I only know a couple of stories from the Bible, one has a talking snake and some (almost) full-frontal nudity and the other is about a dude who builds a giant boat and fills it with two of every animal on the planet, but hardly any people. Noah hits screens at the Whistler Village 8 this week and I'm pretty amped to go and see how he keeps the tigers from eating the zebras and who shovels up all the poo.
Noah director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan) is a master of using highly stylized filmmaking to slip hefty ideas into mass-appeal films and he steps things up again with by infusing this Genesis-era Bible tale with fantastical narrative elements and the visual polish we'd expect of a film like The Lord of the Rings. Aronofsky, admittedly non-religious, also puts forth some heavy moral questions — this is a thinking person's apocalypse film with a gritty tone usually more at home in the tales of Greek mythology,not Christianity.
Russell Crowe stars as the titular hero, a vegetarian living off the land in a hyper reality world where stone angels walk among us and Mad Max style bandits roam the lands plaguing violence in their wake. After receiving a few vision/dreams from "The Creator," Noah sets out to build his ark and save enough animals to start civilization again. Once Cain killed Abel it started humanity down a path from which there is no salvation.
At two hours, 19 minutes this one is a CGI-filled epic but at its heart Noah is a personal story about one man's descent into obsession, or madness or faith, or something. Aronofsky blurs the lines between hero and villain, saviour and zealot and ultimately delivers an intelligent end-of-the-world/fantasy hybrid film with some complex moral questions that seem even more fitting in a religious story. It's heavy but Noah stays afloat.
There are no other new flicks opening in Whistler but it's a strong week for taking the kids out — Muppets Most Wanted, Mr. Peabody and Sherman and The Lego Movie are all still playing. Divergent and 300 are still playing for the young adult/popcorn crowd but more sophisticated film lovers who don't mind a drive should head down to Vancouver for The Grand Budapest Hotel, the latest glimpse into the mind of Wes Anderson.
Ralph Fiennes stars as Gustav H, an opportunistic concierge at a fictional early 1930s European retreat. Known as a man who will go the extra measure (sexually) to please his guests, Gustav is surprisingly bequeathed a valuable painting from a rich client and thus begins a romping screwball comedy caper movie with historically significant undertones and more incredible characters (and actors) than could ever fit in a single elevator.
Every Wes Anderson film is a visual treat and this is no different — every frame of the film is meticulously constructed — but it's the zany comedy and ambitious pace/structure that elevate Grand Budapest Hotel into the upper echelon of Anderson's work. This is one of the most ambitious films yet from a director who constantly pushes the art form. It's also the closest to The Royal Tenenbaums we have seen Anderson get.
The download of the week is actually a TV documentary — The Secrets of Sugar is a CBC-made Fifth Estate expose on just how much sugar is snuck into our food (four teaspoons in a can of Tomato Soup!) and how sugar may be giving us heart disease and Alzheimer's as well as the obvious rise in obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The waterless flood is upon us, repent!