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
‘For Greater Glory’ a story told with passion; new Steve Jobs biography is ‘masterful’

by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the July 19, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)

Movie Reviews

The new Belgian film written and directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne arrived in Spokane Memorial Day weekend. The film, titled The Kid With a Bike, won the Grand Prix award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. The award is equal to Second Prize.

The Kid With a Bike (“Le gamin au velo”) is in the tradition of the Italian realism films right after World War II. It takes place in French speaking Belgium in the town of Liège. The main character is an 11-year-old boy named Cyril (Thomas Doret) who has been placed in a state institution by a father who no longer wants any responsibility for his son. Cyril keeps trying to run away from the state school to find his father and get his bike. In the process of trying to find his father, he is caught by the authorities in a doctor’s, office where he grabs on for dear life to one of the patients, named Samantha (Cécile De France).

As Cyril returns to his school, Samantha buys back his bike which his father had sold and finds information on where his father has moved. Thus begins a relationship that has ups and downs and changes both of the principals’ lives.

Samantha volunteers to take care of Cyril on the weekends. He is a handful and gets in with a bad crowd led by a local drug leader. Through it all Cyril is trying to get connected to his father in every choice he makes. There is action and melodrama as the story progresses. But above all there is grace and redemption.

In some ways, The Kid With a Bike is a hard movie to watch. You never are quite sure where young Cyril’s determination and anger are going to take him. But there are some memorable moments of love and the possibility of new life.

Young Thomas Doret was chosen from 100 applicants for the part. He is in virtually every scene. He is a wonderful actor. Cécile De France is perfect as the kind hairdresser who goes beyond the call of helping another in need. Her performance will stay with you.

The Kid with a Bike is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America. Catholic News Service has not rated the film. I would rate it for older teens and adults. The film is in French with subtitles. It is already available “on demand’ from IFC for home viewing.

*****

In the mid-1950s at the old St. Patrick High School in Walla Walla, we had a Providence Sister who gave us a blue folder with the names of good books of fiction to read. It was there that I found Graham Greene’s 1940 early novel of the persecution of priests in Mexico, titled The Power and the Glory. It still is a work of literature well worth reading and re-reading.

The new film For Greater Glory is the story of the persecution of the Church and the Cristero War from 1926-29 (Editor’s note: See also “Film revisits the many sides of Mexico’s Cristero Rebellion” and “‘Cristero’ fight relevant to actor’s Cuban heritage,” IR 6/21/12). It took three years to film throughout Mexico at a cost of $12 million. It was partially financed by the Knights of Columbus. All the money spent does appear on the screen in epic style.

The Mexican Revolution was completed with a Constitution in 1917 that had anti-Catholic provisions that were eventually enforced when President Calles came to power in the 1920s. The result is a war that eventually cost 90,000 lives. The film tell the story of those events, including 20 or so people who were eventually canonized as saints. The movie has not received much publicity and will leave theaters all too soon, but it is a movie Catholics should see for its significant history. It is reported that 90,000 persons lost their lives in this persecution and war. Put it on your eventual DVD list.

There needs to be one warning: The film is very violent, including the horrible torture of a 13-year-old boy who was declared a saint.

From a critical point of view, the movie tries to do too much, even in its long, two-and-a-half-hours time period. In some ways the film is like a vast pageant or passion play.

Ruben Blades is excellent as the President. Peter O’Toole plays an English missionary who spent most of his long life in Mexico and is murdered by the government forces early in the film. The best acting in the film is done by Andy Garcia as a famous agnostic general hired by the Catholic forces to lead their war effort.

For Greater Glory does point out that early on a Catholic priest, acting as a general, thought that the train he had captured was clear of all people and had it set on fire. But there were people inside and 80 or so died. That horrible event is portrayed by President Calles as showing there were atrocities on both sides.

The U.S. efforts at peace are also shown as designed to protect important United States oil interests in Mexico. There is a product placement of sorts in the film as U. S. Ambassador Dwight Morrow tells President Coolidge that he is getting pressure from the Knights of Columbus concerning Mexican Catholics being persecuted.

The story of “Viva Cristo Rey” is a piece of important history the film portrays with passion.

Be sure and stay for the credits because original film and photographs of the period are dramatically shown.

The film is rated by the Motion Picture Association of America as R-Restricted because of violence. Catholic New Service rates the film A-III-for adults. The film is not for children.

Book Review

I have always been impressed by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. I also know that he was a pretty disagreeable person who was tough to work with. So in that tradition, the new biography of more recent innovator of our time, Steve Jobs, presents an extremely talented man who changed our world, warts and all.

Walter Isaacson, the former editor of Time magazine, has written a masterful biography with the simple name Steve Jobs. The book is published in hardcover by Simon & Schuster for a list price of $35.

As he faced death, Jobs asked Isaacson to write the story of his life. Jobs let go of his customary complete control and in the end only asked to pick out the photographs for the front and back of the book’s cover.

Isaacson had unprecedented access to Jobs and to many of the key people of his life.

With 571 pages of text, the book looks a little overwhelming, but the print is fairly large and Isaacson’s style is easy to read. It moves rapidly.

Jobs’s adopted folks from a working class background loved him and were very good to him. He wanted to go to Reed College in Portland and because of costs they preferred he attend a community college in the Bay area. But they somehow paid for his first and only year at Reed, where he skipped all his classes except for two non-credit courses, dancing and calligraphy.

The calligraphy course changed his life because that is where he gained his desire for beauty of design in the eventual Apple products whose development he oversaw.

Yes, the whole Apple adventure did start out in the garage with his co-founder, Stephen Wozniak, who was the mechanical genius in 1976. In working with others, Jobs had a talent of knowing which way to go, especially on the design side. But he had his own world of reality and could treat his co-workers with an almost obsessive cruelness. He strove for perfection and pushed his co-workers to the limits.

In the beginning, the two Steves did steal ideas from Xerox. Later, of course, Jobs will often say Microsoft stole from Apple.

When Jobs lost control of Apple in 1985 and went on to develop NeXT, which was not a success, he states it was a good thing for him. He learned to fail. Also he connected with the development of Pixar and eventually manipulates his return to Apple. And after that, we have the gadgets that have been a revolution in many people’s lives across the world.

One of the most poignant stories of the book is when, at age 31, after his adopted mother has died, Jobs begins the search for his birth mother. After finding her he learns that he has a sister named Mona Simpson. Jobs does not want to see his birth father because of the harsh treatment to his mother. He tells Mona that if she finds their father she is not to tell him anything about himself. Well, Mona finds their father in a restaurant in Sacramento. He tells his daughter that he wished he could have seen her when he managed a Mediterranean restaurant north of San Jose. The dad said it was a wonderful place and all the successful technology people use to come there – even Steve Jobs. The daughter was stunned and the Dad said, “Oh, yeah, he used to come in, and he was a sweet guy and a big tipper.” Mona, true to her brother’s request, refrained from crying out, “Steve Jobs is your son!”

Steve Jobs is a story of a great innovator and a frail man who does extraordinary things in his life, walking over the bodies of those who stood in his way and who saw things differently. It is a biography that reads like fiction. You don’t need to be a digital geek to love this book.

DVD Review

Not long ago I viewed the 24-minute DVD of the recently beautified Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian, who was martyred in August 1943 after refusing to fight as a soldier on the Nazi side during World War II. He was willing to act as a non-combatant medic, but that offer was refused three times.

The film, Franz Jägerstätter: A Man of Conscience is narrated by Martin Sheen, who acts as the voice of Franz. The narrative is based on the letters and diaries of Franz interspersed with interviews of his surviving wife and several of his sisters and a granddaughter.

The film is inspiring and informative about an ordinary man who acted with extraordinary courage to follow his conscience in opposing fighting for the Nazi regime.

The 2008 film is distributed by Maryknoll. The copy I saw was from Scott Cooper’s Parish Social Ministry office at Catholic Charities.

Recently Received

Local author Inga Jablonsky has written a book of historical fiction loosely based on the life of Sister Bonaventura of the Dominican Poor School Sisters of Speyer, Germany who settled in the Kettle Falls region. The name of the book, written for young adults, is Daughters of Hope and Fear.

The story centers on a 16-year-old German girl, Nilla who enters the community of the Dominican Sisters and is sent to the Colville Indian mission. There she enters into a friendship with Tanik, a young Indian woman, and faces into a new culture.

Daughters of Hope and Fear is published in softcover at $12.95, and is available online at Lulu.com and e-book sources.

(Father Caswell is Inland Register archivist.)


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