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
‘Restrepo’ gives stark picture of life in Middle East combat outpost; Jesuit’s liturgy book performs ‘a great service’

by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the Sept. 30, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)

Movie Reviews

In July, I was a substitute priest at St. Gregory Parish in New York City. During that time the Symphony Space Theater a few blocks away was having an Alfred Hitchcock Film Festival with new re-mastered prints. One Sunday evening, with several hundred other people, I saw Hitchcock’s thriller Vertigo.

I thoroughly enjoyed Vertigo, which I had never seen all the way through. It is a thriller that combines the fear of heights with the compulsion to find the perfect person to love. A day or so later, I saw the new Christopher Nolan film, Inception. The film enters deeply into the world of dreams in the context of a thriller.

I am not sure I understood the film. The complications of trying to follow the action in at least three dreams, some of which are inside each other, is what might be called intense work. Vertigo’s straight-line plot was much easier to make sense of, even though, for its time, it was just as innovative and intriguing as Nolan’s Inception.

Inception is a major directorial accomplishment for Nolan. It has much of the mysterious confusion of his earlier ground-breaking film, Memento, although I well remember how much my sister, Pat, hated that film. That film was unusual because it played backwards.

For Inception, Leonard DiCaprio as Cobb does a good job as a complicated man-for-hire who uses dreams to plant ideas in business executives. These new ideas can have far-reaching effects in the business world and beyond. And yet DiCaprio doesn’t have the “gravitas” of a Humphrey Bogart or a Jimmy Stewart.

Marion Cotillard plays Cobb’s mysterious wife. The recurring song in the film that must be a key to the puzzle is a haunting classic by the great Edith Piaf. Cotillard powerfully played Edith Piaf in the film La Vie en Rose. So there is a love story of sorts joined with a Matrix-like drama with lots of special effects. The result is a film that anyone who likes science-fiction probably would like.

The film is roughly two hours and thirty minutes long. Even though I am not sure I made sense of the movie, it did not drag. I must admit to me the ending seemed a bit of a cop-out, but that is for the viewer to decide.

The Catholic News Service rates the film A-III – for adults. The Motion Picture Association of America gives the film a PG-13 (Some material may not be suitable for children). There is lots of movie violence.


Movies about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been popular. Granted, The Hurt Locker was the Best Picture at the Academy Awards. It did not attract audiences to theaters.

A new documentary recently played in Spokane, titled Restrepo. The film is of an American outpost in the Korengal Valley in eastern Afghanistan. From May of 2007 to July of 2008, photojournalist Tim Hetherington and well-known writer Sebastian Junger carried cameras to record the lives of servicemen in the most dangerous place in the country. Their artistic endeavor is a photo-diary of what it is like to be under the pressure of the danger of death every moment.

No matter what your view on the wars in the Middle East, this film shows you what very young servicemen – in this case, they are all men – face every day. You also see and hear the results of this constant pressure when many of the servicemen are interviewed after returning to their main base in Italy.

Restrepo is the name given to the outpost after the death of a well-liked medic. This place is fired upon several times a day. Life at Restrepo is very primitive, with no running water. Eventually electricity is available. The group of 15 men we get to know in the film seem to be a cross-section of America. They have all the human emotions, including fear. And yet they do their job each day as best they can. They come across as ordinary people doing a difficult task in an extraordinary way.

Restrepo gives us the human side of American service personnel in very difficult, almost impossible situations, trying to protect and save each other. They also meet with Afghan tribal leaders time and time again. Is it my imagination, or have the long beards of the leaders been dyed bright red and very dark black?

Whether you’ve been a supporter of the war or opposed, you will still find Restrepo a heart-wrenching and life-giving film. Put it on your NetFlix list or rent it when it comes out on DVD.

The film is rated by the Motion Picture Association of America R-Restricted because of violence and language. Catholic News Service has neither reviewed nor rated the film at this time. I would think the film would be fine for older teens and adults, but some of them would not want to see it because of violence and language.

Recently Received

Jesuit Father Keith F. Pecklers, a well-known professor of liturgy and liturgical history, has performed a great service for liturgical and music leaders, priests and anyone interested in liturgy, with his new book, The Genius of the Roman Rite: On the Reception and Implementation of the New Missal.

Initial reports state that the New Missal will be implemented in the United States in November 2011. Workshops are now being held across the United States.

The Genius of the Roman Rite gives us the history of the Roman Rite in a broader context, which helps us to better understand the revision of the Missal.

Chapter Five is on the details of the New Missal and the need for education and patience. The early introduction of the Missal in South Africa evidently did not go well.

Several interesting features of the New Missal are commented on. For example, the Apostles Creed which was normally used in Masses with children is now encouraged for general usage on any Sunday, especially the Sundays of Lent and Easter.

The author states that “in the end any revision seeks to bring us closer to the Body of Christ active within God’s world.” He also quotes an Anglican scholar who once quipped that ‘’too many communities have already been brought to despair by the discovery that having rearranged the furniture of the sanctuary and instituted an offertory procession they still didn’t love one another.”

In a positive and helpful way, Father Pecklers helps us all prepare for the upcoming revisions.

The book is” A Pueblo Book,” published in softcover by Liturgical Press of Collegeville, Minn., for the list price of $19.95.

(Father Caswell is Inland Register archivist and Ecumenical Relations Officer for the Diocese of Spokane.)

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