There's a reason this expertly shot and edited documentary is skimming under the radar: no one wants you to see it. The hugely skilled Gibney is taking on the world's biggest corporation, the Vatican, with a lucid, personal exploration of child abuse in the Catholic church. And while a first-person approach draws us in, it's the wide-ranging evidence against the top echelons of the church that takes us aback. This film is exposing one of the biggest ever conspiracies without ever shouting about it.
The main focus here is four men (Kohut, Smith, Kuehn and Budzinski) who were abused by a priest while they were students at a school for the deaf in Milwaukee. One of them blew the whistle in a 1972 letter, but the priest was never brought to justice for his crimes. It seemed like the local diocese was covering up his actions, but an investigation showed that the orders to stay silent came right from the Holy See in Rome. And as years passed, similar stories emerged from Boston, Ireland and Italy itself. In each case, the Vatican ordered the churches not to report the abuse to the police.
Yes, this conspiracy goes all the way to the top, although Pope Benedict has tried to remain outside the fray even though his previous job was to investigate these cases. And in looking at this careful outline of the events, it's clear that the real problem stems from the Catholic church's insistence that priests should never answer to earthly powers, which is why parents are so reluctant to believe their children's accusations against a holy man. In other words, the church is more concerned for the office of the priesthood than the victims of abuse.
Continue reading: Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God Review
Jamey Sheridan and Sons - Jamey Sheridan & Sons Agoura Hills, California - at the 12th annual method film festival screening of The Lightkeepers during which the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Bruce Dern Monday 29th March 2010
Written and directed by Anne De Salvo, this sickeningly saccharine 91 minutes revolves around a supposedly tight-knit, triple-generation family of women. Each character embodies the ultimate in annoying stereotypes, from selfless martyr to irresponsible wanderer. And of course, they each have a male in their life to represent the standard issues of women's liberation from 30 years ago.
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But much of Life as a House is completely watchable. Mark Andrus's script (he's written As Good As It Gets and the underrated, rarely seen Late For Dinner) appears cookie-cutter: he gives us the lazy, lonely, eccentric nobody (Kevin Kline); his estranged family, including beautiful ex-wife (Kristin Scott Thomas) and alienated teen (Hayden Christensen); and his predictably uptight neighbors, pissed off that his ramshackle of a house has stood in their beautiful oceanside neighborhood for twenty years.
Continue reading: Life as a House Review
Strangely enough, Welles couldn't have been more prophetic.
Continue reading: Cradle Will Rock Review
Stacy Title (The Last Supper) throws enough originality into the film to make it mildly worthwhile, and Jonathan Penner's dark prince (here the son of a nightclub owner) channels both Ethan Hawke and that mean guy from Dawson's Creek. Most priceless is Mary-Louise Parker's Ophelia, seen sampling dog food to let us know she's really nuts.
Continue reading: Let the Devil Wear Black Review
This new version of Hamlet, directed by Campbell Scott (The Spanish Prisoner) and Eric Simonson does just that, and beautifully so. The setting is Americanized (the post-Civil War-era South), the production design simple, and nobody is forcing an accent unknown to them. It makes you want to scrounge for the books you packed away in high school because you didn't feel like figuring them out at the time.
Continue reading: Hamlet (2001) Review
A wonderfully ambitious, old-school ensemble piece, very much in the can-do spirit of the community to which it pays homage, "Cradle Will Rock" is a politically-undertoned dramedy about theater, censorship, ambition, apprehension, oppression, Orson Welles and the Great Depression.
Written and directed by Tim Robbins -- never one to shy away from cause-fueled entertainment -- this passionate labor of love celebrates and fictionalizes a legendary moment in American theater, when the government shut down the performance of a musical produced by the Works Progress Administration -- and the actors, at the risk of losing their jobs during the bleakest economic season in U.S. history, staged it anyway in a show of inspiring solidarity.
The play was entitled "The Cradle Will Rock" and its story of a greedy industrialist taken down by the organized working man made a lot of federal bureaucrats see red -- as in communism.
Continue reading: Cradle Will Rock Review