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Showing posts from January, 2015

The Island (Ostrov)

By John O'Brien, S.J. 2006, Director: Pavel Lungin. 112 min. Actors: Pyotr Mamonov , Viktor Sukhorukov, Dmitriy Dyuzhev Music: Vladimir Martynov Plot During World War Two, a worker on a Russian coal barge, Anatoly (Mamonov), is given the choice by Nazi boarders to either shoot his captain, Tikhon , and have the chance to live, or be shot alongside him. Anatoly chooses the first option, and then falls overboard as the Germans scuttle the boat. Three decades later (in 1976), Anatoly is living an ascetic life at a monastery on an island. He lives in a boiler house, and spends his time wheeling coal from the wrecked boat to feed the furnaces that warm the monastic houses. He walks the island saying The Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner”) and asking Tikhon to pray for his soul. The monks tolerate his presence, despite his habit of pulling “pranks”, unpredictable acts that unnerve them. Anatoly, it is clear, is something of a “holy fool”, and also app

Pushing Tin

By John O'Brien, S.J. 1999. Director: Mike Newell. Actors: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thorton, Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie. Music: Anne Dudley.   (Rated R for language and mild sexuality) "O what tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." –  Sir Walter Scott Plot Pushing Tin opens in the control room at the New York's Terminal Radar Approach Center (TRAC), where a team of air traffic controllers coordinate some 7,000 flights a day that zip in and out of Kennedy, La Guardia, and Newark airports. It’s a hectic and high-pressure work-place. When a tour of kids comes through the facility they are told: “Air controllers are responsible for more lives in a single shift than a surgeon in a lifetime.” Nick Falzone (Cusack), known as “the Zone”, is the hotshot controller of the group, who owns his reputation of being top of the game. Nick relates to his suburbanite wife Connie (Blanchette) with the same short attention span that enables him to l

On the Waterfront

By John O'Brien, S.J. Director: Elia Kazan, 1954. Actors: Marlon Brando, Eva Marie-Saint, Karl Malden, Rod Steiger, Lee Cobb. Music: Leonard Bernstein. “Conscience... that stuff can drive you nuts!” – Terry Molloy, On the Waterfront Plot Terry Molloy (Brando) is a young ex-prizefighter who is now a longshoreman, given easy jobs on the New Jersey waterfront because his older brother Charley (Steiger) is the right-hand man of the corrupt union boss, Johnny Friendly (Cobb). After Terry unwittingly allows himself to be used to set up the murder of a dockworker named Joey, he starts to question the basic assumptions of his life, including his loyalty to Charley and Johnny, who, after all, had ordered him to take a dive in his big fight in Madison Square Garden several years before. When he meets the murdered man’s sister Edie (Saint) and Father Barry (Malden), he is challenged even more to see the underlying corruption in the dockyards and his own complicity in it. P