Intellectual Fraud

Intelligent Design

Mega Fix

Movie Reviews

Ron Brown

Popes & Bankers

TWA Flight 800







The film, Stigmata, has something to do with Catholicism. Had its producers made a comparable film about Judaism or the African Methodist Episcopalism, they would have been indicted for a hate crime. Had they made a film half this odious about Islam, the Ayatollah would put a Fatwah on their heads large enough to make the mahajuhdeen sit up and say, “ Salman Who?” But in Hollywood’s multicultural shooting gallery, it remains open season on Roman Catholics.

The weird thing is, I liked the first half of the movie. At the mid-pont, Father Andrew Kiernan, sympathetically underplayed by Gabriel Byrne, even delivers an intelligent denial of Darwinism and scientic naturalism. But then, shazam!--it’s as if the scriptwriter got called home for a family emergency and turned the set over to his his idiot kid brother.

Even from the beginning, though, there was plot trouble a-brewing. Sent a stolen rosary by her unknowing mom, 23 year-old Frankie Paige (Rosanna Arquette) suffers a bloody outbreak of Level IV Stigmata. The result is too much gore too soon, and the creators feel compelled to keep upping the nastiness ante from then on.

Frankie is a mess even before the stigmata strike. Slutty, slovenly, and dumbly atheistic in a bratty kind of way, she has pierced herself so much you’d think she’d barely notice a nail or two. Silly me, I thought the creators saw her as I did: a Real World reject in desperate need of a spiritual pick-me-up, though admittedly old Level IV Stigmata Floyd is rough medicine. Indeed, if bleeding wounds weren’t bad enough, a recently deceased and apparently disgruntled Brazilian priest inhabits her body like an inner-directed Mr. Goodbar.

Enter Father Kiernan, Vatican ghostbuster. Again, for a while, I hoped he might just lead her to a larger understanding through some serious, Going-My-Way sort of quality time, maybe even redeem her whole God-forsaken generation while he was at it.

Hello, Jack! Is anyone home? This is Hollywood, bro.

No, it turns out that Frankie doesn’t need reform after all. The church does. Apparently, the guy inhabiting her body had found an old Gospel alleged to have been written by Jesus himself, though seemingly ghosted by Rod McKuen, given its new age, transcendental goo. This gospel just happens to reveal that the entire Catholic church is a fraud, and that’s just about enough to piss off the proverbial pope.

Desperate to save the church, a Vatican henchmen (Jonathan Pryce) comes to America to exorcise the girl’s demons by, well, strangling her to death. As you might guess, Father Kiernan intervenes, and the two men in priestly garb go at it like a couple of WWF cruiserweights.

Who, one wonders, could have green lighted this absurdity? What could that meeting possibly have been like?

“Do you think the Catholic church will object.”

“No, I can’t see why they would. The priests are no scarier than they were in Elizabeth.. And that was nominated for an Academy Award.”

It may be time to sharpen those pitchforks after all.



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