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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Darkest Hour

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Olivia Thirlby and Emile Hirsch star in the thriller "The Darkest Hour."
In an earlier era, "The Darkest Hour" (Summit)—a weak entry about plucky youngsters running away from invading aliens—would have been marketed as cheap thrills for drive-in moviegoers.

That era having passed, the flick is instead being retailed as a collection of expensive 3-D thrills, a ploy that only serves to highlight its stale plot. As sketched for us by director Chris Gorak and screenwriter Jon Spaihts, said story line depends on characters making bad decisions about going through the deserted streets of Moscow to see whether someone will get blown up by those aggressive intruders.

Moral behavior, for good or ill, doesn't enter into it.

Sean, Natalie, Ben, Anne and Skyler (Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor and Joel Kinnaman, respectively) are Americans visiting the brightly lit Russian capital for a variety of purposes. Just as everything starts hopping at a noisy disco, though, the aliens, in the form of lethal golden balls of microwave radiation, drop from the heavens like so many untoward versions of Peter Pan's Tinkerbell.

They promptly suck all the power from the electrical grid and all electronic devices, and display further bad manners by slaying folks—right, left and center. The first time it happens, it's perhaps morbidly interesting to see someone explode in a shower of 3-D crystalline flakes. The second, third and umpteenth time, not so much.

The aliens always give themselves away because their presence makes the lights flicker. So it's relatively easy to hide from them.

Viewers of any cinematic taste, however, would be better advised not to seek them in the first place.

The film contains action violence and fleeting profane, crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for 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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