February 25, 2009


Top 5: Ash Wednesday (John Nolte, 2/25/09, Big Hollywood)

There are a billion Catholics in what Hollywood calls the worldwide market and today’s Ash Wednesday, one of most important holy days of the faith and the beginning of our Lenten season — and how many films have been produced to tap that market this year? Is “squat” a number? But the profit driven movie business, in keeping with the spirit of that old saying, “the sixteenth time’s the charm,” does have a couple more Iraq films in the pipeline.

So as we enter the next 46 days, during which we’re asked to reflect on our relationship with God and how we can improve on that relationship and as individuals, here are five films about just that, about lost souls who one way or another found their way home.

1. Tender Mercies (1983) [...]

2. The Sign of the Cross (1932) [...]

3. The Next Voice You Hear (1950) [...]

4. The Exorcist (1973) [...]

5. Bad Lieutenant (1992)

To which allow me to add one more. When we recently mentioned Clive Owen's role in the lamentable film version of Children of Men, mokuren recommended his turn in the British tv adaptation of Minette Walters', The Echo. Therein, Mr. Owen plays a down at the heels reporter -- Mike Deacon -- who is sent to write a piece on the wealthy architect who found a tramp starved to death in her garage. The gist of the story--properly mocked--is: "poverty persists in Blair's Britain." What Deacon finds though is an altogether different tale, about a bum who styled himself after William Blake and who a psychiatrist describes as "something quite unfashionable these days, a repentant sinner."

As deacon investigates he gets involved with a hapless crew of helpers--a photographer who dresses like a slut then wonders why no one takes her seriously; an elderly and lonely Jewish lawyer who'd been friend's with his father; a street urchin with a heart of gold; and a momma's-boy archivist at the newspaper. The scene in which the lawyer hands out deeply personal Christmas gifts to the motley bunch is worth the price of admission by itself.

But it's the unravelling of how "Billy" Blake chose that specific garage to die in and the reporter's realization that he too is in need of redemption that really lifts the material beyond genre. Blake, it develops, believed that he could be saved if he sacrificed his own soul to redeem the soul of another. Deacon takes up the salvific mission and pursues it to a thoroughly satisfying end.

The film torrent is available to download at The Box. I'm happy to provide an invite to anyone who needs one.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 25, 2009 10:21 PM
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