If you come to Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, his version of how and why the Biblical Great Flood happened, expecting to get a rosy, upbeat telling of the Genesis story with this patriarch and his family as the only decent human beings left on Earth when God decided to wipe the slate (and the planet) clean with more water that has graced the western part of the U.S. in countless years (yes, east-of-Rockies folks, you may not believe it after all of your precipitation, frozen or otherwise, but there are parts of this continent that are drastically in danger of drying up), then you’ll be disappointed—as a good number of more devout Christian commentators than I am have already complained—that your prior knowledge of the early chapters of Genesis is about to be confronted with a telling of this legend that features rock-giants with a strange similarity to Transformers tough guys, no direct word from God on how and why this fluid situation will occur, and a characterization of Noah that’s more like the wrathful Old Testament Creator himself on a bad lumbago day. There are no spoilers to be concerned about regarding the outcome of the deluge (even Aronofsky wouldn’t rewrite it that all humans drowned only to be replaced by alien explorers from The X-Files archives) but the motivations and processes by which it all comes about will have you agreeing with the director that this is no contemporary parallel to The Ten Commandments (which you’ll probably be able to see on TV in a couple of weeks if that’s more your style with scripture-come-to-life on screen). The special effects in Noah are quite impressive, as is the commanding-yet-tortured presence of Russell Crowe in the title role, but be warned that this version of the ark story is catching flack from a lot of directions—despite bringing in solid box-office results before the new Captain America episode chases everything else off the screen—so you might want to at least skim over my detailed review before you decide if this take on what some hold sacred is for you or not. The more I thought about it after seeing it, the more interesting it got.
You’re even more actively forewarned to at least skim over that same review regarding the second installment of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (and you can get my review of Volume I as well if you need to), because this unrated (would easily be a firm NC-17 if it had been submitted for ratings consideration) celluloid confrontation contains a good number of graphic shots of genitals, sexual encounters, and some very off-putting scenes of violence (requested or otherwise) against the main character, Joe, as she continues to explore her previous years of constant quest for orgasms, which prove more elusive for her in these later chapters of her unconventional life. This subject matter is clearly not intended for everyone, but if you’re willing to understand the deep psychological and emotional influences that continue to drive Joe on into situations that are very far from the pornographic intentions that this film (and its predecessor) might be mistaken for, then you should be able to move up from the fascinations of your lower chakras into the higher—and more adult, not “adult” realms—that von Trier is challenging you with here. Obviously, Nymphomaniac isn’t going to get the wide distribution offered to Noah so if you can’t find it in a theater then check the official website link in my Volume II review to explore On Demand options (which will be a lot less stressful than the ones that Joe has to suffer at various times in this film). In that review you’ll also find some briefer comments on Wes Anderson’s wonderfully-wacky new comedy, The Grand Budapest Hotel, with appearances by a platoon of regular Anderson collaborators, along with a short notification about the Romanian film, Child’s Pose, a thinking-person’s powerful drama which is likely to still be available only via On Demand or (soon if not already) on video.
Comments on any of these films are welcome either here, at my blog review site, at Linkedin’s Film Addicts discussions, or sent directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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