November 18, 2012


Thus ends the “Twilight” series with “The Twilight Saga—Breaking Dawn, Part 2,” which could also have been entitled: “Vampire Family Values.” Edward (Robert Pattinson) the vampire and Bella (Kristen Stewart) the human turned vampire—her “turning” accomplished by being bitten by Edward--are, of course, now married, and have a half-vampire, half-human daughter, Renesmee. All should be bloody well, but the Volturi (worldwide ruling body of vampires, kinda like the Hague) think that Edward and Bella have done the strictly verboten: created an “immortal child.” (It’s a big vampire no-no because these children can decimate whole villages in their “thirst.”) In other words: PLEASE DON’T BITE THE CHILDREN.

Edward and Bella must convince the Volturi that Renesmee was “born, not bitten” (Bella gave birth to her when Bella was still human). Witnesses from around the world are gathered to attest to Renesmee’s actual nature. (As Michael Phillips, film critic for the Chicago Tribune, says: What kind of stupid vampires are these Volturi that they can’t tell what the kid is or isn’t when everyone else can? But Phillips is SO not a Twihard, and I beg to differ with him because it is well set up and it totally works.)

This last-installment-in-the-series-but-leaving-it-open-for-more-brooding-supernatural-fun does not disappoint, and is a satisfying end to the whole shebang.

Watching the film, I asked myself what exactly makes the “Twilight” FILMS so successful (I haven’t read the books) AS films. The story is a no-brainer for attracting women: an old-fashioned Prince Charming is obsessed with you and literally swoops down with his swoopy hair and sweeps you off your feet. On top of that, another man is obsessed with you, and they kinda spend a lot of time fighting over you. What’s not to like? But as for the film—and the fact that guys ARE watching them!—why? Also, the novelist, screenwriter (and director of the first film) are all female.

Some of the well-done, appealing-to-both-genders aspects of “Twilight” filmmaking are as follows:

--Gorgeous, rugged landscapes as the major setting/backdrop (we don’t see this much in films, especially an intimate-drama film like “Twilight”). Most of “Twilight” is shot outdoors.
--Lots of SPFX, action and fight scenes. Although the women have kick-butt powers, there is still some underlying male protectiveness happening.
--The intensity never really lets up—but without wearying us.
--Light touches (in “Breaking Dawn 2”): poetry, piano-playing, secret messages, contests of strength. All these keep us watching and delighted.
--There is a bouncing back and forth from the small and personal (Bella and Edward’s love story) to big and universal principles (supernatural laws, rules, territories, sacrifices, doing the right thing, loyalties, alliances, moral quandaries, issues of life and death, etc.)
--There is a hardcore consistency to each film and within each film.
--And the plot-points are just great. A great story and mythology.
--Unique mixing of genres and tropes: it’s soapy, campy, tongue-in-cheek, telenovela-esque. It sports sappy pop music with sung words over laughable dialogue alongside vampire/werewolf lore. It’s almost comic book-ish in the framing of the characters, but mixes romance, action, adventure, supernatural thriller, fantasy, teen flick, chick flick elements. A little something for everyone?


--The world of “Twilight” is just soooo perfect. Everyone is so comely, groomed, stylish, thin, good-looking with PERFECT skin and teeth. Vampire living spaces are well-appointed dream houses. Vampire ambience is so antiseptic, staid, honed and perfectly paced (unlike life). There is no chaos. No mess. Nobody interrupts each other. Nobody has anything to do. Nobody works, shops or blows their nose. ALL THEY DO IS FOCUS ON EACH OTHER AND TALK TO EACH OTHER. THEY DON’T EVEN HOLD THINGS IN THEIR HANDS. LIKE WHEN IT WAS JUST ADAM AND EVE IN THE GARDEN AND ALL THEY HAD WAS EACH OTHER. Renesmee—from babyhood on—is a glowing package of American Girl Doll polished finesse. But of course, this is NOT a human world. Maybe we just need to keep reminding ourselves of this.

--Actor Billy Burke, who play Bella’s Dad, Charlie, is THE most believable of all the actors.

--A guy friend of mine rails against the “Twilight” series as just so bad for women (“women’s porn”), fueling their unrealistic expectations of the men in their lives. PURE female fantasy. I have to agree with him, even though “Twilight” is a kind of guilty pleasure of mine….

--So many mythologies, so little time. Do we have time for the Christ mythology? The best, most beautiful, most daring, most perilous, most exciting, most shining and wondrous and glorious and enthralling mythology, and the only one we don’t have to play-act at because it is totally true and each one of us is terribly caught up in it? Spiritual warfare is real and going on every second of our journey to eternity. We need to immerse ourselves in HIS story, in HIM.

--Somebody really should compile (if they haven’t already) “BAD TWILIGHT LINES.” Example: “You look amazing!” TWICE in the first 5 minutes of “Breaking Dawn 2”!

--“GOOD TWILIGHT LINES”: “Artifice!”

--PRO-LIFE MOMENT: Renesmee “shows” (via telepathy) Bella her first memory of her Mom. It was Renesmee in the womb.

--Great “trial” of the Cullens by the Volturi at the end. Great twist.

--The decapitations are pretty awful, but not gorey. More like bisque doll heads.

--I’m glad Bella freaked out at Jacob for imprinting on Renesmee, BUT the whole thing is still wicked creepy. AND Jacob says he had “no choice.” Please see comments at the bottom of another “Twilight” movie I reviewed.   All of “Twilight” can be re-read as a super-creepy textbook abuser scenario.

--When everyone kept saying vampire-human hybrids couldn’t be done (“Impossible!”), I couldn’t help thinking of the INCARNATION….

--I don’t need a vampire to make me immortal: Jesus makes me immortal. Actually, I was conceived immortal (with an immortal soul). And Jesus doesn’t drink MY blood, He has me drink His saving blood (in non-bloody fashion). "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his bloodyou have no life in you" (John 6:53). NO life? Wow.

--The credits are done in such an unusual and personal style: showing a visual of each major actor from the beginning of the series. I wonder if that was a woman’s touch there…. I just love bursts of innovation and originality harmonizing with standardized filmmaking.

I DIDN’T SEE “Twilight—Eclipse” 2010!!!!

November 12, 2012


Drama is NOT dead! The new Denzel Washington movie “Flight”—about the aftermath of a plane crash—is living proof. Although the trailer is one of the BEST trailers I have EVER seen EVER (it’s really a “perfect” trailer), and although it portrays the film accurately, the film itself is not a “perfect” film. It’s a very good film, but too long and lacking in consistency. After an incredibly filmed, tense-to-beat-the-band action sequence (you only see a smidgeon of it in the trailer), and a graceful reveal of the full weight of the brilliant-but-addicted pilot’s (Denzel Washington) predicament, there are some incredibly slow scenes filled with nothing but bald exposition that could have been eliminated or at least shortened. Two hours and nineteen minutes=too goshdarn long.

CAVEAT: The film begins with many, many minutes of mid-range and close-up full-frontal female nudity. We’re talking groin-level camera angles (the actress walks right into the camera, lady-parts first). If this is not your cup of tea, you may wish to restrain and refrain from seeing “Flight,” or at least be prepared, look away for the first five minutes, etc.  I would love to know what the filmmakers were thinking here (besides exploiting a beautiful female form). This seemingly-minor character does become somewhat more significant toward the end of the film. Are we supposed to feel closer to her because we saw every part of her body (and very little of her face)? Are we supposed to feel that Denzel’s character was close to her because he saw (and “knew”) every part of her body? But their relationship seems to be nothing more than casual sex. To me, the immediate, in-your-face nudity was shocking and not pertinent to the story. Gratuitous female-only nudity. We get it without it: The boozy pilot is leading a dissolute life. (I hope this role isn’t indicative of any change in Denzel’s personal life. Remember when he wouldn’t even take his shirt off in a film?) The trailer gave no hint of the nudity and crudity (hey, that rhymes), so I didn’t check WHY it was rated “R” before I went to the cinema, but here’s the reason given: (you can always check the “why” of the MPAA rating on Rated R for Intense Action Sequence, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Language and Sexuality/Nudity. Information for parents: Common Sense Media says Iffy for 16+

CAVEAT:  If you do not care to hear the F-word (and lots of other crude language) more times than Carter has pills, you may wish to restrain and refrain from “Flight.”

CAVEAT: If you object to massive amounts of substance abuse of every kind--sometimes glamorized, or at least with a possible takeaway of: “I can use. Heavily. And still lead a pretty normal life. And pull myself together when I need to. And look gorgeous. And function well enough in society. And still get the girl. And still get the guy. And always bounce back"--you may wish to restrain and refrain from “Flight.” Whip (Denzel Washington) is not the only one who uses without much consequence. He meets Nicole (Kelly Reilly, with her Marianne Faithfull/RitaTushingham 1960’s beauty always intact), a fellow addict who becomes his love interest.

“Flight” is out of the gates with a bang, then simmers, then cools off. I liked it less and less as it went on. The folks in my packed theater (mostly elderly) were silently riveted during the whole thing. BUT if you have to go to the bathroom during a film (which many did, including me), the film is--I repeat--too goshdarn long.

What is the film about? I would say blame, lying and addiction. But mostly about lying as part and parcel OF addiction.

Washington—although this is not the first time he’s played a heavy—gives a fresh, nuanced performance. Reilly is perfectly cast and utterly believable. Her strawberry-blonde hair is reminiscent of Jessica Chastain, but her meek and understated performance made me think that Chastain wouldn’t have been half as good in this role. Don Cheadle is pitch perfect as the top-notch lawyer called in to get Whip exonerated. Charlie (the always solid character actor, Bruce Greenwood) is on target as the pilots’ union spokesperson. John Goodman plays a small but quintessentially outsized carnival barker John Goodman role: Whip’s pusher. His visit to Whip in the hospital after the crash and ensuing monologue is a transgressive show in itself. Melissa Leo (as head honcho of Whip’s investigation, every so delicately trying to let him off the hook) is as you’ve never seen her before: all cleaned up, authoritative, leading the pack, and with amazing diction. Yeah, I know that’s weird, but it’s the first thing you notice about her character. She should be narrating audiobooks.

All of this being said, “Flight” is a TOTAL GOD MOVIE. God is EVERYWHERE. EXPLICITLY. And when we, the audience, have forgotten about Him, the filmmakers have not and keep inserting Him EVERYWHERE. Naturally, unnaturally, organically, ham-handedly, subtly, blatantly, seamlessly, awkwardly, innovatively, tritely: He’s always bubbling just below the surface, popping up in every conceivable religious image, wall-hanging, holy roller, humble believer, church steeple, spontaneous prayer, etc. And—refreshingly enough—just when you think someone is being portrayed as a stereotypical judgmental, self-righteous, priggish, brainwashed religious pinhead…they’re not! “Where was God in this tragedy?” is the resounding subtext and is dealt with from many angles.

An ATROCIOUSLY OBVIOUS, DISTRACTING, JARRING AND AMATEUR SOUNDTRACK. “Cue The Rolling Stones’ ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ When The Character Representing Temptation Makes Their Entrance!” “Play ‘A Little Help From My Friends’ On The Elevator When Whip And His Team Head To The Hearing!” “Have The Character Sing Along With Joe Cocker’s ‘Feeling Alright’ When He’s NOT Feeling Alright! And Then Play That Song Every Time We Remember The Crash!” Truly awful. Worst soundtrack since “Miss Congeniality.” I’m NOT kidding. “Miss Congeniality” featured literally illustrative songs that were stopped and started mid-measure with no fades all through that film, exhausting the catalogue of every top bluesy hit imaginable in one film. It was so horrible that I’ve remembered it to this day, and “Flight’s” soundtrack is not far behind.

Will “Flight” garner Oscar nods, Oscars? Perhaps. Does it deserve it? Perhaps some individual performances. As a whole? Perhaps not.


--Denzel is just a 500%, consummate actor.

--This is an overtly PRO-GOD film. God is a good guy. God is THE good guy.

--The whole sequence of the flight and crash is amazing. It does not disappoint.

--“Flight” shows deep goodness in deeply flawed people.

--Some great scenes, sets and set-ups!

--The cancer guy on the stairway!

--“Flight” should enter the filmography of alcoholism films….

--Legal term for the whole situation in the film? “An act of God.”

--WAS the safe landing a “miracle”? Sure, why not? But it can also be GOD AND US WORKING TOGETHER. From the documentary script of the life of Blessed Fr. James Alberione ( ):

Alberione believed, as did St. Ireneaus, that “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.” He knew that God does not override or force Himself on our will. Alberione saw life as the interplay of God and us working things out together. In a striking way, Alberione was even able to describe rather precisely how this process works:

“God’s method is to … make one wait in peace until His time comes, to begin always from the bare necessities, to act in such a natural way as to be unable to easily distinguish grace from nature.

“We shouldn’t  force God’s hand. It suffices to be alert..and to strive in one’s various duties to employ mind, will, heart and physical strength.

 “The actions of a human being are so imperfect, unsound, inadequate and dubious that one is dutybound to put everything back into the hands of God’s Mercy and to allow oneself to be guided.”

Alberione said that he was a “half-blind man who is being led, enlightened from time to time so that he can proceed further. God is the light.”

November 4, 2012


We Now Have Gifts for Your $ Donations!

We have GIFTS for donations
to the Fr. Alberione Film now! 

(only from Nov. 1--Dec. 31)

$20 donation--Fr. A medal
$50 donation--Fr. A medal and DVD when completed.
$500 donation--Fr. A medal, book, and DVD when completed.
$1,000 donation--Fr. A medal, book, DVD, and 12" resin color resin statue.


God bless you! 
(Gifts will be shipped after New Year's.)