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
Even at two-plus hours, Eastwood’s ‘Hereafter’ flies by

by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the Nov. 11, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)

Movie Review

At age 80 Clint Eastwood has given us another film with an intriguing story. It is Hereafter, written by British screenwriter Peter Morgan.

Hereafter is in the tradition of Crash and Babel, where separate stories and people somehow connect. One story starts out with the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hitting a tropical vacation area where French television journalist Marie LeLay (Cecile de France) is staying with her friend. In this dramatic recreation using computer generation Marie is carried through the streets by the giant waves and eventually hits her head. She experiences some kind of vision as two men try to resuscitate her. She eventually comes back to life but as she returns to her life in Paris on television she is haunted by what she has experienced. She eventually does everything she can to make sense of her experience, even writing a book that no one in France would publish, but an American publisher in Santa Fe would.

The second story is in London, where twins Marcus and Jason (George and Frankie McLaren) are growing up trying to stay with their mother even though she is a drug addict and the Health Services division wants to put them with foster parents. Jason dies as a gang of thugs chase him through the streets. Marcus continually tries to seek out psychics who might help him make contact with his brother in the hereafter. There is quite a montage of Jason seeking out many psychics whom he realizes are fakes.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, George Lonegan (Matt Damon) seeks to make sense of his life working as a laborer at C&H Sugar while he takes a cooking course on Italian food at night. He is a great fan of Charles Dickens’s novels. The story leads the viewer to believe slowly that George is a true psychic who can make contact with the hereafter when he holds the hands of a person who knew the deceased. But George does not want to continue this endeavor, as it has had a profound effect on his life. He just wants to lead a normal life.

Eventually George leaves San Francisco to get away from his brother, who wants him to do the psychic thing for money full-time. He flies to London, where as the story continues he connects with the other principals of the film.

Eastwood is not afraid to give us an old-fashioned film that very slowly develops. It held my attention throughout and the two-plus hours flew by.

The principal actors are very good. Matt Damon gives a non-showy performance that is perfect for his conflicted character.

The ending to me seem a little too pat, almost like the romantic comedy genre. But some may feel it is perfect and makes sense for the key characters.

Hereafter is a thoughtful story that gets one to reflect on life after death no matter what their religious or lack of religious tradition is.

Hereafter is rated A-III – for adults by Catholic News Service. The Motion Picture Association of America rates the film PG-13. There are some disturbing images and harsh language.

New Theater Season

The local theatres in the Spokane area have opened their seasons.

Interplayers Professional Theatre is celebrating its 30th anniversary. The season opened with author/director Reed McColm giving us his second installment in the Together Again series. This one is titled Together Again for the Next Time: A wedding and two acts ... It was as well acted and as entertaining as the first was a year or so ago. The enjoyable ensemble had overtones of a situation comedy but seemed to have lots of originality and some Spokane connections throughout.

Interplayers’ second offering this season was the spoof of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. The play has been playing on and off Broadway for going on two years. The Spokane production was as good as the Times Square production. It has about every scene of the movie, which is a straight thriller with some comedy thrown in. The spoof is four actors playing numerous parts and changing costumes and settings rapidly in front of the audience. It was an enjoyable confection.

The Spokane Civic Theatre had their biggest hit of all time with the musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. Director Yvonne A. K. Johnson outdid herself with this memorable production. Brian Gunn of Coeur d’Alene was so terrific as Buddy Holly he really could quit his day job and go off to Broadway. The volunteer cast, many acting and dancing for the first time, was excellent. The audience with endless ovations was thoroughly taken up with a pretty near perfect production.

Book Review

In September Pope Benedict travelled to Great Britain to declare John Henry Cardinal Newman Blessed. Liguori Publications has just published a short (128-page) hardback book on the writings of Cardinal Newman. It is edited by Brother Lewis Berry of the Birmingham Oratory, where Cardinal Newman lived and was buried. The book is titled John Henry Cardinal Newman: In My Own Words. The list price is $15.99.

Brother Lewis has taken short excerpts of Newman’s writings from 21 written sources and compiled them according to various areas such as “Faith and Reason,” “Conscience and the Teachings of the Church,” and “Prayer.” These short selections can be used for spiritual reading, thoughtful reflection and prayer.

One short piece from the section on Prayer is from Newman’s “Parochial and Plain Sermons VI.” It is as follows: “What is meditating on Christ? It is simply this, thinking habitually and constantly of Him and of His deeds and sufferings. It is to have Him before our minds as One whom we may contemplate, worship and address when we rise up, when we lie down, when we eat and drink, when we are at home and abroad, when we are working or walking, or at rest when we are alone and again when we are in company; this is meditating.”

From the section on Education, Newman writes, “No conclusion is trustworthy which has not been tried by enemy as well as friend; no traditions have a claim upon us which shrink from criticism and dare not look a rival in the face.” Helpful words after a recent heated election campaign.

Newman seems to be a bridge to differing views in the Church. He is credited as being the father of Vatican Council II. Our present pope, who comes from an academic background, obviously feels close to Newman.

This small book is like a prayerbook of reflections by one of the great minds at the turn of the 20th century.

Recently received

Spokane author Mitch Finley has a new book on 100 patron saints, titled The Patron Saints Handbook. It is published in softcover by The Word Among Us Press with a list price of $11.66.

The Handbook is a treasure trove for daily Mass homilists and teachers. It has a list of the saints according to what they offer patronage to and a list of the saints in alphabetical order. Personally, a list of the saints according to their feast days would have been particularly helpful to preachers.

There will be lots of saints that will surprise you when you find out what they are patron of. Did you know St. Adelaide is patron of second marriages, St. Margaret of Cortona is patron of single mothers, and St. Cajetan is patron of the unemployed? Each explanation and background on the various saints is only roughly a page and a half.

It is helpful to know St. Peregrine Laziosi is patron of cancer patients, St. Giles is patron of disabled people, and St. Dymphna is patron of persons with mental illness. I certainly never knew that St. Teresa of Avila is the patron of migraine headache sufferers.

The Patron Saints Handbook is a book you can read through once and then keep handy to refer back to it on saints’ feast days.

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

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