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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Carnage

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

Picture yourself in a small apartment in Brooklyn, one where you could look out the window and see Manhattan. Then picture yourself watching the action in the tiny apartment unfold on stage.
 
Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan (Christof Waltz) Cowan are visiting Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael (John C. Rielly) Longstreet in that small apartment. The sons of these two sets of parents have had a fight.  The parents are agreeing that the Cowen boy was the aggressor who hit the other boy and knocked out two teeth.
 
The middle class Longstreets are trying to be very civil and polite. Penelope is the moral voice of the film that continually struggles for higher ground; she is writing a book about Dafur because she cares so much. The upper crust Cowans, especially Alan, continually takes calls on his mobile phone during the conversation, irritating everyone. The Cowans try to leave two or three times but end up being drawn back into the spider’s web when they couples disagree about right and wrong between their children, Alan’s unethical tactics as a pharmaceutical executive, and Michael getting rid of bothersome a pet by letting it go on the street where it could be killed.
 
I suppose a case could be made for humor at some level for the carnage left after these grown-ups duke it out with words, and the existential carnage they spew on the universe by their conflicting worldviews. But a better case might be made for the influence of Jean-Paul Sarte’s  existential tome “Nausea” on the French writer Yasmina Reza who wrote the original play “The Gods of Carnage” and co-wrote the screenplay. Indeed, when Nancy throws up all over Penelope’s fine coffee table books about art, their battlefield over meaning is completely leveled by covering beauty with vomit.
 
This is a dark comedy set in a stuffy hell created by these parents who don’t really know who they are.
 
The film had to be made in Paris because of director Roman Polanski’s ongoing trouble with the law in the United States. The acting is taut and fine by all the actors but some plays are better left to the theater. 




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Augustine of Canterbury: In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery in Rome. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul (France) when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to the pope who had sent them—St. Gregory the Great (September 3 )—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless. 
<p>Augustine again set out. This time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian, Bertha. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday, 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester. </p><p>Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians (who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors </p><p>Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory the Great: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after he arrived in England, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Augustine of Canterbury can truly be called the “Apostle of England.”</p> American Catholic Blog A hero isn’t someone born with unconquerable strength and selflessness. Heroes are not formed in a cataclysmic instant. Heroism is developed over time, one decision after another, moment by moment, formed by a deliberate, chosen, and habitual response to life.

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