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July 23-25, 1999
SECTION THREE vol 10, no. 137
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Eyes Wide Shut should stay shut! Top Ten Films for Third Week of July
The good news is that the new "Muppets from Space" movie made the top ten list this week and porn-oriented flicks "South Park" and "Austin Powers" completely dropped out of sight. The bad news is that "American Pie" is still there at number two and the "Big Daddy" at number four. Worst news is the fact that the slease-filled art film considered the swan song of deceased director Stanley Kubrick entitled "Eyes Wide Shut" topped the charts last week in its debut week. Another newcomer "Lake Placid" finished third with former champ "Wild Wild West" dropping to fifth followed by yet another new film "The Wood" in sixth. "Tarzan" was next at seventh followed by the megahit Star Wars' "Episode One - The Phantom Menace"and "The General's Daughter" with the Muppet flick bringing up the rear probably because it was rated "G" and is wholesome fare sadly prompting many to stay away. That's a shame. While the reviews by the NCCB are very good, we have discovered another site which will give you a much more detailed survey of what to watch out for. Just click on Christian Analysis of Culture Alert. For the Top Ten reviews for the third week of July prepared by the NCCB, click on MOVIES AND MORALS
1. EYES WIDE SHUT
$21.7 million in one week:
Because of graphic sex scenes, full nudity, drug use and rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "Eyes Wide Shut" is a failed cautionary tale about a mixed-up Manhattan physician who sneaks into a satanic cult's sex orgy from which he barely escapes with his life to return home a more sober husband. Director Stanley Kubrick's final picture is a major disappointment in its cold-hearted, heavy-handed treatment of shallow characters in thinly contrived situations that fail to elicit any empathy.
2. AMERICAN PIE
$13.6 million last week/ $45.5 million in two week:
Because of its scornful treatment of premarital virginity, sexual situations including masturbation and oral encounters, some nudity, gross toilet humor, occasional profanity and recurring rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. In "American Pie" a quartet of sex-obsessed high school seniors make a pact to all lose their virginity by prom night and set about lining up willing partners. The gross comedy's focus on sex as mere sport with no consequences is relentlessly one-track and clearly aimed at impressionable teens.
3. LAKE PLACID
$11 million in one week:
because of some predatory violence with decapitations, sex references, 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. "Lake Placid" is a lame horror-comedy in which big-city paleontologist Bridget Fonda, earnest game warden Bill Pullman and wealthy eccentric Oliver Platt insist on helping a rural sheriff catch a huge crocodile that has devoured a few locals. The movie offers sparse spurts of comic mileage and suspense is equally absent.
4. BIG DADDY
$10.4 million last week/ $134.5 million in four weeks:
Because of implied affairs, coarse expressions and gestures, some profanity and fleeting violence, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. 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 "Big Daddy", Adam Sandler plays an irresponsible 32-year-old temporarily taking custody of a motherless 5-year-old boy to impress a girlfriend, but in the process he learns parenting is more than just hanging out and goofing off. The one-joke movie lurches from toilet humor to blatant brand-name product placements to increasingly sappy sentiment as Sandler's character predictably matures.
5. WILD WILD WEST
$10.1 million last week/ $94.1 million in three weeks:
Because of intermittent explosions and stylized violence, some sexual innuendo with double entendres and fleeting rear nudity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. 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 "Wild Wild West", based on the '60's TV series, Will Smith and Kevin Kline play dashing post Civil War government agents who must disable a behemoth killing machine operated by a wheelchair-bound madman bent on bringing down the Republic. The blend of sci-fi contraptions and a comic tone in an Old West setting results in hallow escapist entertainment emphasizing impossible stunts and decorative femme fatales.
6. THE WOOD
$8.5 million in one week:
Because of sexual situations, brief violence, fleeting rear nudity, minimal profanity and much rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The Wood" is a drawn-out yet warm-hearted tale of three African-American buddies, one of whom (played by Taye Diggs) vaccilates about taking his vows hours before his wedding while another (Omar Epps) recalls in flashback their awkward teenage fumblings with the opposite sex a dozen years earlier. The comically intended macho posturings are overly familiar but the three are finally revealed as men more prepared to accept marital commitment.
7. TARZAN $7.5 million last week/ $143 million in five weeks
Because of intensely menacing hunting scenes, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and
adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. "Tarzan" is Disney's animated tale about an orphaned baby boy raised by jungle gorillas who grows up before encountering his first humans, including a duplicitous hunter intent on capturing his beloved ape family and spunky Jane, who tempts Tarzan to return to civilization. The classic characters of Edgar Rice Burroughs are appealing, the animation splendid and the music tuneful but some action scenes of predatory violence are too intense for younger children.
8. STAR WARS: EPISODE ONE - THE PHANTOM MENACE $5.6 million last week/ $395.2 million in nine weeks:
Because of sci-fi swordfights and battle sequences, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace is A-II - adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. "The Phantom Menace" is a disappointing prequel to the "Star Wars" trilogy in which two Jedi knights (played by Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor) intent on saving the planet Naboo from Federation invaders enlist the help of a young boy who will eventually become the evil Darth Vader. By emphasizing fantastical creatures and myriad special effects, writer-director George Lucas loses much of the movie's human dimension and ends up achieving mostly visual spectacle. May 1999
9. THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER
(Paramount) $5.2 million last week/ $87.9 million in five weeks
Because of sporadic intense violence including rape, full nudity, videotape of a sadistic sexual encounter, frequent rough language and intermittent profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. "The General's Daughter" is a lurid military thriller in which an Army criminal investigator (John Travolta) assigned to solve the brutal strangulation of a promiscuous female captain (Leslie Stefanson), is pressured to participate in a cover-up after he unravels a widespread criminal conspiracy of many years standing.
Despite sleek visuals and some strong performances, the movie plays like a cynical and at times grotesque potboiler.
10. MUPPETS FROM SPACE $6.7 million in one week
The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. "Muppets From Space" is a merry tale about muppet Gonzo discovering he is an alien and inviting his extraterrestrial relatives to visit even though a government operative (played by Jeffrey Tambor) wants them attacked on sight as enemy invaders. The madcap movie orchestrates frolicsome foolishness with goofy sight gags, gentle humor and upbeat musical numbers that translate into family-friendly entertainment.
NEWS & VIEWS
with a Catholic slant
NEWS & VIEWS
with a Catholic slant
Holy Father tweaks thoughts on Heaven with his talk at Wednesday's Papal Audience
Leave it to Pope John Paul II to get the media back on track by talking about the existence of Heaven...and hell for that matter, not by telling them to, but by speaking on it at his Papal Audience in St. Peter's Square this past Wednesday. His words have caused a flurry of questions from the fifth estate and no amount of advertising could bring more attention to the concept that is Heaven. For more, click on A Heavenly query
REACTION TO POPE'S CATECHESIS ON HEAVEN
Echo in Media
ROME, JUL 22 (ZENIT).- John Paul II's catechesis on Heaven at
yesterday's general audience has struck at the heart of the matter. At
this midpoint in the summer holidays, elements of the media have given
attention to an unbelievable debate -- "The Meaning of Heaven."
Professor Carlo Molari, leading exponent of the Italian Association of
Theologians and for many years professor of Dogmatic Theology at the
Pontifical Urban University of Rome, said to the Italian newspaper "La
Repubblica," that paradise has always been thought of as a place one can
fly to and hear the angels play instruments. "The imagination has gone
to work on a world we cannot even imagine. Painters have shattered the
heavens to represent an imagined collectivity, magnifying terrestrial
joys, pure skies, green fields, peaceful people," he noted.
But paradise is not really like this, according to Prof. Molari.
Paradise is "the fullness of relation with God. Religious experience
makes us perceive a Presence, but, as limited beings, we are unable to
express its greatness."
As regards the resurrection of the body, "it can be said symbolically
that the special final dimension will also develop as a corporeal
experience. Our body is condensed energy. It will flower in its
totality, it will reach an unheard of dimension, like the fetus, which
fully flowers at birth," Professor Molari explained.
In regard to the Holy Father's teaching on the possibility of beginning
to experience the happiness of Heaven on earth, Professor Molari said,
"This is obvious, even for someone who does not believe in God. It is
credible for the person who perceives that reality is richer and deeper
than what we see at present."
"It is essential that modern man think about the Last Things," Professor
Molari concluded. "There were periods in history where this did not
happen. The ancient Jews, for example, did not think about it. In the
beginning they believed that to have more children and more cattle was a
blessing from God. Later they passed to a more mature phase. Today it is
critical to think of the Last Things. Humanity has discovered the
incompleteness of things, situations, experiences and persons with
respect to the unrest we have in our hearts."
According to Inos Biffi, professor at the Faculty of Theology of Milan
and Lugano, "Heaven is where we see and love the Father. From this point
of view, it means to be with the glorified Lord, and to share in his
loving vision of the Father. There is eternal happiness and unending joy
in this, and that is Heaven. The place does not matter at all. Because
Heaven must not be understood as a 'physical' place with characteristics
like terrestrial bodies that are subject to experience. 'Heaven' is
beyond any representation of terrestrial or temporal experience, of the
kind with which we are familiar."
"Rather than be concerned with describing ultimate realities," said
Prof. Biffi, "it is important to prepare oneself to participate, and
this is the grace God gives to those who love Him, as Jesus said. 'If
any one loves me, we will come to him and make our home in him.' In
fact, we can say that the person in the state of grace, already lives in
paradise. Whoever loves God is already in Heaven, since Heaven is within
him even though, to use St. Paul's words, 'the future glory has not yet
been revealed' or, as St. John says, 'what we will be has not yet been
To the question as to why Heaven and hell are concepts that have
virtually disappeared from the modern mind, Bishop Biffi explained, "If
Heaven has disappeared or is cloudy in a mind, it is because Jesus
Christ has disappeared and become cloudy. The only way for Heaven to
reappear is to return to Jesus Christ through the Gospel and faith.
There are no other ways."
Nebraska Bishops launch a crusade to "SAVE THE FARMS!"
Led by Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss, shepherd of the Omaha Archdiocese, Nebraska's other two prelates Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln and Bishop Lawrence McNamara of Grand Island have joined him in bringing to the attention of officials and politicians the vital need to preserve the farmlands of the rich fertile soil of Nebraska, long a major contributor to the US and world as the breadbasket. The crusade to "Save the Farms" was prompted by many pastors in agricultural areas who understand the plight of the farmers. For more, click on Help for Huskers.
NEBRASKA BISHOPS SEEK PRESERVATION OF FAMILY FARMS
In a pastoral statement responding to what they see as a crisis in American
agricultural system, the bishops of Nebraska have come out strongly in
defense of family farms, and endorsed efforts to limit corporate ownership
of agricultural land.
In their statement, the bishops express deep concern about the economic
losses and personal hardships suffered by many families engaged in farming
in Nebraska. The economic difficulties of family farms, they note, can take a
toll on family life, and contribute to the breakdown of small communities as
well. Because the economy of Nebraska has always been heavily oriented
toward farming, these problems have a severe impact on the life of the state.
Many of the factors that have contributed to the problems of small, family-
owned farms are beyond the control of the farmers themselves, the bishops
observe. They point to the trend toward large corporate farms, the
development of industrial-sized production systems, the "vertical
integration" of corporate ownership, and the trend toward globalization of
the agricultural market. All of these influences, the bishops say, make it
more difficult for family-owned farms to compete on the marketplace.
Jim Cunningham, the executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference,
said that the problems faced by family farmers were weighing heavily on
the Catholic pastors of Nebraska, and the bishops felt it imperative to
respond to those concerns. "The bishops, as teachers and pastors, felt a very
real need to say something about the current crisis," he explained. "Rural
pastors especially have been telling them of the serious economic hardships
many of the families in their parishes are facing, and their struggles to
survive in agriculture.'
The pastoral message-- jointly signed by Archbishop Elden Curtiss of Omaha
and Bishops Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln and Lawrence McNamara of Grand
Island-- has been published in the diocesan newspapers of Nebraska, and
distributed to all of the 275 parishes in the state. The bishops urged the
faithful to use their statement as a basis for further discussions.
The bishops' statement, citing the social teachings of the Catholic Church,
argues that smaller farms provide not only a healthy environment for a
family business, but also a productive and enduring model for the
agricultural economy. The bishops say that they "endorse and defend family
farms and ranches as a viable way of life." But they add: "We remain
steadfast in our belief that small- and moderate-sized farms and ranches
operated by families on a full-time basis constitute the most sustainable,
efficient, and morally responsible method for connecting with the land and
providing food for the world."
The bishops also underline their support for the "Family Farm Preservation"
measure which was approved by Nebraska's voters in 1982 as an
amendment to the state's constitution. That measure places restrictions on
the ownership of land and agricultural involvement by corporations. "We
hereby reaffirm our support for this public policy," the bishops write. "It
upholds a just hierarchy of values and a view toward the common good. We
urge that it be conscientiously and effectively enforced."
As practical responses to the crisis of the family farm, the bishops urge
farmers to act cooperatively, pooling their resources to take advantage of
more efficient marketing options. They also call upon consumers to support
family farmers by buying their produce. Finally, they call upon all members
of the community to offer whatever assistance they can to the families that
are struggling because of their economic setbacks.
To those who have already been scarred by the agricultural crisis, the
bishops offer a message of sympathy and understanding. They emphasize
the importance of developing a strong interior life in order to able to absorb
the difficulties caused by economic forces.
Catholic Family Radio doubles its stations with seven more enabling it to reach over nine million more Catholics
Catholic Family Radio, an alternative for Catholics to shut out the chaff of noise and clutter in other media outlets, now counts fourteen stations in its growing stable. The most recent acquisition by Catholic Radio Network President and CEO John Lynch will allow the network to reach over nine million more Catholics in New England and the Bay area. For more, click on CRN expands.
CATHOLIC FAMILY RADIO EXPANDS ITS BASES
WASHINGTON, D.C., JUL 22 (ZENIT).- Catholic Family Radio (CFR), a chain
of radio stations designed to provide healthy programming for families,
has recently bought seven more stations, bringing its total to fourteen.
This new period of expansion is designed to better consolidate its
position in the U.S. market.
One of the most significant new markets is San Francisco, where the CFR
has acquired KDIA, a North Bay AM station, originally carrying
African-American programming. An estimated 1.5 million Catholics live
within reception range of this transmitter, some 25% of the population
in this area, according to a report in ACI.
The remaining stations acquired by CFR are in New England, opening an
audience of 7.6 million persons to the chain. The chain already operated
stations in Denver, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Milwaukee,
Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
CFR hopes to address recent moral debates with its programming,
providing consistent Catholic material and hourly news, 24 hours a day.
Its motto is "Building Families through Faith." According to its web
page, "The goal of CFR is to seek out unique personalities who are
likable and who can relate real life events, issues and problems to
scripture and God's wisdom in a way which is inspiring, meaningful, and
"Ultimately, our goal will be to help our listeners become better
parents, friends and citizens, thus happier individuals," says CFR.
On their web page (http://www.catholicfamilyradio.com), the network also
offers the opportunity to listen to the broadcasts live over the
Internet using Real Audio technology.
Modern marvels of technology would bewilder the early Franciscans in Assisi
It took years and years to etch and paint the magnificent frescoes on the ceilings and walls of the majestic Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi and it took just minutes to destroy many of them in the devastating Umbrian earthquake two years ago. Now, with the help of modern technology and video projection, the images can be superimposed over the damaged ones in seconds. For more, click on marvels in Assisi.
TECHNOLOGY ALLOWS RECOVERY OF ASSISI FRESCOES
Tiny Video Projectors Will Project Images of Destroyed Paintings
ASSISI, JUL 22 (ZENIT).- Thanks to technology, the magnificent frescoes
of the immortal painter Cimabue that decorated the vault of the Upper
Basilica of Assisi and were completely destroyed by the September 26,
1997, earthquake, will soon be enjoyed once again. Tiny video
projectors, to be placed on either side of the vault, will project
slides of the destroyed frescoes, showing images of the paintings that
for eight centuries welcomed pilgrims to Assisi.
At present, much restoration work is being carried out in both the Upper
and Lower Basilicas. Both are covered with frescoes by great
Pre-Renaissance and Renaissance masters. The work should be completed
for the inauguration of the Holy Year on Christmas Eve, 1999.
The Lower Basilica, which has works by Lorenzetti, Simone Martini and
other great Gothic painters, was not as severely damaged as the Upper.
In the Upper Basilica, 28 frescoes by Giotto and his disciples depicting
St. Francis' life, suffered cracks and chips in the plaster that have
been completely restored. What seems impossible to recover, however, are
Cimabue's St. Matthew, portraits of the Doctors of the Church, and the
star-studded blue heavens that decorated the vault's ceiling.
The technicians have not given up hope of reconstructing the lost
frescoes, however. As with a puzzle, they hope to piece together the
thousands of fragments found, although they estimate that 25% of the
paintings are irrecoverable. In the best of cases, pilgrims will see
totally fragmented frescoes with painted areas covering the missing
Because the restoration of the frescoes will take longer than initially
estimated, the idea of the video cameras seemed at least an immediate
The above decision unleashed a larger debate between those who wanted to
leave the marks of the earthquake as evidence, including the bricks of
the vault without plaster, and those who wanted to forget it and restore
the Basilicas to their original state. The use of slides resolved the
issue in the immediate sense.
The Basilica has now been made earthquake proof, thanks to almost 20
miles of steel tubeing that supports the foundations, walls, roofs and
30,000 bricks fired in the original manner, which replace those that
crumbled. The possibility that new tremors will damage these monuments
to universal art is now virtually out of the question.
For more headlines and articles, we suggest you go to the Catholic World News site at the
CWN home page and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and Daily Dispatches, Dossiers and Features from ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.
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July 23-25, 1999 volume 10, no. 137 DAILY CATHOLIC