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January 9, 1998     The Message
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January 9, 1998
 

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16 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Optimism about spiritual renewal, Mideast peace WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As 1998 began, there was reason for optimism about spiritual renew- al in Rome, Hong Kong and anywhere people of good will resolve to do better. And in Israel, where peace talks currently are stalled, the country's president reiterated his optimism in the peace process during an annual greet- ing to Christian leaders. With a "Te Deum," or song of thanksgiving to God, Pope John Paul II praised God for what he termed a religious reawakening in the city of Rome. In a Dec. 31 prayer service at the Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius in downtown Rome, the pope said he thought recent efforts to carry the Gospel message door- to-door in the-Eternal City were working. He particularly com- mended some 12,000 lay Catholics q a "citizens' mis- sion" -- who distributed copies of St. Mark's Gospel to Roman families throughout 1997. "This gesture of entering homes with the Gospel and the generally warm reception given the missionaries is highly sig- nificant: Romans, even those who don't attend church very often, are waiting to meet the Lord," he said. Across the world in Hong Kong, Catholic leaders were planning a number of programs to focus on 1998 as the year of the Holy Spirit, following the pope's dedication in his 1994 apostolic letter "Tertio Millen- nio Adveniente" ("As the Third Millennium Draws Near"). A major goal is to deepen the laity's understanding of the The best films of 1997 By HENRY HERX Catholic News Service NEW YORK (CNS) -- These movies were the top 10 films of 1997, according to the U.S. Catholic Conference's Office for Film and Broadcasting: w "Amistad" (USCC: A-III adults; Motion Picture Associa- tion of America: R -- restricted) dramatizes an 1839 historical incident involving a group of Africans who, after massacring the crew of a slave ship, are cap- tured in American waters and put on trial for murder and pira- cy in a case that ultimately reaches the Supreme Court. Despite some turgid court- room scenes and preachy dia- logue, director Steven Spielberg makes an ambitious attempt to re-create the horrors of slavery and the deep divisions it caused in American society before the Civil War. "The Apostle" (USCC: A- Ill -- adults; MPAA: PG-13 parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inap- propriate for children under 13) is the story of a Pentecostal preacher trying to find redemp- tion after committing a serious crime. Robert Duvall gives a com- pelling performance as the preacher, a man whose person- al failings are almost as great as his religious zeal. The picture was also written and directed by Duvall, and the result is a richly human portrait not only of an individual but of his Southern community. "The Ice Storm" (USCC: A-IV -- adults, with reserva- tions; MPAA: R -- restricted) is a somber drama about the painful consequences of infi- delity and parental neglect. Set in an affluent suburb dur- ing the 1973 Thanksgiving weekend, the story concerns a husband's joyless affair with a neighbor's wife, while their neglected adolescent offspring furtively explore their own sex- uality. Director Ang Lee uses the dis- contents of the 1970s to reflect the disordered emotional lives of characters suddenly forced to reckon with a sobering tragedy. "Koyla" (A-II -- adults and adolescents; PG-13 -- par- ents strongly cautioned that some material may be inappro- priate for children under 13) is a heartwarming Czech drama that won the Oscar as best for- eign film and was released in the United States in 1997. It follows the hard-won trans- formation of a womanizing, middle-aged cellist into a caring stepfather of an abandoned 5- year-old Russian boy. The sensitive tale carefully captures the gradual trust and real love that develops between man and child, which enable the musician to become more fully human as he makes great personal sacrifices for the boy's welfare. It was a father-son relation- ship behind the camera as well. The movie was written by and stars Zdenek Sverak as the father figure. It was directed by his own son, Jan Sverak. "Kundun" (USCC: A-II adults and adolescents; MPAA: PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for chil- dren under 13) dramatizes the early life of Tibet's 14th dalai lama. The story is also about the injustice of Red China's occu- pation of the country in 1950 and how the growing repres- sion of its people forces the Dalai Lama into exile in 1959 at age 24. The result is a picture of spec- tacular beauty, some spiritual tranquility and a reminder of the continuing plight of the Tibetan people, though director Martin Scorsese never grapples very deeply with the Buddhist principle of nonviolence. "L.A. Confidential" (A-W adults, with reservations; R restricted) is a striking film noir that dissects layers of cor- ruption in the police depart- ment and tabloid press of 1950s Los Angeles. r Curtis Hanson unreels an increasingly intricate and Byzantine plot, brought to life by a fine ensemble cast that offers up a number of shady characters whose flawed souls wreak havoc on the unsuspecting. "Shall We Dance?" (A-II adults and adolescents; PG parental guidance suggested) is a charming Japanese film in which a restless married man takes ballroom dancing lessons to get close to the beautiful instructor. Unexpectedly, the art of the dance moves him to revive romance with his wor- ried wife. Writer-director Masayuki Suo uses much gentle humor to explore how Japanese cul- ture frowns on emotional dis- plays by males, but he also communicates how the social nature of dancing allows the students and teachers to devel- op mutually supportive friend- ships. -- "Ulee's Gold" (USCC: A-III adults; MPAA: R  restrict- ed) is a finely detailed character study of an aging Florida bee- keeper (Peter Fonda) which turns into a suspenseful melo- drama about murderous thugs threatening to harm his family. Writer-director Victor Nunez has created a small picture of ordinary people and everyday life which has real human sub- stance, especially in Fonda's performance as a simple man whose down-home virtues are tested by violence from the world outside. -- "The Wind in the Willows" (A-I -- general patronage; G -- general audiences) is based on Kenneth Grahame's 1908 chil- dren's classic set in the bucolic English countryside. In this live-action story, comic actors portray a mousey mole, kindly rat and bold badger, each trying to rein in the disastrous excesses of a reckless toad endangering their meadow. In director Terry Jones' cre- ative hands, the movie becomes a highly imaginative tale filled with whimsy which children can enjoy even as adults see in it a satire of the English class structure. "The Wings of the Dove" (A-II  adults and adolescents; PG  parental guidance sug- gested) is a visually lush and beautifully crafted tale based on Henry James" 1902 novel. The story involves a dying American heiress, who is reluc- tantly wooed by an impover- ished English journalist at the insistence of his true love, a socially ambitious English- woman determined for him to inherit the fortune at stake. Set in the drawing rooms of London .and on the moonlit canals of Venice, director Iain Softley's period piece delicate- ly explores themes of love, greed and manipulation as the dynamics of the romantic tri- angle are tragically played out. Herx is director of the U.S. Catholic Conference Office for Film and Broadcasting. Holy Spirit, according to Father Ferdinand Lok Hung-cheong, who is responsible for prepara- tions for the Jubilee of the Year 2000 in the Hong Kong Diocese. Father Thomas Law Kwok- fai, director of the Hong Kong Diocesan Liturgy Commission, said there were to be several talks on the Holy Spirit during January. In addition, the com- mission is publishing books on confirmation and parish wor- ship of the Holy Spirit, and arranging evening prayer meet- ings on the feasts of the Holy Trinity and the Holy Cross. Both priests spoke with UCA News, an Asian church news agency based in Thailand. Other Catholic organizations inHong Kong also were plan- ning youth retreats on renewal and love of the Holy Spirit and camps for local laity organized around specific religious topics. At his annual reception Dec. 30, Israeli President Ezer Weiz- man told Christian leaders, "Despite the fact that we are now in a bit of a crisis (with the Palestinians) I believe we shall overcome (this)." He said both sides in the peace talks "know they will not get 100 percent of what they want." But he said the question now is how to share. "I think we should find a solution,"' he added, "because to go back on what we have achieved after so many years of battles and so many years of blood would be, to put it mildly, stupid." Weizman also congratulated the Latin-rite and Russian Orthodox patriarchates on the 150th anniversary of their re- establishment and establish- ment, respectively, in Jerusalem. 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Timoth i director of Retreat Center Diocese, Live and in thought and Do good especially those The way learned practice. own Count forget the pushed Make time l silence, even meditating. C life is on gifts prudently. Worship tage of the community. retreat. "When Msgr. Catholic "we will attitudes will our internal slowed down stride." Dr.Jane 1111S Vatican World00 Mon. - University On SER Paul lI2W. RUXER FORD - LINCOLN - MERCURY