One of the great things about cinema art is that some films are open to interpretation. Different eyes have different perspectives, and I always welcome a good, healthy debate.
It should also be noted that the USCCB movie system is not written in stone. It is a largely lay-run organization that is hired by the USCCB, after the Legion of Decency had folded. Much of this came to light when a positive review of “The Golden Compass” came from the USCCB, and New Line Cinema used this endorsement to represent the opinions of all the Catholic bishops, who did not put it to a vote. So I take their critiques with a grain of salt.
- I can look at a film like Magnolia or Requiem for a Dream, recognize the unsavory, offensive moments for what they are, and ask the deeper question–does a film’s portrayal of a sin equal endorsement of that same sin? Indeed, sometimes that portrayal of a sin is so strong, that it leads others to temptation (which is why I did not include “Breaking the Waves”). But in both instances above, I felt that the postitve aspects were so overwhelmingly strong, and that the negative aspects were portrayed as hideous and ugly for what they are, that I had no problem with it.
But then, a youth worker may not want the added pressure of parents breathing down their necks. Fair enough…
- Breaking Away: the confession dialogue is short, but it had Dennis Christopher and Jackie Earl Haley walking towards the town’s Catholic church. From imdb:
Dave: Did you ever go to confession?
Dave: Did it make you feel better?
That’s it. I took this as a slam on confession, because it didn’t appear that Moocher was going to confession anymore, probably since that negative experience, and because he was, for lack of a better phrase: “living in sin” --altho towards the end of the film he tries to remedy his situation. I still think this is a great film, and a negative confession experience of a single character is simply not the point of the film–I just think that if this film were to make your list, it needs to be cleared upfront, so youth leaders can be prepared.
I would not recommend La Promesse as your first Dardenne film. I’d try L’Enfant. It’s a little heavy, and it’s cinema verite (which can be challenging), but it’s also a great film. It even has a couple of cool chase sequences.
While I do not agree with every film on the artsandfaith list, you should know that I do not agree with every film on the Vatican 45 either (I mean… have you seen the Mickey Rourke “Francesco”? Blecch!!!). But I would definitely read some of their analysis before you rule off their decisions entirely. Steven D Greydamus, of www.decentfilms.com and the National Catholic Register, is one of the top Catholic critics in the country, and he has enormous respect on that board.
The Night of the Hunter – sounds a little heavy, will wait for TV showing
It’s nothing but. It’s very dreamlike, like a fairytale.
Yi Yi – looks interesting, will wait for it to come on TV again though
The drawback is that this film is loooonng.
Red River – will wait for it to come on TV
I think this film is a stellar example of a typical Western, that has a young adult protagonist at its center. My fave Western is High Noon, and it’s similar to something like “On the Waterfront.”
The Last Emperor – on USCCB’s list for 1988, will look to watch this
Be prepared with this one too–I believe it has a love scene between two women (nothing shown).
East of Eden – looks okay but dated
That’s the challenge, isn’t it? Great movies, teen/young adult central characters, and not being dated–tough to find all three…
Time Bandits – looks a little odd
This one has God as a major character, played by the late Sir Ralph Richardson. There’s even a quick dialogue as to why there’s evil in the world. But it also has a shock ending that will certainly liven up discussions!!
Ordet – looks as if it could be heavy one, will wait for it to come on TV
Just saw this for the first time. I think every Catholic film reviewer has to see this, just for what it is. Doesn’t mean that it’s for teens, tho.
Big Kahuna - ditto
Danny DeVito in a heavy film? You’re not serious. This film, as cinema, is a filmed play–but the dialogue is worthy of interesting discussions, especially in light of teenagers coming to understand what the work world is like.
Waking Life – this is on TV soon so will catch it then
This film is quite heavy. It works in small doses.
Good luck for your board, and I hope you get a lot of interest on your site.