The Jewish Cardinal

The-Jewish-Cardinal-0001.showcase_3Oh, look – a film in which religion is taken seriously. In particular, the way that religion influences a person’s identity, and the way experience influences religion. It’s full of the kind of ecumenical politicking that gives JOB gallstones, but other than that, it’s outstanding Catholic Family Viewing. Very fine performances, especially Aurelien Recoing as John Paul II.


  1. Quin Finnegan says

    Looks fantastic, and I can’t wait to see it. I notice it’s part of the Film Movement series, which deserves some support of its own … that Burrell favorite, Ostrov, also hails from that corner of the cinematic world. Thanks!

    • Matthew Lickona says

      Ostrov is also streaming on Netflix right now, under its English title, The Island. (Unless I’m mixing up my obscure religious titles.) Cubeland Mystic has been telling me to watch it for years, which has left me too terrified to even read the description.

      • He’s right. You should watch it. But don’t read the description.


        • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

          With the exception of one wonderful scene, Ostrov left me entirely cold (so to speak). Well-intentioned, for sure, but it just alienated and bored me.

          A mere ‘de gustibus‘ difference of opinion with Janet, Mr Finnegan, Mr Burrell, and the Cubeland Mystic… or something deeper? I really don’t know, but I’ll be thinking about this.

          • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

            (For what it’s worth: Messrs Finnegan and Burrell have each expressed a — if I recall correctly — pretty deep appreciation for Terence Malick. The only Malick flick I’ve seen is The Tree of Life, and it, exactly like Ostrov, left me entirely alienated and bored, despite the filmmakers’ evident good intentions and technical excellence.)

            • That’s intriguing because I really like Tree of Life, too, and I loved The Thin Red Line, but I didn’t care for Malick’s latest, To the Wonder. We left before the end. And I really disliked his film about Pocahontas, but that’s because I feel pretty strongly that when you are making a film about an historical character, you ought to try to get at least one fact about her life correct. Okay, I’ll admit that he was correct in portraying her as an Indian.

              So, about the difference of opinion, Maclin Horton at Light on Dark Water, after seeing Thin Red Line said,

              “I think a person of decent taste and intelligence could find it either sublime and profound, or pompous and pretentious. I’m in the former category. It’s a Terrence Malick film, and on the basis of the two works of his that I’ve seen, the other being Tree of Life, I think you either give yourself over to his vision, in which case you’ll be of the sublime-and-profound persuasion, or you don’t, in which case you might be tempted to mock.”

              He put himself in the first category. Maybe you’re in the second.

              I’m pretty sure that I watched both ToL and Ostrov on Mr. Burrell’s recommendation.


              • Jonathan Potter says

                I loved Thin Red Line. I thought the airiness of the internal monologue worked beautifully against the backdrop of war. Have yet to see Malick’s last two, but I want to. It’s a shame he let go of The Moviegoer.

                • Jonathan Webb says

                  Thin Red Line was great. I even took my Dad to it, though he fell asleep (I don’t need to see the movie, he thought, I lived it!).

            • The most I’ve seen of Malick is Thin Red Line. Think I was a bored freshman. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It was tiresome.
              That being said, I’m still considering watching To the Wonder and Tree of Life.

  2. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    Looks like Lickona hasn’t given up #JOBtrolling for Lent.

  3. Ugh, the same ecumenical politicking that drove our good monsignor into the arms of the sspx? One week he was grumbling in the sacristy about Francis saying we shouldn’t evangelize to the Jews and then a few weeks later he’s not saying TLM any more.
    I dunno what to say to that. I’ve got no love for the empty chair crowd but we are the one true church after all. Shouldn’t we insist our religion is the place to be?

    • Matthew Lickona says

      No, not that ecumenical politicking. This scale here is very human, even though there are policy questions. I was impressed. Would be glad to hear your impressions.

      • Well you haven’t steered me wrong with your film reviews yet! I’ll put it in the docket.
        That’s what I love about House of Cards and loathe about the Newsroom. The focus on the human aspect more than the policy.
        (on a side note, I see the good Cardinal is French. Fairly recently one of my old college tennis mates was posting something from one “Dieudonné” character. Upon looking him up, turns out he said something to the effect of Auschwitz being the state religion of France today. Maybe there’s something lost in translation there. For good or ill, this element of “policy” will be floating around in my head as I watch the film…)

  4. Did anyone besides Mr. Lickona ever watch this film? I’d be interested in knowing what you thought about it if you did. My husband and I watched it earlier this week, and I’m curious as to it’s accuracy. I thought it was good, but I wasn’t crazy about the portrayal of St. JPII.

    Although I’ve seen Ostrov, I never noticed it was from Film Movement. Their trailers were very interesting, especially one for a film called Hitler’s Children about four descendants of prominent Nazis.


    • Hi Janet,
      What didn’t you like about the portrayal of JPII?

      • You’re supposed to be telling me stuff. 😉

        He came off as a kind of lightweight all the way around. Physically, that actor was not right. And while I know that JPII was a politician, that was not what he was first. First, he was spiritual. And now my husband wants to watch something on my computer.


        • Matthew Lickona says

          I’m curious as to why you say “lightweight.” Because he’s interested in physical fitness? Because he jokes so much? I take your point about the film’s portrayal of JPII’s canny political acumen, but I actually really enjoyed that aspect. Because I didn’t ever get the feeling that the film was portraying him as simply political. To me, he came across as a Catholic and a Pole, fiercely loyal to both faith and country, and yet wise enough to subsume both to his mission as Pontiff. Your mileage may vary, of course. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts.

          • For one thing, I meant actually lightweight. JPII always was very sturdy looking, even into the 90s,and of course I was 27 when he was elected, so I remember that first impression of someone very strong. That actor did not strike me that way at all.

            I didn’t mind that he was interested in physical fitness or that he joked at all. There seemed to me to be almost a silliness to his joking, though, and JPII always–well, it reminds me of The Weight of Glory where Lewis says that our merriment must be of the kind of that of people who have taken each other seriously. Anyway, it might just have been an undigested bit of beef.

            I think I didn’t like that actor.

            Otherwise, I liked the movie very much. I didn’t really know anything about Lustiger except his name, and now I’m curious.


    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

      I haven’t seen The Jewish Cardinal, Janet, but I’m happy to see you. Welcome back!

      • Thank you very much!

        Of course I’ve been posting all that spam.

        Actually, I’ve spent the last several months taking care of my mother who died last Friday–Solemnity of the Assumption. She picked a good day. Her funeral was on her 89th birthday. Now I’m trying to clear out her apartment before the end of the month. So, I haven’t had much time to read anything closely and certainly no time to comment, but I’ve been keeping up a bit through the posts that show up in my email.


        • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

          That is some beautiful timing. Be assured of prayers for your mother, and for you.

          I hope there will be some blessing for you in the process of clearing out that apartment.

          Thanks for ‘fessing up about the spam. I have to admit, it never occurred to me that ‘dentista bromista walmart’, ‘skyrama hack’, or ‘windows 7 loader activator’ might be Janet C. Well played.

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