Noah

IFC Midnight

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Den Liz (Melanie Papalia) has received a grant to study The Den, a popular online video-chat service (like ChatRoulette) that matches up strangers for conversations, interactions and dick pics. After being pranked a few times by bored kids she witnesses what she believes to be a real murder and calls the police. Nothing comes of it, but she’s thereafter harassed by a particular user capable of infiltrating and controlling her laptop. Soon her friends and family are targeted by the unknown assailant and Liz is forced into an online fight with real-world consequences. You have every right and reason to be leery. This horror flick is composed entirely of footage captured on webcams, cell phones, GoPros and more. Even less promising, the images are displayed as video windows on a computer screen. I know. It sounds terrible. But here’s the thing. The Den is a fantastic slice of A/V horror that handily avoids most of the issues the “found footage” format is saddled with again and again. It’s also legitimately scary, creative and features a heroine who grows on you like a sexy, spunky, grad school fungus. [My full review.] [DVD extras: Commentary, behind the scenes, trailer]

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The Weekend Watch is an open thread where you can share what you’ve recently watched, offer suggestions on movies and TV shows we should check out (or warnings about stuff to avoid) and discover queue-filling goodies from other FSR readers. The comments section awaits. I’ll get the ball rolling with the movies/TV my eyeballs took in this weekend.

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Russell Crowe in Noah

“Let me tell you a story.” Beloved filmmaker Darren Aronofsky’s much-hyped Noah didn’t exactly deliver the goods when it finally hit the big screen earlier this season, but the feature did boast some eye-popping scenes and settings that were very nearly worth the price of admission. They built a whole ark, for goodness’ sake! And there’s at least one other thing Aronofsky nailed when it came to creating his own cinematic world – the actual creation of the world, at least as told through his own camera lens (and lots and lots of special effects). Protozoa Pictures has now made the extraordinarily awesome “Creation” clip live (yes, it’s about the creation of the world, but no, you don’t need to be a Biblical devotee or a Christian to enjoy it), and the good people of /Film were smart enough to find it and share. Let’s sit back and soak in the glory of the very first story ever told (even though it happens to hit Noah in, well, its middle, after the flood has washed away nearly everything in existence).

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Black Swan

You can call Darren Aronofsky many things, but what you can’t call him is unambitious. From a stylized depiction of a mathematician’s gradual descent into madness to a story of one man’s love and loss that traverses across a millennium to an unrelenting journey into the life-or-death stakes of the perfect ballet performance, Aronosky’s work has tackled an array of subjects that all bear his stamp: a pursuit of perfection shared unmistakably between himself and his characters. Even when the reach of his ambitions has exceeded his grasp, Aronofsky has always made films that bear the mark of a director unwilling to compromise, for better or worse. His latest, Noah, no doubt represents his most enterprising reach yet. At once an epic Hollywood spectacle and a fable updated to deal with fears of an impending environmental apocalypse, Noah is a strange and enticing combination of big budget studio fodder and bewildering yet beautiful gestures of visionary auteurism. So here’s some free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the guy who made 3.14159 cool again.

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Russell Crowe in

Darren Aronofsky’s big budget Bible epic, Noah, finally hits theaters today, and although the film is packed with some major surprises (those of you familiar with the Curse of Ham are going to be quite put out), there’s one twist that most of its audience will never see coming – because it’s totally absent from the film’s marketing campaign.  A twist?, you might wonder, why would a marketing campaign include a twist? Oh, only because that twist is actually the existence of an actual pack of supporting characters (not just one, not two, not even three, but a whole pack) that are ripped from the film’s traditional source material (you know, the Bible) and play a major part in some of the film’s biggest bits of action (from building the ark to battling the baddies). So why can’t you find them in any official still, trailer, or teaser? Spoilers ahead.

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Russell Crowe in Noah movie

If you were raised by parents who even loosely identified as practitioners of a Western religion, then chances are you were brought up being told some version of the Noah story. You know the one—God becomes upset with the wickedness of man, decides to flood the Earth and wipe everything out so that he can start over, Noah is tasked with building a giant boat that can save a male and female from every species of animal, and then, wickedness wiped out, Noah’s family and all of the critters are encouraged to be fruitful and multiply. It’s a good story for kids. It sends the message that if you don’t behave morally, the world will punish you, it involves a bunch of furry creatures, and it’s easy to summarize. Which is why Darren Aronofsky is kind of taking a risk by turning it into a big budget, epic adventure film. Not only do most people think of the Noah story as existing within the realm of childhood fairy tale, but those who are devout are likely to bristle at the idea of having one of their sacred stories blown up and turned into Hollywood fare, and those who don’t respond well to religion aren’t likely to look forward to reliving their early days sitting through Sunday School lectures. There’s good news here for all of these potential whiners though, because Noah is far too dark and complex to be confused for a childhood fairy tale, it takes great pains to […]

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Darren Aronofsky THE FOUNTAIN

The Fountain and Noah are, in some ways, companion pieces. Director Darren Aronofsky‘s 2006 sci-fi mini epic is a movie about facing death. Its character must accept the singular rule of the universe: everyone dies. Noah focuses on the one man who has to allow almost everyone to perish, but like The Fountain, it still deals with a man accepting his destiny, no mattew how dire it may seem. Some claim Aronofsky’s latest will divide audiences and critics, but it likely won’t match the polarized response The Fountain received, a movie that was downright hated by some. To this day that remains a shame because it’s Aronofsky’s most emotional, complex, and rewarding film. The main problem with Aronofsky’s films in general is that, no matter how good they may be, they’re pretty surface-level dramas. Black Swan, as fun as it is, spells out its themes again and again, never leaving room for much interpretation. The Fountain does that too, but what it says sticks with you in a way his other films don’t. With Aronofsky’s other efforts you get the same film you saw on first viewing, but that’s not the case with The Fountain.  Aronfosky’s commentary for the film validates this belief. He doesn’t breakdown what it all means, but instead chooses to focus on the making-of and the kind of details that make his film grow richer on repeat viewings.

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Grand Budapest Hotel

March may not be the most wonderful time of the year, but this year it’s a pretty wonderful 31-day span. There’s a Wes Anderson movie, Muppets, a biblical epic, and the return of one of TV’s most charming characters. This month is overwhelming with quality, so much so that I had to exclude Eva Green’s performance in 300: Rise of an Empire from this list. Not only is that semi-sequel more fun, self-aware, and bonkers than the original, but Green chews up every bit of CG scenery in her sight. I already feel shame for scratching it off. Make sure to experience Green’s performance in 3D. Never before has a woman kissing a decapitated head been portrayed with such grace, but somehow Green and the power of a third dimension makes the romantic act more beautiful and visceral than ever. None of the 10 films featured below has the actress killing it in the third dimension, but they all have their own things going for them. Again, it’s an excellent month to look forward to.

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aboutlastnight1

You’ve seen our preview of our most anticipated movies of 2014. Now put away those expectations for a bit and be patient, because it’s homework time. As you may know, each weekend I offer some recommendations for movies, both well-known and obscure, to see after you’ve watched that latest hot new release. I’ll be continuing this feature into the new year, so you can look forward to adding more to your backlog queue with titles tied to everything from The Legend of Hercules to Night at the Museum 3. First, though, I want to get a jump on some of the most obvious movies of the past related to the upcoming movies of the near future. These are primarily the original works receiving remakes in the first half of 2014 — or older works based on the same stories. And as usual, some are more popular and familiar than others. Couldn’t you just skip the old versions and go blindly into the new as if it’s a fresh property? Of course, and you can keep on listening to cover songs, too. And always see the movie instead of reading a book. However, if you’re interested in knowing your history and also being able to judge something with proper awareness of what came before, whether you want to make comparisons or not, read ahead and prepare yourself for the next six months of moviegoing.

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Noah Crowe 1

The trailer for Darren Aronofsky‘s Noah has arrived, bringing with it Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, and two of every creature on the Earth. But not all those other people panicking on land — screw them. It’s the story, of course, of the age-old biblical tale of Noah’s ark; in the Old Testament, God decides that he’s had enough with the world and its people’s sinning ways, so he calls upon Noah with a very specific task — build a massive ark big enough to fit himself, his family and two of every animal. All those outside the boat will be washed away with the sins of the world by a devastating, unfathomable flood. Needless to say, Aronofsky’s vision of the Great Flood is a crashing, gargantuan force that makes that wave that swallowed the Statue of Liberty in the Day After Tomorrow look like some prime surfing territory.

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Noah Short Film

Why Watch? An excellent example of art imitating online life, this short film from Patrick Cederberg and Walter Woodman hits a narrative sweet spot without ever leaving a teenager’s computer screen. Romance, jealousy, lust, joy, boredom and random Chatroulette dongs are all channeled through the two-dimensional space. Noah (Sam Kantor) blithely jumps between browser tabs, music and Skype while his girlfriend Amy (Caitlin McConkey-Pirie) intimates that she wants to break up before college does it for them. His paranoia leads him down a rabbit hole even as his multi-tasking A.D.D. keeps him humming around familiar internet haunts. Put together with crisp, frantic precision, what works best here is the disconnection. We mostly get to see Noah’s reactions through how fast his mouse flies, which creates a fantastic sense that the high drama playing out doesn’t really matter even as hovering over the “Send” button makes us cringe. It helps that Noah seems generally uninterested (first and foremost in his girlfriend), but the constant clicking also offers up a lot of chances for jokes and fist-clenchers in the nooks and crannies of the larger story. Plus, the behavior is on point at any age. The habitual refreshing, the playlist swapping, the threat of doing something stupid in the public forum of Facebook. All of it swiftly adds up to a lesson about miscommunication that seems perfect for all of us who talk in little boxes. Make it full screen for an even more jarring experience.

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Noah Crowe 1

Who knew sackcloth and ashes could look so great? Apparently Darren Aronosfky (or at least costume designer Michael Wilkinson). Recognizing that the bulk of the connection hear comes from Russell Crowe, these first images from the Black Swan director’s Biblical epic Noah feel a lot like we’re heading back into Ridley Scott Robin Hood territory. It’s also partially because these pictures (via The Film Stage) are close-ups on the actors without much discernible background beyond “a forest somewhere.” Obviously the films will be nothing like each other, and it’s interesting to see Noah and his family in something other than impossibly clean togas as is the artistic norm, but the likeness popped right out. Is it just me?

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Noah Aronofsky Ark

Looming large over the landscape, the ark that Noah (Russell Crowe) and his family will use to save themselves (and by proxy, humanity) was made of an old material called “wood” instead of the preferred material called “pixels.” Darren Aronofsky‘s decision to go big for the floating home is something to celebrate even if it exhausted those in charge of production, set, art and the local logging industry. The movie will no doubt involve some CGI, but this Herculean undertaking proves an odd kind of old school dedication to delivering something breathtaking in-camera. Plus, if you open the lid, your face melts off. The epic Noah is set for theaters March 28, 2014, so we have a ways to go before we see this beauty in all its sea-worthy glory, but even in still form, it inspires a bit of awe and the believability that it can hold two of every animal except unicorns. Hyperbolic internet writers, it’s okay to use the phrase “awesome” in this instance. [Vulture]

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Russell Crowe in Noah

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a column about movies and stuff. With a particular focus on “and stuff.” We begin tonight with a shot of Russell Crowe as Noah, in the upcoming vision from director Darren Aronofsky. He’s looking quite grizzled, like an older version of his character from Gladiator. And that’s alright. Because that situation worked out pretty well. Then again, he also looks like a slightly older version of his Robin Hood…

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Everyone knows how much the movie-making world relies on trends. If one studio has a superhero movie that hits, suddenly everyone has to have their own superhero movie. If one movie featuring a bow and arrow toting protagonist scores big at the box office, suddenly a flood of Hollywood’s top names find themselves having to take archery lessons. Savvy producers are the ones who are always on the lookout for what the next big trend is going to be. So, now that we’ve gotten through a whole summer of William Tell wannabes, what’s the next big trend that’s going to hit theaters? If Darren Aronofsky or Will Smith are able to bring in the bucks with either of their brewing projects, it might be adaptations of bible stories. The first bit of biblical news floating around today comes from a Tweet sent out directly by Aronofsky himself (via Vulture). Yesterday the Black Swan director took to his Twitter account and sent the following message out to his followers, “I dreamt about this since I was 13. And now it’s a reality. Genesis 6:14 #noah.” Of course, seeing as he’s currently at work making a Russell Crowe-starring adaptation of the story of Noah, it doesn’t take much detective work to figure out that the image of a gigantic wooden structure in mid-construction accompanying his words must be the Ark that’s being built for the film. Yeah, that’s right, CG be damned – Aronofsky is going practical with his giant wooden boat.

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While it’s seeming more and more possible that Darren Aronofsky won’t make the wish of flood enthusiasts everywhere come true by casting someone to play a giant wave or two (or three, or four…) in his Noah, he’s making up for that hideous oversight with a stellar cast that so far includes Russell Crowe, Saoirse Ronan, Douglas Booth, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone, and (probably) Jennifer Connolly - a litany of talents that he’s just rounded out with no less than Sir Anthony Hopkins. Aronofsky himself announced the news this morning via his Twitter, in a tweet that reads: “i’m honored to be working with the great sir anthony hopkins. we just added him to the stellar cast of ‪#Noah‬. ‪#methuselahlives‬” Methuselah lives! Hurray! Wait, who is Methuselah again?

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With casting news for Darren Aronofsky‘s Noah slowly trickling out like a leaky faucet, we’ve long joked about the continued rumors that Russell Crowe’s Noah was going to be getting a nemesis that wasn’t just the giant, world-destroying flood that history has taught us is his main nemesis. Proving that a flood of Biblical proportions just isn’t enough to even possibly sink Crowe, Deadline Aspen reports that Ray Winstone has been offered the role of Noah’s human villain. Little is known about the part beyond the basic description that he will somehow come up against Crowe, and that Aronofsky was gunning for actors who possess “grit and size” for the role. He was also reportedly looking at Val Kilmer, which might signal that the filmmaker was also looking for that indefinable batshit lunacy that Kilmer can pull off so well. Winstone does certainly have grit and size on his side, coupled with raw talent and what some people like to refer to as gravitas. He was last seen in Snow White and the Huntsman, but for pure Winstone-ness, look no further than something like the gloriously unhinged 44 Inch Chest (or The Departed, The Proposition, or Edge of Darkness – the dude is a badass everywhere).

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Darren Aronofsky‘s epic Noah continues to fill out, with Deadline Woodland Hills now reporting that Emma Watson is in talks to come on board the project as the love interest, Ila, of one of Noah’s (Russell Crowe) sons. The outlet reports that Ila will develop “a close relationship” with Douglas Booth‘s character, Shem. There’s a bit of confusion here, as Deadline’s post about the casting (which we reported earlier this week) indicated that Logan Lerman‘s Ham would be the one receiving a love interest, and this news says that it will in fact be Booth who will get the girl. Weirdly enough, this might not be a case of Deadline screwing up which son is which – different versions of the Noah story actually mix up the order of the sons (there’s even another one, Japheth), and that could certainly be a part of the problem. And that’s about as far as my lapsed Catholicism can take me on this one. The film is still in need of both a wife and a nemesis for Noah.

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Darren Aronofsky‘s Biblical epic Noah has been through enough chatter over the years to sink even the heartiest of souls, so it’s high time the filmmaker buckled down and began casting the rest of the film’s roles beyond just Russell Crowe as Noah. Just in the interest of getting this ship on the water and all. Deadline Las Vegas reports that Logan Lerman and Douglas Booth are now on board to play Noah’s sons. Lerman will be the oldest, Ham, with Booth taking on the younger role of Shem. This means we’re still in need of some feminine wiles – the boys need a mom and Noah needs a wife (Jennifer Connelly continues to be the name that comes up most often when it comes to this particular role), and Ham apparently gets a love interest (supposedly a “great role” for an up-and-coming young actress). The outlet also reports that, despite earlier chatter, Liam Neeson will not be playing Noah’s “nemesis” in the film. I never really pictured him as raging floodwaters either. That role is also still up for grabs.

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