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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The only thing stranger than Simon Cowell's eraser-shaped head is the fact that he is currently dating Carmen Electra. The X Factor judge confirmed to Ryan Seacrest during his radio show that Electra (who has a long dating history of "Say what now?" men that includes Dennis Rodman and Dave Navarro) is not his "girlfriend" but they do "date." While Electra, 40, has had a more notorious love life, Cowell, 53, is no stranger to unexpected couplings, either. The music mogul had a long-running on-and-off relationship with pop star Sinitta, which started when she was just 14. (He is nearly ten years her senior.)
While the Cowell and Electra (Cowlectra? Electrawell?) is one of the more bizarre pairings to come out of Hollywood in a while, the two join a long lineage of Tinsel Town odd couples. Check out some of the other duos that have made us all go "Hmmm...."
Mila Kunis and Macaulay Culkin
Sure, they were both former child stars, but that didn't make the pairing of bona fide beauty Mila Kunis and troubled tabloid regular Macaulay Culkin any less strange. Even more eyebrow-raising? The mismatched duo dated for over eight years. Mary-Kate Olsen and Olivier Sarkozy
Let's do some math: half of the Olsen twins is dating the half brother of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is almost twice her age. It adds up to one incredibly creepy pairing that looks more like a kidnapping than a relationship.
Amber Tamblyn and David Cross
Before having the most hipsterrific wedding in the history of Hollywood, the Arrested Development funny man and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants actress turned heads with their noticeably significant age gap and arguably different levels of attractiveness.
Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett
Like Carmen Electra (bet you didn't think we could compare Julia Roberts to Carmen Electra, did you?) the Oscar-winning actress has had an eclectic love life. But this was none more evident than when the beautiful movie star wed goofy looking (sorry!) country singer Lyle Lovett. The pair eventually split in 1995 after less than two years of marriage.
Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton
One could argue Jolie's strangest pairing was her Oscar date brother, but since we've scrubbed that image clean out of memory, we'll go with BBT. In the throws of her wild child, blood vile-wearing days, the gorgeous actress was married to the guy who became famous for saying "French fried potaters" for almost 3 years, during which time they apparently had a lot of sex and creeped everyone out.
Christina Hendricks and Geoffrey Arend
Totally shallow to think it, we know. We know.
Brigette Nielsen and Flavor Flav
Take your pick about what's weirdest about these exes: that they met on Flavor of Love, that they were actually kind of a cute couple, or that the clock-wearing rapper/reality star could reasonably be considered one of the action starlet's more normal conquests — as she also has been with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Drew Barrymore and Tom Green
When Barrymore first got married she was practically still a child (she was 19 when she wed Jeremy Thomas in 1994), but her second marriage was to someone who behaved just like one. The lovely actress, who had made her transition into adorable pixie at this point, was married to MTV jokester/goon Tom Green for a year while the whole world kept waiting to find out if this was one of his pranks.
Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson Musical worlds collided in the most bizarre, unsettling way imaginable when Elvis Presley's daughter married the King of Pop. Their infamous MTV Video Music Awards kiss was one for the ages.
Soon-Yi Previn and Woody Allen The odd Hollywood coupling that started and ends them all: Woody and Soon-Yi. The legendary director became romantically involved with the adopted daughter of his longtime partner Mia Farrow, who was 20 years his junior. It's still pretty creepy to think about, but at least it's given the Farrows some seriously delightful Twitter fodder.
[Photo credits: Josephine Santos/Pacific Coast News; Chris Polk/FilmMagic/Getty Images; James Devaney/WireImage/Getty Images; WENN; Jim Smeal/WireImage/Getty Images; Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images; B. Dowling/Wenn; Jody Cortes/Wenn; WENN; Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images; WENN]
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