Out in Theaters: NOAH

Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone
Adventure, Drama
138 Mins


Glenn Beck has spoken. “Noah is just ridiculous,” Beck preached, going so far as to call the message contained within Darren Aronofsky‘s biblical blockbuster “danger disinformation.” Wise words from a man defending a story involving “the Creator” committing genocide against humankind, save for a 600-year old hero and his family (Genesis 7:6). For the creationist talk show host, ridiculousness exists only outside the confines of the Bible. But Beck is onto something.

No matter which side of the religious fence you fall on, you gotta admit that the story of Noah is more than a touch on the absurdist side. Even those interpreting the text at face value have to scrunch their face at Noah’s epic longevity. I mean the oldest man recorded on Earth weighed in at a whopping 123-years old and he can barely move, much less build an arc the size of the Empire State Building. At over five times that age, Noah puts your buff gramps to shame.

In what is one of the most well known Bible verses, Noah actually sets sail in his iconic arc on his 600th birthday. In Aronofsky’s film, Noah is played by 49-year old Russell Crowe, who during the duration of the film rifles through four different hair styles (a ploy to maximize action figures, I hope). Though 21st century scientists claim that a vegetarian diet will help you live longer and healthier lives, I’m seriously doubting that Noah’s hardcore vegan sensibilities led him to such preposterous supercentenarian status. Then again, his contemporaries do tear live animals apart by the chuck and seemingly consume them raw. Let’s just say, it’s a rough society.

Seeing that people are such dicks in Noah’s day, “the Creator” (who is never actually referred to in Aronofsky’s film as “God”) decides to put an end to the experiment that was humans. While his plans to cleanse the Earth with a devastating flood are explicitly stated in the Bible (“I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.” Genesis 6:13), this Noah’s communion with God involves more foreshadowing nightmares and less bright light and disembodied voices. Noah even has to visit grandpappy Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) and trip out on some mushroom tea to realize “the Creator’s” design. Again, Crowe’s got it much harder than the Noah of the bible, for whom God lays out a list of materials and all the dimensions needed to build an arc capable of surviving his super hardcore flood. Apparently, God is quite the carpenter. Like father, like son.

But while Noah’s passage in the bible lasts only a handful of paragraphs, Aronofsky’s film stretches past the two-hour mark, allowing him ample opportunity to probe themes of good, evil and redemption. Though Genesis’s brief layout of Noah’s saga makes no mention of what actually went down in the year-long period where Noah and his family vegged out on the arc or how a guy six centuries old and his small, nuclear family could construct a boat big enough to house not only every single animal on earth but two of them, this is where Aronofsky gets imaginative.

With so little information to draw from, he’s got a license to frill. And though his interpretation may be hard to swallow for Bibleites and non-believers alike, remember, Aronofsky’s is a thematic fable. Rock monsters may invoke cries of nonsense in the real world but have their place within the framework of Aronofsky’s tale of redemption. Without the word of God whispering how to turn a magical forest into a big ass boat, it’s no wonder that Noah’s final product looks more like a wood shipping container than the arc of lore. Even the titular hero himself is a far cry from the bent-back and bearded saint from story books and Veggie Tales VHS’s. Instead, he’s a victim of his era, traumatized and dangerously devout.

From the grassroots inception of the film, Aronofsky talked at length about how he saw Noah as the world’s first environmentalist and environmentalist he is. Thanks to the lack of communication between Noah and “the Creator,” we see a man driven mad by his interpretation of His superior will. One could make the argument that Noah’s an eco-terrorist. Just about willing to commit infanticide for the good of the animals, the guy would make a great PETA president. He’s a man caught between divine will and his own humanity and the crossroads takes its toll. In this trademark reveal of fleeting sanity, Aronofsky puts his stamp on an ageless story.

Even though Russell is shown up at times by co-star Jennifer Connelly, and the film (like Noah) could use a good shave here and there, Aronfoksy and his crew of technical wizards are never off the mark from a visual standpoint. The tested and proved time lapse shot is often effective for imbuing a sense of passage but what they’ve done here is next level: painterly and epic, an epitaph to natural beauty. Even the CGI is used in fitful splashes, more the result of necessity than Aronofsky succumbing to overkill.

Noah lacks the signature claustrophobia of Aronofsky’s finest work but the eerie character turns we’ve come to expect from him are most certainly in play. His auteur touch and rich investigative storytelling gives life to a tale that could have been as dead as the bloated corpses we see polluted the sea. As Aronofsky tries to make sense of an emotional parable, often achieving such in stunning visual terms, Noah is a messy, disaster epic that works as a character study and red-blooded fantasy both.


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Ten Most Anticipated Movies of 2014


So before you go asking about Lars von Trier‘s 5-hour sexcapade Nymphomaniac, Woody Allen‘s latest period piece starring Emma Stone or any of the three Terrence Malick films that may or may not debut this year, let me just stop you short and let you know that they didn’t see their way onto this list. Though Allen’s newest may be good, he shoots out so many duds that it’s hard to really look forward to any one piece of his work. And Trier, well, do I really have to say anything beyond look at the description? Maybe they’ll be bits of interest but I’m more dreading it than I am anticipating it. As for Malick’s certain pedigree of art film, let’s just say I’m wildly uninterested in anything the man does as I find his work more a chore than anything else.

Although I tried to keep my list as tidy as possible, I did make a bit of a miscalculation so this top ten will actually be a top 11. I was thinking of chopping one but when we’re down to the wire like this, I really want to make sure to get all these top-tier selections out there. One extra film to look forward to right?

If you haven’t yet, take a look back at number 30-21 and 20-11. Otherwise, let’s get down to my Ten Most Anticipated Movies of 2014.


10. Snowpiercer


Korean director Joon-ho Bong (The Host the good one, not the bad one) makes his English-language debut with this dystopian film set on a high-speed train. Starring Captain America‘s Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Ed Harris, and Octavia Spencer, Snowpiercer opened in France in October to rave reviews. Some even went so far to call it “the best pure science-fiction film since ‘Children Of Men.” [The Playlist]. There’s been a little controversy over it’s US release, such as when will it actually release, amongst stirrings that a US release under the Weinstein Co. banner may see extensive cuts but I’m hoping that if this film ever arrives intact and well, it’ll be a stunner.

No official release date yet but it’s likely 2014 or bust.

10…Again. Map to the Stars


(Accidentally) sharing that top ten spot is David Cronenberg‘s Map to the Stars. Although Cronenberg has largely dropped the ooey, gooey sci-fi-horror genre that made his name what it is today, he’s still a director with a tremendous amount of passion and ideas. Obviously the cast is stacked; Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, Carrie Fisher, Mia Wasikowska, John Cussack; but this isn’t the sci-fi adventure the name may suggest. No, instead that star map refers to the celebrities of Hollywood as Cronenberg, backed by a script from Bruce Wagner, turns a satirical lens on child stars. With back-to-back collaborations, it looks like Cronenberg has found a new muse in Twilight‘s Pattinson and I must admit to strongly enjoying their last effort Cosmopolis so sign me up for a trip to Map to the Stars.

So far all we know is that this’ll hit screens sometime in 2014.

9. Foxcatcher


Continuing down the list, it’s all about the guys behind the camera. In Foxcatcher, Bennett Miller (Moneyball) tells the tragic story of how paranoid schizophrenic John duPont killed Olympic Champion Dave Schultz. Yikes. Even a year out, this film screams Oscars and is already poised to make contenders out of the likes of Mark Ruffalo and, however unexpectedly, Steve Carell. Miller has shown a knack for telling a true story in a way that we could never have expected so I’m fascinated to see what he does with a crazy dude and a murder plot.

Yet another without an official release date, Foxcatcher was pushed out of 2013 so there’s no chance it won’t see the light of day in 2014.

8. Fury


Brad Pitt is back to war and I’m already saving my seat. Backed up by Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, and Shia LaBeouf (…) Fury tells the story of one Sherman tank and its five-man crew as they hunt down Nazis with a tank. While Pitt’s glorious recent track record may be the only thing immediately popping out about this one, Fury has something much bigger going for it: David Ayer. The only director to have two entries on this list, Ayer has proven that he can balance drama and tension like none other with End of Watch and this looks even better than entry #15 SabotageI’m really wagering a lot on Ayer this year but I have a feeling that neither of his latests will disappoint. If End of Watch is any indication, Fury could be the sleeper hit of the year.

November 12 will see Fury rolling in.

7. Inherent Vice


Paul Thomas Anderson. Joaquin Phoenix. Nuff said. Ok fine, I’ll go on. Even after the fuzzy disappointment that was The Master (and I’ve had enough of arguing why it was or was not a good movie), PTA will be returning to a more wacky and linear story. I started the 2009 Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name and found it a little dry and noirish for my reading taste but I can already imagine the kind of cinematic flair that PTA and Phoenix will bring to it. Needless to say, I’m confident that it’ll be a superior film experience. Although the source material suggests the story may be too pulpy for real awards consideration, could this be the film that brings Phoenix his awaited Oscar?

More 2014 films without confirmed release dates.

6. Gone Girl


Dark, dour, depressing. The three D’s of David Fincher. But what can you expect from the man who brought us Se7en, Fight Club and Zodiac? Based on the bestselling novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl tells the tale of a woman who disappears on her wedding anniversary. Although I’m trying to go into this one with as little details as possible, the mere fact that Fincher is on the case is enough to whet my curiosity. However much next year will revolve around his Batman role, Ben Affleck will have the chance to offer a much more interesting performance here and it’ll be nice to see the man stretch his wings and step outside of his easy, breezy comfort zone.

A pre-Halloween release with an October 3 date.

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel


I feel like I stand alone by being merely lukewarm on Wes Anderson‘s last celebrated film, Moonrise Kingdom, but I’m a staunch believer that his earlier, and more adult, work is his finest. So it’s no wonder that I silently celebrated when The Grand Budapest Hotel got a R-rating. All of Anderson’s usual quirk and OCD-level of visual detail appear to be in tow as are Anderson regulars Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Murray. This time newbies include Ralph Fiennes, in the starring role, Saoirse Ronan, Lea Seydoux, Tom Wilkinson, Harvey Keitel, and F. Murray Abraham. It really seems like Anderson can put a cast together like none other and with a cast list this stacked, you have to imagine that these actors are just lining up at the door to work with him.

In theaters March 7.

4. Chuck Hank And The San Diego Twins


Jonathan Keevil’s debut, Bellflower, was one of the most jarring and visceral films to date and I simply could not wait to see what he did next. So when it was announced that he would write and direct what seems like a loose adaptation of Romeo & Juliet (well there’s warring families and a captured girl so pretty much…alright scrap the R & J reference) I was pretty pumped. Keevil constructed his first film with less than fifteen grand and considering that this budget is about ten times that ($150K) it puts it in a great position. Still far enough away from the mainstream to retain a wholly original flair and yet loaded enough for a little financial flexibility to do more stunts, Chuck Hank and the San Diego Twins is a definite risk pick but one I’m confident making. In Keevil’s Kickstarter campaign, he noted they needed the funds to create such awesome action sequences as: “jumping out of a helicopter”, “Molotov cocktails everywhere” and “punching a guy and he bursts into flames.” Righteous.

It seems like none of my most anticipated have release dates as this one has nothing locked down yet either.

3. Noah


For years, Darren Aronofsky has led us on about his Noah project and finally this year we’ll see what it was he was chomping so hard at the bit about. Once Black Swan made 25 times its production budget (which for those of you don’t already know is totally insane) the folks at Paramount felt it was right to dish out the 130 million dollars Aronofsky wanted to make Noah the big budget spectacle film he always dreamed about. All evidence points to Aronofsky as a tremendous dramatic director (see Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, Black Swan) but his first “spectacle” film (The Fountain) was seen as a bit of a failure. Hopefully he’s learned from his mistakes and Noah will satisfy us on a visual and emotional level unlike anything else this year.

Storms into large format theaters on March 28.

2. Interstellar


Speaking of spectacles, there’s no denying that Christopher Nolan is the undisputed king of the blockbuster. Forget about James Cameron, Nolan’s films have staying power and pepper coveted spots on top ten lists every year one of his films is released. Amazingly enough, Nolan’s films have the uncanny ability to attract fanboys and high-nosed film critics in equal measure and it all comes down to his ability to mesmerize an audience. Like Inception before it, Interstellar is an entirely original idea this time revolving around space travel and time warps. Of course we’re interested. Largely abandoning regulars like Christian Bale, Ken Watanbe and Cillian Murphy, Interstellar looks to a new generation of Nolanites in Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow and, naturally, Michael Caine. Let’s just be honest with ourselves: there is no summer movie of 2014 that we’re anticipating more than Nolan’s.

You’ll be able to see Interstellar at the biggest screen in a 100-mile radius on November 7.

1. Boyhood


When you think about it, it shouldn’t be a surprise that my most anticipated film of 2014 goes to Richard Linklater (whose Before Midnight was my Top Movie of 2013) but I’m willing to bet you haven’t even heard of this one. Ambitious to a fault, Boyhood has been in the making for 12 years. And by being in the making, I mean in legitimate development. As in filming for 12 years. Like Linklater’s Before series, Boyhood tracks a father’s (Ethan Hawke) relationship with his son as he grows from 6 to 18. With filming taking place for a few weeks every year, this film will not only serve as a time capsule for the ever-changing Hawke, Linklater, and newcomer Ellar Coltrane but will reflect a changing American culture in the most unaltered of ways. When asked about the film, Hawke said, “[we do] a scene with a young boy at the age of 7 when he talks about why do raccoons die, and at the age of 12 when he talks about video games, and 17 when he asks me about girls.” Essentially, the film will be like growing up all over again. As I said earlier, it’s ambitious beyond compare but I just can’t wait to see what is in store.

Of course there’s no official release date on this.

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen. Just to recap:

30. How to Train Your Dragon 2
29. Jupiter Ascending
28. Chef
27. Dumb and Dumber To
26. Only Lovers Left Alive
25. Wish I Was Here
24. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
23. Locke
22. Edge of Tomorrow
21. Godzilla
20. Dom Hemingway
19: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
18. X-Men: Days of Future Past
17. Exodus
16. Guardians of the Galaxy
15. Sabotage
14. Big Hero 6
13. The Raid 2: Berenthal
12. The Monument’s Men
11. Transcendence
10. Map to the Stars
10. Snowpiercer
9 Fox Catcher
7. Inherent Vice
8. Gone Girl
6. Fury
5.The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Chuck Hank And The San Diego Twins
3. Noah
2. Interstellar
1. Boyhood

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First Official Trailer for NOAH Sails In


Noah suffered a bit of a leak yesterday with a handicam version of its trailer ravaging the web (thank God its nothing as serious as a leak in an ark). In a response to that leak, Regency has released the long awaited trailer for a saga centuries in the making. Based on the Biblical story but without an overwhelmingly religious bent, Noah stars Russell Crowe as the bible hero who receive word from God that the time of man has come to an end and he and his family alone must build a massive arc to survive the coming flood. Noah’s family is made up of Oscar-winners Jennifer Connelly as Noah’s wife Naameh and Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah, young stars Emma Watson and Logan Lerman as Noah’s children and Ray Winstone as a wrathful villain set to stop Noah.

To execute his epic vision of an epic story, Darren Aronofsky worked on a budget of epic proportions with production reportedly costing a bit shy of $130 million (before marketing.) Known only for little independent projects, Aronosky has never worked with a budget over $35 million, which he got for his failed passion project The Fountain, Noah is a whole new ballgame for the auteur.

His last film, Black Swan, was not only a critical darling but it made nearly $107 million dollars domestically on a $13 million dollar budget. Aided by a massive overseas push, the film grossed just shy of $330 million total, making Black Swan a triumphant success. For that staggering financial win that saw a nearly 3000% return, Noah was his reward.

And us audience members are in store for our own reward with this totally sweet trailer for Noah. I haven’t watched the whole thing because I don’t want to spoil too much but just peeking around it, it looks nothing less than amazing.

Noah is directed by Darren Aronofsky and stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Kevin Durand, Douglas Booth and Dakota Goyo. It storms into theaters March 28, 2014.

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First Poster and a Leaked Teaser for Aronofsky's NOAH

Probably the most controversial film on the upcoming release slate is Darren Aronofsky‘s Noah. Famous for his bleak views into crumbling psyches, this isn’t gonna be the kiddy version of Noah and his animals zipadeedoda-ing on the merry sea. Since the beginning of the project, Aronofsky has said that his film will focus on survivor’s guilt and the birth of environmentalism. How much of an appearance God and Christianity will make is surely a toss up but don’t expect church groups to be rowing out in full force to see this (like they did with Mel Gibson‘s Jesus-as-torture-porn Passion of the Christ.)

Today we get two first looks at Noah with a first official poster and a bit of a leaked trailer (that will most likely be yanked by the time you read this). From this little peak, we can get a bit of a read on the tone of the film which does look to cross sandal-and-sword epics with the quiet psychological trauma of an Aronofsky film. The poster on the other hand conjures up the feeling of big 3D spectacle flicks like Clash of the Titans or the new 300: Rise of an Empire poster but I hardly expect the similarities to go much further than that.

I’m having trouble embedding the link here (these leaked ones are often ass-backwards) so instead I’m going to re-direct you over to So just follow this link over there to check it.

Noah is directed by Darren Aronofsky and stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Kevin Durand, Douglas Booth and Dakota Goyo. It storms into theaters March 28, 2014.

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