Da Vinci Code, The

Da Vinci Code Statement by SIGNIS

World Catholic Association for Communication



“Media for a Culture of Peace”



“The Da Vinci Code”: A film which, finally, the Church has little to be concerned about.

Cannes, 17 May 2006 (SIGNIS) – Much ado about very little… Many Christians from different backgrounds and sensibilities were anxious about the release of the film of The Da Vinci Code, directed by Ron Howard.  However, far from being a cinema masterpiece, the film is simply a popular entertainment.  While the early scenes set us on an exciting treasure hunt, the wordiness of the drawn out twists of the later part of the film will disappoint many cinemagoers.

A film is something that no one need be afraid of. It is a personal or a commercial venture. The novel attempted to persuade its readers that some dubious hypotheses and some mumbo-jumbo theories, the film wants rather to please everyone and not upset them too much.  The writers have added quite a number of dialogue exchanges which downplay the more controversial statements of the novel about the Church, the divinity of Jesus, the role of Mary Magdalene and even Opus Dei. 

The media controversy which followed the publication of the novel has led to an enormous impact from the promotion campaigns for the film.  We hope that the Church can benefit from this phenomenon in explaining the theological foundations of faith and the hopes of all Christians.

Further information:



Akeelah still free to teachers




WHAT:           With teachers swarming their local AMC theatres this past weekend and AKEELAH AND THE BEE holding strong in the top ten, AMC Entertainment and Lionsgate are extending the offer for every teacher in the United States to receive one free ticket to the film Friday, May 19 through Thursday, May 25, 2006.  The offer is valid exclusively at all theatres in the AMC system including: Loews Theatres, Star Theatres and Magic Johnson Theatres. 


WHEN:           Friday, May 19 thru Thursday, May 25, 2006

Simply present a school issued ID card and a valid photo ID or a pay stub and a valid photo ID to your local AMC theatre playing the film.

                        (Check local listings for participating theatres.)


WHY:              In an effort to reward teachers at the end of the school year for their hard work and encourage them to see the inspiring education-themed movie AKEELAH AND THE BEE, AMC Entertainment and Lionsgate are extending the unprecedented offer for every teacher in the United States to receive one free ticket to the film.  


A motivating drama, AKEELAH AND THE BEE is the story of Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer), a precocious eleven-year-old girl from south Los Angeles with a gift for words. Despite the objections of her mother Tanya (Angela Bassett), Akeelah enters various spelling contests, for which she is tutored by the forthright Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne); her principal Mr. Welch (Curtis Armstrong) and the proud residents of her neighborhood. Akeelah’s aptitude earns her an opportunity to compete for a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee and in turn unites her neighborhood who witness the courage and inspiration of one amazing little girl. A Lionsgate, 2929 Productions and Starbucks Entertainment Presentation of an Out of the Blue Entertainment and Reactor Films Production in association with Cinema Gypsy Productions, Inc, AKEELAH AND THE BEE was written and directed by Doug Atchison. 

 This is on Sister Rose’s top film list of 2006 so far…

Goal! (The Dream Begins)


Goal! Or Goal! The Dream Begins is a very good film that is filled with the kindness of strangers. It is about a young llegal immigrant to the United States from Mexico who makes his away to soccer (football) stardom with the Newcastle United team in England.


The film opens with the Munez family crossing the border under the cloak of night. They end up in Los Angeles. Ten years later, Santiago’s mother has deserted the family, but his father (the ever-dependable Latino actor Tony Plana), his little brother, and grandmother (Miriam Colon), live respectable, hard-working lives. Santiago works two jobs and plays soccer in whatever his free time he has.


One day Santiago is spotted by a former football (soccer) player and scout from the UK, Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane). He believes in Santiago from the start and gets the promise of an “audition” with the team if Santiago can get himself to Newcastle.


Despite his father’s best efforts and depressing view of his son’s future, Santiago’s grandmother finds a way to get Santiago back to Mexico so he can travel to England legitimately. He arrives, gets to play for Newcastle’s owner and makes a poor showing. When given the chance to play in the reserves for a month, he lies about his asthma, an untruth that comes back to haunt him. He spends a lot of time getting ground into England’s mud.


This is a sport’s film so you pretty much know how it’s going to turn out. Goal! is very timely, too, given the currentdebate about undocumented immigrants from Mexico going so strongly  and the fact that this year’s World Cup competition is fast approaching. The whole issue of immigrant team members is hotly contested in Europe where soccer games (football) is a religion (ritualized by violence; I lived in the UK from 1993 – 1995 and the topic of “football violence” was on the agenda for almost every class from educational psychology to ideology and the media. Why the violence? No one has yet done the research that yields a definitive reason.)


There is no violence in this film at all, however. If anything, it’s about peace in families and being a good person no matter where you are.


Who knows the greatness and genuine humanity that is latent and emerging in our undocumented immigrant population?


Kindness is not only one way in Goal! Gavin Harris (Alessandro Nivola), the bad-boy top paid player of the team, puts in a good word for Santiago and gets him re-instated on the reserve team. The team’s owner (Marcel Iures) is the wisdom character who can see through the faults of his players to their potential for greatness – which he does over and over for Harris. But it is not the owner who saves Harris; nor is it Harris who completely saves Santiago. Santiago does save Harris, however, through an unwise but sacrificial act of friendship (he refuses to name Harris in a public relations disaster for the team and risks his own future.)


A thread of Catholic spirituality runs lightly through the film and contributes to Santiago’s sense of identity and family. Despite his Mexican passport, he always says he is from Los Angeles. His love and respect for his grandmother feels authentic, and makes the audience want to celebrate Abuelitas everywhere. Santiago meets a nurse, Roz, and by the end they seem to have a future together. She, like Santiago, is not into the party scene.


Goal! – whetherlife’s goal, personal goals or the goal to live as a decent human being and contribute to family and society – is the multi-layered theme of this heartfelt film. Danny Cannon (CSI writer and director) directs the film well enough but I would have liked to see more field work during games. David Beckham makes a brief appearance and Stephen Dillane who scouts Santiago and becomes a father-figure to him, gives a performance that makes us want to care about him, as well as Santiago. Kuno Becker, by the way, is a fine actor – and very easy on the eyes.


For all the people out there who complain about Hollywood, get yourselves to this movie, and to Akeela and the Bee as well. There’s so much hype over some movies and these smaller screen gems can sneak into DVD limbo before we get a chance to savor them – if we don’t go to see them. Treat yourself. There are some good movies out there. Remember Whale Rider?


By the way, there are two sequels to Goal! in production.

Da Vinci Code Radio Interview on Sunday

This press release is from Barry Gordon’s office:

Sunday, May 21, from about 3:00 to 3:30 p.m., Sister Rose Pacatte, FSP, of the Pauline Center for Media Studies, in Culver City, CA, will discuss the newly released movie “The Da Vinci Code” and the likewise controversial book “The End of Faith” with Barry Gordon, former candidate for Congress and president of the Screen Actors Guild, on “Barry Gordon From Left Field,” broadcast on KCAA 1050 AM in the Inland Empire of California and webcast throughout the Internet on http://www.kcaaradio.com/. For more information as well as for a podcast of the show that you may listen to or download after airtime, visit http://www.barrygordonfromleftfield.com/.

Mission: Impossible III

In an almost perfect blending of the MI film franchise and the soon-to-be-retired-into-syndication Alias television show, the multi-talented J.J. Abrams delivers another manic-paced adrenalin rushing full-tilt workout thriller without a point. Not that it matters.


For fans who are along just for the ride, what they get is a genuine run-along with the Tom Cruise character Ethan Hunt, who, with his new wife Julia (Katie Holmes look-alike Michelle Monaghan), is threatened by the newly minted Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman as the really bad guy, Owen Davian.


When Ethan is lured back into active duty to the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) to rescue Lindsey (Keri Russell, star of Felicity fame, a show created by Abrams), an agent that Ethan still seems to have feelings for from the days he trained her. Davian is at the center of her kidnapping and Ethan tracks him down at a charity fund-raiser at the Vatican. The search for an artifact called the “Rabbit’s Foot” becomes the axis on which the action pivots.


I think it is interesting that so much of the action takes place in mainland China – the big new audience for U.S. films.


Someone told me that the whole attraction of the original television series was how well the IMF team worked together. But in MI III, we get another new team except for Ving Rhames who returns as Luther. Sure, the team works in a highly choreographed fashion as we would expect but neither the team nor its handler (played by the underappreciated Billy Crudup) or superior (played by the ever-better Lawrence Fishburn – if you have a chance, see him in Akeelah and the Bee) never answer the question: why all the fuss? I think that we never find out is part of the film franchise’s charm (and Alias television show which I like much more) and the lead into the sequel if MI III makes it at the box office. MI was about discovering a traitor agent, MI II was about finding and destroying a potentially devastating disease, and MI III is about a Rabbit’s Foot, a canister with secrets, something like the Rambaldi Artifact of Alias.


All the other reviewers and critics are talking about Tom Cruise so I will take a pass.


This may seem like a short review, but in a film (franchise) like Mission: Impossible III, it’s all about style. If the style IS the content, then it’s about entertainment (or recreation, diversion) for its own sake. This opens up a whole arena for conversation about the role of entertainment (as well as recreation and leisure) in modern life.


Mission: Impossible III is a pointless ride to enjoy – for those who can. Meanwhile, we mourn the passing of Alias, my guilty pleasure for these past five years. I kept expecting Sydney Bristow – Jennifer Garner – to appear in MI:III.


What is it about conspiracy theories and hidden messages hidden in old artifacts (and the Vatican) that so engages us? Enter The Da Vinci Code. I am seeing it at the press screening on Wednesday. Watch this space.


Teachers: Akeelah and the Bee for Free

I just want to pass on the message to all teachers who may read this that if you go to any AMC theater this weekend where Akeelah and the Bee is playing, bring your I.D. and get in for free. The studio, Lionsgate, is offering this as a gift for you.

It is an irresistible film that will validate your dedication to education and offer you support and hope – and an entertaining two hours.