The Devil and Father Amorth: Witnessing “the Vatican Exorcist” at Work

William Friedkin (yes, the director of ‘The Exorcist’) , writing for Vanity Fair:

Rosa had no apparent medical symptoms. It was Father Amorth’s belief that her affliction stemmed from a curse brought against her by her brother’s girlfriend, said to be a witch. The brother and his girlfriend were members of a powerful demonic cult, Father Amorth believed.

I sat two feet away from Rosa as her torment became visible. Her family stood against a wall to my right. Father Amorth invited everyone to join him in saying the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary. Then he invoked Saint Joseph, Padre Pio, Father Amantini, and the Blessed Virgin, asking for their protection.

Rosa’s head began to nod involuntarily. Her eyes rolled back, and she fell into a deep trance. Father Amorth spoke in Latin in a loud, clear voice, using the Roman ritual of Paul V, from 1614. He asked the Lord to set her free from demonic infestation. “EXORCIZO DEO IMMUNDISSIMUS SPIRITUS.” (I exorcize, O God, this unclean spirit.)

Rosa’s body began to throb, and she cried out, before falling back into a trance. Father Amorth placed his right hand over her heart. “INFER TIBI LIBERA.” (Set yourself free.)

She lost consciousness. “TIME SATANA INIMICI FIDEM.” (Be afraid of Satan and the enemies of faith.)

Without warning, Rosa began to thrash violently. The five male helpers had all they could do to hold her down. A foam formed at her lips.

I’m not totally sure why this didn’t become one of those articles that everyone passes around for a couple of days on the internet, but it’s crazy interesting and well read and we could all use a distraction right now and I mean, c’mon—it’s William friggen Friedkin writing about actual exorcisms!


A Guy Trained a Machine To "Watch" Blade Runner. Then Things Got Seriously Sci-Fi.

Aja Romano, writing for Vox:

Just a routine example of copyright infringement, right? Not exactly. Warner Bros. had just made a fascinating mistake. Some of the Blade Runner footage — which Warner has since reinstated — wasn't actually Blade Runner footage. Or, rather, it was, but not in any form the world had ever seen.

Instead, it was part of a unique machine-learned encoding project, one that had attempted to reconstruct the classic Philip K. Dick android fable from a pile of disassembled data.

In other words: Warner had just DMCA'd an artificial reconstruction of a film about artificial intelligence being indistinguishable from humans, because it couldn't distinguish between the simulation and the real thing.

I don't understand—couldn't they have picked like, Home Alone? Why Blade Runner, of all the movies for this specific project? Oh, I see:

In other words, using Blade Runner had a deeply symbolic meaning relative to a project involving artificial recreation. "I felt like the first ever film remade by a neural network had to be Blade Runner," Broad told Vox.

Mark this one down in the event that it's the beginning of the end.


Dandekar Makes a Sandwich

Armed with plenty of time on his hands, RK Dandekar, a curmudgeonly retiree with a picky palate, will stop at nothing to find just the right ingredients for the perfect sandwich. A heartfelt, offbeat tale about the perks of aging. Winner, Grand Jury Prize for Short Filmmaking, Indian Film Festival of LA.

There's just something about this short film. I couldn't bring myself to love it, but I couldn't stop watching it, either. By the end, I just wanted to know what other people think. For me, that's successful art.

/via Devour


Nomads of Mongolia

Brandon Li, writing on Vimeo:

Life in Western Mongolia is an adventure. Training eagles to hunt, herding yaks, and racing camels are just a few of the daily activities of the nomadic Kazakh people. I spent a few weeks living with them and experiencing one of the most unique cultures in the world. Saddle up and enjoy the ride.

I made the mistake of watching this amazing short documentary right after ordering a $175 external solid state drive because I’m running out of space on my laptop with how much room my podcast producing software takes up—and I almost immediately began to regret about 90% of my choices in life. But—don’t let that stop you. Incredible work here.

/via Devour


Searching for Signs of Life in the Nirvana-verse

Steven Hyden, writing for Grantland:

Restoring Cobain’s humanity isn’t really about Cobain anyway. It’s about catering to those of us who love Cobain’s music and desperately want to hear it again without automatically thinking of his suicide. If we can just find the right alternate take of “Breed,” captured on some broken-down tape recorder with nonexistent fidelity, maybe we’ll be able to get beyond the baggage and appreciate Nirvana as we once did, with fresh ears and an unself-conscious mind.

I’ve long felt similarly about all of the Nirvana myth-making—end of the day, he’s still dead. That being said, I’m still pretty excited for ‘Montage of Heck.’ 


Paul Thomas Anderson: From a Distance

Jacob T. Swinney, Press Play:

The characters in the films of Paul Thomas Anderson share many similarities. They come from dysfunctional families, they are desperately seeking acceptance, they let their emotions get the best of them, and the list goes on. But a similarity that seems to especially stand out is a sense of isolation. Anderson's characters are adrift, looking for someone or something to connect with in their lonely worlds. This idea is expressed visually through the use of long/extreme long shots. We are often presented with characters lost within the frame, and therefore have trouble connecting with said characters--we become isolated ourselves. Here is a look at Anderson's use of the long/extreme long shot throughout his first six feature films.

His follow-up video should focus on PTA’s unique usage of close-ups. Character faces are always cut-off more than they should be and it always unsettles me—much in the same way the characters in the conversation are unsettled.

Once I find the time to see Inherent Vice, I’ll be writing a review of his career thus far, much in the same manner that I did for Stanley Kubrick.


The Dissolve’s Movie of the Week: 25th Hour

Spike Lee’s 25th Hour was the first movie that, after I watched it, I thought: am I crazy, or was that a terrific movie? It was the first movie I found on my own, took in, thought critically about, and trusted my instinct on. When I found out later on that others thought similarly, I was delighted.

So, of course, I was equally delighted today to see The Dissolve posting a couple of pieces about it. First, from Scott Tobias, we get a thoughtful review/meditation on it, The Ruins and Reckoning of 25th Hour; and second, a conversation between Mike D’Angelo and Tasha Robinson in which they do a great job of hashing out some of the biggest discussion points of the movie.

There’s nothing explicitly spoiler-y about either piece, but I’d recommend having seen the movie before you read them.


Okay, Just One ‘Boyhood Was Robbed’ Post

Dan Kois, Slate:

But sometimes the academy blows it. That’s the epochal travesty. It was an epochal travesty when Citizen Kane lost in 1941. When The Graduate lost in 1967. Cries and Whispers, High Noon, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction. In one truly awful stretch in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the academy blew it four years in a row, as Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T. all somehow lost Best Picture.

And the academy blew it tonight, when Boyhood lost. This one’s an epochal Oscar travesty. This one hurts.

Okay, and just one snarky jab at Birdman—stop calling it a single-cut movie. It had plenty of cuts; they were just hidden.