Friday, March 28th, 2014

Why Won't Anybody Say That "Noah" Is Terrible?

Noah is getting the strangest good reviews. "I’m not sure who exactly this often grimly rapturous movie was made for, but I find myself surprisingly glad that it was made," wrote Richard Lawson in Vanity Fair. A.O. Scott went with: "Mr. Aronofsky’s earnest, uneven, intermittently powerful film, is both a psychological case study and a parable of hubris and humility. At its best, it shares some its namesake’s ferocious conviction, and not a little of his madness."

These are all incredibly charitable. This is not a good movie. I wanted to bite off my fingers. From the opening sequence, which explains the silly state of the world and some fallen angels by means of text that looks suspiciously like the unholy Papyrus font, to the senseless howling and weeping and gnashing of teeth and stomping around that proceeds over the next two hours, Noah looks all around like a film gone seriously wrong. In terms of emotional pitch, it makes Black Swan look like Breakfast at Tiffany's. It's tiresome, exhausting, bizarre and self-serious. Aronofsky is pretty close to being a great director who's never actually made a great film.

In anyone else's hands, the story of grim old stick-in-the-mud Russell Crowe saving the beasts of the world from the evils of men would be extremely camp. And there are times that the movie looks like claymation or the performances turn just a bit too histrionic. But there's never anything laughable, really—ever—in even Aronofsky's most ridiculous situations. That's what makes Noah so tiring. And yet… visually captivating? I guess the upside is, it's refreshing to see a movie where you literally cannot imagine what will happen, even though you assume there's going to be, like, a big flood, and an eventual yacht collision with Mount Ararat.

I always start to suspect that it all goes wrong with his collaborators. Noah has the wonderful Clint Mansell's worst score to date (and I say this as a huge, huge Mansell fan), and Aronofsky's stuck by his production designer and editor from Black Swan and his costume designer back to The Wrestler. But that's not it: they all do great work over and over. Thérèse DePrez also did the impeccable production designs for Stoker and I Shot Andy Warhol and Happiness, and Amy Westcott did costumes for The Squid and the Whale and "Entourage" and the delightful What's Your Number? (She has the craziest job of all here: "pretend there was actually a first iron age before the one we know about and also there were magical animals and angels and stuff and they'd discovered indigo dye and invented really sophisticated looms but nothing else." You end up with a kind of Bottega Veneta as reimagined by al Qaeda members.) Likewise Noah's editor did Moonrise Kingdom, The East and Fantastic Mr. Fox. So everything wrong with this movie is Aronofsky's fault.

From the east coast, this looks like the insanely expensive end of Darren Aronofsky, with the production budget plus the marketing budget teetering quickly towards $200 million. But the studio, after some early wrestling for control of the film, gave it up and gave in, and are now 100% on-board. Probably their testing shows something we can't see for the vast multiplexes of America. A Dances with Wolves for the last of the Billy Graham set? God, it could be just the beginning.

25 Comments / Post A Comment

now I'm just thinking about a Wes Anderson-directed Noah (probably better?)

Bobby Womack (#4,074)

@antarctica starts here Not relevant to the article, but I was delighted by Grand Budapest Hotel. I didn't enjoy Moonrise Kingdom or Darjeeling Limited, and I loved the experience at laughing out loud to one of his movies again.

When I picture a Wes Anderson-directed Noah, all I see is a paper cutout version of the Ark floating along stylized waves made of velvet.

@Bobby Womack Bill Murray Noah has to get all those wacky animals on the boat, and fancy wife Tilda Swinton just isn't helping!

@Bobby Womack Well, there was the Noye's Fludde scenes from Moonrise Kingdom, so I think he's gotten it out of the way.

Tater Salad (#266,113)

@antarctica starts here In the Wes Anderson film, it's just Noah, the wife and kids, and two hedgehogs.

Mrjeremy (#266,044)

Well…. I didn't think it was terrible. I really liked it.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Mrjeremy And who are you?

KarenUhOh (#19)

It's Hollywood's way of getting in good with God. Like putting a Rolex in the collection plate, even though you've got a Royal Oak on your wrist.

LondonLee (#922)

Using Papyrus is a deal-breaker for me. I'm looking at you Avatar.

joeclark (#651)

@LondonLee Strangely, J. Cameron used a customized variant of Papyrus.

gregorg (#30)

on the bright side, God promised there would be no sequel.

ejcsanfran (#489)

@gregorg: Noah II: The Repopulating (rated NC17)

BadUncle (#153)

Unless this movie has either a credible biblical explanation post-deluvian genetic diversity or warriors fighting giant crabs, I'm not interested.

Kevin Knox (#4,475)

Would have been better if he'd adapted Bill Cosby's Noah.

Ralph Haygood (#13,154)

Having been raised by fundies – you know, people who actually claim to believe all that hokum about Noah and his ark – there's no way I'm seeing a movie about it unless it's VERY campy indeed. How about Tim Curry as Noah?

Kisangani (#266,074)

Is this all this guy does? Historical films where he plays some nonexistent gallant hero? Honestly, I doubt anyone will remember him in 50 years.

The costumes look like the kind of stuff Allison Janney and her "sons" wore in the last season of "Lost." This makes me hate it without even having seen it. Anything that looks anything like that hateful part of that hateful season of "Lost" must be truly hateful indeed.

scrooge (#2,697)

Just as long as they have Sodom, Gomorrah and a Golden Ass, I'm in.

JLK (#266,116)

when all the sophisticated folks finish posting their oh so sophisticated comments, I just want to say that there isn't enough sex,cursing,nudity,rape, cutting edge politically correct caca in this movie for them. That's all. If it was filthy, filthy, filthy…they'd call it art….well, guess what? Maybe some people who don't want to pay money to see any of that crap, there sure is enough of it out there….Our pretty normal family went to see it and enjoyed …that's it…period….no dissecting or overthinking. Just nice not to be embarressed or disgusted or sickened …but some people can handle that……

sunchild (#2,348)

@JLK I'd like to think that the head of a "pretty normal family" can spell above a third grade level.

NoraNoes (#266,681)

@JLK Well, if they had stayed to the BIblical script to the end, there would have been plenty of sex and violence (killing off every single person in the whole world except one man, his wife, three sons and their wives…seems a bit violent to me). And what happens next (Noah's nakedness: Gensis 9:18 and following) should apparently have been included to make it a truly "modern" movie.

darla (#282,110)

@JLK Have you actually watched the film? Tubal-cain's people were literally EATING BABIES. Is that your idea of wholesome family entertainment, you sick freak?

teenagerinlove (#266,475)

Why hasn't anyone commented on the totally cool blue jeans Noah wears and also his stylin shirt from Banana Republic ?

wtowell (#272,949)

With a biblical story you are allowed a large amount of poetic license but this film gorges on it. I lost interest early in this film when the stone age transformers appeared, closely followed by men wearing welding helmets to make iron weapons, corrugated sheeting used as shields, guns, and clothing that ranges from designer jeans with Ugg boots to tailored jackets from M&S….I'm sure I have one of Noah jumpers in my wardrobe (retained for gardening purposes only).
Films like this insult the audience and deserve to crash and burn.I thought Crow would have learned his lesson with Robin Hood…WWII landing craft appeared off the English coast. The audience will not swallow it.
I feel the Director has stolen a couple of hours of my life!
Definitely one to miss.

Roxy86 (#281,462)

Se sei un appassionato di cinema e film entra su e troverai notizie di cinema, recensioni film, poster e trailer dei film al cinema.

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