Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Here's a feat: taking what is likely the oldest, most well-known story in the world, and making a retelling feel inventive. Over the course of its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, Darren Aronofsky's Noah takes many forms — Tolkien-esque fantasy, trippy psychological thriller, merciless dissection of the dark points of abject faith — never feeling too rigidly confined to the parameters of the familiar tale that we've all experienced in the form of bedtime stories, religious education lessons, and vegetable-laden cartoons. As many forms as the parable has taken over the past few thousand years, Aronofsky manages to find a few new takes.
The director's thumbprint is branded boldly on Russell Crowe's Noah, a man who begins his journey as a simple pawn of God and evolves into a dimensional human as tortured as Natalie Portman's ballerina or Jared Leto's smack head. Noah's obsession and crisis: his faith. The peak of the righteous descendant of Seth (that's Adam and Eve's third son — the one who didn't die or bash his brother's head in with a rock), Noah is determined to carry out the heavenly mission imparted upon him via ambiguous, psychedelic visions. God wants him to do something — spoilers: build an ark — and he will do it. No matter what.
No matter what it means to his family, to his lineage, to his fellow man, to the world. He's going to do it. No matter what. The depths to which Aronofsky explores this simple concept — the nature of unmitigated devotion — makes what we all knew as a simplistic A-to-B children's story so gripping. While the throughline is not a far cry from the themes explored in his previous works, the application of his Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan ideas in this movie does not feel like a rehashing. Experiencing such modern, humane ideas in biblical epic is, in fact, a thrill-ride.
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Although Aronofsky accesses some highly guttural stuff inside of his title character, he lets whimsy and imagination take hold of the world outside of him. Jumping headfirst into the fantastical, the director lines his magical realm with rock monsters — "Watcher" angels encased in Earth-anchored prisons as punishment for their betrayal of God — and a variety of fauna that range in innovation from your traditional white dove to some kind of horned, scaled dog bastardization.
But the most winning elements of Noah, and easily the most surprising, come when Aronofsky goes cosmic. He jumps beyond the literal to send us coursing through eons to watch the creation of God's universe, matter exploding from oblivion, a line of creatures evolving (in earnest) into one another as the planet progresses to the point at which we meet our tortured seafarer. Aronofsky's imagination, his aptitude as a cinematic magician, peak (not just in terms of the film, but in terms of his career) in these scenes.
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With all this propped against the stark humanity of his story — not just in terms of Crowe's existential spiral, but in character beats like grandfather Methuselah's relationship with the youngsters, in little Ham's playful teasing of his new rock monster pet — Aronofsky manages something we never could have anticipated from Noah. It's scientific, cathartic, humane. Impressively, this age-old tale, here, is new. And beyond that feat, it's a pretty winning spin.
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Director Lynne Ramsay has reached a legal settlement with producers behind Natalie Portman's new western Jane Got A Gun after quitting the project on the eve of filming. Production was thrown into chaos last March (13) after the Scot abruptly walked away from the movie, forcing executives to delay the shoot.
Film bosses, led by Scott Steinfdorff, filed suit against Ramsay in November (13), accusing her of breach of contract and fraud, after taking a $750,000 (£468,750) payment for a job she didn't complete, but the two parties have since reached a deal to avoid going to court.
A joint statement obtained by ScreenDaily.com reads: "Jane Got a Gun Production LLC and Lynne Ramsay announce the pending civil action and all other disputes between the parties associated with Jane Got a Gun Motion Picture have been resolved privately and to their mutual satisfaction."
Details of the agreement have not been revealed.
The We Need to Talk About Kevin director was subsequently replaced by Gavin O'Connor.
Ramsay's exit wasn't the only drama surrounding the movie - Michael Fassbender was replaced by Jude Law, who was in turn replaced by Bradley Cooper, who exited the film last May (13).
Original stars Portman and Joel Edgerton were eventually joined by Ewan McGregor when filming got underway last summer (13).
Jerry Seinfeld appeared at the Kennedy Center in Washington on Saturday and hinted at the possibility of a Seinfeld reunion during a question-and-answer session at the end of the show, The Washington Post reports. "It's a definite possibility," he said. Seinfeld added that a reunion could even be called likely once the careers of all four stars are down the drain. Former Seinfeld co-stars Jason Alexander and Michael Richards have each bombed in their respective sitcoms, while Julia Louis-Dreyfus has a new show in the works for NBC. "Two down and two to go," the comedian said.
Lynne Spears, Britney's mom, tells all about Christmas at the Spears house on her daughter's official Web site. According to Lynne, Britney visited Justin at his home in Memphis, but came home Christmas Eve, and stayed through the holidays. She also mentions that Britney and her brother Bryan threw a New Year's Eve party in Greenwich Village, which she refers to as "the Village section of New York."
Only 11 of the 19 winners showed up to collect their honors at the first American Film Institute Awards in Beverly Hills on Saturday, The Associated Press reports. Director Robert Altman and actors Denzel Washington, Gene Hackman, Jennifer Connelly, Judy Davis and James Gandolfini were no-shows. The only actor present was Sissy Spacek, who won best actress for In the Bedroom.
Tom Hanks has been named chairman of the newly formed award screening committee for the Academy of Motion Pictures & Sciences that will decide the three finalists for the animated feature category, People reports. Hanks' duties will include arranging screenings and serving as a go-between between the short film and feature animation branches of the organization.
French designer Yves Saint Laurent, 65, announced Monday at his salon in Paris that he was retiring, Reuters reports. Though his departure will not mean the end of the label, it may signal the end of his tailoring activities for the ready-to-wear collection. In 1999 Italy's Gucci Group acquired the label and proceeded to do a full revamp. Though Saint Laurent remained in charge of the haute couture collections, fashion insiders said he took an immediate dislike to designer Tom Ford and his team of commercially minded executives and felt increasingly isolated from the industry.
Moby is fine, thanks, at least according to a message left on his Web site. The dance and techno musician was apparently bitten by an alley cat in New York City's Chinatown and was forced to visit the emergency room at Beth-Israel Hospital. "I appreciate and practice homeopathy and traditional medicines, but when you've got feline dumpster bacteria running around your bloodstream you suddenly become very fond of good old Western medicine and its arsenal of antibiotics," he said.
Prince Edward has once again infuriated his older brother Prince Charles by asking him to partake in a television documentary about his love life, Reuters reports. Edward, who runs Britain's Ardent television company, is reportedly making a program about his brother's failed marriage to Princess Diana and his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.
Rentals of home videos and DVDs are up 2.1 percent from 2000 and topped $8.42 billion in 2001. More rental outlets and the rapidly growing popularity of new DVDs have helped push revenues from the home video market over the 2001 film box office total of $8.35 billion, Reuters reports.
Leni Riefenstahl, the German filmmaker who was blacklisted in 1954 because of her work for the Third Reich, plans to release a new movie this year, Reuters reports. Underwater Impressions will be a compilation of footage from more than 2,000 scuba dives she made in the Indian Ocean between 1974 and 2000 and will premiere on her 100th birthday in August. Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, a powerful documentary of the 1934 Nazi party rally in Nuremberg, was criticized for helping establish Adolf Hitler's image as an all-powerful leader.