Bella?

So in my websurfings, I found a link to a blog post about the movie, “Bella.” Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I don’t like chick flicks. If there’s any hint of romance or hurt/comfort (if I may use parlance from the fic world) as central plot issue, it’ll make me snooze. I’d watched the trailer to “Bella,” and, honestly, it didn’t look like anything I’d be interested in, even if it’s being hyped as the next great Catholic movie. And, yes, I realize I will be labeled a Bad Catholic for not wanting to see “Bella.”

So when I found that blog post, I started feeling better–here was someone who knew something about film (and I’m sure she’ll be dismissed as part of the librul academic atheists), and wasn’t impressed with the movie. The fact that others associated with the film’s production cast aspersions on her faith is enough for me to not see it. Nothing in her critique of it is the least bit ad hominem, yet people associated with the film are quick to sling it.

Any good filmmaker would be able to respond intelligently to criticism. Lord knows the ability to take criticism gracefully is something you have to quickly learn in any kind of art program. Plus, being able to respond to criticism clarifies your own point that much further. Responding by saying a critic has deep spiritual problems? Doesn’t say much for one’s film making abilities, there.

I think her post and the reactions to her thoughts illustrate two things about Catholicism these days:

1.) Our political climate is fostering extremism. If you disagree, you’re BAD, when in reality it means nothing more than one disagrees.

2.) Why do we, as Catholics, accept trite pablum for art? Look at the liturgical music produced lately. When’s the last time we had a Flannery O’Connor or a Graham Greene? How about the visual arts? Why is it that everyone sings “On Eagle’s Wings,” but clams up at “Pange lingua” or “Salve regina?” (Personally I think chant is way easier to sing than anything that OCP publishes.) From Palestrina to Pärt, we’ve had a tradition of good liturgical music that can stand on its own as art. Why is it that parishes won’t (or can’t) support a choir and music program so that they can encourage and commission new music?

I have a theory that the decline of music education and role of western art music in society has more to do with the decline of liturgical music than anything Vatican II did. If people aren’t ever exposed to anything which challenges or stretches them, then it’s difficult for them to understand it. There are plenty of composers out there, and not everyone sounds like the modernist composers of the 1950’s. And even if they do, don’t they deserve a chance to bring glory to God?

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~ by Jen on October 26, 2007.

7 Responses to “Bella?”

  1. Why do we, as Catholics, accept trite pablum for art? Psssst…. wanna buy a used copy of the Divine Mercy painting? I’m planning on sneaking in to my church at night and making it disappear!I’m with you 100% on this. My pastor is so keen on decorating our church that he is spending 100s of thousands on cheap painted (instead of good stained) glass. Children’s Bible images in bright colours instead of art and symbolism. It is very disappointing, but what can you say? What can you do?I actually mentioned to him that there was a rather beautiful ICON of the Divine Mercy that I might be prepared to purchase to replace the god-awful giant hippy-Jesus painting (hmmm…. surprising how Polish he looks) that is nailed to the wall of our sanctuary.He didn’t get it. “But someone gave us that picture! We could put your icon in the chapter room.” Uh. No. Missed the point, Father.*sigh*I went to see the trailer — maybe it was the soundtrack attracted people?

  2. *sigh* That’s just it. It’s so ingrained, that people seem unable or unwilling to think critically about that which is presented as art. And that’s really sad. stained glass isn’t that much more expensive…

  3. Unfortunately, such Philistinism is mistaken for the rationale for the Vatican II Council itself. I run into that presupposition all the time.

  4. Of course I’d like to work something in about consumer culture in there, too, but I’ve been reading way too much Adorno lately…I heard some talking head on EWTN the other day say that we shoot root for the Rockies, since they consider character in hiring players. Like I needed an excuse to root for the Sox. 😉 (It’s either that or I’m up a creek with my inlaws.)

  5. I haven’t seen much about the movie, but I did see there was something about it at Insight Scoop. I guess people are more likely to like movies that make them feel good and confirm what they believe …. but there’s no rational excuse for liking painted stained glass 🙂

  6. Garpu,It’s funny, my office is down the hall from Hispanic Languages & Lit Dept, so when all these flyers showed up for Bella, I assumed it was because it was a Mexican production. Now that I think about it, the flyers were actually all over campus. Hmm. . . I didn’t realize there was a Catholic push for the film.I’ve only read two reviews – Stephen Holden’s in the NYT, who was pretty hard on it, and Ebert’s, who was mixed (“It’s not a prfound movie,but it’s not stupid either.”) I can’t say I was impelled to go see it.Why do we, as Catholics, accept trite pablum for art?Because most people do? And most religious people, if they’re in a terrified, us-versus-them-mentality, do even moreso? Not just Catholics. I’ve spent time among Evangelicals as well, and I was consistently disturbed by their high regard for bad art of any kind as long as they felt like it was safe. The Glass Bubble.As you said, “If people aren’t ever exposed to anything which challenges or stretches them, then it’s difficult for them to understand it.”That’s our society overall, no? But then I dwell with poetry, which even most other artists refuse to wrestle with unless they have to. There are plenty of composers out there, and not everyone sounds like the modernist composers of the 1950’s. And even if they do, don’t they deserve a chance to bring glory to God?What a great line. Wonderful. I think a God who created the bizarre race of human beings to begin with can deal with a little atonality. Eric Dolphy used to sit outside and play his sax along with the birds. Can there be a more beautiful image of a musician worshipping the Creator? But try getting someone to listen to his music and see what happens.BTW, I’m also connected with the music dept at the CUNY Graduate Center in NYC – do you know any one in that program? They’ve got some impressive composers on staff and studying there.

  7. Much love for Eric Dolphy. Before I got into composition, I was pretty heavily into avant-garde free jazz. (looooove Trane’s “Live in Seattle”) I’ve spent time among Evangelicals as well, and I was consistently disturbed by their high regard for bad art of any kind as long as they felt like it was safe.See, I think that’s the purpose of good art…it should push boundaries of comfort. I think trite stuff falls into this category as solidly as stuff that tries too hard to be art. As much as I hate “On Eagle’s Wings,” people sing their little hearts out on it. Can’t fault them, if it helps them worship. BTW, I’m also connected with the music dept at the CUNY Graduate Center in NYC – do you know any one in that program?I don’t personally know anyone out there at the moment (been on the west coast since 1997). Good school, though.

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