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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Saw 3-D

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

If memory serves, it was the editors of Mad magazine who coined the expression "Yecch!" Whoever armed us with that handy exclamation, it certainly springs to mind while meditating—if one must—on the repellant "Saw" franchise that began in 2004.

True to form, as directed by Kevin Greutert, "Saw 3-D" (Lionsgate), the seventh of these misuses of celluloid, turns out to be nothing more than gruesome, dehumanizing and—despite its title—very much one-dimensional torture porn. But even saying so seems as redundant, by now, as this unwelcome sequel itself.

Yet again, agony awaits—for characters and audiences alike—as ex-police Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) carries on the twisted work of the late, unlamented Jigsaw (Tobin Bell, who puts in a cameo via video and flashbacks).

For those who may have been mercifully spared this flick's predecessors, this agony involves subjecting a series of victims to a series of sadistic life-or-death games. Here, victims include racist skinheads, an assortment of ordinary folk and, most prominently, self-proclaimed Jigsaw survivor Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery).

The nastiness is interspersed with boredom and punctuated by feeble attempts to make Jigsaw and Hoffman's circus of dismemberment mean something. If their heinous high jinks signify anything at all, though, it's simply this: that we live in a society where people will pay $12 of their presumably hard-earned cash and devote 91 minutes of their all-too-brief earthly lives to watching innards flying at them off a movie screen.

The film contains pervasive gory violence, with multiple scenes of torture, mutilation and disembowelment, a few uses of profanity and relentless rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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


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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog When we suffer, we don’t just come to understand the pain of Christ’s cross more, we come to understand the depth of God’s love for us: that he would endure such pain for us—in our place. We have a God who endured death so we would never have to do so.

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