Noah

Paramount Pictures

Rated PG-13 for violence, suggestive content and disturbing images

Crowe Portrays Biblical Patriarch in Novel Adaptation of Popular Parable

Anybody with even a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible is undoubtedly familiar with the story of Noah and theArk.That scriptural passage, found in Genesis, revolves around a righteous patriarch recruited by God to build a big boat before the arrival of a flood being meted out as divine punishment for man’s many wicked ways.

Heeding the word of the Lord, he proceeded to construct the mammoth vessel before herding two of each species of animal into the hold. It subsequently rained for 40 days and 40 nights, with water covering the entire Earth’s surface, thereby drowning all of humanity except for his family.

So, until now, the tale of Noah was basically a simple one about God’s decision to completely wipe the planet of sinners and start over. Leave it to Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky (for Black Swan) to come up with a novel and intriguing reinterpretation of the popular parable recasting Noah as a complicated soul wrestling with inner demons during his quest to do the Lord’s bidding ahead of the impending deluge. The movie also has an ecological angle, plus some computer-generated monsters ostensibly designed to holds the kids’ interest.

The film stars Academy Award winner Russell Crowe (for Gladiator) in the title role, and features a talented supporting cast which includes fellow Oscar winners Jennifer Connelly (for A Beautiful Mind) and Anthony Hopkins (for The Silence Of The Lambs), three-time nominee Nick Nolte (for Warrior, Affliction and The Prince Of Tides), as well as Emma Watson and Ray Winstone.

The picture opens with what is essentially a Sunday school lesson, a refresher course about the creation of Adam (Adam Griffith) and Eve (Ariane Rinehart) who begat three sons: Cain, Abel and Seth. The evil one, Cain, slew his sibling Abel, and those descending from Cain’s demon seed continued to do the devil’s work by generally exploiting the planet’s natural resources.

Noah, by contrast, as a son of Seth, learned how to live in harmony with nature. He and his wife (Connelly) raised their sons, Shem (Douglas Booth), Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll) and Ham (Logan Lerman), with the same eco-friendly philosophy.

Eventually, of course, Noah gets his marching orders from God, and the plot thickens when the steady drizzle develops into a never-ending downpour. Suddenly, his nosy neighbors no longer see constructing an ark as such a nutty idea anymore, and it’s going to take a miracle like an army of animatronic angels to keep the desperate hordes from climbing aboard.

Meanwhile, a visibly-anguished Noah agonizes over what’s about to transpire, and consults his sage, berry-imbibing grandfather, Methuselah (Hopkins). But anticipatory survivor’s guilt ain’t about to alter God’s plan one iota.

An alternately introspective and breathtaking biblical epic, every bit cerebral as it is panoramic!

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 138 minutes

 

 

Jews Of Egypt

ArtMattan Productions

Unrated

Middle East Documentary Retraces Roots Of Mass 1956 Exodus

Did you notice that the ascension of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt a few years ago was followed soon thereafter by the torching of churches and the persecution of the Coptic Christians still residing in the country? This development would not be surprising to anyone familiar with the nation’s history, since Jews there had received even worse treatment at the hands of that fundamentalist group starting as far back in 1935.

Brotherhood spokesman Aly Naouito then proclaimed that, “When Jews live somewhere, they spread like cancer, and the economy only belongs to them.” His hateful propaganda campaign went on to accuse all Egyptian Jews of supporting the burgeoning Zionist Movement in neighboringPalestine.

Muslim Brotherhood-inspired anti-Semitism subsequently fomented widespread rage, leading to riots and the razing of synagogues. By 1948, a law had been passed directing Jews to convert to Islam. Those who failed to do so were jailed, lost their homes and businesses, and were pressured to apply for political asylum inEuropeand elsewhere.

In October of 1956, the exodus escalated in the wake of a tripartite attack on an Egyptian port byEngland,FranceandIsrael, ostensibly in response to the nationalization of theSuez Canal. At that juncture, any remaining Jews were stripped of their citizenship, and deported with no passport, nationality or birth certificate.

This harrowing ordeal is recounted in surprising detail via a combination of archival footage and present-day interviews in Jews Of Egypt, a heartbreaking documentary directed by Amir Ramses. Most of the movie’s subjects are aging survivors who had been children when banished many decades ago. Yet, some still bemoan the fact that they remain barred from even visiting the once-beloved homeland where they spent their formative years.

The focus of this fascinating film is not merely the religious tensions in Egypt which unfolded over the course of the first half of the 20th century. The picture devotes just as much attention to the considerable contributions made by Jews to the country’s cultural and industrial development.

A priceless history lesson for anyone interested in understanding the backstory explaining how formerly-tolerantEgyptevolved into the religious state it is today.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

In Arabic and French with subtitles

Running time: 95 minutes

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening March 28, 2014

 

Sabotage (R for sexuality, nudity, drug use, gory violence and pervasive profanity) Action thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the commander of an elite DEA task force which finds itself being taken down one-by-one by a ruthless drug cartel. With Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard, Olivia Williams and Harold Perrineau.

 

Boys Of Abu Ghraib (R for torture, violence, sexuality and pervasive profanity) Unlikely-buddies drama about an American soldier (Luke Moran) stationed in Iraq who befriends a wrongly-accused prison detainee (Omid Abtahi). With Sean Astin, Sara Paxton and John Heard.

 

Breathe In (R for profanity) Home-wrecker drama about a beautiful, British exchange student (Felicity Jones) whose arrival in the States proves problematic when she brings the head (Guy Pearce) of her host family to the brink of breaking his marriage vows. Cast includes Ben Shenkman, Amy Ryan and Kyle MacLachlan.

 

Cesar Chavez (PG-13 for profanity and violence) Reverential biopic pays tribute to the life of the soft-spoken, Chicano labor leader (Michael Pena) who dedicated his career to securing a living wage for migrant farm workers. Supporting cast includes John Malkovich, Rosario Dawson and America Ferrera.

 

Finding Vivian Maier (Unrated) Shutterbug retrospective showcasing the 100,000+ photos shot on the streets ofChicago by an unassuming nanny (1926-2009) who never even developed most of her negatives. Featuring Phil Donahue, Mary Ellen Mark and John Maloof.

 

Hide Your Smiling Faces (Unrated) Atmospheric coming-of-age tale, set in rural America, examining the effect of a friend’s (Ivan Tomic) mysterious death on a couple of carefree young siblings (Ryan Jones and Nathan Varnson). With Colm O’Leary, Thomas Cruz and Christina Starbuck.

 

Locker 13 (R for violence) Supernatural thriller revolving around the overnight janitor (Jason Spisak) at an Old West theme park who finds himself facing a life or death decision after delving into the mysteries surrounding his locker. With Tatyana Ali, Ricky Schroder and Curtis Armstrong.

 

Nothing Without You (Unrated) Crime thriller about a psychiatric patient (Emily Fradenburgh), accused of murder, who enlists the assistance of her court-appointed shrink (Keith McGill) to prove her innocence. Featuring Joshua Loren, Will Crawford and Kate Bringardner.

 

The Raid 2 (R for sexuality, profanity and pervasive graphic violence) Action-oriented sequel, set inJakarta, finds detective Rama (Iko Uwais) now facing a gang of formidable thugs while trying to rid the police department of corruption. With Julie Estelle, Yayan Ruhian and Donny Alamsyah. (In Indonesian with subtitles)

 

Refuge (Unrated) Dysfunctional family drama about a youngster (Krysten Ritter) who does her best to care for herself and her siblings after they’re all abandoned by their parents. Co-starring Brian Geraghty,Logan Huffman and Julie Garrett.

 

Road To The Open (PG for mild epithets and mature themes) Buddy dramedy about a guy (Phillip DeVona) who tries to help his reclusive best friend (Troy McKay) out of a rut by entering the two of them as a doubles team in a national tennis tournament. Support Cast includes Michelle Gunn, Eric Roberts, Judd Nelson and John Schneider.

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