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Thursday, February 19, 2015

A movie for Lent

It's Lent. I don't like Lent. I don't see how short-term ritualized acts like giving up meat for a few days or praying the rosary over and over, or even "alms-giving", can be spiritually profitable .... if these kinds of things - not eating meat, helping others, personal prayer - are important, shouldn't they be a part of your everyday life?

So instead of suggesting some solemn acts for the few weeks of Lent, I'm going to mention something lighthearted instead - a movie I once saw that touches on giving stuff up ... 40 Days and 40 Nights ...

a 2002 romantic comedy film directed by Michael Lehmann, written by Rob Perez and starring Josh Hartnett, Shannyn Sossamon and Paulo Costanzo .... Matt Sullivan (Josh Hartnett) and his roommate, Ryan (Paulo Costanzo), are co-workers at a San Francisco dot-com company. Matt is obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, Nicole (Vinessa Shaw), and his obsession repeatedly causes him problems during attempted one-night stands. He confides his sexual problems to his brother, John (Adam Trese), who is training to become a Catholic priest. In an attempt to fix his problems, Matt vows to abstain from sexual stimulation, including masturbation, for the 40 days and 40 nights of Lent. John warns Matt that chastity is not easy; meanwhile, Ryan starts a popular office pool to bet on how long Matt can last.

Roger Ebert gave the movie 3 out of 4 stars. Here's the beginning of his review ...

Matt is weary of sex. Weary of himself as a sex partner. Weary of the way he behaves around women, weary of the way women make him behave, and weary of his treacherous ex-girl. So weary that he swears off sex for Lent in "40 Days and 40 Nights." On the scale of single guy sacrifice, this is harder than not drinking but easier than asking directions.

Matt (Josh Hartnett) is a nice guy who is disgusted by his predatory sexual nature--at the way his libido goes on autopilot when he sees an attractive woman. The breakup with Nicole (Vinessa Shaw) is the final straw. She loved him, dumped him, still excites him, and no wonder; as Bagel Man, who makes morning deliveries to the office, observes, "She's so hot you need one of those cardboard eclipse things just to look at her." Matt gets some support from his brother John (Adam Trese), who is studying to be a priest and offers advice which is more practical than theologically sound, but nobody else in Matt's life believes he can go 40 days without sex .... "40 Days and 40 Nights" was directed by Michael Lehmann, who has a sympathy for his characters that elevates the story above the level of a sexual sitcom. He uses humor as an instrument to examine human nature, just as he did in the wonderful, underrated "The Truth About Cats and Dogs."

Here's a trailer ...


Anonymous Richard said...

Sounds like a nice alternative to 50 Shades:) And something to look forward too.... ... I really enjoyed District 9

12:27 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Yeah, I hope I didn't make a mistake by mentioning it - I saw it on tv so the version I saw may have been censored ;)

Still haven't seen District 9. It's good?

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Richard said...

I liked it,
I thought it made a pretty powerful statement (using an aliens as a foil) about apartheid and the degradation inherent in racism, its rough though, not everybody's cup of tea.

4:55 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

My sister saw it and she thought I would find it too violent (?) so I hadn't yet tried it. Maybe tonight I'll watch that Predestination movie that's based on the Heinlein novel and post about it tomorrow. Have you seen that one?

6:30 PM  
Blogger Dina said...

Hi Crystal. See what you think of Sr. Vassa's ten-minute video about some aspects of Lent. I've never heard it explained like that!

2:08 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


Thanks for the link. I like Sister Vassa :) It was interesting to get a Russian Orthodox view of Lent. I'm just not very good, though, at feeling bad about 'original sin' or of giving up stuff because of it, but her idea of being in a better relationship with God and nature does make sense to me.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Dina said...

I've learned so much from Sr. Dr. Vassa's ongoing series of videos on YouTube. You can also follow her speaking tours etc. on Facebook, Vassa Larin. Or also Coffee with Sister Vassa.

9:30 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

I did look her up and saved her website so I could go back regularly :)

11:02 AM  
Blogger Dina said...


1:11 AM  

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