Saturday, February 02, 2008

"Morally Grounded"?
Remember... these idiots speak for our Bishops

I sure would like to hear that just one member of the USCCB would come out and publicly condemn and call for the removal of the twin-jackasses of movie reviews. One... just one. Is that really asking too much?

Once Again: USCCB Movie Reviewers Praise Sex-Laden, Extremely Violent Films as "Morally Grounded"
By John Connolly and John Jalsevac

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 1, 2008 ( - Harry Forbes, the Director of the USCCB Office for Film and Broadcasting, who provoked disbelief from U.S. Catholics when he praised both "Brokeback Mountain" and the explicitly anti-Catholic "The Golden Compass," has again endorsed movies rife with explicit sexuality and extreme violence, this time in the USCCB's just released yearly top-10 movie listing.

The USCCB reviewer introduces his January 25 top-10 list by praising the quality and "morally grounded" nature of such films as "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" and "Eastern Promises".

Forbes, who co-authored the article with colleague John Mulderig, went on to list movies such as "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," "Eastern Promises," "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," "There Will Be Blood," and "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street."

"All of these sometimes difficult-to-watch films were well received by the [USCCB] Office for Film & Broadcasting, as they were morally grounded beyond their aesthetic excellence," said the article.

According to the family-friendly film-screening website,, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" contains several graphically sexual scenes where the characters are portrayed nude and performing sexual acts. It also contains two prolonged depictions of a topless woman.

"Eastern Promises" focuses on life in the Russian mafia, and sex, rape, and extreme and gory violence are all huge elements of the movie. The film includes an explicit sex scene where all the characters are naked, including a man who has a crucifix tattooed on his chest. As the PluggedIn movie review puts it, "Nothing is left to the imagination."

"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street", has indeed been acknowledged for its skillful execution on the technical level, but has also been widely criticized, even by some of the most hardened reviewers, for its beyond-the-extreme gore; the film includes extended scenes of Sweeney Todd slitting the throats, with extremely bloody results, of numerous victims.
THIS is "morally grounded"? Is it any wonder why I have absolutely zero respect for the USCCB?


Blogger Victor said...

The nude scene in EASTERN PROMISES is not a sex scene at all, contrary to what writers Connolly and Jalsevac say, but rather a messy and not-the-least-erotic fight scene. It's an attempted mob hit that takes place in a sauna.

2:33 AM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

And what part of this mob hit scene is to be qualified as "Morally Grounded" in Catholic teaching?

8:04 AM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Orthodoxae said...

The Godfather has mafia hits during a [pre-Vat2] baptism. But that's not Church teaching either. That was to show...irony among other things.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Yep! And although both flicks may have their cinematic kudos coming to them... neither should have representatives for the USCCB stating that either are "morally grounded" in Catholic teaching.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Orthodoxae said...

I whole-heartedly agree

5:55 PM  
Blogger Victor said...

And what part of this mob hit scene is to be qualified as "Morally Grounded" in Catholic teaching?

Outside the context of the movie ... nothing at all. (Though the same is true of every scene in every movie ever made.)

As for whether EASTERN PROMISES as a whole is morally grounded, the claim the reviewers actually made, that question really would be better addressed to them. Here is their actual review ... which frankly really is no great shakes.

But the authors probably mean by "moral grounding" what the crime-gangster movie has in its genes (and all had in their flesh until recently) ... the bad guys, traffickers in what used to be called "white slavery," i.e. foreign kidnappings and prostitution, end up dead or jailed. An ordinary citizen gets involved and the gang becomes unglued. Crime doesn't pay, vice is punished and virtue rewarded, etc. If that sounds weak, I agree ... I would make no great claims for EASTERN PROMISES as a film (I graded it 6/10).

But that still doesn't justify Lifesite spreading a falsehood about the film -- namely that the famous full-nude scene is a sex scene ... it's the farthest thing in the world from it. And that's a mistake that could not be made by anybody who had seen EASTERN PROMISES, indicating that these criticisms of the USCCB reviewers (whom it galls me to be defending) are based on ignorance and/or false claims to knowledge.

9:37 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

(Though the same is true of every scene in every movie ever made.)

Have you seen The Passion of The Christ; Song of Bernadette; The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, et al?

But anyhow, even if LifeSite got some of the specifics wrong (as you see it), that doesn't negate the fact that the movie reviewers who speak for the USCCB have a track record of giving two hearty thumbs-up to blatantly anti-Catholic movies.

That's the greater truth than if LifeSite correctly described any certain scene.

6:22 AM  
Blogger Victor said...

I've seen the first two. Loved the first but not the second: in a nutshell -- typical-biopic dramatic shapelessness, which gets deadly at 160 minutes; neither holiness nor sainthood is not imputed through a camera lens, so subject-matter per se doesn't impress me; plaster saints make me itch; 25-year-old women playing 14-year-old girls is funny and so destroys this movie's credibility.

In any event ... that doesn't rebut the point that since no scene in any movie exists outside the dramatic context of the movie as a whole, any description of simple subject matter is pretty meaningless. I could point you to individual scenes that sound devout if you just recite what happens, but are not in context.

And it's not "as [I] see it." Lifesite's EASTERN PROMISES statement is "2+2=5" territory. It's not a sex scene. Not. (There actually is a fairly explicit sex scene in the movie, but it's not the scene with full-male nudity.) The only disputable point is whether getting wrong something that obvious (the sauna scene is rather memorable) says anything broader about Lifesite's critical methods. I don't see how it can't.

As for the reviewers ... the review quite clearly stated what the surface subject matter of EASTERN PROMISES was and they classified it as an "L" film, meaning not appropriate for children. Unless it's your point that all "L" films are on that basis bad or anti-Catholic, there is nothing wrong per se with naming an L film as a favorite.

7:09 AM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

You're tap dancing now, Victor.

First you state that no scene in every movie ever made could be qualified as "Morally Grounded" in Catholic teaching, and now you decry the movies I categorized as "morally grounded", as simply bad movies according to your scorecard.

As much as you dislike "Song of Bernadette" or "The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima", that fails to negate the fact that these movies ARE grounded morally in Catholic teaching. There simply is no getting around that.

And on the other side of the coin, no matter how much you want to defend "Eastern Promises", that doesn't matter in the least... said film simply fails to be qualified as "morally grounded" in Catholic teaching, period.

That's the question at hand. But thanks for posting, Victor.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Victor said...

"Scene" =/= "movie."

I said the former cannot be considered moral or immoral out of context. I said nothing of the latter (you did read what I wrote about THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, right?).

The rest is just fiating oneself as right. And nobody who hasn't seen a movie can tells someone who has what it's about or its qualities, particularly with emphatics like "no matter" and "period."

4:15 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Again withthe tap dancing. When did I even mention Passion of The Christ in my last comment?

And nobody who hasn't seen a movie can tells someone who has what it's about or its qualities, particularly with emphatics like "no matter" and "period."

No matter how much you disagree, I will. Period.

7:01 PM  

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