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August 21-23, 1998
SECTION TWO   vol 9, no. 164
To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION THREE and SECTION ONE
TOP TEN MOVIES OF LAST WEEK
A General Malaise in late summer: No competition again for the Private!
Continuing with our summer replacement to keep everyone abreast of the proper entertainment to take in, we present this week's top ten movies from a Catholic perspective including our take and the official review by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The critically-acclaimed "Saving Private Ryan" continues to dominate the movie charts finishing first for the fourth consecutive week. Unlike the search for the Army Private in the movie which was grueling, the box-office journey has been a cake-walk considering the total lack of competition from other films. Even with a month under its belt, this movie held strong, but who wouldn't against such dogs as "How Stella got her groove back" and "There's something about Mary", or the disappointing lightweight adventures "The Avengers" and "Snake Eyes"? Click on MOVIES & MORALS: TOP TEN MOVIES
TOP TEN MOVIES FOR FIRST WEEK OF AUGUST
A man against boys, that could be the title of this week's results in the aftermath of the poignant, powerful war movie "Saving Private Ryan" once again coming in number one for the fourth consecutive week. Since the all-time blockbuster "Titanic" was knocked from the top spot early this summer, no film has maintained that kind of consistency. Adding to Director Stephen Spielberg's good fortune could be the plethora of mediocre and just plain bad movies that are glutting the movieplexes late this summer. We offer as exhibit "A" the following trashy fare such as the runner-up "How Stella got her groove back" and "There's something about Mary" still in the top five. Weak competition was provided by the rip-off of an excellent British thrillers of the sixties - "The Avengers" and the inept "Snake Eyes" which truly wastes a good Nicholas Cage performance.
As you'll see with each review there is almost always something objectionable about each movie so go in with an open mind and keep in mind the best advice before you plunk down your hard-earned money at the box-office: Would Jesus and His Mother Mary watch it with you? If not, think twice about seeing it.
Below are the top ten for this last week with the Bishops' reviews. Reviews are categorized by A-I -- general patronage; A-II -- adults and adolescents; A-III -- adults;
A-IV -- adults, with reservations (an A-IV classification designates problematic films that, while not
morally offensive in themselves, require caution and some analysis and explanation as a safeguard
against wrong interpretations and false conclusions); and finally, ones no one should see:
O -- morally offensive.
1. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN 126 million over four weeks Dreamworks
This movie has all the makings of being one of the top blockbusters of the summer. When you consider that a third of the population refuse to see it because of its mind-numbing graphic content that can stir nightmares like nothing "Halloween H20" could ever do, that says a lot for this film's staying power and powerful cast. Like his award winning, but disturbing movie "Schlindler's List" Steven Spielberg brings us another powerful, poignant and purposeful masterpiece with a message that will have audiences buzzing for weeks to come. This one is not "entertainment" per se but a realistic look at the horrific casualties of war like no movie ever has. But it is not just for shock value as so many movies try to do today, but, true to the Spielberg purpose of expressing his heart and soul for a cause, the master director takes us there to show us how it really was and the saving grace and triumph of man's soul in the face of insurmountable odds. Below is the Bishops' review:
Saving Private Ryan--Because of graphic battlefield violence, some profanity and
recurring rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults.
The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Saving Private Ryan is
a riveting war drama with Tom Hanks as an army officer who leads a patrol behind
German lines in 1944 France to rescue G.I. Matt Damon whose three brothers had been
killed in action the previous week. This realistic re-creation of war's horror and chaos
never loses sight of the soldiers' humanity and loyalty, despite their questioning the
2. HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK 11.3 million in one week 20th Century Fox
Though this farce is targeted to exploit black audiences, white audiences are also falling for the bait which will land something that definitely should not only be thrown back, but thrown out. Why is Hollywood so out of touch with reality and morality? This film answers the question only too vividly by glorifying something God has said is sinful - with no exceptions. As for any redeeming qualities to this movie, don't look for it. Below is the bishop's review of this film:
How Stella Got Her Groove Back -- Because of its uncritical treatment of pre-marital sex,
fleeting nudity and some rough language, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is
A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R --
restricted. How Stella Got Her Groove Back is a glossy comic valentine in which
40-year-old single mom Angela Bassett finds happiness with a man half her age whom
she meets while vacationing in Jamaica. The result is an idealized romantic fantasy
about a one-night stand maturing into a committed relationship.
3. THE AVENGERS 10.3 million in one week Warner Brothers
Perhaps because Warner Brothers did not preview this film it did poorly in its opening week. Whether that was, as WB claims, "to let it stand on its own merit" or as critics predict "a real turkey" - it most probably hurt the film's take last week. They say followers of the cult-like sixties TV series will be greatly disappointed since Uma Thurman cannot hold a candle to Diana Riggs, though Ralph Fiennes carries off his role as John Steed almost with the same British aplomb as his predecessor Patrick Macnee, though the role given to Sean Connery lacks the punch and depth normally expected from such an exalted actor. In fact, Connery himself, a connosieur of good scripts, regrets being a part of this one, refusing to promote the film. That speaks to his integrity and the shallowness of this British-oriented film which, even with Emma Peel has no apeal for American movie-goers. Below is the bishop's review of this film:
The Avengers -- Because of stylized violence, sexual innuendo and an instance of rough
language, 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. The Avengers is a leaden updating
of the 1960s TV series with unflappable British operatives Ralph Fiennes and Uma
Thurman battling international villain Sean Connery. The agents are smug and
charmless while the villain proves to be embarrassingly buffoonish.
4. THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY 91.3 million over five weeks 20th Century Fox
While all the others continued to plummet, this exploitive film continued to hold its own which - when you consider this movie's contents - is an oxymoron. Speaking of morons, that's what we must call the American movie-goer who plunks down hard-earned cash for this garbage. It is, to put it simply, a story that is blatant profanity and something with absolutely no redeeming value. This "R" rated movie exploits others and holds sex on such a vulgar level that it is so bad that the best thing in the movie is the dog - even in full body cast he's more believable than any of the human characters who don't seem to have a clue what good acting is. How these kind of films get made and the poor calibre of actors and actresses that are being churned out is beyond our comprehension. This is definitely one to avoid like the plague! We have to disagree with the Bishops' review below when they said "the sentimental story helps keep its tasteless humor from becoming seriously offensive." Sorry, your excellencies, but it is seriously offensive! Below is the Bishops' review:
There's Something About Mary-- Because of some comic violence, gross sexual
innuendo, fleeting nudity, intermittent profanity and much rough language, the U.S.
Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture
Association of America rating is R -- restricted. There's Something About Mary is a wacky
but very crude comedy about lovelorn Ben Stiller competing with sneaky private eye Matt
Dillon and others for the affections of the attractive but incredibly naive Cameron Diaz. The
jokes in this goofy romantic comedy range from the dopey to the outrageously vulgar,
though the sentimental story helps keep its tasteless humor from becoming seriously
5. SNAKE EYES 31.6 million over two weeks Paramount
Those who loved Nicholas Cage's performance in "Face Off"), will be greatly disappointed with his latest vehicle "Snake Eyes". Cage, a fast talking detective on the take is definitely good in it, but the story and supporting cast are very shallow. This one bears the label of that great bugaboo among today's script writers: no motivation of character. The violence is very graphic and midway through the film, after they reveal the villain, everything is anticlimatic and boring from there. This is definitely not a movie to bet big on. Below is the bishops' review:
Snake Eyes -- Because of recurring violence, some sexual innuendo, minimal rough
language and frequent profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III --
adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. In Snake Eyes
the lifelong friendship of corrupt cop Nicolas Cage and Naval Commander Gary Sinese is
sorely tested when they investigate a Cabinet member's assassination at a
championship boxing match they were attending. The movie is more sleek than
suspenseful in finding its twisted route to the truth and one man's hardly credible
6. HALLOWEEN H20 40.1 million over two weeks Miramax
Oh please, haven't we had enough of these teen exploitation horror flicks? Won't someone please kill off Michael Myers so we can put an end to this madness? One would understand "madness" when one has teens in the household who "must see it." Why these genre of films mesmerize and magnetize the teens so is beyond this editor's comprehension, but they do. One would think the state of the world today and the pending Justice of the Almighty would be scary enough without paying to be frightened to death! Below is the bishops' review:
Halloween: H20 -- Because of recurring shadowy violence, mild sexual innuendo,
intermittent rough language and an instance of profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference
classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R --
restricted. In Halloween: H20 a presumed dead homicidal maniac tracks down the sister
(played by Jamie Lee Curtis) that he tried and failed to kill 20 years earlier, this time intent
on finishing the job. Since some attention is paid to the negative effects violence had on
the Curtis character over the years, the slasher sequel seems less excessive and is
5. EVER AFTER: A CINDERELLA STORY 34 million over three weeks20th Century Fox
At last they might have found a movie where overused and undertalented Drew Barrymore fits in with the scenery and times - the Renaissance era of 16th Century France. This is a different kind of Cinderella story than the one your parents told you and with all your imagination, believe us, Barrymore was not who you pictured, we're sure. Having only her name to sustain her, she is better in this film than all the rest put together since "E.T." and she wasn't very good in that one. It's a romantic fantasy that could well put the men to sleep - you could call it "Sleeping Beauty." with an attitude. Below is the Bishops' review:
Ever After: A Cinderella Story -- Because of some stylized violence, menace and crude language, 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. Ever After is a fairy tale romance
with Drew Barrymore as a spunky young Frenchwoman who, despite the interference of
her wicked stepmother, wins the heart of the crown prince who is enthralled by her natural
beauty, wit and intelligence. This variation on the Cinderella story offers a modern,
self-reliant heroine in a colorful 16th-century setting, with often amusing and, at times,
8. THE PARENT TRAP 43.6 million over three weeksDisney
Trapped in a void, that's what Disney is with this remake of the successful and funny film of the same title back in the sixties when Hayley Mills became a household name. This one is a cruder remake of that one with nothing new and everyone, other than the young and spunky Lindsay Lohan as identical twins. Who would you believe is more credible as parents: Randy Quaid and Natasha Richardson from the 98 version or Brian Keith and Maureen O'Hara from the 61 film? Thought so. This is basically a harmless film that shows Disney must be hard up for originality. Below is the Bishops' review:
The Parent Trap--Because of some unamusing pranks and a scene of amateur
ear-piercing, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II --adults and adolescents.
The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested.
The Parent Trap is a slow-paced but often charming re-make of the 1961 movie in which
11-year-old identical twin sisters, raised separately by divorced parents, happen to meet
at summer camp, then switch places to work on reuniting mom and dad. The sentimental
premise provides a number of heartwarming moments with comic relief from the
mischievous twins, but the feel-good results are superficial at best.
9. THE NEGOTIATOR 32.5 million over three weeksWarner Brothers
If you like cliche-ridden dialogue, this one takes the cake. "The Fugitive" with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones was better and the setting and sets are basically the same. Despite excellent acting performances by Samuel L. Jackson and the always spooky Kevin Spacy, this is the sad swan song for versatile character actor J.T. Walsh who died of a heart attack earlier this year while vacationing in San Diego. Though it has its suspenseful minutes, "The Negoiator" is one you might want to negotiate on whether you see this movie or opt for another. Below is the Bishops' review:
The Negotiator -- Because of considerable violence, life-threatening situations, recurring
rough language and occasional profanity, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is
A-IV -- adults, with reservations. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R --
restricted. The Negotiator is a murky thriller in which Chicago cop Samuel L. Jackson
holds a number of people hostage while trying to convince police negotiator Kevin Spacy
that he has been framed for a crime he didn't commit. The overly contrived proceedings
are filled with hokey action, vague motivations and stereotyped characters that lose
interest long before the formula ending.
10. ARMAGEDDON 180 million over seven weeks Disney
Even though the asteroid has almost crashed, the financial success of this disaster film shows the star-pulling power of Bruce Willis. Again, like "There's Something About Mary", this doesn't speak very well for the audience's preferences. Still Armageddon is a harmless, if not loud and we mean LOUD movie experience. Those who have seen this movie might still be having hearing problems because of the outrageous decibel level that the filmmakers have foisted on the public's earlobes. Despite the cacaphony it has made noise at the box office, surpassing the other asteroid disaster flick "Deep Impact" for the biggest blockbuster this summer and staying the longest in the top ten since all-time heavyweight "Titanic" which, in its 35th week, still comes in at a phenomenal 18th, having garnered an incredible 598.6 million to date...and just think, next week it becomes available on video tape which should also set all-time records. Below is the bishops' review for "Armageddon":
Armageddon -- Because of explosive mayhem, an implied affair, occasional profanity and
an instance of rough language, 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. Armageddon is
a bloated disaster story with Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck planting a nuclear warhead on a
humongous asteroid in a desperate attempt to blast it out of its collision course with
Earth. The result is an overlong tale of macho heroics, pumped up with special effects,
then doused in weepy emotions.
Events throughout the week in Church History
For time capsule events that happened in Church history on August 21st through August 23rd, click on ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME
Historical Events in Church Annals for August 21:
Death of Pope Gregory IX, 178th successor of Peter, who excommunicated the disobedient Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II because of his negligent attitude towards the Crusades. It was Gregory who canonized Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Anthony of Padua, and Saint Dominic as well as instituting the Holy Inquisition when it was truly holy and worthwhile.
Birth of Saint Francis de Sales, a nobleman who would go on to found the Visitandines and write spiritual classics that have withstood the test of time and garnered many souls for God. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1877 and in 1923 Pope Pius XI proclaimed him Patron Saint of the Catholic Press.
Death of Pope Saint Pius X, 257th successor of Peter. For more on this beloved and holy pontiff who died late in the evening of the 20th but was announced on the 21st, see TODAY'S LITURGY.
Historical Events in Church Annals for August 22:
Feast of the Queenship of Mary
Death of Pope Nicholas III, 180th successor of Peter, who was the first Pope to actually reside permanently at the Vatican. It was Nicholas who actually laid out the famous gardens. He also sent missionaries to convert the Tartar kings.
The Last White Rose: Death of the Catholic Plantagenet King Richard III at the Field of Bosworth. It is significant to the Church because it not only ended the War of the Roses, but enabled the Tudor line to take hold through the victory of King Henry VII who sired a son. And we all know the story of his son Henry VIII!
The Catholic convert Hiacoomes is ordained, thus becoming the first Native-American Indian priest. Exactly three centuries later within a week in the same month another Native-American would be ordained and go on to make great strides on the American Catholic scene: Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver.
Pope Leo XIII issues his 20th encyclical Quod multum on the liberty of the Church, specifically in Hungary.
Historical Events in Church Annals for August 23:
Death of Saint Philip Benizi, Confessor, Servite Prior and Superior General who was actually considered a candidate for the papacy after the death of Pope Clement IV but felt so unworthy he hid until Cardinal Hildebrand was elected and became Pope Blessed Gregory X. A great orator, Philip resigned his post as provincial in later years and spent the last years of his life in prayer and solitude.
PROVERB OF THE DAY
"The evildoer is an abomination to the just, and he who walks uprightly is an abomination to the wicked."
Proverbs 29: 27
Click here to go to SECTION THREE or return toSECTION ONE or click here to return to the graphics front page of this issue.
August 21-23, 1998 volume 9, no. 164 DAILY CATHOLIC