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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It’s been a couple of weeks since Amanda (Margarita Levieva) met her shocking end on Revenge, and when the show returns with tonight’s new episode, "Retribution," we’ll see our favorite Hamptonites grieving in their own way. While we already know that her widower Jack (Nick Wechsler) is out for blood, he isn’t the only one facing a tough, dark path in the wake of Amanda’s death.
Ever since Charlotte (Christa B. Allen) found out she was David Clarke’s daughter and the half-sister of Amanda, she's enjoyed a special bond with her "sister." So besides Jack, Charlotte is affected the most by Amanda’s death. "We saw Charlotte lose her mind a bit in Season 1, and I think we might be heading a bit in that direction again," Allen says. "She’s losing it. It’s going to manifest itself in a bit of violence."
And of course Charlotte’s mental descent is going to affect her boyfriend Declan (Connor Paolo), who already has enough on his plate with trying to help his brother. "Declan had really grown to care about Amanda," Paolo says. "She was the mother of his nephew. Things come to light through their own fractured way about who Jack and Declan think is responsible for what’s happened, [and that] changes things as well." Could they possibly find out that Conrad Grayson (Henry Czerny) gave the orders to kill Amanda?
While that remains a mystery for now, Czerny was eager to reveal how Amanda's death will affect Revenge as a whole. "It gets better. It gets deeper," Czerny says. "There is a deeper hurt with Amanda’s passing, and the stuff that comes out of that hurt is intriguing."
RELATED: 'Revenge' Season 2 Spoilers: 'S*** Is Going Down,' Promises Creator Mike Kelley
One result of Amanda's death is that it makes Emily (Emily VanCamp) focus once again on taking down the Graysons. "Amanda’s death [has] given Emily a focus to drive through to the end now with a clear goal," says Barry Sloane [Aiden Mathis]. "So it’s also given Aiden a clear goal, of 'Well, I lost my sister, I’m going to help you not lose your goal.' All of his energies are going towards keeping Emily happy, and making sure that this works."
But what does that mean for Emily and Aiden as a couple? "We have to see how he fits within what she needs him to do in the next few weeks," Sloane says. "Obviously the key thing is that Emily and Aiden will work together to bring down Daniel, and do whatever it takes."
That's right, instead of focusing on Conrad and Victoria (Madeleine Stowe), Emily's Revengenda is all about Daniel (Josh Bowman) now that he has fully committed to being a Grayson. And after seeing his mother kill Helen Crawley, he is no longer in the dark about his family's actions. "He’s been brought into the world more," Bowman says. "Pulling the wool from your eyes and actually seeing death, actually seeing what life is all about in this society that he’s grown up with... I think he’s brought the chips to the poker game and he’s playing the game now. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He’s picked up the apple and taken a big bite out of it."
So say goodbye to any warm, fuzzy feelings that Emily might once have had for Daniel. "Any love that she had for Daniel in the first season has just vaporized into thin air," Bowman says. "She’s just hell bent on revenge, and uses me as an access key to carry out her mission. She’s definitely a lot more calculated than she was in the first season. She’s a lot more ruthless."
With the stakes the highest they've ever been, and Emily more ruthless than ever, is there any chance for a happy ending for anyone? Are they all doomed? Stowe seems to think so.
"I [want to have] have some kind of suicide because Emily has driven [Victoria] so insane," she says. "And Emily is sitting in my chair in Grayson manor, and she’s turned into Victoria." We could definitely see that happening!
Revenge returns Sunday night at 9 PM ET/PT on ABC.
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[Photo Credit: Danny Feld/ABC]
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Greetings, Entourage fans. I'm Natalie, and I’ll be taking over for the lovely Kelsea this week. She’s come down with a bad case of Lollapalooza, and is currently indisposed. So forgive me if I get anything wrong, I’m the new kid on the digital block.
Vince tries to get his miners TV movie off the ground with the help of Carl Ertz, the producer who screwed him over on Danger Beach! (which in my head, is always pronounced with an exclamation point). But their partnership is cut short when Carl kills himself in the bathroom. It’s only slightly more painful than watching Drama and Dice work on their poor man’s Family Guy cartoon (and since Family Guy is a poor man’s Simpsons, any poorer and we’ll be in a third world country.)
Turtle and E both officially end their relationships. Turtle loses his job at Avion and vicariously breaks up with Alex, while E sleeps with Sloane for what may be the last time as she heads out to NYC. Ari, meanwhile, has given up trying to ruin his wife’s lovelife in favor of getting his own, taking a young woman (emphasis on YOUNG) out for a date before chickening out and running to his age-appropriate friend Dana. I don’t know if that’s a step forward for him, but at least it’s a step...sideways.
“You are the good kind of addict!”
The main criticism I’ve heard of Entourage, other than the fact that the characters are all douchebags, is that there’s never any plot. (Perhaps they could borrow one from True Blood, they’ve got plot to spare.) That certainly wasn’t the case tonight, as Vince’s reunion with Ertz ends in the producer’s suicide. Vince actually tried to be the better man this episode, giving Ertz a second chance to work together, despite Ari, E and Turtle’s objections. Well-founded objections, as it turns out, when Ertz tries to get Vince to commit to a “Tax Man” movie (that doesn’t sound much more ridiculous than his usual projects, honestly) and does a Woody-Allen-in-Annie-Hall sized amount of coke. Vince handles being around the drugs, but who knows how he’ll handle seeing Ertz’s suicide. At least it will be something for him to do this season besides hanging around and encouraging the other guys, like some poofy-haired fairy godmother.
“Stella did, right?” “Who?” - Ari, and his date.
Back in the usual Entourage land free of consequences, Johnny Drama tries to get a raise for his banana-themed TV show based on screen test numbers. Of course, it goes nowhere and E warns him against it, but Andrew “Dice” Clay doesn’t give a damn. And neither do I, actually. For a show with so many cameos, they couldn’t have gotten a more interesting comedian? Even Turtle’s funnier than the guy, getting some good lines in when he’s not mourning the loss of his Avion job. Fortunately, he discovers the perfect replacement for his girlfriend Alex- clams! No, not like that, Turtle just decided to get into the restaurant business, bringing a NYC clam bar to the west coast.
And Ari learns the most important lesson in dating- always date someone old enough to understand your pop cultural references. A shared familiarity with outdated memes is the bedrock on which a relationship is built.
“I would hack off my penis before I would allow you to work with Carl Ertz again.”
“I don’t know how much you can relate to that girl who blew her brother for an eight-ball”
“I’m not in the program, so I still think you’re a douche”
“I’m an incredibly tight 116-year-old man”
Johnny Drama’s Ed Hardy shirt was incredibly terrible. Good job, wardrobe department!