13 April 2014

When it Rains and Pours and When it Pours for 40 Days and Nights You've Got Noah


No considerate God would destroy the human mind by making it so rigid and unadaptable as to depend upon one book, the Bible, for all the answers. For the use of words, and thus of a book, is to point beyond themselves to a world of life and experience that is not mere words or even ideas. Just as money is not real, consumable wealth, books are not life. To idolize scriptures is like eating paper currency. - Alan Watts.

Saw Darren Aronofsky's Noah today at a plastic temple selling plastic foods and liquids. There were plastic previews of plastic movies about a Spiderman and a Hercules and real live Bears presented in such a way as to make them plastic and unknowable. Plastic ads and plastic warnings about cell phones preceded and followed the trailers and finally the movie was shown. It being a very early showing there were only a few people in the theater many coming and going to dispense plastic waste or fill up on more plastic consumables or answer plastic messages on plastic devices.

The film was interesting and most of my yawns were because of an unsatisfactory night of sleep and not a reflection on what was taking place on the screen. I went in part because I've liked most of Aronofsky's previous films and I was pleased to have learned that this was not a biblical epic selling any religious orthodoxy and in fact had ticked off the religious right which is so often wrong. Right.

The character of Noah (Russell Crowe) comes off as something of a religious wing nut himself ready as he is to kill babies in a misinterpretation of the creator's wishes. That he is complicated makes him real and interesting as humans tend to be. Overall the cast is quite good and I particularly liked Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah who just wants to eat some berries and don't we all. Emma Watson is Noah's daughter-in-law and I've really grown to like her and were I half my age would have the biggest crush on this wonderful person/actress. Jennifer Connelly plays the long suffering wife and suffer she does.

Such a film demands some very special special effects indeed and they are delivered. Pairs of all manner of animal are required and none were used as CGI providing the critters none of which were harmed of course. The flood the dreams the battles were all spectacular and haven't we gotten used to technical wizardry in film? I know I have. It's all about story for me and there is one mixed in with all the pomp and noise -- although I'd have liked more. This one also leans a little bit to heavily on action as films often do with predictable fight sequences. Bible stories are a useful tool for asking questions and pondering meanings. They also should not be taken literally but try telling that to someone who is a believer in every word of it. I was sent to Sunday school as a child and loved the stories. They tickled my imagination quite nicely. As soon as I graduated to regular church at age 14 I lost all interest. It was the Lutheran church which is the white bread of church going experiences. Just as interesting and meaningful. I had a brief flirtation one summer with an evangelical church when I was heavily into booze and drugs. In sober moments I realized what a crock it all was and how foolish it was of me to participate. I've since eschewed religions of all stripes and  consider my current interest in Buddhism to be strictly spiritual and soul enriching and not at all religious.

When people use faith and belief to contradict knowledge and empirical fact the world is in trouble and my goodness people do an awful lot of that and have for centuries. There's less of an excuse for it today but there it is and here we are and all the rest of us can do is continue to speak truth and meditate and hug. That Christianity has held such sway in political life in the history of this republic is quite sad and quite detrimental (excuse my adverbs). Especially when many of these religious groups would have us believe that Jesus would condone gun toting capitalists bent on making whatever coin they can in this world whether they can take it with em or not.

Aronofsky has proven to be a director who defies categorizing having now made a bible picture to go along with one about a ballerina a wrestler a drug addict and math genius. Can't wait to see what he comes up with next.


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