Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


Media Watch:
‘Flicka’ remake ‘a wonderful family film’

by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the Nov. 16, 2006 edition of the Inland Register)

Movie Review

A wonderful family film for middle school on up recently opened with little or no advertising. The 20th Century Fox film Flicka is based on the 1941 novel My Friend Flicka. That novel inspired a 1943 film and a TV series that aired in the mid-1950s. The new telling of the story is a beautiful film about family and the wonder of horses.

The Wyoming scenery near the Big Horn Mountains is extraordinary. The large movie screen overwhelms you with the beauty of the mountain West.

Alison Lohman plays a rebellious teenager, Katy, who returns from boarding school to her family ranch. She has failed her year at school because she didn’t finish an important test essay.

Back home, her Dad (Tim McGraw) sets down tough love rules. Her Mom (Maria Bello) tries to get Dad not to be so strict.

Soon after returning home, while riding one of the ranch’s quarter horses, Katy is thrown to the ground as a cougar endangers her. A beautiful black wild horse chases the dangerous animal away. Later, the horse, to be named Flicka, is brought to a corral on the ranch. Dad tells Katy not to try to train the wild horse. But Katy disobeys her Dad and sneaks out each night to slowly train the wild animal she grows to love.

There are a steady series of conflicts and misunderstandings, particularly between Katy and her Dad.

Flicka throws Katy after she lets the horse out of the corral for a ride. The resulting chase and capture are beautifully filmed. Dad sees no good in the loco horse. So he sells Flicka to a rodeo promoter who wants mustangs for his Wild West events.

Ryan Kwanten plays Katy’s brother, who wants to leave the ranch and go off to college. He understands Katy and yet fears his Dad.

Conflicts continue until the local rodeo, where Katy hopes to somehow get Flicka back.

Flicka is the kind of family movie that is well-acted and entertaining. It presents family life as having its problems, but still within the context of a loving relationships. Sometimes failure and misunderstanding cloud our appreciation of one another. Even when Dad seems overly strict, we still know that this family loves one another.

It is easy to think Flicka is an old story that you have seen before. But the story of horses, the West, family, and the search for freedom is a tale that touches the heart today.

If you think Hollywood movies are worthless, give Flicka a chance, so that the Powers That Be make more good movies for families.

Flicka is rated PG – parental guidance suggested (Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) by the Motion Picture Association of America. The Office for Film and Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops rate it A-I – general patronage.

Book Reviews

• James T. Joyce has just published a breezy, informative book on the stories of a psychoanalyst. The book is titled Use Eagles If Necessary (softcover; Seaboard Press, 2006, $14.95).

I found the book both interesting and helpful. Joyce can wander from one story to another, but I sure learned a lot about an area often avoided in friendly conversation.

How a medical professional would respond to this book I do not know. Joyce does admit that one medical type, after reading the manuscript, came close to suggesting that he burn it.

For Catholics, Joyce does weave in his own religious background and how it has influenced him. In the chapter “Who Saved Your Butt?” he credits the Jesuits at John Carroll University as being there at the right time in his life to help him begin to live his Catholicism as an adult.

By being folksy and opinionated, and coming out of the Freudian and Jungian traditions, Joyce is particularly hard on parents. The good news is he gives lots of practical tips on what to do and not do in raising children.

Joyce gave me a new understanding of transference. In a nutshell he says it means “Everybody you meet reminds you of someone you’ve met before.” According to his view, “when we meet someone new, our past experiences with that ‘kind’ of person prompts us to immediately begin making judgments about him or her.”

The section on Passive Aggression, “Gotcha,” was especially helpful. But the most powerful chapter is the one used as the title of the book, “Use Eagles If Necessary.” In all of his stories from real life, he does not use real names. The story of “Erica” is a story of the human struggle with life, love, and guilt. Interestingly the guilt was only about one aspect of her life; she needed lots of time to know if she could trust Joyce. The story reaches a crescendo when Joyce, in a somewhat unorthodox manner, takes “Erica” for a ride to a Colorado lake, where he shows her eagles diving for fish. The eagles capture a fish in one out of four tries. Finally, “Erica” is able to tell what she had been too ashamed to tell, and the healing can begin.

The book gives us helpful samples of behavior that may indicate depression. There is also a section on who should see a psychotherapist.

Joyce seeks to engage the reader in a lively way. He doesn’t expect you to agree, but he does expect you to start thinking about the important mental and emotional sides of our personalities. He performs a practical service by letting the light shine on an area that for too long has been hidden and unspoken.

• Franciscan Father Richard Rohr, the popular retreat master, has a new revision (2005) of his book From Wild Man to Wise Man: Reflections on Male Spirituality (softcover, St Anthony Messenger Press, $12.95). It was written with the help of retired professor Joseph Martos.

Father Rohr writes out of his strong Catholic background of seminary studies in the 1950s and ’60s together with his charismatic experience as a pastor in Cincinnati. To that he speaks from the Men’s Movement influenced by Robert Bly (Iron John) and his own recent work at the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, N.M.

He is also influenced by Franciscan theologians such as Scotus, Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, and Robert Moore’s 1990 work King, Warrior, Magician, Lover.

Father Rohr is engaging and creative in his thought. He stresses the mystical and pushes the limits on what he calls the institutional Church.

This is a book written especially for a man with a good foundation in his Catholic beliefs who is questioning his life in the mid-life period of the late 30s and 40s. For a Catholic or ecumenical men’s discussion group, From Wild Man to Wise Man would raise lots of lively discourse.

Father Rohr has a beautiful section in which he speaks of his positive relationship with his own father, who died in the late 1990s.

He is really strong on the need for something to fill the void caused by the lack of an initiation rite for young men in our society today. He speaks powerfully of the need for older men to be good mentors. He likes to use archetypes, such as king, warrior, magician, and lover. He points out that we have many saints like Francis and Ignatius who were first warriors, who transfigured their warrior energy to peace and holiness. Under a discussion of the need for the trickster or magician, he points out how interesting it is that we change the Three Magi to Three Kings.

This lively book gores just about everyone’s ox. He sure gets you thinking, no matter how much you sometimes may think he is over the top.

For the right person, From Wild Man to Wise Man can be a key book on the journey of life in Christ.

At the end of the book there is a sample structure for a men’s group.

Short Takes

• Kathleen Finley, wife of Inland Register reporter Mitch Finley, has a new hardcover gift book for newly engaged or newly married couples, titled Prayers for the Newly Married. It is published by ACTA Publications for $14.95.

The book has 37 reflections on life as a married couple with a brief Scripture and a prayer. Themes center on daily life, sexual love, families and friends, children, and anniversaries. The Scripture selections are excellent. Only one of the prayers is directed to Jesus, so this book would work well with a couple where one of the partners belongs to the Jewish or Islam faiths. Any book that would be a help to a married couple praying together in good times and difficult times is a wonderful gift.

• For the last eight weeks or so, as I prepare my Sunday homilies I’ve been reading a section from Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk’s new book, When God Speaks: Reflection on the First Readings of the Sunday Lectionary. The book was published in softcover this year by St. Anthony Messenger Press for $29.95.

The book contains the archbishop’s reflections on the First Reading of the Lectionary for all three years. I can’t say I have found his reflections earthshaking. But I have them well worth reading each week.

• Several weekends ago I facilitated a small retreat at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center, using six of the 10 50-minute films from Krzysztof Kiesiowski’s monumental film series The Decalogue. These films, produced originally for Polish television in 1988, are some of the most powerful films I have ever seen. I continue to urge parishes or small groups within parishes to consider these films for discussion and reflection. I think they may help change and enrich lives. These films are available in the DVD format from Facets, on the internet, or write Facets Video, 1517 Fullerton Ave. Chicago, IL, 60614.

(Father Caswell is Ecumenical Relations Officer and archivist for the Diocese of Spokane, and a frequent contributor to this publication.)


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