Monday, June 4, 2012

The Power of Andy Garcia Compels You!

You may remember occasional Wo'C subject Matt C. Abbott, one of the many perpetually irked Papists who populate RenewAmerica.  Specifically, he's "a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill."  With that kind of background -- Business Management and Theater Arts -- he ought to be working at the Vatican, which is basically the Nederlander Organization with more cross dressing allowed in the office.  Instead, he's "worked in the right-to-life movement and is a published writer focused on Catholic and social issues."

 As we've discussed in the past, Matt's usual literary method is to gesture broadly like Vanna White at some recent affront to the One True Faith, then turn the actual "making an argument" part of his column over to a subcontractor - usually some retired (or "retired") priest who happened to send him a cranky email. But this week, Matt has changed his M.O. -- and his hair color -- discovering that he has more to say about the abstruse minutiae of Christian dogma than he previously thought, so long as it's delivered by noted theologian Andy Garcia, and that blondes have more fun.

Viva Cristo Rey!
There's a been a loud hum in the Catholic blogosphere in recent days surrounding the release of the feature film For Greater Glory, in large part due to its seemingly providential timing: The Catholic Church in the U.S. is under attack by the Obama administration, and we Catholics — actually, all God-fearing citizens — are faced with surrendering at least some of our religious liberty. 
The Catholic blogsphere, like the World of Warcraft fandom, is usually a peaceable lot, and is only aroused to fury by genuine attacks upon their faith and sacred rights, like the attempt to retcon the Draenei into an offshoot of the eredar, which is morally unacceptable as that would mean that  Sargeras corrupted the eredar, and not the other way round!
(In fact, one could argue, as the late Father John Hardon, S.J., did, that we really don't have separation of church and state, but rather subordination of church to state.)
I'm sorry, did you say something, Matt?  I got distracted by a giggling fit after the words "Father John Hardon."
And if President Obama wins another term — and I fear he will — it may get even worse.
The Vatican would become an impotent force in the world, and Matt would have to make do with quotes from Father Jack Flaccid.
In regard to the movie itself, I first have to say that I don't consider myself a very good movie critic. I've seen a number of movies in my time, yet if asked to write several paragraphs on even my most favorite ones, I'd be hard-pressed to do so.
Yeah, but that's true of every other thing you've ever written about, too.
Overall, I appreciated For Greater Glory; it's a good movie. The performances of Andy Garcia and Mauricio Kuri are indeed laudable. The costumes and cinematography are top-notch, as is the musical score. And the factual information presented at the end of the movie is nicely done.
I always thought Citizen Kane was a good movie, but it could have been a classic if Welles had just included a quiz at the end.
My two minor complaints: I wasn't crazy about the portrayal of Father Christopher (played by Peter O'Toole). To me, his vacuous look came across as a bit creepy.
I had no idea Peter O'Toole was such a Method actor.
Also, the movie could have been somewhat shorter, although I concede that I get antsy when having to sit for more than two hours.
Well, the movie clocks in at 143 minutes, so I'll listen with careful and open-minded attention to your opinion on the first two hours, and then just assume you spent the final 23 minutes attempting to see how many Milk Duds you could cram into your cheeks like a chipmunk.
At any rate, For Greater Glory is far better than much of what comes out of Hollywood these days, and for that I give thanks.

Well Matt, I may disagree with your critical perspective on cinema, but I applaud you for throwing away your usual crutch, and going an entire column without relying on a cashiered cleric to furnish your opinions for you.  My sincerest congratulations.
Father James Farfaglia, of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, loved the movie. He writes (slightly edited):

Oh well, fine.  I guess it's easier to bleach your hair than it is to bleach the priests out of your prose.  Okay, boil it down for me, Padre -- what's the money quote?
Everyone needs to see this movie because there are so many parallels to what is happening in our country. This movie is particularly important for: 1) priests, so that they may be courageous defenders of the Catholic Faith;
And like 12-year old boys, priests are an important movie-going demographic.  In fact, the two groups are often seen going to movies together; at least on Date Night.
 2) for young people, so that they may remain faithful;
The one young person the movie focuses on is a 12-year old boy (smart demography, filmmakers!), so I assume he's the character with whom the target market is meant to identify, and has lots of cool adventures with Andy Garcia's ragtag Catholic army as it fights against troops enforcing Mexico's unjust anticlerical laws in the 1926-29 Cristeros Rebellion.  Right, Padre?
[T]he scene of the martyrdom of young Jose is really beautiful. He refuses not to say 'Viva Cristo Rey.' He remains faithful, even with the most horrendous tortures, like having the skin of the bottom of his feet cut off and forced to walk a long distance, with bloody feet, to his death. Kids need to see this. A young boy remains faithful.
And it'll make a great collectible cup from Hardee's.
3) for the Hispanic people, so that they do not give in to the culture of death and that they remember their Catholic roots.
So there you have it, young Hispanic people.  Father Farfaglia calls upon you to reject the deadly culture of federal regulations governing insurance coverage for contraceptives and embrace the life-affirming virtues of your traditional faith, like foregoing Middle School in favor of having the soles of your feet flayed, then going on a Bataan Death March to your own execution.

Until then, the Balcony is closed.  And full of bloody foot skin.


Anonymous said...

Father Ted disapproves of the movie


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Blonde Matt C. Abbott is creepier than the original.

Anonymous said...

"having the skin of the bottom of his feet cut off and forced to walk a long distance...."

How odd. Sounds like one of the fun ideas the Catholic clergy came up with during the Inquisition....

trashfire said...

NO ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION. (sorry, got carried away...)

Anyway, looking back over Mexican history, it's clear that the Cristeros wrote the playbook on how to kick the Mexican government to the curb, which the drug cartels follow to this day.

scripto said...

How about Andy as a young Francisco Franco? It would be the most greatest of glories to spin the Spanish Civil War. I think I can get some seed money from Cardinal Dolan.

Kathy said...

Fathers Farfaglia & Hardon. Sounds like a magic show or high-wire act.

Carl said...

subordination of church to state

Those whips and collars? I think those are the new altar boy rainment.

Has the Church been deprived of its right to minister to its flock? No. Has the Church been deprived of its tax free properties? No.

Has the Church been prevented from imposing its will on non-Catholics?

Oh! Hell! Yea!

Y'know, dude, Orthodox Jews are prevented from eating pork, but you don't have a problem buying bacon, do you?

So shut the fuck up.

JoeBuddha said...

Seems to me the problem with these butt-hurt Catholics is that they aren't satisfied with employees. What they really want is serfs.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Charlie don't serf, Joe.

Trenchcoat said...

Bloody Foot Skin is my favorite Portland band.

T.B. Player said...

The Cristero rebellion was a very complicated thing. It was at least as much about the landed elites trying to get their privileges back as it was about religious freedom. (When and where has the Roman Catholic Church ever been in favor of religious freedom for any church but itself, anyway?) And without justifying government atrocities, it might have been nice for the moviemakers to acknowledge that the Cristeros committed many of their own, including the torture and murder of rural schoolteachers.

Historically the RCC in Latin America has virtually always sided with the aristocracy, the economic elites and the politically powerful, against the interests of the common people. The Church opposed both the 1810 war for independence (Padre Hidalgo, one of the founders of the revolution, who delivered the famous "grito de la independencia" was defrocked and excommunicated before his execution) and the 1910 rebellion. It consistently opposed democratization and land reform (due in part no doubt to its role as Mexico's biggest landowner until after the 1910 rebellion).

While I think the anti-clerical laws went WAY overboard, and do not countenance religious oppression of any kind, the laws didn't happen without a context, and the underlying principle of separation of church and state is crucial to a free society.

I get it that a movie, even a long one, can't present every conceivable historic nuance, and it's easier to have clear-cut good guys and bad guys, but at least some inclusion of the ambiguities and context of the Cristero rebellion would be nice.

James Briggs Stratton "Doghouse" Riley said...

I like to spend at least half of any Andy Garcia movie trying to figure out what movie he thought he was making.

Carl said...

Dog, that might be the first one sentence summary of Garcia's career that has ever truly encompassed his body of work

Jay B. said...

Pro tip: That vacuous look from O'Toole is mainly because of the amount of botox he's had, that and a decades long drinking binge. This isn't a dig at O'Toole at all. He's one of my all-time favorites. I would also like to point out that The Ruling Class is kind of an antidote for Catholic propaganda films. Finally, if it wasn't for his droll turn as the voice of Anton Ego in Ratatouille, I would just think of him as dead.

Nadine said...

That last comment from "Change Management Process" seems rather, well, Bot-like Scott. If you click through to see what it is, it looks like one of those "motivate your employees so that they each can do the jobs of all the others who were 'downsized'". The comment was just too generic.

And, completely off topic, I miss Annti profoundly. I'm truly worried about her.

And on topic, children should see a 12 year old being tortured and martyred?!? Is this what the RCC truly wants kids to know? "Fall in line with your faith; so you too, can be tortured and killed." And don't forget Confession is at 4:30 on Saturday.

No wonder I'm still a recovering Catholic...

Li'l Innocent said...

Re: Minx' remark about taking kids to see a 12 yo tortured and martyred. Anybody here but me old enough to remember the brief scene in Fellini's "8 1/2" where the Fellini-alter-ago protagonist has a childhood recollection of seeing a church pageant of an early Christian martyr, played by a little girl, being burned on a grill, and being terrified? The "flames" were achieved by attaching strips of paper (presumably red; "8 1/2" is in b&w) to the grill and blowing them upward around the "martyr" with a fan like tongues of fire -- and the young boy's imagination did the rest. Many of the child-memory scenes in this film have a strong feeling of authenticity.

IIRC my first exposure to blood-and-torment themes in modern Christian hagiography was when I was invited to go to a Mass with a Catholic girlfriend when we were about 9, and saw saints' statues in the side chapels with the streaming Technicolor wounds of their martyrdoms displayed. I'd seen paintings of the crucifixion, etc. in art books before then, but knew that they were very old, and hadn't realized that representations of blood and torture was still part of many people's churchgoing experience.

Disclaimer: I was brought up strongly Protestant, and tho the Northern Baptist congregation my grandparents belonged to in Minneapolis had a big, ornate Late Victorian church, they didn't at all go in for bloody saints, or statues of any kind. Not that Proddies are historically exempt from atrocities - but the attitude to imagery is very different.

Then there were all those parents who hauled their kids to see that Mel Gibson bloodbath a few years back.

Notice how good Padre Farfaglia says the martyrdom of the kid in this movie is "really beautiful".

I don't know. I find moral courage against the odds thrilling . . but foot-flaying doesn't strike me as much to do with beauty. The human capacity for horribleness, yes .. and if one gets off on it, in some roundabout way, isn't that part of the horror, too?

Li'l Innocent said...

Also - I've been worrying about Joanna too - has anyone heard anything from/about her in the last couple weeks?

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...


2nd attempt, 'cause I won't give the cocksuckers my prepaid #.

Sorry to have made anybody worry about my useless ass. No good news to report, ergo, I'm trying to conserve my bitching energy for a really good asshole-ripping rant on the scum in this city and what needs to be done with them. Vacating teh roach motel in the morning for quadrants nawth.

Please kill me.

Love y'all.