THE ACT OF HAVING A DISCUSSION seems to have become a lost art. So much of the news I have seen contains arguments and violence instead of rational and calm discussions of one’s differences. A recent news report covered a fight that happened in a subway between a passenger and street musician. The details of their argument were not listed; however, whatever it was I cannot believe it was something so intense that it caused the two people to resort to physically fighting each other; one using a pocketknife and the other their guitar. The fight took place on a train platform in the middle of the day with passengers walking right by them. I cannot even imagine something like that taking place, but it did. The news reports I find the most tragic are the ones where an argument took place between family members, where one member out of anger kills the other family member. Without being too graphic, in the past few months I have read reports about a son stabbing his mother to death, a father shooting his son and a brother running over his older brother with the family car, just to name a few. The world is becoming scarier and scarier. IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME TO learn how to have an argument without attaching emotions to it. For years I thought the way to win an argument was to have a louder voice than your opponent. If you added profanity to the conversation it would help your cause. For years, I would take anyone’s disagreement with me as a personal affront and immediately go on the attack against them. I did not hold anything back except one thing; I never turned the fight into a physical altercation. My evolution into staying calm and respectful started with a close friend who was a facilitator of a “self-help” organization. She taught me how to keep the negativity out of a discussion by using the word “I” instead of “you.” This may sound trite, but it made a world of difference for me. That change allowed me to stop coming across as the accuser; instead, I started talking about how I felt based on the actions of my opponent. There was no need for name calling or raising my voice any longer; I simply expressed how I was feeling, and it caused the other person to lose their defenses because they were no longer under attack by me. I now can appreciate a “good” argument which explains why I enjoyed watching the two main characters in this biographical, comedic drama. DESPITE THEIR POSITIONS WITHIN THE CATHOLIC church, the differences between Pope Benedict and Cardinal Bergoglio, played by Anthony Hopkins (Thor franchise, Hitchcock) and Jonathan Pryce (The Wife, G. I. Joe franchise), could have a monumental effect on the direction of the church and its followers. The two men would struggle as they had to confront their pasts. With Juan Minujin (Focus, An Unexpected Love-TV movie) as a younger Jorge Bergoglio, Cristina Banegas (Clandestine Childhood, Killer Women-TV) as Lisabetta and Sidney Cole (Felicia’s Journey, Common People) as Cardinal Turkson; this film festival winner succeeded due to the acting skills of Anthony and Jonathan. They were so convincing to me that I started to forget they were actors. I know the movie was inspired by true events, but I wondered how much of what I was watching was true. Though, since this event happened in my lifetime there was the curiosity factor that played to this film’s advantage. The jumping back and forth in time was disruptive and may have contributed to the slowness I experienced at times. Still, I found the subject interesting and I appreciated watching two people having a discussion.
Looking back in history, it seems as if religion usually played a role in war. At least that has been my belief. Without any prior knowledge I was shocked I had never heard of the Cristeros War (1926-1929), that took place in Mexico. Simply put, this was a war against the Catholic Church. Mexico’s secular government was led by President Plutarco Elias Calles, played by Ruben Blades (Safe House, The Devil’s Own), who essentially declared war on the Catholic Church with the help of the government he set up. For example, church property could now be seized whenever the administration saw fit. There was a ban on all religious orders besides the elimination of any foreign born priests–even if it meant killing them. Civil war broke out led by Catholic rebels called Cristeros, Christ fighters. To solidify their ranks and become more like a disciplined army, the Cristeros enlisted the help of war hero Enrique Gorostieta Velarde, played by Andy Garcia (City Island, Smokin’ Aces). I felt the writers did a disservice to this historical based film. With this chapter already played out in Mexico’s past, the writing should have only elevated the dramatic moments or bridge the gap between story lines. Clocking in at 2 hours and 25 minutes, the movie was way too long, much in need of some serious editing. It would have given several parts more impact. A surprise to me was Andy Garcia’s poor acting; I expected better from him. What a shame to take a David and Goliath type of story and turn it into a mediocre soap opera. This movie had several graphic scenes.
1 3/4 stars