Wednesday, June 08, 2016

THE CONJURING 2 GIVEAWAY

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As promised, we have some Conjuring 2 swag to give away courtesy of the fine folks at Grace Hill Media. This includes tickets to see the film in theaters!

Head on over to our Facebook page for details.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

WELL, AT LEAST SHE’S IN A HABIT

You just never know who, or what, is going to show up at the advance screenings for a movie like The Conjuring 2, do you?

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Hopefully in the next day or so I’ll be able to offer everyone a chance to nab some promotional swag from the movie courtesy of Grace Hill Media. Yep, believe it or not, The Conjuring 2 is getting a heavy push from some faith-based media outlets. In fact, here’s an article Grace Hill passed along to help garner interest from churchgoers.

Evil has been with us, and in our entertainment, since the dawn of time. First plays, now movies and TV shows, always have to have a bad guy – a corrupt cop, a supervillain bent on world domination, a violent criminal or murderer. In earlier, some would say simpler, times, the dark character in entertainment was clearly one audiences were meant to root against. It was easy, or at least easier, to know our heroes from our villains.

Today, though, it can be a little tougher. Far beyond the reluctant anti-hero, some of the characters we’re supposed to find admirable have qualities that just a generation ago would have firmly planted them in the bad-guy camp. From a sexy devil with charm and a heart (Fox’s hit series LUCIFER), to all variety of films (the TWILIGHT series) and TV shows (pretty much anything on The CW), characters who used to headline horror films – vampires, zombies, werewolves, witches – are now the stars we’re supposed to want to emulate.

That’s why it’s refreshing when a film like THE CONJURING 2, in theaters nationwide Friday, comes out. Like the first film, a big hit that took in $318 million at the U.S. box office alone, the sequel vividly portrays the nature of evil – as something destructive and ugly and to be defeated, not embraced. The “bad guy” in this case isn’t a guy – or gal – at all, but a demonic spirit that torments a British family and must be overcome by paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, reprising their roles from the original film).

The Warrens make sure the Hodgson family, the targets of the supernatural entity, understand it is a malevolent force out to destroy them. As a statement from the real Ed Warren stated at the end of the first film, the new one makes very clear that: “Diabolical forces are formidable. These forces are eternal, and they exist today. The fairy tale is true. The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges upon which one we elect to follow.”

A film like THE CONJURING 2, with its forthright depiction of spiritual evil, is a great opportunity to talk with friends about the true nature of the dark forces that inhabit our world. Here are a few questions to get that conversation going:

  • Do you believe in good and evil? In the spiritual realm? In the human realm?

  • If you do believe in evil, what do you believe is the source of it?

  • If you do believe in evil, how do you think it can be defeated?

  • What do you think about the trend in entertainment to make heroes out of characters that have traditionally been villainous?

  • Do you plan on seeing THE CONJURING 2? Why or why not?

So, do I agree with everything in that article and was The Conjuring 2 a good movie? Well, you’ll just have to wait until this weekend when my review goes up at Aleteia to find out.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

THE TWILIGHT BINGE #014: THIRD FROM THE SUN

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S01E14 – Third From The Sun

“Certain that a nuclear war is imminent, a scientist plots to escape with his family and closest friends in an experimental spaceship to a planet eleven million miles away.”

I’ve lost count of the number of movies and comics I’ve seen over the years that contain the same twist ending as Third From The Sun. Let’s just say it’s a pretty sizeable number. And since this episode is based on a short story by Richard Matheson published some 10 years before this adaptation hit the small screen, it’s safe to say the twist didn’t originate with the Twilight Zone either. Still, the big reveal of what planet our harried heroes are actually escaping TO and not FROM had to be relatively new to most people at the time Third From The Sun aired, so one can only imagine the impact it had.

The funny thing is, even though it’s supposed to be a surprise, director Richard L. Bare took great effort to plant visual clues that the story might not be taking place exactly where we think it is. As noted in Marc Scott Zicree’s Twilight Zone Companion, Bare shot every scene with an extremely wide angle lens, even on close-ups, which was atypical for television productions. He also kept the camera in odd places, such as behind flashlights or underneath glass tables. Bare pulled every trick he could think of to make the viewer feel as if something was off about the whole setting. Pretty clever for a guy whose main claim to fame was directing all but four episodes of Green Acres during its 170 episode run. (I guess it really was the place to be.)

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Of course, even without the twist at the end, viewers who caught Third From The Sun when it originally aired would likely still have been riveted by the subject matter. With the Bay of Pigs fiasco just over one year away, Cold War concerns were at an all-time high, so a show dealing with two couples trying to find a way to survive an impending nuclear holocaust probably touched a few nerves. I imagine audiences found it especially chilling to listen to the character of Sturka (a rather Russian sounding name for an American, don’t you think) coldly explain that by striking first, America could limit it’s own civilian casualties to a mere 35 million or so. Given the population of the U.S. in 1960, that suggested our government considered the death of 1 out of every 5 people to be acceptable losses.

Um, how about no. While it’s nearly impossible to conduct a war, even a just one, with no collateral damages, the Catechism is pretty explicit in its instruction that “the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.” Sure, we can bomb each other out of existence, but that doesn’t mean we should. Sometimes, letting a war drag on for awhile can actually be the more moral choice if it results in fewer casualties in the long run. That’s not to say body count is the only measure. The Church recognizes that other concerns such as regional stabilization, political alliances, and economic burdens must also be taken into consideration when deciding a course of action during wartime. But civilian casualties must be in the forefront. As Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory noted during the Iraq war, “The use of anti-personnel landmines, cluster bombs and other weapons that cannot distinguish between soldiers and civilians, or between times of war and times of peace, ought to be avoided.” Perhaps that’s something to keep in mind during this age of drone warfare.

Twilight Tidbits: If the spaceship our intrepid travelers intend to use to make their escape looks a bit familiar, that’s because you’ve probably seen it every time you watch the 1956 classic, Forbidden Planet.