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.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
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.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
The Clash of the Titans star wed film producer Elkins in 1969, but their marriage was short-lived and the couple split three years later.
Bloom, who reveals infidelity was the cause of the break-up, struggled to overcome the heartache and she admits the celebrated playwright stepped up to console her.
She tells Vanity Fair magazine, "I was horribly depressed when that marriage ended. I knew I had to do something, so I booked myself for a trip to Greece and intended to travel alone, by bus, throughout the country.
"When I told Gore about it on the phone, he promptly decided to come with me - cancelled the whole bus idea and booked cars for us to visit Athens, Delphi and everywhere else I wanted to do. And he was so funny about my terrible husband and his infidelity that by the time the trip was over, my depression had totally lifted."
Vidal passed away last year (12).
Also paying tribute to the late writer in the new issue of Vanity Fair, Susan Sarandon has opened up about how he helped her through pregnancy and childbirth when she became a first-time mum to daughter Eva Amurri.
"I subscribe to the European philosophy my priorities leaning toward wine women and--well actually that's it wine and women. Although women and women is always a fun option." These words of wisdom come from one Alfie Elkins (Jude Law)--a handsome dashing young Brit who has women all over Manhattan sighing his name. Some of those women include in no particular order: a bored housewife (Jane Krakowski) a single mom (Marisa Tomei) a manic depressive (Sienna Miller) a classy older woman (Susan Sarandon) and even his best friend's girlfriend (Nia Long). As Alfie waxes philosophical into the camera about his sexual conquests giving the audience a birds-eye view one wonders if any of this non-committal freewheeling lifestyle truly makes him happy. Maybe at first. But soon the charming lothario finds he has "small cracks in [his] faux finish" as the consequences of his actions begin to mount forcing him to re-evaluate his whole modus operandi. What's it all about indeed.
Alfie's engaging cast of eye candy lead by the beguiling Jude Law certainly help make up for whatever is lacking in the story department. Law easily slips into the Alfie character like a well-worn glove with the disarming smile and oozing charisma. What Law does differently than the original's Michael Caine however is give Alfie sensitivity--even dare I say a heart. The equally dashing Caine played the part fairly aloof but Law whose own obvious warmth can't help but shine through is a far more multifaceted and complicated Alfie--which of course makes him even more irresistible. Please. Even after witnessing his caddish behavior and hearing his innermost thoughts about the women he beds I'd say more the half the female moviegoers would still fall for Law's Alfie in a heartbeat. As far as the women in the film they all add something different and unique--from Tomei's spunkiness to Miller's wounded soul to Sarandon's sophistication--and all seem to have great chemistry with their heartthrob leading man (especially Miller who is Law's real-life love these days). Ah wouldn't we all like the chance?
The 1966 original was considered risqué and controversial for its time. A man who sleeps with a bevy of women without any regards for their feelings casting them aside when he's done certainly wasn't what society was used to in a leading man in the '60s. Nowadays however it's kind of old-hat leaving the updated Alfie antiquated in a way. Director Charles Shyer (Father of the Bride) does what he can to accessorize by beautifully framing his star cast incorporating some fancy camerawork and infusing the proceedings with a rocking soundtrack especially with original songs from Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart. But ultimately Alfie isn't nearly as thought provoking as it desperately wants to be. By using the original's technique of having Alfie break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience expounding on his every move the film tries to draw you in but ends up annoying you more than anything else. Yes we all know womanizing can be cruel and ultimately unfulfilling but Alfie lives in the 21st century for god's sake; he just needs shut his trap and do something about it already.