Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Independent film offers fine performances, insights
by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register
(From the July 5, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)
The new small independent film titled Waitress, directed by Adrienne Shelly, recently opened nationwide. It is a slice of life with overtones of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Babette’s Feast, and Fried Green Tomatoes.
Sadly, Shelly, who also has a main acting role in the film, died tragically within the last year, murdered in New York City.
Waitress is the story of Jenna (Keri Russell, Felicity) who is a cook and waitress in a village restaurant that specializes in the exotic pies that Jenna creates. The restaurant is owned by a lonely old man, Old Joe (Andy Griffith, Matlock). Jenna’s confreres as waitresses are played by Cheryl Nines and the director herself, Adrienne Shelly.
The story revolves around Jenna planning to escape her unhappy marriage with Earl (Jeremy Sisto) by entering and winning a major pie baking contest. Earl is controlling and abusive to his beautiful and talented wife.
All of a sudden, when Jenna finds she is pregnant she visits the handsome new doctor in town, played by Nathan Fillion (Firefly). Soon, in an almost comic way, the sympathetic Jenna is madly kissing her doctor. The married doctor begins a pursuit of his patient crossing all kinds of boundaries.
There is much camaraderie among the three waitresses throughout the film that includes one of them falling in love with persistent computer date that leads to a delightful marriage scene.
Earl’s cruelty increases as Jenna approaches the birth of their child. Then the movie moves toward a climax that some will find moral and life-affirming and others will find a little too much like a fairy tale ending.
Throughout the movie, the making and eating of pies is speaking of the importance of well prepared food in our lives as a sign of the community of family and friends. Admittedly, Earl has wonderful meals that do not soften his inability to show love beyond love of himself.
Waitress is filled with delightful characters. Andy Griffith, who has been around in movies and television since the 1950s, comes across as a demanding, lonely old man who has a heart of gold.
But the true standout of the film is Keri Russell, as the beautiful, trapped woman who commits adultery and then struggles with the consequences.
Like Babette’s Feast, the scrumptious pies of all kinds and varieties are certainly key to the movie.
Waitress is rated by the Motion Picture Association of America as PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). There is strong sexual content and language. The U.S. bishops’ Office for Film and Broadcasting rates the film A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rates Waitress PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned; some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
• The final Spokane Civic Theatre production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music was truly first rate and deserving of the standing ovations it received. The production, directed by Yvonne A. K. Johnson, reminds us of the important role the Civic Theatre plays in the greater Spokane area.
The earlier acclaimed production of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, directed by Troy Nickerson, competed for Best Play in the Nation at the National Competition June 18-24 in Charlotte, N.C. In the area of volunteer theatre, Spokane is one of the best in the country.
• On May 29 at Westminister Congregational-UCC Church in downtown Spokane, around 20 religious leaders met to discuss a possible direction for Community Minded TV-Channel 14 on Comcast Cable in reference to religious programming.
The discussion was lively as ideas surfaced on possible programs that would explain different faith traditions. There was a desire for forums and workshops where citizens would have a chance to speak. What about a program on the joys and difficulties of interfaith marriage? How about opportunities to tell the secular community what the Church communities are doing about poverty? What more can the churches and the broader community do? What more can be done about domestic violence and issues of mental illness? How about showing some local church communities at worship? Lots of great ideas.
Community Minded TV has a very limited budget, but their staff is ready and willing themselves to follow up on some of the ideas. They also will help local parishes learn how to use video equipment to film some of their own events that might have broader community interest.
As Channel 14 expands its programming it is certainly hoped that there will be a strong religious component.
• Peter Miller has composed a beautiful paperback edition of An Iona Prayer Book. Iona is the holy island where Irish monks settled off the West coast of Scotland. The Iona community continues at a rebuilt abbey church today.
Miller has taken his own personal prayers and added Scripture. They are designed to be used on a week-long retreat, or at your leisure, with themes like Welcome, Healing, Pilgrimage, Peace and Justice. The book is published by Canterbury Press.
• Robert J. Wicks has a new spiritual book published by Sorin Books of Notre Dame, Ind., $18.95. The book is titled Crossing the Desert: Learning to Let Go, See Clearly and Live Simply. The popular author divides the book into two sections. One is on Freedom and Humility. The other is on Letting Go.
He asks four helpful questions to lead us to ways of letting go. Wicks says that instead of feeling trapped in the deserts of our lives, we should be apprentices of the fourth-century monks and nuns who lead us through the desert to new life.
(Father Caswell is archivist and Ecumenical Relations Officer for the Diocese of Spokane, and a frequent contributor to this publication.)