Movie Review: “Noah”

Starring
Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth, Anthony Hopkins
Director
Darren Aronofsky

Just as the Bible speaks in many ways to many people, so does Darren Aronofsky’s epic “Noah,” a story about a man, his giant ark and the lengths a family will go to when facing the world’s first apocalypse.

Tackling a story of pre-apocalyptic earth in the before and after stages is nothing new, but Aronofsky knew that he had to pull out all the stops in dealing with the planet’s first biblical disaster. Luckily, he had Russell Crowe to work with. After a brief but eye-catching history lesson (via fast motion) from the time of creation through the questionable dietary choices in the Garden of Eden, to the slaying of Abel by Cain, we arrive at the tenth generation of man, where a young Noah (Dakota Goyo) witnesses his father being killed just as he is about to bestow his birthright, a glowing snakeskin sleeve, upon him.

Years later, an adult Noah (Crowe) is living a happy but isolated life with his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) and three sons, Ham (Logan Lerman), Shem (Douglas Booth) and Japheth (Leo Carroll). But if life (and Twitter 3:16) has taught us anything, it’s that you can avoid people, but not their mistakes. Noah receives a vision, one of great death by flooding. The Creator (The “G-word” is never said in the film) has decided that his experiment with mankind has gone completely off the rails, as everyone is a poster child for the worse sins imaginable against the planet and themselves.

Unfortunately, visions aren’t the same as having a phone call, Skype or even text messages, so Noah seeks out clarification from his granddad Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins). Thanks to his guidance, and getting slipped a mickey, Noah gets a clearer vision: the planet is about to be destroyed by a flood. He is to construct a giant ark with a sample of the planet’s animals and witness the first-ever heavenly version of a reboot. Aiding him in his quest is Ila (Emma Watson), an injured orphan girl who becomes his adopted daughter and love interest of Shem. He’s also greatly assisted by fallen angels turned giant stone creatures called the Watchers, who also sinned against the Creator and seek redemption.

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Movie Review: “The Bling Ring”

Starring
Katie Chang, Isreal Broussard, Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga, Claire Julien
Director
Sofia Coppola

Sofia Coppola was once heralded as one of Hollywood’s most promising young directors, but over the years, she’s looked more likely to follow in the footsteps of her famous father’s recent work than his celebrated early films. After duds like “Marie Antoinette” and “Somewhere,” Coppola needed to deliver something great to get her career back on track, but while “The Bling Ring” offers an interesting commentary on America’s fame-obsessed youth culture, it’s an incredibly shallow exposé that barely skims the surface of what could have been a fascinating drama. Based on Nancy Jo Sales’ Vanity Fair article “The Suspect Wore Louboutins,” there’s no real point to the movie, unless it’s to say that stealing from B-list celebrities will make you equally as famous, in which case, isn’t it just contributing to the problem?

Though all of the names have been changed, Coppola doesn’t shy away from the fact that it’s based on a true story. If only the studio was as upfront about Emma Watson’s involvement, because despite being marketed as the star of the film, the actress plays a surprisingly small role. Instead, the story is centered on a gay outcast named Marc (Israel Broussard), who meets type-A bad girl Rebecca (Katie Chang) during his first day at a new school and is promptly taken under her wing. After wetting their feet with some petty thefts, Rebecca convinces Marc to break into Paris Hilton’s house when they read on a gossip website that she’s out of town for the night, leaving the pair free to go on a mini shopping spree of the hotel heiress’ massive wardrobe.

When they boast about how easy their conquest was to friends Nicki (Watson), Sam (Taissa Farmiga) and Chloe (Claire Julien), the group of teenage kleptomaniacs returns to Hilton’s house to indulge in their celebrity fantasies, leading to a series of burglaries in the homes of other Hollywood Hills residents like Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, Miranda Kerr and Rachel Bilson. (In every instance, one of the doors was either unlocked, or in the case of Hilton, a key was left under the doormat.) And since Coppola intercuts the main narrative with scenes of the rich kids preparing for their big day in court, it’s not a spoiler to reveal that they were eventually caught.

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