Review: The Two Popes

By John Ruberry

“I’m not familiar with this part of the garden,” Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) tells Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) as they enter an area overrun by brush and deadwood in The Two Popes. Benedict then asks the Argentinian, “Which way?”

That garden, at the Vatican’s Palace of Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome, could rightly be called Benedict’s garden, as he was the Pope. Yet Benedict asks the man who ends up as his successor, Bergoglio, who became Pope Francis in 2013, for direction. Oops, I mean directions.

Clearly the scriptwriters and the director of The Two Popes favor the liberal leadership under Francis–the garden scene neatly ties up that sentiment in a bow.

Later, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio decries inequality, repeated images of ugly walls are shown.

The Two Popes is largely fictionalized story centered on the theological divide between the 265th and the 266th pontiffs. After a limited theatrical release, including a showing at the Chicago International Film Festival, which was sold out, preventing Mrs. Marathon Pundit from seeing it, the film debuted Friday on Netflix. The Two Popes is worth seeing, whether you are a Catholic or not, or a believer or not. The Welshmen in the lead roles, Hopkins and Pryce, provide superb performances. Of course Hopkins’ career has been justifiably rewarded, including gaining four Academy Award nominations, and winning the Best Actor Oscar for his role as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Amazingly, despite stellar work in such movies as Something Wicked This Way Comes, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Pryce has never been honored with an Academy Award nomination. He deserves it for his performance as Francis, but my guess is that the Academy will overlook Pryce again.

The interplay–and the arguing–is what keeps The Two Popes going.

As for the fiction, there is plenty of it here. There were no long meetings between Benedict and Bergoglio; the catalyst for their movie summit was an offer of resignation from the cardinal, which is harshly rejected as a challenge to Benedict’s authority. The future Pope Francis turned 75 in 2011, it is customary for archbishops to retire at that age. It can be assumed that the pair never discussed the Beatles or their Abbey Road album. And it’s quite likely that Benedict’s favorite television show is not Kommisar Rex, an Austrian detective program where a German shepherd solves crimes. This sidetrack is probably a sly reference to Cardinal Ratzinger’s long term as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican under John Paul II, where he picked up the nickname “God’s Rottweiler.”

There are numerous flashback scenes involving Francis, including his early romance, his call to the priesthood, his muddled legacy from Argentina’s “Dirty War,” his rise, then fall, and his rise again within the Argentine Catholic Church. 

In the garden walk scene, Bergoglio condemns Benedict’s handling of the pedophile crisis within the priesthood, which included confession of the guilty–he calls it “magic words.” Benedict’s retort is harsh and telling, “Magic words, is that how you describe the sacrament?”

The Two Popes gives viewers plenty to think about. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Woke vs UnWoke Crime and Punishment

In Iowa last week a most extraordinary jail sentence was passed down.

Despite confessing to the crime on camera, Martinez pleaded not guilty and took the case to trial, where a jury convicted him. This pleased the church’s pastor, Eileen Gibbie, who told the Des Moines Register, “I often experienced Ames as not being as progressive as many people believe it is, and there still is a very large closeted queer community here. But 12 people that I don’t know, who have no investment in me or this congregation, said this man committed a crime and it was crime born of bigotry and hatred.”

This “crime born of hatred” was the burning of a rainbow flag that he stole from the Pastor’s church.

I’m not a fan of theft nor arson but I suspect that if Adolfo Martinez had stolen a American Flag from a Knights of Columbus Chapter and burned it the ACLU would be all over this case defending the burning of the US flag as his right of free expression and calling this sentence of travesty.

Instead the ACLU is silent as he is sentenced to more than double the six years that Donald Thurman was given for armed robbery.

What, you don’t know who Donald Thurman is? Well he is a young man who was released on parole a year ago after serving two year of a six year sentence for armed robbery and then did this:

Donald Thurman is a 26-year-old Chicago man who has been charged in the murder and sexual assault of University of Illinois at Chicago student Ruth George. The 19-year-old UIC student was raped and strangled in her own car in a university parking garage, police said.

Thurman followed George into the garage and then sexually assaulted and killed George because he was angry that she ignored his catcalls, prosecutors said in court, according to The Associated Press.

Thurman was taken into custody not long after George was found dead on Saturday, November 23. UIC Police identified Thurman as the suspect

The fact that you likely haven’t heard of this crime leaves Robert Stacy McCain perplexed:

Given how often feminists have expressed concern about “violence against women,” and considering how loudly feminists insist that sexual assault on university campuses is a problem deserving national attention, you might suppose that feminists would have mentioned this crime. And yet they remain strangely silent about it, for some reason.

Poor Miss George, if only Mr. Thurman had stolen and burned a rainbow flag instead of merely committing armed robbery he might have gotten a sentence long enough so that her family could have enjoyed her company at Christmas instead of mourning her death.

Alas we live in an era so woke that if a Billionaire Author who was once on welfare tweets that a woman shouldn’t be fired for asserting biological reality she must be ostracized so unless you have the right victim and the right perp some crimes are not only unworthy of national attention but are, unfortunately for Miss George and her family, unworthy of decade long sentences.

This incidentally will continue as long as we permit it