Monday, June 28, 2010

I love that Armond White...

...just doesn't care what other people think about him.  Or maybe he does.  But he certainly doesn't care a lot about what the Masses think about him.  I don't agree with everything in his review of Toy Story 3 (which movie I rate O.K., not good, and certainly not great.)

Of course, he makes me love him right off the top by referencing a Whit Stillman film:
Pixar has now made three movies explicitly about toys, yet the best movie depiction of how toys express human experience remains Whit Stillman’s 1990 Metropolitan. As class-conscious Tom Townsend (Edward Clements) tries fitting in with East Side debutantes, he discovers his toy cowboy pistol in his estranged father’s trash. Without specifying the model, Stillman evokes past childhood, lost innocence and Townsend’s longing for even imagined potency.

Here's some more:
Look at the Barbie and Ken sequence where the sexually dubious male doll struts a chick-flick fashion show. Since it serves the same time-keeping purpose as a chick-flick digression, it’s not satirical. We’re meant to enjoy our susceptibility, not question it, as in Joe Dante’s more challenging Small Soldiers. Have shill-critics forgotten that movie? Do they mistake Toy Story 3’s opening day for 4th of July patriotism?

When Toy Story 3 emulates the suspense of prison break and horror films, it becomes fitfully amusing (more than can be said for Wall-E or Up) but this humor depends on the recognition of worn-out toys which is no different from those lousy Shrek gags. Only Big Baby, with one Keane eye and one lazy eye, and Mr. Potato Head’s deconstruction into Dali’s slip-sliding “Persistence of Memory” are worthy of mature delectation. But these references don’t meaningfully expand even when the story gets weepy. The Toy Story franchise isn’t for children and adults, it’s for non-thinking children and adults. When a movie is this formulaic, it’s no longer a toy because it does all the work for you. It’s a sap’s story.
Just go read it already.

So where we started this post--that Armond White just doesn't care what other people think--is reflected in the comments on Rotten Tomatoes on his review, all 800 of them. The negative ones are just vicious. People are trying to petition Rotten Tomatoes to not include White in their aggregation.

Oh, and for some more Whit Stillman, check out this 2009 interview with Stillman on WNYC when The Last Days of Disco was released on DVD as part of the Criterion Collection. I made a special trip to Barnes and Noble to buy it the day I heard this interview on the radio.

The trailer is terrible and gives almost no true sense of the film, so instead here's a clip from the film that is more representative:

In addition, you should read--who else's?--Armond White's review, though this copy is laden with typos, some of which I've corrected in this sample:
These are Stillman's fullest, most daring characters yet. Alice and Josh's first private talk ("I take no for an answer," he tells her when she teases) contains bold, humanist risk. Describing himself as a loon, Josh recites a hymn, then makes the sound of a bird, swaying off balance as he walks down the street, "You think I'm wacko?" he asks, taking Alice inside his loneliness, and her sad look communicates a shared confidence. Contemporary movies rarely get as intimate as that and Stillman goes further. English actress Kate Beckinsale achieves a striking American bitch transformation: Sleek, haughty and precipitate, her churning insecurities are protected by an impeccable, inherited facade. Beckinsale's Charlotte constantly abrades and one-ups her initial infatuations, yet Stillman shows a side of her character--she sings--that takes the entire comedy of manners into unexpected territory, revealing a suppressed cultural background that explains these urbane pilgrims at both their best and worst.

You can also check out this previous Whit Stillman post from March 2009. I also name checked Last Days in discussing Shattered Glass in 2004.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jesuitica in Goethe

I've just started reading Goethe's Italian Journey.  My copy is the Penguin edition of W.H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer's translation.  The translation is noteworthy, because of the topic of this post, Jesuitica in Goethe, and because of this note in the translators' introduction:
One previous translator, an Anglican clergyman, omitted all favourable references made by Goethe to the Roman Catholic Church; we have confined ourselves to stylistic matters.(pg. 18)
And grateful we to Auden and Mayer we should be, for we find this pearl in the first chapter (though in fairness, it is in at least one earlier translation too):
The first thing I did [in Regensburg, Germany] was to visit the Jesuit College, where the students were performing their annual play. I saw the end of an opera and the beginning of a tragedy. The acting was no worse than any other group of inexperienced amateurs, and their costumes were beautiful indeed, almost too magnificent. Their performance reminded me once again of then worldly wisdom of the Jesuits. They rejected nothing which might produce and effect and they knew how to use it with love and care. Their wisdom was no coldly impersonal calculation; they did everything with a gusto, a sympathy and personal pleasure in teh doing, such as living itself gives. This great order had organ-builders, wood carvers and gilders among its members, so it must also have included some who, by temperament and talent, devoted themselves to the theatre. Just as they knew how to build churches of imposing splendour, these wise men made use of the world of the sense to create a respectable drama. (pg. 24)
I know Jesuits and I know organ-builders. Sadly I don't know any Jesuit organ-builders. I do know a Jesuit actor and theater technician though, which adds to the awesomeness of discovering this passage.

A paragraph further on he returns to the topic of the Jesuits:
I keep thinking about the character and the activities of the Jesuits. The grandeur and perfect design of their churches and other buildings command universal awe and admiration. For ornament, they used gold, silver, and jewels in profusion to dazzle beggars of all ranks, with, now and then, a touch of vulgarity to attract the masses. Roman Catholicism has always shown this genius, but I have never seen it done with such intelligence, skill and consistency as by the Jesuits. Unlike the other religious orders, they broke away from the old conventions of worship and, in compliance with the spirit of the times, refreshed it with pomp and splendour.
Ooh, we were with you right up until the last sentence, sir! It presents some difficulties.

The painting is J. H. W. Tischbein's Goethe in the Roman Campagna, 1787.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

An Unusual Privilege

An unusual privilege for missionary priests in China, permission to wear the biretta at the altar while celebrating Mass:

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Clergy in the Corpus Christi Procession

Post updated to provide context for anyone not coming here from the NLM comment thread.

In response to a post on the New Liturgical Movement a commentator asked this question:
I just saw some pictures from a Corpus Christi procession at an FSSP apostolate in France. There were three additional priests in attendance. They were all wearing chasubles over surplices (not albs). I can't recall ever having seen this done, and I was wondering if anyone here can offer an explanation. Could it be because they lacked a sufficient number of white copes, and if that's why, is there a rubrical provision to allow chasubles in place of copes where copes are not available?
Gregor points out:
Under the rubrics of the usus antiquior, the canons of a cathedral chapte wear for the Corpus Christi procession the vestments corresponding to their rank in the chapter (the so called canonici parati, much like there are Cardinal deacons, priests and bishops, who used to wear the corresponding vestments for certain papal functions).
Having just looked at this question (and many, many others) in preparation for the Corpus Christi procession at Holy Innocents, I could point right away to the citation on pg. 388 of the 15th edition of Ceremonies of the Roman Rite:
"If the cathedral chapter assists, the canons out to wear vestments of their three orders; that is, subdeacons in tunicles, deacons in dalmatics, priests in chasubles; dignitaries in copes.(31) These are put on after the communion of the Mass and should be worn immediately over the rochet and an amice, without stole or maniple, as when the Ordinary sings solemn mass. The colour of the vestments is white. If the cathedral chapter is not present the clergy may be divided into groups wearing these vestments. (32)" [My emphasis]

Footnote 31: C.E., II, xxxiii, 5.
Footnote 32: Cf. S.R.C. 2362 Section 1.
That second footnote also seems to drive the wearing of albs instead of surplices as one might expect in place of the rochet. S.R.C. 2362 is now easily available via Google Books. Here's the relevant excerpt from the Decreta authentica.

Click the link to see the decree in the context of the book via Google Books.

This is just wrong...

...For Love of the Game dubbed in French:

I hadn't realized that the movie is based on a novel by Michael Shaara, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Killer Angels.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Corpus Christi Notes

Two notes about Corpus Christi, for which we finished today three exhausting liturgies, first a Solemn Mass an outdoor procession on Thursday, then today the External Solemnity in the old rite and the Feast in the new rite (with a reception into full communion, confirmations and first Communions thrown in for good measure.)

First, in preparing for Thursday's Mass I came across this story on the web site Thesaurus Precum Latinarum:
The rhythm of the Pange Lingua is said to have come down from a marching song of Caesar's Legions: "Ecce, Caesar nunc triumphat qui subegit Gallias."
As they say on Wikipedia, "citation needed", but interesting idea. If I were a liturgy scholar, I'd be interested in exploring the idea of to what extent Roman ideas of processions arise from the processions of classical Rome, either organically, from the time of the Empire or through later classicizing influence on the liturgy.

Second, I dug into, for what was for some reason the first time, the whole of the Corpus Christi sequence. There's a lot of theological meat there, in a way that reminds me of the Quicumque. Here's the Sequence, called "Lauda Sion" after its first two words in Latin, in English translation from Hymns of the Breviary and Missal (Britt, 1922) (with some light editing I did for our service leaflet this morning):
Lauda Sion: The Corpus Christi Sequence

Praise, O Sion, thy Saviour, praise thy Leader and thy Shepherd in hymns and canticles.

As much as thou canst, so much darest thou, for He is above all praise, nor art thou able to praise Him enough.

Today there is given us a special theme of praise, the Bread both living and life-giving.

Which, it is not to be doubted, was given to the assembly of the brethren, twelve in number, at the table of the holy Supper.

Let our praise be full and sounding; let the jubilations of the soul be joyous and becoming.

For that solemn day is now being celebrated, on which is commemorated the first institution of this table.

At this table of the new King, the new Pasch of the New Law puts an end to the ancient Pasch.

The new supplants the old, truth puts to flight the shadow, day banishes night.

What Christ did at that Supper, the same He commanded to be done in remembrance of Him.

Taught by His sacred precepts, we consecrate bread and wine into the Victim of salvation.

This is the dogma given to Christians, that bread is changed into Flesh and wine into Blood.

What thou dost not understand, what thou dost not see, a lively faith confirms in a supernatural manner.

Under different species in externals only, and not in reality, wondrous substances lie hidden.

Flesh is food, Blood is drink: nevertheless Christ remains entire under each species.

By the recipient the whole (Christ) is received; He is neither cut, broken, nor divided.

One receives Him; a thousand receive Him: as much as the thousand receive, so much does the one receive; though eaten He is not diminished.

The good receive Him, the bad receive Him, but with what unequal consequences of life or death.

It is death to the unworthy, life to the worthy: behold then of a like reception, how unlike may be the result!

When the Sacrament is broken, doubt not, but remember, that there is just as much hidden in a fragment, as there is in the whole.

There is no division of the substance, only a breaking of the species takes place, by which neither the state nor stature of the substance signified is diminished.

Lo, the Bread of Angels is made the food of earthly pilgrims: truly it is the Bread of children, let it not be cast to dogs.

It was prefigured in types,—when Isaac was immolated, when the Paschal Lamb was sacrificed, when Manna was given to the fathers.

O Good Shepherd, True Bread, 0 Jesus, have mercy on us: feed us and protect us: make us see good things in the land of the living.

Thou who knowest all things and canst do all things, who here feedest us mortals, make us there be Thy guests, the co-heirs, and companions of the heavenly citizens.
You can find the full text of the book here via the Church Music Association of America, which also has additional commentary on this sequence and on many other hymns.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

EF, TLM, or what?

There's been a lot of talk over the years about what to call Mass and sacraments celebrated according to the 1962 Missal and the former version of the Roman Ritual. Here's one usage from a surprising source:
Then there was also the old rite in which the power to forgive sins was conferred at a separate moment. It began when the Bishop, pronouncing the Lord's words, said: "No longer do I call you servants... but... friends". And I knew we knew that this is not only a quotation from John 15 but a timely word that the Lord is addressing to me now. He accepts me as a friend; I am in this friendly relationship; he has given me his trust and I can work within this friendship and make others friends of Christ.
Yep, that's Pope Benedict XVI calling it "the old rite".