Monday Morning Critic – Noah & Biblical Accuracy, Or Why Glenn Beck Is Missing The Point (As Usual)

MMC

I’m always loathe to discuss politics in this dusty little corner of the web I call a column, mainly because it’s about film and not about my personal politics. And to be fair no one really cares about my politics, either, as this is something people click on to read something interesting about the power of cinema, film, and the occasional Tyler Perry joke. Thusly when Glenn Beck makes me want to comment on something in this space I can imagine that most people expect it to be about something political. And besides … it’s really cliché for a fiery column from the usual web writer turned social justice warrior when it comes to politics and cinema. And since I’m neither of those … I think there’s a greater point to it all.

His stance on the film Noah, a film he admittedly hasn’t seen, is something that’s equal parts absurd and profound. Stay with me for a moment. He had something interesting to say about the film because of The Hollywood Reporter’s review of it.

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“I haven’t seen it nor will I, because it’s a slap in the face,” Beck was quoted as saying on his show. He also called it, ahem, “hostile to God” and it teaches “planet over man” among other things. The actual audio is out there somewhere, which you can listen to if you have a half hour of your life you’ll never get back, but the epic part of Beck’s tirade about the film was the following quote.

“This movie, if it becomes successful – if we take our churches and we all go and everything else – our children will look at that as being the Noah story, and no matter what you say, they will believe this version over the version that mommy and daddy are telling them or that old, dusty Bible is telling them, because this one will come alive in their imaginations. It is dangerous disinformation,” Beck fired out of his noise-hole.

I imagine his jowels shook as he said it, as well, because Beck looks like the guy who has shaky jowels as he rambles about useless stuff. And I think political pundits getting angry over stupid things like this hilarious, of course, as its camp at its finest. Don’t kid yourself; whenever a talk show host gets angry like Beck did about something like this it’s part of their gimmick.

Political theatre is always among the most entertaining because 9 times out of ten they’re trying to elicit a reaction from people, nothing more.

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Last time I wrote on something like this a bunch of idiots came out of the woodworks, most of whom I imagine listen to his radio show. So I can see he’s playing to an audience of the usual suspects, of course, but his point is so wrong that it’s almost painful to read and was even worse to listen to. I made sure to listen to it, of course, because I generally like hearing the first hand source (and not someone’s interpretation or quoting of it).

The one thing that comes through, besides the obvious baiting Beck does with the people who both love and loathe him, is that Beck is demonstrating a profound level of ignorance that bothers me. I understand he has objections to a film about a Biblical character that isn’t done by someone like him, of course, and that this isn’t a film being marketed emphatically towards the faith-based audience that is woefully underserviced in Hollywood.

I wrote about this a couple years ago, actually, and there’s an audience out there for faith-based films. The problem is that Beck is on shaky ground by just abjectly saying that because it’s not explicitly designed for a specific audience he’s a member that it’s immediately not worth viewing. Any sane rational person would think of it like this.

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The fact that a Hollywood studio is spending a rumored $125-160 million in production costs alone, and cast one of the biggest names in Hollywood, on a film focusing on one of the best known tales from the Bible in this era is fact enough that Hollywood is trying to play towards the Church going crowd that avoids movie theatres. We can be fair in that the last real epic film of this nature (with this sort of budget) to hit theatres en masse was The Passion of the Christ, which a friend of mine dubbed “The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre.”

Hollywood’s days of epics of this nature focusing on the Bible are long over and yet a studio is taking a huge gamble on this. They’re doing it the proper way, with a stellar cast of some huge names and giving it a tentpole budget. Noah is the first real tentpole of 2013 and really marks the summer movie season’s begin, as there isn’t a weekend without a huge film until August, and it’s being counted on to carry Paramount’s first half of the year. That is so profoundly impressive that Beck should be using it as a focal point to discuss the differences in scripture, cinema and the reality of it all.

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None of the three will be the same, of course, but Beck is missing out on what could be the beginning of a great conversation between people of multiple faiths (and those without it).

Noah won’t reflect the Bible, or the potential reality of what happened, but that’s a good thing. Neither of those options are potentially as cinematic as Aronofsky’s version could be and you have to craft your story towards the medium. And frankly if people are going to assume a movie is the truth of the matter then they are as dumb as Beck’s listeners are stereotyped out to be, as well.

It’s the introduction to a conversation for some, a couple hours of entertainment for others, but the key thing is that the conversation begins from the film. Not ends with.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

Travis sat through the Muppets sequel … check his review here. He also saw Bad Words, which you can read about here.

Murtz sat down with the chick from Divergent, bringing the vaunted purple hat with him. Watch it here.

You can watch the first ten minutes of the Captain America sequel right here.

I reviewed Charlton Heston as a painter right here.

And now on MMC … we rock out to some ‘90s rock, that era that happened between the rise of grunge and the fall of hair metal with some hard rock that wasn’t quit heavy metal and wasn’t quite grunge, either. See also: Prong.

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

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This week’s DVD – The Raid

With the sequel out in theatres this week, why not take a look at the original?

Simple premise: 20 police officers of the elite SWAT type unit of Jakarta are brought in to take down crime lord Riyadi (Ray Sahetapy). Problem is he’s on the top floor of the 30 floor tower, filled with violent criminals. Hoping to do so quietly, their cover is blown and what should’ve been a quick strike up 30 floors turns into a violent quagmire. Will anyone survive?

It’s exceptionally violent and it’s easy to confuse this with Dredd, which was a kindred spirit sort of film and took a similar approach of “heroes going up a building and having to fight lots of bad guys in the process” plot. Throw in some subtitles, and some wild action scenes, and you have the recipe for one of the more overrated action films of the past decade.

I wasn’t a huge fan of this film when it came out in theatres, mainly because it was hyped as this modern action classic, and on DVD it hasn’t held up well to be honest. I love action films but this didn’t have enough of a plot to it. It’s mainly about ten seconds of actual exposition and then nothing but action scenes with minimal (if any) plot development to it. Great action films have this aspect to it; you have reason to get invested in everything that’s happened.

And that’s the problem; there’s no reason to care about anyone involved outside of the nominal distinction between criminals and policemen in the film. It’s just a series of action sequences; they happen to be great ones, for sure, but there’s nothing unifying about it. They’re policemen, and that’s the only reason we’re supposed to care apparently. Me, I didn’t.

Not recommended.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

The Raid 2 – A sequel to The Raid … apparently they have two more hours of action sequences to use around 10 seconds of plot. In limited release.

Skip it – The first wasn’t inspiring and the second will probably be worse.

Cesar Chavez – Michael Pena in a biopic of the labor movement pioneer

Skip it – Shocked this wasn’t released six months ago, in time for Oscar season, as this is an odd place for the film. Usually biopics of Hollywood friendly icons are total award bait.

Noah – Russell Crowe saves humanity from the great biblical flood.

See it – Crowe’s usually pretty good at picking projects. I say usually … after Winter’s Tale this year, as well as Broken City a year ago, was unremarkable you can’t trust him as often as you should perhaps.

Sabotage – Arnold leads a bunch of badasses in taking down drug dealers. When $10 million goes missing, and members of his team wind up dead with his family kidnapped, it’s time to mess their world up with machine gun fire.

See it – It’s got a pretty good cast and this looks like a better project for Arnold. Throw in David Ayer and you’ve arguably got a good action film ready to go. PLUS you get to walk in singing “Sabotage.”

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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