LETTERS  PCR #206      (March 1--7, 2004)

 David T. on "The Passion of the Christ"
 Mike Smith comments on Black Dog's Columbine memory
 Steve Beasley on "The Passion" and The Oscars
 Andy Lalino reacts to Lettercol #205

Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.


I caught an early matinee showing Saturday with my brother Michael. There was a bit of a line, but nowhere near a sell-out crowd. I kid you not, a highschooler no more than 14 or 15 was attempting to scalp tickets to the movie. Dressed in jeans and a Buccanneers Joe Jurevicious jersey, he boldly scouted the line, "Ticket to The Passion, Tickets to The Passion". He tanked, but gotta give him props for sheer guts.

The venue we attended only had one ticket booth open for such a long line. Some dude three people behind me commented, "I can't believe they have only have one f*cking booth open". The guy directly behind him replied, "That's not a very Christian attitude". A woman two ahead of me said, "I saw this yesterday, and it's the absolute truth of what Jesus went through, the absolute truth" The person behind her replied, "Do you always speak in absolutes? You people disgust me" *sigh* We are not even in the theater, and already I'm exhausted!! Now on to the movie.

It opens in Gethsamene when Jesus is contemplating, and his disciples are asleep. You know the rest, so no further sequence of events need be mentioned.

Every dollar of the 25 million budget shines through in spades. Scenery, Cinematography, Soundtrack etc. (and all those other words critics like to use) are Spectacular, sweeping, breathtaking, etc.( more critic words)

However, for a movie about the most followed religious icon of all time, there is nothing spiritual in the slightest. Instead, we get over the top, in your face brutality, violence, and gore. Did I mention the brutality, violence, and gore? A two hour torture fest, beautifully shot, and ultimately BORING AS HELL.

I should mention, I don't view films as an average moviegoer might. I love musicals, with Jesus Christ Superstar as fourth all time favorite. I couldn't help it! Every song from Superstar was playing in my head to each corresponding scene from The Passion. I think I even hummed. With a few lines from Life of Brian's as well. So, I'm sick

The only actors worth watching are James Caviezel as the whipped, and Hristo Shopov as the hand wringer. Mmmmm, James Caviezel Initials are J.C. Conincidence or Divine Intervention? I just loved the expression on Pilate's face as even he wasn't prepared for the beating Christ recieved. He decides to set him free. I just wanted Jesus to say, "Gee, Pilate, thanks a helluva lot for letting me go. LOOK AT ME. It's gonna take more than a little salve for this kinda sh*t, a**hole" Also, after Jesus falls for the second time with his cross, my brother takes a ten out his wallet and says "Bet you he falls three more times." I said, "No, it's gonna be five" as I retrieved my money. We started counting when the woman next to us reprimanded me and made me lose count. Also, in the flogging scenes with those scary metal-infused whips, it was cheesy the way the whip was imbedded into the wooden table just to show you what it could to the flesh. And ripped away the flesh it did!! I imagined my manager in place of the big JC, and couldn't help but smile. Finally, I know what Rosalinda Celentano looks like out of character. I never thought I'd say this, but I would f*ck the Devil.

The upshot, this movie is boring from beginning to end with endless beatings, floggings, right up to the crucifixion. It just goes on and on and on and on and on! I could easily have fallen asleep. I give minus 2 stars to a two-hour movie that seemed like an eternity!

David T.


In response to Black Dog and his article this issue on "The Ghosts of Columbine:"

Unlike the author, I didn't know either one of the Columbine Boys. However, I had the opportunity to coach a player that moved to Leavenworth from Littleton who did. He tells the same story, how they were picked on by other students. You label them and yourself outsiders. But are you really? I guess in a way I was lucky in high school. I got along with everyone..........jocks and non-jocks alike. I only had one run in with a "bully," and when I stood up to him, he backed off and we actually became friendly. Ironically, a year later, Matt had the same experience. And the same outcome. Yes, people (especially young people) can be cruel. But because you had your group of friends you really weren't an outsider. Harris and Kleibold had other friends in their "Trenchcoat Mafia." In fact, if you watch the film "Bowling for Columbine," they went bowling with their classmates the day of the shootings. And what about the shootings? As far as I can tell, the majority of the people they killed never bothered them. Asking a young girl if she believed in God and then shooting her in the head when she said she did had nothing to do with them feeling like "outsiders." We can't all be friends with everyone, try as we like. People will always judge us, be it because of our appearance, our choice of clothes or music or just the way they perceive us. As long as you and I have our own group of friends, no matter how small, we will never be outsiders!

Michael [A. Smith]


Man, Oh Man!
This movie, "The Passion of the Christ", that I haven't seen because it hasn't made it to NZ yet.......is certainly controversial. Nolan, you already know my opinion on the subject matter, but I feel the need to stress that the Right-Reverend Wallace and others who state that this is "realistic" and "factual" are strictly going on their faith (indoctrination) that they've been taught over several decades by their parents and pastors. There has apparently been (albeit very little) proof that a "Jesus"-type character lived and wandered the Middle East around 2000 years ago. To say he had any sort of "supernatural ability or power" has never been proven by the scientific community and I dare say it never will. Having said that.....the miraculous, Pecos Bill-like tales must be assumed to have been created by the spin doctors of the day, likely in the interest of "controlling the masses", similar to the methods all countries and religious sects control their minions today.

My point is, how can anyone say (without a doubt) that any of Mel's movie is true, or realistic, except perhaps in regards to the methods of torture the Romans and Jews utilized. Remember the two common thieves on either side of Jesus at Calvary? They were "nailed" to a cross as well, proving it wasn't a form of punishment reserved only for Jesus, but all non-conformists. Now, while this "Jesus" character was presumably not a thief, he was a thorn (sword) in the side of the Roman political hierarchy, or at the very least, in their possibly flawed perspective, a major nuisance.

(The word Biblical word for "thief" in the original could also translate as "insurrgent"--the relevance being the event at Calvary could've been entirely political. BTW, in most scenarios, the two "thieves" (insurrgents, whatever) are pictured as being tied to the cross, not nailed, which is consistent with Gibson's scene of same. They were left to die of asphyxiation. Jesus was nailed to increase his suffering and humiliation and, presumably, hasten his death.

Of course, this must be separated from dozens of other accounts, all coming from the same era or earlier, of crucified saviors of various religious sects, born of virgins and sent to redeem us, i.e., Zarathushtri (Zoroastrianism), Mithra (Mithraism), etc., etc... ---N)

The Oscars
NZ is crazy with Oscar fever....and it's no wonder, considering that LOTR and Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider) were nominees.

Although I didn't expect Castle-Huhes to win an Oscar (tho she is quite talented), to see LOTR walk away with elven, er, ahh...I mean, eleven pieces o' the golden booty, it's great to see a (formerly known as) "fringe" or "indie" filmaker become Hollywood's Golden Boy, and even nicer to see Spielberg (Steven) present it to PJ.

Altho I haven't seen "Monster" with Charlize Theron, I have always like her work in the past. I have seen (thanks to the Academy Awards show) a mini-trailer and the normally beautiful babe....looked just like Aieleen Wournos. I was amazed at the resemblance. The fact that she didn't wear a fatsuit was amazing as well.

I can't deny that Sean Penn deserved the Best Actor Award.....he seems to have a penchant for picking the right roles, including his character from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High", Sam I Am, Colors, Dead Man Walking and many more.

I always thought that Bill Murray was a decent dramatic actor, ever since "Larger Than Life" and "The Razor's Edge", altho admittedly I went expecting some humor....simply because he's a funny dude. Remember, "He-looo, Mrs. Loobner"?

I was hoping to see a Best Achievement in Makeup Award for Seabiscuit and/or The Last Samurai.....if only because it would be great to see Corey [Castellano] accept an award and thanking his Mom, Dad, Wife and.....Crazed Fanboy for support!

Boy. Can Mike (Smith) call 'em or what? Makes me wonder if the Academy calls him to ask for his opinion. I can't compete with that kind've talent.

As they say here in New Zealand......"Good on Ya, Mate!"

-Steve Beasley
(Reporting from Middle Earth)


Terence (Lettercol):
"I did include New Wave bands: XTC, Echo and the Bunnymen."
*Whew!* Terence went easy on me - this time. Felt like I dodged a bullet. Yes, I did notice the inclusion of New Wave bands in your 3-part column on "The Greatest Albums of the '80s", although I don't regard Echo and XTC as "New Wavy" as Men Without Hats or Devo. Guess we'd be getting into semantics here.

"But Andy, just one question: since when did fans of indie-rock, punk, real New Wave, and so called post-modern men have pony tails?"
If you take a mental trip back in time to 1988/'89 (God, those years make me groan) you'll recall the college radio crowd did frequently sport ponytails (guess it was influenced by "Miami Vice"). Don't you remember? Typically, and this is not a put-down, the college radio crowd liked the same bands you listed in your article and similar bands: Meat Puppets, Camper Van Beethoven, Dead Milkmen, Dinosaur Jr., etc.

"Oh, and you and me actually agree on something: Yes is a great band -- well, at least that three run of albums they had in the 70s--The Yes Album, Fragile, and Close to the Edge."
Where was "Tales from Topographic Oceans" on that list? Man, Yes was great Dungeons & Dragons background music in 1980.

The Splash Page: Cutting Kurt Cobain a Break
You'd better leave on the first coach out of town, Brandon, 'cos Terence is gonna be a-huntin' you down for those "Pixies" comments!!! There are some oddservations I'd like to agree and disagree with you on:

  • As much at odds the New Wavers and Metalheads were back in the '80s, they now find themselves in the same boat: their/our music has been eclipsed by other, inferior genres (Justin Timberlake) since the '80s have ended. We agree on that.
  • Yes, drugs and firewater are a constant plague on musicianship, but hey; that's rock & roll. If I want to listen to squeaky-clean angels, I'll run out and buy a Christy Lane or Jessica Simpson album. Give me The Ramones any day. I'm not 100% sure what you meant by bands such as Depeche Mode just being "glorified music videos" - I think you have to give at least Depeche Mode, The Cult, and The Cure more credit than that. Don't forget that the dreaded "grunge" movement of the '90s was of course saturated in drug abuse. Most of the 'idols' of that time have fallen by the wayside - Kurt Cobain, the guy from Alice in Chains, and the guy from Stone Temple Pilots either burned out or have turned their brains into mashed potatoes.
  • I simply cannot agree that "alternative" is meant to signify teenage angst and anti-establishment commentary. Were that true, how do you explain artists such as ABC, Spandau Ballet, and Ultravox, who were alternative, but at the same time New Romantic? "Alternative" encompasses more than just punk, grunge, and "scummier" types of rock & roll. "Nirvana" were born out of the Punk and Post-Modern movements of the '70s/'80s; they obviously were not influenced by the likes of Duran Duran.
  • I agree that U2 and R.E.M. have been the very best bands to come out of the '80s. They are so incredibly good that I consider them God-like figures. To a lesser (but close) degree, Simple Minds, Big Country, China Crisis, ABC, and The Human League have maintained a great body of work throughout the '90s into today's mad world. Simple Minds' 1999 CD "Neapolis" is a near-masterpiece, and IMO is their third-best album, following "Sparkle in the Rain" and "New Gold Dream". Their 2001 cover album "Neon Lights" was a winner too. I have yet to hear Simple Minds newest, 2002's "Cry" in its entirety. Big Country remained extremely prolific before the death of Stuart Adamson, creating excellent CD's in the '90s, such as the "Buffalo Skinners" and "Why the Long Face". ABC suffered a bit from the departure of keyboardist Mark White after their brilliant 1989 CD "Up", but singer Martin Fry forged on, and in 1997 released a great collection of new material called "Skyscraping", which was greatly influenced by Roxy Music. The Chinas released only one studio album in the '90s: 1994's "Warped by Success" which is a solid piece of work, though not quite up to their big record company standards. The League maintained their careers fairly well, releasing "Romanic?" in 1991 (it's been revealed that Atlantic Records wouldn't allow the League to record a studio album from 1987-1990 due to a change in musical direction at that time - those bastards!). On the heels of Romantic was "Octopus" in 1995, which featured the stunning singles "Tell Me When", "One Man in my Heart", and "Never Again" (which included original HL bandmate Jo Callis). Their next CD release would have to wait until 2001, when "Secrets" hit the shelves, scoring the minor hit "All I Ever Wanted". To some, "Old Wave" may have been extinct in throughout the dull '90s, but for the fans it was nice to know bands such as Simple Minds and the League were still around to a lesser degree still creating great music.

B.I.T. (Mike's Rant)
Hilarious! Glad the author calls them what they really are - bums. No PC here, baby!

Nolan's "Passion" Review
Never thought I'd see the day when a movie about Jesus was compared to a snuff film! You "spent 2 hours trying not to vomit"? What kind of Crazed Fanboy are you? You'd think that years of watching the likes of "Make Them Die Slowly" and "Dr. Butcher M.D." would have prepared you for some onscreen violence (LOL). Actually, I don't know if Nolan is an exploitation fan; I'm just guessing. (You of all people should know better---OF COURSE I'm an exploitation fan, but not to the exclusion of all else! "Passion" has nothing in common with the films you mention, or even your own film, "Filthy". Those are fun-gross in an entertaining way. "Passion" is just gross.--Nolan)

Happy Birthday to Will Moriaty!   (He says, "thanks!"---N)

Andy Lalino

To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com.  Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan

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