Monday, November 17, 2014

The Exorcist (movie review)

I'd not seen this one since the Philippines, when priests came on TV and told us it was just a movie, which made it worse.  My girlfriend at the time soured on Ouija Boards but warmed up to priests, so impactful was this celluloid-saved scenario.

When it opened to some beautiful call to prayer music, showing scenes in Iraq, where apparently the Christians had found a hell mouth (cite Buffy), that finally made it click for me, why the Catholics felt compelled to invade.

But wait, no, they didn't, that was a Neocon thing, not a drop of pure Christian blood in it, except at the Monster U fringes, with imam-rabbis Falwell & Robertson types flaming them on.  The Pope was against bullying Iraqis in the name of ousting a Noriega type the US had been supporting just prior, in some "balance of terror" you should ask Kissinger about, I'm no authority.  I was in Tehran once, fun place.

Anyway, the girl's mom is a total Georgetown power-nester, a socialite par excellance, the dad gone, with a new loser boyfriend, and a teenage girl hoping to practice some real girl talk.  Mom isn't up to it though and projects this whole shrieking journey on her daughter, while mom sits it out in the mental hospital, doing unspeakable things in her mind with those priests.  It's all a flash back you see.  Mom got better.  That's the uncut version (laugh track), my spin.

So the audience is immediately jealous this mom has servants to boss around and fawning admirers and thinks it probably serves her right her darling daughter is such a potty mouth (like Nixon) who makes salon party social errors beneath those of most socialite amateurs, like peeing on the rug.  Hah hah, mommy doesn't get a Barbie, mommy gets a Chuckie.  [ This is the version where more dolls were used, with the coming-downstairs scene, belly-up on all fours.  Only very athletic girls should even attempt such a thing. ]

The hero-priest is racked with guilt and needs a way out himself.  What better way than down those same steps the loser boyfriend took, the now-famous "Exorcist steps" of Georgetown, one of my favorite necks of the woods, used to visit friends there, had a job there, even lived there for a spell, working for a pro-democracy group while staying with a partisan supporter of same (WDC is riddled with partisans, like Rome in that way).

The main tension in this film is the triangle between a raving mom, doctors, and the church.  The doctors and church are all men, vying for this woman's allegiance and respect.  The church plays especially "hard to get" where exorcisms are concerned as belief in the supernatural is no longer cool except when practiced with true believers (the devil himself the archetypal original-sinner in-self believer).

Today's priests do nuclear physics and teach astronomy and stuff and don't get involved with demonic possession cases.  Leave that to the con artists and filmmakers (symbolized by the movie-fan detective, professionally skeptical of everyone).  On the other hand, they have a reputation to live up to, and so don't want to disappoint when cornered by Satan.  Their profession gains credibility through this work, as it does from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.