Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

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

Media Watch
Winning performances from Affleck, Gere; Maryknoll missionaries, others reflect on liturgical year

by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the November 15, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)

Movie Reviews

Back in around 2005, when Amy Adams was beginning her acting career, she appeared in a fairly small part as an enthusiastic pregnant wife of a distant and unhappy husband in a small but wonderful movie titled Junebug. You knew when you saw the film that she would go a long ways as an actor.

She is appearing in several films this fall. One where she makes the film come alive, together with 82-year-old Clint Eastwood, is Trouble with the Curve. The movie is not a standout film, such as Eastwood’s Gran Torino (“Media Watch,” IR 2/5/09), but it is very enjoyable, with the two principals playing off each other with emotion and zest.

Gus Lobel (Eastwood) is a scout for the Atlanta Braves, but he is losing his sight and barely hanging in there. The word retire is not in Gus’s vocabulary. His boss, Pete (John Goodman), sends him on a scouting run to North Carolina. But Pete is worried, so he asks Mickey (Adams), named after Mickey Mantle, to leave her law office, where she is in line for partner, and go down to North Carolina to help her Dad.

There is a lot of baggage between father and daughter. She is not easily convinced she should do what Pete is asking her to do. But she eventually does it and our story follows.

Trouble with the Curve is a conventional story that is the contrary piece to last year’s great film on baseball, Moneyball, with Brad Pitt. In Trouble it is the baseball scouts that still have value and can compete with the computer formulas.

The ending that all fits together in Trouble may be a bit much, but it certainly is enjoyable. But after this film Clint Eastwood might want to put the crotchety old man part away for a while.

Trouble with the Curve is rated PG-13, because of language and sexual references, by the Motion Picture Association of America. Catholic News Service rates the film A-III – for adults.


I must admit I don’t remember the fact that six of the American hostages taken during the Islamic revolution in Iran escaped out a back door of the U.S. embassy and found refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Or that as officially was told, they escaped to Canada via help from the Canadian government.

During the Clinton administration in 1996 it was revealed that CIA operative Antonio J. Mendez developed an elaborate plan of a fake science fiction movie looking for locations in Iran. The film, titled Argo, was the cover that helped the six Americans to safety.

Ben Affleck has done a superb job in directing his new film that wonderfully tells this quirky story. Also starring in the film as Mendez, Affleck in a quiet and unassuming way lets the other actors shine.

Even if you know the history of this story, Affleck makes a thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Originally the CIA was trying to come up with all kinds of ways to get the six State Department people out of Tehran, including bicycle riding over 300 miles in the winter to a friendly border. But Mendez came up with the unusual idea of setting up a false movie company in which he was the Canadian producer.

He got John Chambers (John Goodman), an expert on making prosthetics for movies like Planet of the Apes and who had done some CIA work, to get a flashy, beyond-his-prime Hollywood producer (Alan Arkin) to get a real script and set up a company with posters and advertisements in the main trade magazines looking for actors.

When Mendez gets to the home of the Canadian ambassador he has two days to get the State Department people out, pretending that they were the film people looking for locations for the Argo film around Tehran and had just flown into the capital.

The rest of the story is excitement incorporated. Here we have a film – the real film made for a popular audience that is terrific for all types of adult audiences. Obviously, Ben Affleck will be up for a nomination of Best Director of the Year.

Argo is a fun-packed film that makes history come alive.

Argo is rated R-Restricted, by the Motion Picture Association of America. The language during the first part of the film in Hollywood is raw and there are some intense scenes. Catholic News Service rates the film A-III – for adults.


Richard Gere as Robert Miller, Wall Street billionaire money manager, gives an extraordinary performance in the new film Arbitrage. He is one of the “Masters of the Universe” who lives in an unreal world of power and privilege. And then everything around him begins to crash.

Using unethical means, he is trying to cover over $400 million lost in a bad investment by selling his company to a large bank. This involves deceptive audits and falsehoods. His daughter (Brit Marling) is CFO of the company and begins to realize what is happening and confronts her Dad.

Miller’s personal life, which is a deception, crashes when a key person (Laetitia Casta) in his life is involved in a deadly car accident. And he escapes involvement by calling the African-American son of his former limousine driver, Jimmy (Nate Parker). All the time it appears that Miller is using people and willing to pay them off with money.

A detective (Tim Roth) enters the picture and is sure Miller is guilty of a crime. The buyer of the company (Graydon Carter, the publisher of Vanity Fair) stalls. Miller’s wife (Susan Sarandon) plays her cards with fury. And yet Miller seems to be able to continue walking through it all one step ahead of his adversaries until the end, when there could be at least a couple of different interpretations of what has finally taken place.

One of Miller’s great lines that shows how he lives in a bubble is when Jimmy says he doesn’t want any of Miller’s money. Jimmy has been saving his money to get an Applebee’s franchise. Miller then asks: “What is Applebee’s?”

Director and Writer Nicholas Jarecki has given us a powerful film of the morality of life in the world of some Wall Street executives, tied to a thriller of law and order. Richard Gere has one of the best roles of his life. You even want to pull for him at times when he is consciously misusing people time and time again.

Arbitrage has played in small theaters such as the Magic Lantern in Spokane and also has been released to television for viewing “on demand.”

For an intriguing story and great acting it is one of the best films of the year.

The film is rated R-Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian, for language and brief sex. Catholic News Service has not yet rated the film.

Book Review

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation commissioned a radio series on the life of Father Henri Nouwen. Evidently it was aired in Canada in September of this year. Paulist Press recently published a print version of that series for a list price of $17.95. The book, written mainly by Michael W. Higgins with the help of Kevin Burns, is titled Genius Born of Anguish: The Life and Legacy of Henri Nouwen.

Nouwen was a well-known spiritual writer from the late ’60’s until his death on Sept. 21,1996. The last 10 years of his life he spent much of his time at Daybreak, a L’Arche community near Toronto, Canada. Thus the connection to Canada and interest in his story being on national radio in that country.

Genius, even in its title and other places where Nouwen is called ”a Colossus who bestrode the post-conciliar church with few equals,” might be said to have some “purple prose.” And yet the book, through a series of 23 interviews – with his brother, Laurent Nouwen; Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser; Jean Vanier; and Sister Sue Mosteller CSJ among others – gives a thoughtful and realistic story of his life.

This book takes us deeply into Henri Nouwen’s personal life, from childhood to ordination to the priesthood, to continued efforts to find his niche and happiness as a monk, a missionary, an Ivy League Professor, and finally as a member of the L’Arche community, reaching out to the wounded.

The third chapter focuses on what many believe is Nouwen’s greatest book, The Return of the Prodigal Son. The book comes after a six-month stay in Winnipeg for a mental breakdown. It has overtones of Father Nouwen’s own struggle with recognition and love from his still-living father in Holland. In this chapter the authors write: “Through painful transparency he wrestled with his sexual identity, acknowledged his furiously buried failures of heart, experience the leveling honesty of intensive therapy and tried with near heroic fortitude to pave a road to holiness through the loneliness and abandonment that were his steady companions.”

In his writings Father Henri Nouwen attempted with much success to take his own subjective experiences on the Way to Christ and envelope them in such a way that they had a universal meaning that spoke to many who read his books and heard his talks. Genius Born of Anguish helps the reader to better understand Father Nouwen and what his whole “wounded healer” spirituality was all about.

Recently Received

As we enter a new year in our three-year liturgical cycle, Orbis Books has published a new help for preachers and parishioners with a series of reflections written by Maryknoll Sisters, priests, Brothers, and lay missioners living in indigenous communities all around the world. The book is titled A Maryknoll Liturgical Year: Reflections on the Readings for Year C. It is edited by Judy Coode and Kathy McNeely and sells for a list price of $20.

For example, Maryknoll Sister Janet Hockman writes on the readings of the First Sunday of Advent from her experiences in Nepal. So each Sunday and feast day has a reflection based on the lives of faith in people from different countries across the planet.

A Maryknoll Liturgical Year looks to be a helpful addition to anyone seeking deeper insights into each Sunday’s readings.

(Father Caswell is Inland Register archivist.)

Inland Register Index | Home

© The Catholic Diocese of Spokane. All Rights Reserved