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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Burlesque

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Though it features impressive singing from the hearty pipes of Christina Aguilera, the initially pleasant musical "Burlesque" (Screen Gems) ultimately mixes a few decadent set-pieces in the titular performing style with an implicit endorsement of contemporary mores offstage. The result, unfortunately, is an entertainment too sordid for recommendation.

Aguilera plays Ali, an Iowa farm girl who moves to Los Angeles hoping, like many, to see her name up in lights. While job hunting, she stumbles upon the Burlesque Lounge. There, she becomes entranced with the somewhat risque performances and—with the assistance of friendly bartender-cum-band-member Jack (Cam Gigandet)—she lands a waitressing gig.

Naturally, it's only a matter of time before Ali overcomes the initial skepticism of financially beleaguered club owner Tess (Cher)—who, as these things go, is on the verge of losing the club to creditors—and gets her chance to take to the spotlight. And of course, romantic sparks are bound to fly with Jack, his faraway fiancee notwithstanding.

What with Aguilera's character pleading for her one shot at the big time, and the bank ready to foreclose on Cher's dreams, writer-director Steven Antin's small-town-gal-makes-good showbiz celebration starts out feeling as though Andy Hardy and his friends had wandered onto the set of "Cabaret."

But a few of the showcased acts cross the line from saucy to salacious, the outcome of the love interest winds up glamorizing an unwedded encounter and an incidental gay relationship involving stage manager Sean (Stanley Tucci) is treated as just another amorous alternative.

Additionally, a plotline about the prenuptial pregnancy of one of Ali's colleagues leads to an exchange, which can be interpreted as Tess offering to support her distraught employee should she opt to destroy the child.

The film contains a benign view of premarital sex and homosexuality, possible acceptance of abortion, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, fleeting rear nudity, often suggestive and briefly obscene dancing, several uses of profanity and one rough and some crude and crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. 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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