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By Sister Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.




THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED (not rated, PG-13): Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane) becomes the only six-time winner of the British Open golf tournament in history. When visiting Boston, Massachusetts, he gives golf tips to young Francis Ouimet.

Francis (Shia LaBeouf) becomes a caddy and, against the wishes of his working-class father (Elias Koteas), he signs up for an amateur tournament. When the U.S. Open comes to Boston in 1913, Francis is convinced to compete against professionals, including Vardon, in what became known as “the greatest game ever played.” His caddy is 10-year-old Eddie (Josh Flitter), who provides much of the humor and wisdom in the film.

Even though I have a nephew who is going to college on a golf scholarship and I often say I would rather watch water boil than look at golf, this film had me on the edge of my seat. Direction by actor Bill Paxton (A Simple Plan, U-571) is fluid. And the writing by Mark Frost, based on his own book, keeps dialogue to a minimum. The editing creates a tournament as exciting as any sports championship.

This may be your typical Disney feel-good flick, but it is honest and closely based on real events. Most of all, it made me recognize golf as an authentic sport requiring discipline, technique, style and, above all, sportsmanship. With themes of human dignity vis-à-vis social-class issues and family, this comingof- age film will interest all but the youngest members of the family; some mild problem language.



THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE (not rated, PG-13): Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) is dead at age 19. Her shocked family is grieving and afraid.

The parish priest, Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson), is charged with criminally negligent homicide because he supposedly told Emily to stop taking the medicine the doctors had prescribed. The young woman had been diagnosed with an epileptic psychotic disorder. But Father Moore and Emily believed the seizures were demonic possession.

Erin Bruner (Laura Linney), an agnostic criminal attorney, defends the priest. Ethan Thomas (Campbell Scott) is the Methodist prosecuting attorney who believes only in science and facts. Through a series of chilling flashbacks, including a recording made of the exorcism, Emily’s story is told.

This horror film plays on the viewer’s fear of the cosmic supernatural unknown, as this genre often does. Director Scott Derrickson, who co-wrote Hellraiser: Inferno with Paul Harris Boardman, is at home with the religious horror genre. But he also has a rather Calvinistic theological agenda that seeks to scare people into faith rather than address the serious decision of when to exorcise people or when to refer them to psychiatric care.

Emily Rose is loosely based on the 1976 case of Anneliese Michel, who died at age 23. Two Bavarian priests were convicted of negligent homicide for their part in discontinuing her medication in favor of exorcism.

This film is not a remake of The Exorcist, although it does set up a similar contest between science and faith. Emily’s story is about her fate to witness to the darkness, not the light. Her epitaph is to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Disturbing content and images.

NINE LIVES (not rated, R) is thoughtful and hopeful about the ways women who seem to be strangers are connected, from birth to death. Sandra (Elpidia Carrillo) diligently cleans the floors of the Los Angeles County Jail, hoping to shorten her sentence and receive permission to visit her daughter. But the guard (Miguel Sandoval) wants inside information from Sandra.

Diana (Robin Wright Penn) is happily married and pregnant when she meets an old lover in the grocery store and realizes she still has feelings for him. Holly (Lisa Gay Hamilton) seems mentally out-of-control when she appears at her stepfather’s house with a gun.

Ruth (Sissy Spacek) and her handicapped husband use their daughter (Amanda Seyfried) to communicate with each other. Lorna (Amy Brenneman), Camille (Kathy Baker), Sonia (Holly Hunter), Maggie (Glenn Close) and her daughter Maria (Dakota Fanning) round out this company of women whose lives intersect.

Director/writer Rodrigo García (son of writer Gabriel García Márquez) has used the ensemble structure and some of these same actresses before in Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her (2000). In Nine Lives, he has created a montage of perfectly formed cinematic vignettes that tells micro-stories with sensitivity and realism.

At the Locarno (Switzerland) International Film Festival in August, Nine Lives won García the Golden Leopard (the top honor), and the ensemble of actresses won the Bronze Leopard for best actress.

Although reminiscent of Crash, Nine Lives is a 180-degree different view to what binds strangers together. Some problem language and brief sexual content.

GHOST WHISPERER (CBS, Fridays): Jennifer Love Hewitt plays newly married Melinda, a medium who sees and speaks with dead people. She carries messages from the deceased to their loved ones so that they can finally pass to the other side. Though the stories are tearjerkers, this is a disappointing replacement for Joan of Arcadia. I wonder if viewers will think about the first commandment and the difference between superstition and religious faith.

OVER THERE (FX, Wednesdays): Co-creators and executive producers Steven Bochco (NYPD Blue) and Chris Gerolmo (Mississippi Burning) created this new series that makes viewers experience the current Iraqi war through the lives of a sergeant, his unit and their families at home. This is experimental prime-time television because it is not entertainment, even though it is about reality, and it is not news. How many viewers have the courage to watch it because it’s about an ongoing war? Over There will not let us remain comfortable or neutral about responsibility and consequences of this conflict.

INDEPENDENT LENS: EN ROUTE TO BAGHDAD (PBS, October 18) is an inspiring look at a man who lived and died for justice and peace. In June 2003, Sergio Vieira de Mello, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, was sent to Baghdad to set up humanitarian aid and assist in the reconstruction of the country. A few months later, this Brazilian-born Sorbonne-educated man and 21 others were killed in a bomb blast.

BIBLE STORIES, FROM THE GROUND UP: First animals, then vegetables and now bugs have been recruited to tell Bible stories to kids.

Bugtime Adventures includes “Blessing in Disguise” (Joseph and his brothers) and “A Giant Problem” (David and Goliath). Produced by Bruno John, long involved in Catholic programming through Santa Fe Productions, the series has a Web site ( that is interactive.

The Roach Approach includes “Don’t Miss the Boat” (Noah’s ark) and “The Mane Event” (Daniel in the lion’s den).

Like Veggie Tales, these series seek to tell Bible stories in a contemporary way through high-concept animation, humor and music that will appeal to young children—ages four to eight. The only thing that bugs me about these new series is the yuck factor (for example, “maggot sprinkles”). But when I tested the roach stories on my four- and six-year-old nephews, they were fascinated by the critters.

With each new show competing for minds and hearts, parents and catechists will appreciate these entertaining programs to teach the greatest story ever told to children. (Check your local Christian bookstore for availability or order from Web sites such as or


MARCH OF THE PENGUINS (La Marche de l’empereur) (A-1, G): French filmmaker Luc Jacquet’s fascinating documentary film follows the annual 70-mile trek of the emperor penguins of Antarctica to their breeding grounds. These birds, which reach a maximum height of 48 inches, endure incredible conditions in order to give birth and raise their chicks, who will eventually march to the sea. An awesome film and award contender, though too long for young children.

DREAMER: INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY (not rated, PG): Soñador (Spanish for “dreamer”) has only the barest facts in common with the original horse on which director/writer John Gatins bases this tale. But this is good family fare featuring Dakota Fanning, who saves the horse and the movie. Some mild problem language.

MUST LOVE DOGS (L, PG-13): The Catholic family of a newly divorced woman helps her re-enter the dating scene through online dating services. The excellent cast is pretty much squandered. The film should have left out the Catholic-school references because it ignored any meaning that Catholic identity would have brought to such a scenario. Mediocre film; some problem sexual content.

A-1 General patronage
A-2 Adults and adolescents
A-3 Adults
L Limited adult audience
O Morally offensive

USCCB Movie Review Line: 1-800-311-4222,

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