Tag Archives: Priest

Oslo: Fleabag’s Andrew ‘Hot Priest’ Scott’s chilly political drama hits SoHo

Oslo (R16, 113mins) Directed by Bartlett Sher ***½

Two years of multi-national negotiations have achieved nothing.

Trapped in a process incapable of building trust, the Israeli government and Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) officials cannot find common ground, in order to end their increasingly deadly conflict.

But while much of the rest of the world has seemingly washed their hands of the pair’s inability to end the cycle of violence and enmity, two Norwegians believe they can help find a solution. Having witnessed first-hand events in the Middle-East during postings there, married diplomats Mona Juul (Ruth Wilson) and Terje Rød-Larsen (Andrew Scott) believe the way forward is to facilitate intimate discussions between people from both sides.

 

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However, with the Israelis having declared it against the law for anyone from their government to meet with the PLO, initial meetings need to be held in secret and using other members of “the small country’s intelligentsia”. Yair Hirschfeld (Dov Glickman) is a professor of economics who sees many benefits in a negotiated peace and, after an initial London-based chat with the PLO’s Ahmed Queri (Slim Daw) goes well, Juul and Rød-Larsen decide to up the ante, by inviting them both and others to an informal summit at a remote country house near Oslo.

There are those within the couple’s own government though, who believe their optimism is foolhardy and their goal simply unachievable. “In the last few years, the Berlin War has fallen, Russia has broken up, what better time to attempt the impossible?” Rød-Larsen retorts.

chilly political drama hits SoHo
Supplied

Andrew Scott plays Terje Rød-Larsen in Oslo.

While the prospect of near two hours of “drama” focused around real-life conflict resolution and political negotiations from almost 30 years ago may fill many a potential viewer with dread, Oslo manages to skilfully wring plenty of compelling tension out of the premise.

Of course, it helps that screenwriter J.T. Rogers’ tale was already a Tony Award-winning play. Like Peter Morgan’s Frost/Nixon, this does a great job of re-creating the stage version’s tensest and thought-provoking moments, while attempting to craft something more cinematic.

Director Bartlett Sher is best known for capturing Met Opera productions and there are certainly some eye-catching and well choreographed scenes, while the production design and costuming is top-notch.

Ruth Wilson is Oslo’s Mona Juul.
Supplied

Ruth Wilson is Oslo’s Mona Juul.

 

Not everything gels though, some of the flashbacks to Juul’s time on streets of Gaza feel a little manipulative and forced, while the shared names of significant women in two of the main protagonists lives weirdly reminds one of Batman vs Superman.

Scott (Fleabag’s Hot Priest) and Wilson (The Affair, His Dark Materials) are solid, if unspectacular as the leads, the likes of Daw and Munich’s Igal Nagor (who plays the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ legal advisor) providing most of the verbal fireworks.

Perhaps the true scene-stealer though is Geraldine Alexander’s Toril, the Norwegian house’s cook who manages to defuse increasing tensions via her addictive waffles (having earlier threatened disaster by suggesting putting roast pork on the menu).

Despite not always being truly engrossing, Oslo does manage the impressive feat of making a photocopier jam a moment of almost unbearable intensity.

Oslo debuts on SoHo at 8.30pm on Sunday, July 11. It will be available to stream on Neon from July 17.

Chicago Priest to Be Reinstated After Inquiry Finds Proof of Sex Abuse Lacking

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, an influential Roman Catholic priest who temporarily stepped aside from his parish on the South Side of Chicago in January after he was accused of sexually abusing a minor more than 40 years ago, will be reinstated after an internal investigation found “insufficient reason to suspect” he was guilty, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced on Monday.

In a letter to the Faith Community of St. Sabina, the parish where Father Pfleger is assigned, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich said that the archdiocese’s Independent Review Board and its Office of Child Abuse Investigation and Review, as well as outside investigators, had “conducted a thorough review of the allegations.”

“The Review Board has concluded that there is insufficient reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations,” the cardinal wrote. He said he accepted the decision and would reinstate Father Pfleger to his position as senior pastor at the church beginning June 5.

Father Pfleger, who did not return a telephone message left at his church or an email sent on Monday evening, wrote on Facebook that he was “overjoyed” by the decision to reinstate him after having been removed “because of False Accusations.”

A separate investigation by the Chicago Police Department is continuing. “It is still an open and active investigation,” Steve Rusanov, a spokesman for the department, said in a statement.

The inquiry into Father Pfleger was announced on Jan. 5., after the archdiocese received an allegation that he sexually abused a minor more than 40 years ago. “Allegations are claims that have not been proven as true or false,” Cardinal Cupich wrote at the time. “Therefore, guilt or innocence should not be assumed.”

After the first accuser came forward, two more did, too. The second accuser is the older brother of the first accuser; the third accuser is a man not related to the brothers, according to Eugene Hollander, a lawyer representing all three men.

On Monday, Mr. Hollander said his clients had presented “a staggering amount of evidence” to church investigators. “What do I have to do, produce 10 victims to say they were allegedly abused by Father Pfleger?” he asked.

Father Pfleger has cut a striking figure in four decades at St. Sabina. In 1981, at age 31, he began working in the parish, in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood of Chicago, which has about 2,000 parishioners, most of whom are Black.

His unorthodox approach to activism has drawn widespread attention. He staged sit-in protests at drug paraphernalia shops. He painted over liquor billboards in poor neighborhoods. He paid prostitutes for their time so he could preach to them and help them find a path out of poverty and drug addiction.

In 2008, he was briefly placed on leave after he mocked Hillary Clinton in a sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ, President Barack Obama’s former church. On New Year’s Eve in 2020, he led a silent march in Chicago’s most expensive shopping district to call attention to the more than 750 homicide victims in the city that year.

After the abuse allegations surfaced in January, Father Pfleger agreed to cooperate with investigators and to live away from the parish during the investigation, the cardinal wrote.

At the time, Father Pfleger wrote on Facebook that he was “devastated, hurt and yes angry but I am a person of faith, I Trust God.” He also said church officials had asked him not to speak out, adding: “Pray also for the person, my life is more than a 40 year old accusation, and on that and my Faith I will stand.”

Mr. Hollander said his clients had spoken at length with church investigators. They described details only a person who had visited the pastor’s bedroom would know, he said.

“No one was supposed to be in the bedroom of a priest at a rectory, period,” Mr. Hollander said. “And these brothers were granted access, as well as the other victim, and they can recall all of these details which someone off the street, perhaps a parishioner of St. Sabina, would have no knowledge about that.”

In January, the archdiocese said it reported the allegations against Father Pfleger to the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services and to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Jassen Strokosch, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services, said on Monday that the agency is authorized to investigate allegations only when the victim is a minor at the time the allegation is made. (Mr. Hollander said his clients were all over 18 years of age.)

In February, the department announced that it could not investigate the matter because the people making the accusations against Father Pfleger were adults.

On Monday, a spokesperson for the Cook County state’s attorney said it had not received any information about accusations against Father Pfleger from the police.

In his letter on Monday, Cardinal Cupich said the reinstatement of Father Pfleger would occur in “the next two weeks to prepare himself spiritually and emotionally to return, realizing that these months have taken a great toll on him.”

A telephone message left at the Archdiocese on Monday evening was not immediately returned.

“It’s a difficult day for them to reckon with,” Mr. Hollander said of the three accusers’ reactions to Father Pfleger’s reinstatement. “My clients, on a person level, don’t feel vindicated, but I think they needed to do this to make them feel complete, in order to move on with their lives.”

Author: Azi Paybarah
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News