George Clooney’s ‘Catch-22’ reflects on ‘insanity’ of war

Grant Heslov, from left, George Clooney, Christopher Abbott, Kyle Chandler, Ellen Kuras and Luke Davies participate in the "Catch-22" panel during the Hulu presentation at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour at The Langham Huntington on Feb. 11, 2019, in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
Updated 12 February 2019
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George Clooney’s ‘Catch-22’ reflects on ‘insanity’ of war

PASADENA, California: George Clooney, who returns to TV for the first time in 20 years with an adaptation of the classic novel “Catch-22,” said on Monday the Hulu series set in World War II aims to tell a timeless story about the “insanity” of war.
At a preview for reporters, Clooney said he initially resisted the idea of taking on Joseph Heller’s 1961 book about member of a US bomber squadron fighting the higher-ups in the military bureaucracy.
“It’s a beloved novel,” Clooney, who also served as executive producer and directed two episodes, said at a Television Critics Association event. “I didn’t want to get into the middle of that.”
He said he was drawn in because the writers “did an amazing job unspooling these characters” for the six-episode series that will be released on Hulu on May 17.
That allows the series to expand on Heller’s story, which Clooney said was meant “to make fun of all the red tape and bureaucracy of war and the ridiculousness of war.”
“I think it still plays,” he added. “All of us spend our days and nights worrying about those situations. This story is just reflecting on the insanity of it.”
“Catch-22” follows a US bombardier named Yossarian who is infuriated that the army keeps raising the number of missions he must fly to be released from duty. Yossarian’s only way to avoid the missions is to declare insanity, but the only way to prove insanity is a willingness to embark on more of the highly dangerous bombing runs, thus creating the novel’s absurd ‘catch-22.’
It was made into a 1970 movie directed by Mike Nichols with Alan Arkin as Yossarian.
“I think we all wake up every morning these days in this kind of shared global anxiety condition, and this novel is a beautiful distillation, or a prophetic distillation of that,” said co-writer Luke Davies.
Christopher Abbott stars as Yossarian and Kyle Chandler plays his commander, Col. Cathcart. Clooney originally planned to play Cathcart but instead took a supporting role as training commander Scheisskopf.
Clooney, 57, last appeared on television 20 years ago as Dr. Doug Ross in hit medical drama “ER.” He then built a successful film career with movies including “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Gravity” and “Up in the Air.”
The actor said he was happy to come back to television.
“I don’t care about the medium,” Clooney said. “I just care about the quality of the work and what we’re able to do.”


Extreme Easter: Flogging, crucifixions in Philippines

Updated 4 min 41 sec ago
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Extreme Easter: Flogging, crucifixions in Philippines

SAN FERNANDO, Philippines: Hundreds of barefoot men beat themselves with flails and at least 10 were to be nailed onto crosses throughout Good Friday in a blood-soaked display of religious fervor in the Philippines.
Frowned upon by the Church, the ritual crucifixions and self-flagellation are extreme affirmations of faith peformed every Easter in Asia’s Catholic outpost.
Barefoot men wearing crowns of twigs walked silently on the side of a village road in the scorching tropical heat of the northern Philippines, flogging their backs with bamboo strips tied to a length of rope.
While many of the 80 million Filipino Catholics spend Good Friday at church or with family, others go to these extreme lengths to atone for sins or seek divine intervention in a spectacle that has become a major tourist attraction.
“This is a religious vow. I will do this every year for as long as I am able,” 38-year-old truck driver Resty David, who has been self-flagellating for half his life at his village in the northern Philippines, told AFP.
He said he also hoped it would convince God to cure his cancer-stricken brother.
Blood and sweat soaked through the penitents’ pants with some spectators grimacing with each strike of the lash.
Some hid behind their companions to avoid the splatter of gore and ripped flesh.
Many in the crowds had driven for hours to witness the frenzied climax of the day’s gory spectacle, when believers allow themselves to be nailed to crosses in a re-enactment the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
“I’m a little bit overwhelmed. It’s very intense, I haven’t expected something like this,” German tourist Annika Ehlers, 24, told AFP.
Ehlers said she had witnessed the first of 10 scheduled crucifixions during the day in villages around the city of San Fernando, about 70 kilometers (40) miles) north of Manila.
Eight centimeter (three-inch) spikes are driven through both the man’s hands and feet before the wooden cross is raised briefly for the crowds to see. After that the nails are pulled out and he is given medical treatment.
The Church says the faithful should spend Lent in quiet prayer and reflection.
“The crucifixion and death of Jesus are more than enough to redeem humanity from the effects of sins. They are once in a lifetime events that need not be repeated,” Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines official Father Jerome Secillano said.
“Holy Week.... is not the time to showcase man’s propensity for entertainment and Pharisaical tendencies,” he added.
Nearly 80 percent of people in the Philippines are Catholic, a legacy of the nation’s 300 years of Spanish colonial rule that ended at the turn of the 20th century.