priests show up simply from outrage or plain frickin’ curiosity? “I’m beginning to suspect that the word has come down privately from Lynch to priests and religious in his diocese to stay away,” she said. Indeed, many in the Catholic blogosphere had to plead to find a champion in Father Rob at Thrownback, who said he would go down there to Florida from Michigan (yes … Michigan) to be with the Schindlers, to help out the one priest they already had, to minister to the protesters, and to participate in civil disobedience if need be. (The oh-so-loving husband had denied Terri Communion at this point.) He immediately was inundated with offers of financial help from literally across the world. To come down from … Michigan. And to think, I actually once spent some intellectual energy and capital defending this Florida bishop in a private e-mail exchange with Rod Dreher over these blogs of his at National Review.

And consider the relative silence of Lynch and the bishops as a body, when you look at their actions on another “life issue” — capital punishment. Every time some *guilty* killer meets his reward, part of the ritual is the call for clemency from the Pope, the bishops, the local bishop. Don’t get me wrong, I’m opposed to the death penalty too and I know how slow things can go. But wasn’t *something* in order?? A search for the word “Schiavo” on the Bishops Conference Web site as I write produces no hits. About this case, the nation’s Catholic bishops have collectively seen fit to utter not Word One (much less the Word from the One). Terri might have gotten better treatment from the leaders of her Church, my Church, if she’d just shot a few liquor store owners.

But the best comment was made by blogger Peggy Rettle at Amy’s site, to the effect that the Culture of Death is now so far advanced that we seek every justification we can to make the irreversible decision to kill people, rather than giving every presumption to preserving life.

“What I find most evil, however, is the husband’s unwillingness to show mercy on his wife and her family as well as the courts unwillingness to show similar mercy and err on the side of life when there is a family dispute or uncertainty as to the true medical condition … especially one where the motives and actions of one family member are quite questionable. This is what is so frightening for our society, I think.”

October 22, 2003 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Something I missed about MATCHSTICK MEN

lohmancage.jpgPro-life blogger Emily Peterson sees a critique of abortion in MATCHSTICK MEN, something that had completely escaped me. (Warning: Spoilers coming)

My initial reaction to her note was: “I’m assuming your argument might roughly go along the lines of ‘you always wonder how the baby you killed would have turned out’ — except that in MATCHSTICK MEN, this emotion is what gets Cage’s character into trouble, no?”

Emily’s take is a bit different than that and relies on the film’s coda being considered a happy ending, something I rebelled against narrative-wise, and Cage’s wife telling him that she had miscarried their child after they split up, a detail that I now remember, but had slipped my mind. Essentially, she’s saying that he’s able to settle down and put the con man lifestyle and his psychiatric problems behind him, now that he knows what happened to his unborn child. It’s an interesting subtextual take.

October 15, 2003 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment