Because of some violence including an horrific electrocution, occasional profanity and intermittent rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The Green Mile" is a prison drama set in 1935 Louisana where death-row head guard Tom Hanks comes to believe in the innocence of a huge, gentle black man played superbly by Michael Clarke Duncan whose miraculous healing powers affect those around him in startling ways. Adapted from the serialized 1996 Stephen King novel, the movie is unduly long but presents affecting character studies of good and evil men with spiritual undertones and a sobering depiction of capital punishment.
The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. In "Toy Story 2" the animated adventures of toys that come to life when humans aren't around continues as cowboy Woody voiced by Tom Hanks is stolen by a greedy toy collector, sending Woody's toy buddies, led by Buzz Lightyear, the voice of Tim Allen, on a breathless rescue mission. Featuring even better animation, the briskly paced cartoon sequel is slightly less original, but zippy action scenes and gentle humor should amuse small fry and grown-ups alike.
Because of sexual situations, comically intended violence, brief rear nudity and occasional profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. In "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" a klutzy loser (played by Rob Schneider) tries and fails at temporary male prostitution in order to pay for accidentally wrecking his bossís condo. The pathetically unfunny comedy dredges up lame double entendres and toilet humor when not mocking characters with assorted physical diseases and disabilities who resort to paying for male companionship.
Because of mild sexual innuendo and references, as well as occasional profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. "Bicentennial Man" is a futuristic fantasy in which a family robot (played by Robin Williams) actively seeks to become fully human over two centuries and eventually to marry the family's great-granddaughter. The bland tale examines what it is to be human in terms of free will, love and mortality, but its poky pace blunts interest in the robot's earnest quest.
Because of sporadic violence and references to polygamy and concubines, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. In "Anna and the King", 19th-century English schoolmarm Jodie Foster and imperious king of Siam Chow Yun-Fat learn much from each other as she teaches his 58 children, while a duplicitous general plots to kill the king and all his heirs. After a sluggish start the lavish historical drama goes beyond sumptuous visuals to explore contrasting East-West cultures and beliefs while maintaining suspense about the assassination plot.
Because of much stylized violence and a few discreet bedroom scenes, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. "The World Is Not Enough" is typical breathless Bond fare in which Pierce Brosnan's agent 007 must outwit a dangerously duplicitous female and a sinister psychopath intent on seizing control of the world's oil supply. The escapist fantasy's fast and furious action eventually wears itself out in an overlong and overly elaborate plot.
Because of excessive violence, frequent mindless mayhem, a perverted sexual encounter with nudity, some profanity and much rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "End of Days" is an ultraviolent millennium thriller in which ex-cop Arnold Schwarzenegger struggles to prevent satan, played by Gabriel Byrne, from impregnating a young woman, thus ushering in the devil's reign. The big-budget action movie simply exploits a religious theme to showcase murder, mayhem and explosive special effects far removed from genuine spiritual concerns.
Because of recurring grisly decapitations and a discreet sexual encounter, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. In "Sleepy Hollow," a violent adaptation of Washington Irving's spooky tale of the headless horseman, Johnny Depp's Ichabod Crane is a pompous, fearful NYC constable sent to Sleepy Hollow to find a triple murderer who has made off with the victim's heads. Although it's a visually gorgeous period piece, the contrived humor doesn't work and the narrative overdoses on scenes of the horseman and another villain gleefully butchering their prey.
Because of grisly violence, an implied affair, occasional profanity and recurring rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The Bone Collector" is a grim thriller in which paralyzed police forensics expert Denzel Washington relies on rookie cop Angelina Jolie to gather evidence and clues to the identity of a serial killer who is taunting the bedridden cop with a series of increasingly grotesque murders. The police procedural slides from engrossing to disappointing with its unsatisfying revelations and gory wrap-up. selfdestruction.
The Holy Door represents Christ, because "whoever enters through me will be saved" (Jn 10:9). It also represents the heart of the believer, which must be opened to Christ. The tradition of the Holy Door goes back to the Jubilee of 1500, convoked by Pope Alexander VI.
The current Holy Door was an offering of thanksgiving Swiss Catholics in 1949, thanking God that Switzerland had been spared the atrocities of World War II, and was installed and opened in the Holy Year of 1950. It is decorated with 16 biblical scenes of redemption and forgiveness, with a special focus on the Mercy parables of the Gospels.
The first two scenes represent Adam and Eve and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. This "closing of the door" is overcome, however, in the next two scenes, which depict the Annunciation of the birth of Christ. Next come a series of scenes from Jesus' public life: his Baptism, the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Prodigal Son, the curing of a paralytic, and the pardon of a sinner. The next two scenes are of St. Peter: "How many times must I forgive my brother?" and his denial of Christ and Jesus' pardon of him. The 12th scene represents the Good Thief, symbolizing that salvation is open to all who ask for it. This is followed by St. Thomas, healed of his lack of faith, and an image of the sacrament of Reconciliation. The conversion of St. Paul occupied the second-to-last image, while the final scene is that of Pope Pius XII opening the Holy Door in 1950.
In "Tertio Millennio Adveniente," John Paul II also addressed the symbolism of the Holy Door. "The Holy Door of the Jubilee of the Year 2000 should be symbolically wider than those of previous Jubilees, because humanity, upon reaching this goal, will leave behind not just a century but a millennium. The Church should make this passage with a clear awareness of what has happened to her during the last ten centuries. She cannot cross the threshold of the new millennium without encouraging her children to purify themselves, through repentance of past errors and instances of infidelity, inconsistency, and slowness to act."
When John Paul II opens the Holy Door on Christmas Eve, the ceremony will be watched by an unprecedented audience: 1.6 billion people from over 100 countries among which, for the first time, is Japan. In Europe alone, 26 countries have requested the signal, with an audience that will come close to 500 million spectators.
These figures do not overwhelm Ermanno Olmi, director of the Jubilee opening program for the Italian RAI network. He presented the RAI-Jubilee programs during a press conference in his new ad hoc headquarters in the former Castello cinema, not far from the Vatican. "I will do my work with great simplicity," Director Olmi said, recalling his own background. "I am a highlander, used to the uphill climb."
Roberto Zaccaria, president of RAI, explained that Olmi was his personal choice because of his sober but distinctive style. "The great adventure is about to begin. We needed a method to narrate the Jubilee that would be gentle, delicate and not intent on overdoing the great event." ZE99122222 and ZE99122104
Many countries continue to send aid and volunteers specialized in required emergency work. Venezuela has also announced its most urgent needs: doctors and health personnel, priests, psychotherapists and social workers. Diocesan Caritas, NGOs and Venezuelan embassies around the world are receiving material aid, and several bank accounts have been established to facilitate expressions of solidarity. The number of dead could rise to 50,000, and of homeless to 300,000.
Archbishop Ignacio Velasco of Caracas said during a Mass in the Basilica of St. Teresa, that the only answer for Christians "when nature goes wild, is to humble oneself before God, the only One who can control it." The Archbishop presided over a prayer service for the victims. Hundreds of people from the capital expressed their suffering to the popular and venerated image of the Nazarene of St. Paul.
"We should look within ourselves and ask ourselves if we haven't caused this to a degree, because we do not do things well and then we all pay the price. We have sins of pride, we think we can do everything, and nature takes care to show us we do not have all the power," the Archbishop said,, exhorting the faithful to practice solidarity at this time of need, and to begin again with a converted heart. ZE99122202
The Patriarch's message expresses love and fraternity toward the Arab world -- both Christian and Muslim, and peace for the Hebrew people, a peace that as "the fruit of justice, will produce tranquility and joy in all of us."
He continued by affirming that only the Spirit can renew the face of the earth, the heart of humanity, and reestablish justice in relations among peoples and persons. "In this way, different religious extremisms will disappear among many believers and each one will come to understand that faith in God consists in love of him and of all his creatures."
In light of the Jubilee, the Patriarch reviewed the situation in the region, beginning with the peace process, which has extended in the peace negotiations between Israel and Syria. With the birth of the State of Palestine, Patriarch Sabbah hopes "that it may enjoy its new sovereignty and full liberty," in a period of stability for all inhabitants, and an era of peace, security and tranquility especially for those of Bethlehem. The Patriarch believes that the key to the solution of Jerusalem's future lies in sharing and equality, both in the aspect of sovereignty as well as that of citizens' duties and rights. All believers -- Jews, Muslims and Christians, must be able to express themselves and be heard when the moment arrives to decide on the future of the Holy City. Christians and Muslims must face together the question of the Nazareth mosque, having a single vision and a single heart, helped in this by those who have the responsibility of public order in the city.
On the occasion of the Jubilee, the Holy Father will make his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, "a visit of faith and prayer, and which all leaders of the Catholic Church in this land have so desired, in order that it be a blessing for all, a voice of the Spirit in our country, a message of peace for our peoples in search of peace; a meeting with all believers in God in this land that is God's," the Patriarch concluded.
The Bethlehem Midnight Mass will be broadcast live via Internet this year, enabling persons unable to travel to the Holy Land to experience the celebration. Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah will celebrate the Mass in the Basilica of the Nativity. The webcast can be reached at http://www.al-bushra.org/ or http://www.bethlehem.org or http://www.jerusalem2000.org/ , and will be broadcast in RealPlayer format (RealPlayer is a free download, but is included with most newer Internet browsers). Midnight of December 24 in the Holy Land is 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, December 24 (10:00 p.m. GMT). The Al-Bushra site will keep the Mass online for later viewing for those who are unable to see it live. ZE99122208 and ZE99122220
"I pray that good sense will prevail and that peace will be re-established since it is the only way to guarantee the development of these two countries which have already suffered so much," said Archbishop Tomasi.
The long border war has already claimed tens of thousands of lives. "At all costs, there must be no ulterior destabilization in the Horn of Africa region," he said. "This would be deleterious for the outset of the new millennium. It is logical to think that if the fighting continues the consequences will be tragic; but in this conflict logic counts for little or nothing."
The conflict, which began as a fight over boundaries, can be explained, the archbishop said, on the one hand by a justified demand for national autonomy and identity on the part of Eritrea and on the other Ethiopia's desire to maintain its traditional and historical leadership in the Horn of Africa.
Recently, fighting has become more intense while peace mediation, which Algeria presides over for the Organization for the Unity of Africa (OUA), is extremely slow. The OUA proposes a plan which includes the withdrawal of troops from the contested zone. The plan was opposed by Eritrea at first and now Ethiopia refuses to agree. Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki said recently during a visit to Rome that the plan must be accepted unconditionally by both sides.