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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Project X

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Put religion in retreat, erode ethics and let materialism run rampant, and what kind of entertainment will you get? The short answer is "Project X" (Warner Bros.).

More troubling than mere trash, and pornographic in a way that goes well beyond its frequent displays of flesh, this profoundly irresponsible undertaking — a would-be comedy — concerns three Los Angeles teens: meek, easily misled Thomas (Thomas Mann), overweight nebbish JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown) and pleased-with-himself provocateur Costa (Oliver Cooper).

Desperate to become popular and, of course, to have animalistic sex with random strangers, the trio throws a decadent party that eventually morphs into a destructive riot. That last word is not used metaphorically. The proceedings — which we're supposed to be viewing through the camera of another adolescent, gloomy Goth Dax (Dax Flame) — eventually involve a flamethrower, a fire department helicopter and a police SWAT team.

The outcome of it all? Not only do the lads gain the admiration of their high school peers, at least one of their parents, surveying the devastation they've wrought the morning after, implicitly congratulates his son, whom he had earlier labeled a loser.

If that sounds harsh, it's because the only bond of affection that means anything to these characters is that which unites Thomas and his dog. Naturally, Thomas is also given a love interest in the person of his friend-turned-hook-up-partner Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton). But Thomas' capability for committed relationship building seems to run about as deep as Kirby's diaphanous good looks.

Still, Thomas is at least marginally sympathetic. Not so the leering, acerbic Costa. Though he makes reference, in passing, to his Jewish heritage, Costa is the embodiment of neopagan barbarism — a swilling, drug-loving 18-year-old lout anxious to pillage and fornicate, if not rape, his way through Left Coast suburbia.

Indeed, taken as a whole, Nima Nourizadeh's first feature serves as a collective portrait of soulless, over-privileged zombies wandering a world of sterile secularism, enslaved by their basest passions. As such, it's anything but funny; in reality, it's grotesquely tragic.

The film contains perverted values; strong sexual content, including voyeurism, underage casual sex and same-sex kissing as well as upper female and rear nudity; drug use; a few instances of profanity; and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating 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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Joan of Arc: 
		<p>Burned at the stake as a heretic after a politically-motivated trial, Joan was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920.</p>
		<p>Born of a fairly well-to-do peasant couple in Domremy-Greux (southeast of Paris), Joan was only 12 when she experienced a vision and heard voices that she later identified as Sts. Michael the Archangel, Catherine of Alexandria, and Margaret of Antioch.</p>
		<p>During the Hundred Years War, she led French troops against the English and recaptured the cities of Orléans and Troyes. This enabled Charles VII to be crowned as king in Reims in 1429. Captured near Compiegne the following year, she was sold to the English and placed on trial for heresy and witchcraft. Professors at the University of Paris supported Bishop Pierre Cauchon of Beauvis, the judge at her trial; Cardinal Henry Beaufort of Winchester, England, participated in the questioning of Joan in prison. In the end, she was condemned for wearing men's clothes. The English resented France's military success–to which Joan contributed. </p>
		<p>On this day in 1431, she was burned at the stake in Rouen, and her ashes were scattered in the Seine River. A second Church trial 25 years later nullified the earlier verdict, which was reached under political pressure.</p>
		<p>Remembered by most people for her military exploits, Joan had a great love for the sacraments, which strengthened her compassion toward the poor. Popular devotion to her increased greatly in 19th-century France and later among French soldiers during World War I. Theologian George Tavard writes that her life "offers a perfect example of the conjunction of contemplation and action" because her spiritual insight is that there should be a "unity of heaven and earth."</p>
		<p>Joan of Arc has been the subject of many books, plays, operas, and movies. </p>
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