Not Going By The Book

noah

Bible stories strangely are having a little bit of a mini renaissance. We have Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings, starring Christian Bale, but first out of the gate is Noah, directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Russell Crowe as the flood prophet who attempts to save all of Earth’s animals when the world is flooded through man’s wickedness. Aronofsky has tinkered a little bit (alright a lot) with the bible story, adding barren daughter-in-law Ila (Emma Watson) and Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone), the venal chieftain who doesn’t consider his actions in any moral light and feels the Earth is theirs to do what they will with. It wouldn’t matter how close it was to the bible story since that’s no more credible and factual than what director Aronofsky has created here except for the fact that Noah features laughable dialogue (often delivered by Crowe), risible performances especially by the excruciatingly wooden Watson, who seems to be trying to give Keira Knightley a run for her money in the shocking performances stakes, and a tone that veers between earnest and turgid. Noah is two hours and twenty minutes and by the time you hit the last forty minutes, you are constantly checking your watch. It doesn’t help that it also has some truly wretched effects which look artificial and ungainly thanks to the pointless but inevitable 3D. There may be an interesting and thought-provoking film hiding in here somewhere but much of it feels like a 2014 remake of The Land That Time Forgot without the kitsch charm and the sense of fun. Noah is overlong, tedious and a real chore to get through. Here’s hoping that Scott’s Moses epic is a lot better…


POLITICAL BEHAVIOUR
State of Play was a fantastic BBC drama broadcast back in 2003 starring John Simm as a newspaper reporter, Cal McCaffrey, and David Morrissey as his politician friend Stephen Collins. Fast-forward six years and Hollywood has acquired the story, moved the action to America and replaced Simm with Russell Crowe and Morrissey with Ben Affleck. I caught a screening of the film State of Play last Monday and I have to say that director Kevin MacDonald, of Last King of Scotland fame, has done a solid job with the transition. Reporters make for interesting protagonists on screen and one of my favourite films is the peerless All The President’s Men, which features Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein bringing down the corrupt Nixon administration. State of Play isn’t quite up there with All The President’s Men but this story of reporter McCaffrey (played with shambling charisma by Russell Crowe) and his friendship with flawed but basically good politician Collins (a clean-cut Affleck) moves well on screen. It seems that Collins has been carrying on with one of his political researchers and when she is found dead, McCaffrey opens up a can of worms that seems to lead to a huge political conspiracy involving smarmy PR man Dominic Foy (Jason Bateman) and evil-looking arms company PointCorp. Crowe is very good value: from the first moment, when you see him driving in his cluttered, manky old car to a crime scene, you know that this is a role he can inhabit comfortably. Affleck’s performance is also surprisingly able here. After being eclipsed by his former acting partner Matt Damon, his performance here shows that he does have range, versatility and empathy as an actor. Support is strong here too: Jeff Daniels, as shady Senator George Fergus, and Helen Mirren as shouty English newspaper editor Cameron Lynne both lend some extra weight to proceedings. The payoff is nicely handled too and you are left thinking about the difficulty that a friendship between a reporter and a major political figure could encounter. It also makes some valid points about print versus digital journalism with hot brunette blogger Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) coming to blows with trad print journo McCaffrey. The chemistry between the pair is credible on screen and at no point does she fall into bed with him. MacDonald is Emeric Pressburger’s grandson, so it’s obvious that cinema does flow in his veins, and State of Play is a superior heavyweight thriller with a great cast. So if you’re in the mood to catch a film that makes you think and holds your attention for the two hours it’s on screen, you would find this film very satisfying…