Monday, October 23, 2017

Catholic Guilt over BOOGIE NIGHTS

Praised by movie critics and graced with Oscar nominations, it's the film that could've been also known as TERMS OF ENDOWMENT.  Former pop star turned Oscar-nominated actor Mark Wahlberg now hopes that our Heavenly Father forgives him for playing porn star Dirk Diggler in BOOGIE NIGHTS.  I read this Oct. 20th news in The Chicago Tribune.  Personally, I still categorize BOOGIE NIGHTS as one of the top ten best American films of 1997.  Director Paul Thomas Anderson received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, Julianne Moore was an Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress and -- for delivering one of the finest performances of his long movie career -- Burt Reynolds was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.  Director Paul Thomas Anderson showed us that Mark Wahlberg, formerly known as the pop star Marky Mark, was more than just MTV music video eye candy.  He could handle dramatic film material.  He was excellent as the working class young guy in Southern California.  In his home, the air is thick with misery.  He and his father have been emotionally beaten down by his shrew of a mother.  The young guy has an ordinary job in a nightspot kitchen.  He's generously endowed.  Apparently, he can make some cash on the side just by letting men see it.  Like he's a $5 footlong at Subway.  His youth is rather pathetic and the heat of his mother's anger forces him out of the house and into another dysfunctional family.  But this family accepts him and makes him feel special.  He's been discovered by a maker of X-rated movies. The young discovery with the extra large penis gives himself a new name -- and a star is born.  Or porn.  But he will have a rise and fall in a changing area of the movie business.
As The Chicago Tribute reported, Mark Wahlberg was on stage addressing a group of fellow Catholics.  He was onstage in Chicago with Catholic Cardinal Blase Cupich.  Wahlberg was in Chicago to support Cardinal Cupich's effort to draw young people into the church.  Wahlberg remarked, "I just always hope that God is a movie fan and also forgiving, because I've made some poor choices in my past."  He went on to say that BOOGIE NIGHTS is at the top of the list.
Wow, Mark Wahlberg.  How will fellow cast members and the director/screenwriter feel about that statement?  And if the Cardinal and the folks in the audience are strict Catholics, they wouldn't have seen BOOGIE NIGHTS in the first place and would not have gotten a glimpse of what made Dirk Diggler a superstar.
When I was a kid, Mom and Dad would often get The Tidings as they left Sunday mass.  That was the Catholic newspaper for the L.A. archdiocese.  The Tidings always had a list of movies that Catholics could see and a list of movies that were "morally objectionable."  My passion for movies started when I was in grade school, so I paid attention to Hollywood news as fervently as I paid attention to cartoons on TV.  When Billy Wilder's KISS ME, STUPID starring Dean Martin and Kim Novak came out, Catholics were forbidden to see it.  I'll put it like this -- if you went to see KISS ME, STUPID and, when it was over, you got hit and killed by a drunk driver when you were crossing the street, you could go immediately to Hell and possibly be seated next to members of Hitler's Third Reich...just because you saw a Billy Wilder sex comedy.  Mom and Dad seemed to make it a point to see every film based on work by Tennessee Williams because all those movies were "morally objectionable."  I'm proud of them for that.  I'm proud to be Catholic but I am not about to let the Church tell me what film art I can and cannot see.

As for Wahlberg, remember him back in the Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch hip-hop days?  Remember what he started doing onstage?  He'd finish a song and drop his pants, standing in his drawers as a commercial for Calvin Klein underwear.  What about Scorcese's THE DEPARTED, the film that brought Mark Wahlberg an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor of 2006 -- didn't a character hold up a dildo in that crime thriller?  Then there are the comedies that Mark Wahlberg did with a potty-mouth stuffed bear, TED (2012) and TED 2 (2015).  I wonder if Cardinal Cupich saw those.

Mark Wahlberg needs to relax with the Catholic shame, in my opinion.  As an actor, he's got nothing to be ashamed of in BOOGIE NIGHTS.  It's an exceptional film.  I wish I'd had the opportunity to act in a film that good.  If I had, I would've taken my rosary to Sunday mass to say prayers of thanks.
Next month, Mark Wahlberg will be seen in the comedy DADDY'S HOME 2.  He'll star opposite fellow Catholic, Mel Gibson.  They'll play father and son.








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