Bella – Review

http://www.bellamoviesite.com/

Bella, released in 2006 at the Toronto International Film Festival, is one of those movies that I really meant to see, but never got around to it.  Thanks to Netflix, I finally did, and wow, what a great movie!

The story, which takes place in one day, may get a little confusing as the backstory unfolds in flashbacks.  Jose, a soccer star who has just signed a lucrative contract, accidentally kills a small child and serves time in prison.  After his release, he works in his brother’s restaurant as a chef, where he meets Nina, a waitress who has a brief affair (not with Jose) which ends in an unplanned pregnancy.  Nina’s solution is to end the pregnancy, but Jose has other ideas, and Nina changes her plans (as shown in flash-forwards, confused yet?).  The subtle anti-abortion message is so powerful, that I can see why pro-life groups adopted this movie and helped to heavily promote it.  

I enjoyed the portrayal of Jose’s family and particularly his interaction with his brother Manny, whose compulsive reactions Jose responds to with calm dismissal.  Such as when Manny fires Jose, who simply walks out the back door of the restaurant, then returns the next morning and cooks Manny breakfast as if nothing happened.

My favorite scene has to be Jose, sitting with a rosary in his hand, while Nina is taken into the back of the abortion clinic.  It’s something you might miss, if you weren’t Catholic, but to me, it screamed the power of Our Blessed Mother’s intercession.

Bella is a story about imperfect people, living sometimes difficult lives and facing complicated choices.  It’s about the power of God bringing awesome good out of our human weakness.

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The Family Rosary

Lately my 9 year old has been wanting to say the Rosary as a family.  I am thrilled with this new development, as I have been trying to encourage it for years, but I wonder what has brought it on.  Naturally, he has several fairly nice rosaries, as well as some funky plastic ones.  He knows how to say the Rosary, as we frequently say it in the car (with or without his participation) and it is said before Sunday Mass at our church and at the holy hour we attend on Thursdays.  Yet, this family Rosary has been instigated at his request.

He does have a special intention – the healing of his 9 year old cousin who is having open-heart surgery in a few weeks.  But why this particular prayer method?  I can only think that, in addition to divine inspiration at work in his heart, all our family discussions, in which there are many disagreements, seem to meet in agreement on one thing – the power of praying the Family Rosary.  Thanks be to God!

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God Bless America

It warms my heart to hear people sing the Star Spangled Banner. In recent years, it seems I’ve noticed alot of people who don’t know, or refuse to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, or sing our National Anthem. As a student in Catholic schools for ten years, not a day went by when we didn’t say the pledge, and the anthem, as well as other patriotic songs were frequently included in our morning singing.

Undoubtedly, our country has severe flaws. Our president is less than inspiring to many of us. Our lawmakers are a big disappointment, to say the least. But we Americans, we Catholic Americans, come together on the Lord’s Day, and encourage each other; we receive the nourishing body and blood of Christ and are strengthened to go out and do what little we can to be the change we want to see happen.

O’ say, does that star spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?
As long as it continues to wave, and we continue to pray, there is great hope for our great country.

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Oh the Drama!

Maybe it’s the so-called “alignment of the planets”, as some say, or maybe it’s just me, but there seems to have been a whole lot of drama going on lately.  Families have their own inherent drama, of course.  Someone’s hurting, “well-meaning” others come in and stir things up and suddenly everything’s out of hand.

In our church communities things get out of hand, too.  Disputes over bilingual Mass and Latin or not get as heated as immigration law debates.  Some cannot set aside their differences and agree to disagree, and leave.  It’s sad in families, it’s sad in our church family.

The media pursues the sexual abuse issue like rabid hounds.  As though they’ve forgotton Jim Baker.  Or as though it’s any bigger than taxpayer dollars going to big bankers to pay out bonuses to already overpaid executives.

Why are we so addicted to drama and the inevitable tragedy that accompanies it?  Where do we find the answers, for healing in our families, our church, our world?  All we can do is practice.  Practice Jesus’ example of unconditional love.  Practice tolerance – of different languages, different opinions, different customs.  Practice spiritual discipline – attend Mass, receive Holy Communion, go to confession.  Pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

We who are not politicians, turn over our anxieties to the Highest Power, and make our voices heard to our elected representatives.  We who are families, die with Christ every day for peace in our homes.  We who are Catholics, die with Christ to our own self-righteousness, for peace in our communities.  We can only do a little.  But if we each do a little, so much gets done.

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I Resolve for 2010…

I love the time between Christmas and New Years. For me it has always been a kind of quiet, contemplative time. A time to sit in front of the fire with a much anticipated new book. A time to reflect on the past year and reevaluate goals for the new one.

Now that the school supplies have been broken in and well used, it’s a time to break open a crisp new calendar, planner and journal. The unmarked pages lie full of hope and promise. Perhaps a colorful new pen and some stickers and stamps with which to decorate the record of a life. I know it will be another year where the pages of the calendar turn too quickly, the jobs in the planner will never get all crossed off, and the journal may not be written in as often as I’d like. But just for these few nights, I will reflect, and plan, and look forward joyfully to a fresh start.

I will try to be more realistic with my goals, flexible with my plans, more disciplined in my work.

I will worry less and pray more.

I will smile until I feel like smiling.

I will try a little harder to see and serve Jesus, especially in those I don’t like.

I will sacrifice some of my excess and even, sometimes, some of my necessities, so that someone else may have basic comforts of food, shelter,clothing or education.

I will try to remember to make the best of every situation I find myself in, and if possible, to have fun with it. Even if others are determined that I should not.

I will play music, and read books, and walk in the woods.

I will share all these things with my children.

I will try to leave my little corner of the world a better place.

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