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12 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I feel like it's appropriate to answer the question: "what is Noah?" Noah is not a religious propaganda movie by any means. Interestingly, it never says "God," only "the creator," which feels more universal. It supports evolution and differs tremendously from the bible. I'll say that the trailer conceals a lot. You will probably be disappointed if you expect it to be like the bible. Some of the story differs so far from the bible that it's kind of funny, and in a good way. Noah adds a lot to the family's story in ways that seem to fit right in with the tale, though they're much darker. But we don't need the bible to enjoy Noah, because it quickly establishes itself as its own story for the better.
Noah is always entertaining, serving as an ambitious epic above all. Aronofsky prioritizes the characters, making for a humane and grounded telling of the story. It's dark and deals with some serious moral questions, most of which Noah struggles with within himself. Russell Crowe is excellent with a very restrained and nuanced performance, playing a man who is firm, disturbed, and deeply flawed as you'd expect Noah to be. The rest of the cast ranges from very good to a little cliched, as some of their emotional moments feel pulled from other films and not quite authentic.
There are a few stunning, creatively executed sequences in the film, such as the creation retelling, and the ambition is large. I don't believe that the film ever touches greatness, despite it being an entertaining spectacle and having strong character elements. I didn't feel that any moments had hard emotional tugs and despite it being very inventive, it can feel like a regular blockbuster at times. I think it has a good message and one that separates if from being a typical biblical tale. It will spark good discussions among audiences because of the questions it raises about natural sin and morality against God. Audiences might be mixed on it, but if you're not trying to find the biblical version and can get past some of the crazier story elements you might like it quite a bit. I know I did.

Nymphomaniac: Volume I

Nymphomaniac: Volume I

28 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Nymphomaniac is one film. The first volume does not stand as a complete film on its own, so this is a review of both parts.
I had a very good impression of the film after watching Volume 1. It's entertaining and surprisingly fun, loaded with ideas. It's an odyssey of sexual exploration done right with raw realism and confidence. The whole thing is appropriately graphic and I don't think audiences who know what they're in for will have a problem with the explicit content, Volume 2 being especially brutal and unflinching. I hoped Part 2 would bring together the ideas of Part 1, but it mostly continues to add on new ideas and by the end of the film all I really had was a collection of ideas that didn't feel fully pieced together.
The significance of each scene is discussed by Seligman and Joe in the present, as it's a retelling of Joe's story. I like the way these segments relate sex to nature, history, and math, showing how integral sex is to our world. They often discuss the morality of Joe's actions, but there doesn't seem to be a clear point to where the film wants to go with all of its ideas. I mostly enjoyed this film, as it's always watchable and raises many good questions that are worth the exploration.
Unfortunately, I stopped really digging the film during the shocking final 10 minutes, where characters are severely punished and it simply doesn't feel right. It left me asking "why did that happen?" and I was unable to draw much of a conclusion other than maybe it just wants to be shocking. There is a cynical message about humanity's hopeless evils that I didn't feel totally on board with. It left me with a bitter taste that I can't look past even for all of the redeeming qualities of the film.

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Intel Hollywood Star Program (July 2012 - December 2012)
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