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Friday, May 20, 2011

Body of Lies

- Leonardo DiCaprio and Golshifteh Farahani

This week's movie rental was the 2008 film Body of Lies, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio, about espionage in the Middle East, and is based on the novel of the same name by David Ignatius.

DiCaprio plays a CIA operative looking for a certain terrorist in Jordan, with Crowe playing his handler back at Langley. He asks the head of Jordanian Intelligence for help in his quest, he meets and befriends an Iranian nurse working in Jordan, and eventually he concocts a plan to lure the elusive terrorist out of hiding. All along the way, there are lies being told by him to his Jordanian partner, to his informants, to his boss, to the woman in whom he's interested, and to himself. His lying costs him his self-respect, and of course he's lied to in turn, which nearly costs him his life. I guess this is why the movie begins with lines from W. H. Auden's poem, September 1, 1939, written on the occasion of the outbreak of World War II.: I and the public know What all schoolchildren learn, Those to whom evil is done Do evil in return.

Do I recommend the film? Well, Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Strong (who played the head of Jordanian Intelligence) did really good jobs, and the technical stuff, like spy plane surveillance images, was interesting, but the theme of war, terrorism, and people doing each other wrong, was so grim and ugly that I doubt I'll want to see the film again.

Roger Ebert gave the movie three out of ofur stars, and here's a short blurb about the film from The New Yorker ....

This shrewd and tightly drawn anti-terror thriller, directed by Ridley Scott, suggests that the C.I.A. has all the technical advantages but not enough of the human intelligence to combat Mideast terrorism. The field agent Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) is just about the best there is, but his efforts on the ground are often confounded by a higher-up, Hoffman (Russell Crowe), who manages him via cell phone and laptop from the Washington suburbs. Hoffman, an American consumer of advanced technology and vast amounts of food, is too impatient; in the end, he’s dependent on help from the brilliant but secretive head of Jordanian intelligence (the English actor Mark Strong, in a witty performance). The movie has the usual tropes of the genre—surveillance shots from drones, S.U.V.s tearing across the desert, explosions, scenes of torture—but Scott manages the space and timing better than most thriller directors. William Monahan adapted David Ignatius’s novel. Shot in Morocco.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Crystal - I happened to have found the following while looking for a picture of Jesus on Google. It looks like you wrote it since there is no reference to any other author. I just want to say that it is one of the best short bio sketches of Our Lord that I have ever read. I have bookmarked your Blog and will check in now and then. Be well - Johanna

"posted by crystal | 1:27 PM | 2 comments
The Sisters just say No
year 2009
Jesus as Model

Jesus himself modeled what he taught. He was born into a subject race, the son of a poor artisan in a remote village. He was biologically barred from the priesthood because he was not of the tribe of Levi. He was uneducated, and thus, unqualified for the role of scribe, pharisee, or rabbi. Most significant perhaps, is the fact that Jesus did not take the only road open to him for attaining some measure of power in his society. By not marrying and founding a family, he renounced the considerable authority which he could have exercised as the head of a household in a patriarchal society.

He was baptized among sinners and associated himself with them -- both by sharing table fellowship with them and by his own breaking of the Law in obedience to his conscience.(10) He chose to associate publicly with every type of person deemed unclean (cf. Mk. 1:40-42); with heretics (Jn. 4:7-26) and pagans (Jn. 4:46-53); with women (Lk. 10:38-42) and children (Lk. 18:15-17) and slaves (Lk. 7:1-10). He made Samaritans (Lk. 10:29-37), publicans (Lk. 18:9-14), prostitutes (Lk. 7:36-50), and pagans (Lk. 7:9) the heroes of his stories and the beneficiaries of his miracles. In short, he carried to its ultimate limits the work begun by God in sending the only Son to become one of us. Jesus chose to be the equal, the friend, of the most lowly members of the human family.

But Jesus neither counseled nor modeled abjection. While respecting both the Law and the leaders of his people, he reserved to himself the right to follow his own conscience even when it conflicted with Torah or tradition (Mk. 3:1-5; 2:18-28). When provoked by the righteous to condemn the sinner, he enraged and shamed the self-appointed judges by his defense of the guilty (cf. Lk. 7:36-50). When falsely accused by the religious leaders, he demanded that they either substantiate their claims or withdraw them (Jn. 18:19-23). When Pilate flaunted his authority over Jesus, Jesus replied that Pilate had only the power God gave him (Jn. 19:10-11), that is, power to kill the body but impotence over the spirit. Betrayed by the hierarchy of his own religious community and executed by the power of the state, Jesus died victorious. Claiming that no one took his life from him, he laid it down of his own accord for those he loved (Jn. 10:18). Throughout his life and teaching Jesus urged his disciples to claim for themselves that same freedom in the face of law, that same dignity under oppression, that same fearlessness in the face of power (cf. Lk. 12:4-5). The refusal to dominate others must be further complemented by the refusal to be dominated .......

10:32 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


I'm not sure why your comment isn't showing up here, but I saw it in my email.

The article you mention about Jesus wasn't written by me, but by Sandra M. Schneiders, I.H.M., a professor of New Testament and spirituality at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. I'm going to fix my post so that's more obvious. The whole article she wrote, from which came that part about Jesus, is here ... . Evangelical Equality: Religious Consecration, Mission, and Witness

2:40 AM  
Blogger crystal said...


2:40 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Now I see - the spam meter sent your comment to the spam place for some reason - found it and republished it.

2:51 AM  

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