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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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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988. Pope Francis canonized him in Washington, D.C., on September 23, 2015.</p> American Catholic Blog Hope and faith can outshine the darkness of evil. However dense the darkness may appear, our hope for the triumph of the light is stronger still. Though violence continues to stain us with blood, the shadows of death can be dissipated with one act of light.

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