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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Battle of the Year

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Steve Terada, Chris Brown and Anis Cherufa star in a scene from the movie "Battle of the Year."
In 2007, director Benson Lee countered the widespread but erroneous impression that break dancing (aka b-boying) was a thing of the past with his documentary look at its continued worldwide vibrancy, "Planet B-Boy."

Now he returns with a wide-eyed fictional variation on the same theme titled "Battle of the Year" (Screen Gems).

The street vocabulary deployed by all as this trite underdog story unfolds sets it off limits to younger moviegoers. But grown-ups will find little to bother them amid the energetic precision exercises of Lee's exploration of—and salute to—a subculture that dates back to the South Bronx of the 1970s.

Hip-hop mogul Dante Graham (Laz Alonso) is anxious for the American team he sponsors to win the international competition of the title, a contest in which they have consistently underperformed in recent years. So he hires Jason Blake (Josh Holloway), an old friend from his own groove-busting days, to shake things up and break the losing spell.

Blake's challenge is to put together an all-star "dream team" made up of the best dancers from across the country and, partly by drawing on his experience as a basketball coach, mold them into a cohesive unit.

Aided by Franklyn (Josh Peck), a young employee of Dante's company who becomes his assistant, and by Stacey (Caity Lotz), a choreographer Franklyn introduces into the mix, Blake works to instill notions of unity and teamwork into his ego-driven charges. Typical of the uphill struggle he faces is the acrimonious romantic rivalry that has ex-partners Rooster (singer Chris Brown) and Do Knock (Jon Cruz) trading insults and giving each other the finger at every opportunity.

Unbeknownst to the youngsters, Blake is also battling the drinking problem he developed following the tragic death of his wife and teenage son.

As scripted by Brin Hill and Chris Parker, "Battle of the Year" preaches predictable Hollywood homilies about the need for self-confidence, cooperation and hard work.

Tolerance is also extolled through the story of Lil Adonis (Richard Maguire), an openly gay b-boy who initially finds himself shunned by one of his teammates. Since his only aim is to be treated with respect as an individual and a peer, however, viewers of faith will be as supportive of Lil Adonis' cause as anyone else in the audience.

The film contains a fleeting scatological image, mature references, including to homosexuality, a few uses of profanity, considerable crude and crass language and numerous obscene gestures. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us never tire, therefore, of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.

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