Friday, December 31, 2004

Joe vs. the Volcano : What a Wonderful Movie!

Here it is December 31, 2004, last day of the year and I am holed up in my post-Christmas messy house with a head cold that sidelined me for the last 48 hours. This happens every year, the sickness after Christmas I mean. It has been a part of my Christmas vacation for as long as I can remember. Must have something to do with my immune system going wacky with all the pre-Christmas stress plus the days of eating cookies and chocolate and raviolis and other yummy holiday foods.

So I walk into the living room and catch the last 10 minutes of John Patrick Shanley's brilliant movie "Joe Vs. The Volcano". You should rush right out and rent or buy it and make it your New Year's Eve entertainment.

This movie is the perfect example of an anti-horror movie that is as exciting, colorful and spiritually cutting as the best of the horror genre. This is the best "story of a soul" movie Hollywood ever produced. I brought it to a Christifideles retreat once to show my example of a perfectly Catholic movie, but I don't think anyone took to it or quite believed me. People had fun watching it but afterwards said "Okay, Rae, now tell us why you wanted us to see that movie."

God bless the Internet. I just googled the title and see that there are some sites devoted to this film and some folks who think of it as I do. Well, not quite as I do. I read a few essays, and the closest I found to my own take on the movie is this essay by Adam Baker where he understands the whole good vs. evil, gaining and losing of one's soul theme. But I still have not read anyone who interprets the three Meg Ryan characters as " three faces of Eve" to Joe's Adam. His relationship to the three of them shows us the classic Catholic understanding of the sacramental working out of the scripture lines "it is for this reason a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife".

I need to write my Joe vs. the Volcano essay on marriage and salvation. It's a dirty job but somebody has to do it. I'm fairly sure that Shanley did not mean the moon to be The Eucharist, but it certainly works perfectly as such.

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