Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


Media Watch
Books on Pope Francis; on film, ‘Intern’ is worth seeing, but ‘The Third Man’? Now, that’s a movie

by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the November 19, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)

Book Review

Everyone I’ve talked to who has read it has said how much they enjoyed reading Austen Ivereigh’s biography of Pope Francis. It took me weeks to read it slowly, but it truly was worth the journey.

My copy of The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope was a hardcover with a list price of $30. There is a large-size paperback copy out now. The book was published in late 2014 by Henry Holt and Company of New York.

Austen Ivereigh is a British journalist who writes in America magazine and was a commentator on one of the television networks during Pope Francis’s recent pilgrimage to the United States. He writes with great detail based on personal interviews and primary sources.

Invereigh starts out with Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s family life, and his education and eventual vocation to become a Jesuit priest. Then he gives an impressive overview of the Argentina Bergoglio lived in. It is fascinating to see how the early emphasis of the Perons on social justice influenced the future pope. The history of Argentina in the future pope’s lifetime is to say the least a little complicated to a North American reader. But Invereigh helps the reader through it all.

And then there is life with the Jesuits. Bergoglio is elected provincial while he is in his 30s. He emphasizes the spirituality of the ordinary people and that seminarians and priests must connect with the poor and displaced.

There is a time where Bergoglio is more or less exiled as a Jesuit with the support of a group of Jesuits in Argentina and the high command in Rome. The future pope comes back from this period of darkness in his life and becomes a bishop and eventually Archbishop of Buenos Aires. It is there that he continues his outreach to the poor of the city and does not spend as much time with the middle and upper classes.

Of course, the story continues with Bergoglio becoming a cardinal and being second in the voting that elected Benedict XVI. He was thought to be too old for the papal election of 2013, but a combination of North and South American cardinals leads to his election as Pope Francis.

Invereigh uses the word radical to refer to the word root, which he sees exemplified in Francis’s lifetime immersion in the Gospel and mystical prayer. Toward the end of the book the author does provide voice for those that have been concerned and critical of some of Francis’s statements and actions. For example, a Jesuit in the Vatican is quoted as saying: “The irony is that this pope, great agent of decentralization in the Church, is personally the most centralized pope since Pius the Ninth. Everything has to cross his desk.”

Austen Invereigh has given us a book that goes to the depths of the life and work of a pope who has electrified the world. His past life reveals why he responds as surprisingly as he does. He challenges us time and time again and may well change us.

Movie Reviews

The Intern, written and directed by Nancy Meyers, is a film for the older audience. It is light-hearted and enjoyable but at times far away from reality. What makes the film stand out is Robert De Niro as 70-year-old Ben, bored with retirement, getting a job as an intern in a start-up company led by its founder, Jules Ostin, played by Anne Hathaway.

As an aside, might I suggest: If anyone came up with a movie about Pope Francis, wouldn’t De Niro be an excellent candidate to play him? He has played priests in several movies through the years, including the memorable True Confessions (1981) and the ethical conundrum Sleepers (1986). As he ages into his 70s he even looks a bit like the pope.

The Intern centers on the problems of young Jules in her 30s running a very successful new company that sells women’s clothes on the internet. At first she doesn’t want the aged intern, but through a series of events she finds him a good friend and wise advisor.

Jules is consumed by her job and both her Board of Directors and her husband want her to hire a new CEO to allow her more time for a balanced life and time with her family. From Nancy Meyers’s point of view in the script, yes, in the end she will be able to have it all maybe with some help from Ben. At key times in the film, Ben’s speeches and certain plot developments drive the writer’s ideals through. Admittedly this may be true in many a film written by man or woman.

I did laugh out loud quite a few times as the portrayal of a retired older person was right on with pills, funerals and two clocks to make sure you wake up. Rene Russo portrays a romantic interest for the widower Ben as the story moves on.

The Intern is worth seeing.

The movie is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America. Catholic News Service rates the film A-III – for adults.

*****

While substituting in two parishes this summer in New York City I was able to attend the Film Forum Theater, where I saw a major restoration of Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949).

First of all, this is an outstanding classic film, written by the great British novelist Graham Greene. If you have never seen this film you owe it to yourself to see it, however possible, whether streaming or DVD or catching it on Turner Classic Movies.

The movie is a thriller/love story combination with some humor. It is a film where the style of filming is groundbreaking. There are intense close-ups, tilted camera shots to underscore anxiety, and wonderful light and shadows that only a black-and-white film can give.

Holly Martin (Joseph Cotton) arrives in Post-World War II Vienna to visit his college friend, Harry Lime (Orson Wells). Holly, an American writer of Westerns, finds Vienna divided into four sections of occupying powers. But the main reality he must face is that his friend Harry Lime has been killed crossing a street just as Holly arrives in the city.

Holly goes to the funeral in the cemetery and gets a ride back to a military hotel with a British commander (Trevor Howard). Holly is told to take the next day flight out, but he finds too many suspicious facts about the supposed accident and he stays in Vienna.

As the facts of the event unravel, Holy meets a beautiful woman named Anna (Alida Valli) who deeply loved Lime.

The title comes from the mystery of finding out if there were two men who moved the body of Lime at the accident, or was there a third man? And who was he?

The scene with Wells and Cotton on the Great Vienna Ferris Wheel is absolutely unforgettable. The musical score with its emphasis on the zither is unique and haunting.

And the dramatic end of the film in the elaborate sewer of Vienna is one-of-a-kind. The epilogue back in the cemetery is poetic. There are important ethical choices in the film that make it have a religious sense. The direction, by the English director Carol Reed, is magical.

The Third Man comes alive no matter how many times you see it.

Recently Received

A parishioner at St. Joseph Parish on Dean in Spokane recently passed on a memoir of a friend.

Dandelion Growing Wild: A Triumphant Journey over Astounding Odds to Become an American Marathon Champion” is written by Kim Jones.

Kim’s story takes place throughout the Northwest, with much of it having a Spokane connection with Bloomsday and long-distance running. Part of the story is of Kim’s own family life and the life of raising her daughters.

The book would appeal especially to runners in the Spokane area. The ISBN number is 978-0615597423.

*****

DK, the tour-book publisher, has just released a beautiful book that is an amazing value for its price. The book is Pope Francis: A Photographic Portrait of the People’s Pope. The list price is $25 for a book that looks like it would be in the range of $75.

The written sections of the coffee-table-sized book are by Father Michael Collins. Almost every page has a photograph, taken by the official Vatican photographer, Rodolfo Felici.

The book begins with the early years of Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Then we have a section with loads of pictures of the resignation of Pope Benedict and the election of Pope Francis.

A large portion of the book is a breathtaking pictorial record of the year 2014 in the life of Pope Francis. It is month by month and includes feasts and special events, followed by travels outside of Rome by the Pope.

If you want a memorial of the recent life of Pope Francis in the tradition that Life magazine provided years ago, you can’t go wrong with this impressive book of Pope Francis.

(Father Caswell is Inland Register archivist.)


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