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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Zombieland

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

"Zombieland" (Columbia/Relativity) is a wryly amusing but at times wildly gruesome genre satire that combines elements of a road movie, a buddy flick and a romantic comedy.

Set in a ruined world where hordes of cannibal zombies prey on the few remaining humans, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick's post-apocalyptic tale tracks the odd-couple adventures of a phobia-plagued slacker known as Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and a fearless gunslinger called Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson).

As these unlikely monikers suggest, one of the script's conceits is that, in an environment where everyone is on the move in search of safety and where too much trust is dangerous, people identify themselves by place names rather than personal ones.

Despite their conflicting personalities and divergent survival techniques—Columbus has an elaborate set of rules for evading the predators, while Tallahassee actively seeks them out and mows them down with abandon—the pair forms an uneasy alliance. But their partnership is repeatedly strained after they cross paths with sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), whose own success at withstanding zombie attacks is not based on being the innocents they initially seem.

Though this is anything but family-friendly cinema, adults with a high tolerance for graphic nastiness and casually dispensed foul language may discern some honorable values behind the uproarious, corpse-ridden proceedings of director Ruben Fleischer's feature debut.

Thus, inspired by a touching nostalgia for more innocent times, Columbus longs to return to his parents, though he also regrets the shallowness of his past relationship with them. Moved by a similar impulse, Wichita and Little Rock dream of revisiting a California amusement park where they often enjoyed themselves in happier days.

The characters also display a beleaguered yearning for solidarity, whether expressed through the friendship that eventually bonds all four or through the gently caring romance that develops between Columbus and Wichita.

The film contains much gory violence, including cannibalism, partial upper female nudity, drug use, a few profanities, frequent crude and crass language, and an obscene gesture. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted; Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

***
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions: Lawrence (Lorenzo) was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter. 
<p>His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that "he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him." </p><p>At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan. </p><p>They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, "I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there." In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution. </p><p>They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears. </p><p>The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions. </p><p>In Lorenzo's moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, "I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life." The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators. </p><p>The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded. </p><p>In 1987, Blessed John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others, Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog We don’t have to scrub off our sin so God can love us. Instead, when we allow God’s healing love to touch us, we want to leave sin behind. Growth starts in love, not in guilt.

 
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