Film Review: MARY MAGDALENE (UK/USA/Australia 2018) **

Mary Magdalene Poster
Trailer

The story of Mary Magdalene.

Director:

Garth Davis

Comes Easter usually come a slew of Christianity films.  MARY MAGDALENE is one of them that does not have the Christian faith directly as a theme.  Mary Magdalene is one of the women who encountered Jesus of Nazareth in the Bible.

Besides being set in Biblical times and a film that has Jesus as a subject, there are other reasons that might attract moviegoers to MARY MAGDALENE.  The film features two stars Rooney Mara and Joachim Phoenix who normally play shit disturbers – Mara in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and Phoenix in INHERENT VICE and YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE, now playing a super good Mary and the Son of God, Jesus.

Though Mary is believed by may to be a reformed prostitute, no such mention of this fact is evident i any part of the film.  When the film begins, Mary is seen delivering a bay saving the mothers life before being offered as a bride to a man she does not love.  She declines to continue the typical mother and wife role set in her village of those times.  Mary and  her village are under the rule of King Herod, which the audience is informed is a puppet ruler of the Roans who has beheaded John the Baptist for preaching the Kingdom of God.  The Mary Magdalene character is present in the  4 Gospels of the new Testament that account for the life of Jesus on Earth.  The life of Jesus is in the background in the film with Mary as the protagonist.

The film’s setting is Galilee.   The cinematography is impressive and most of the scenes are spectacular to look at – with the lake in the background (according to the press notes) or sea (according to the Bible).  

MARY MAGDALENE fails for a number of reasons for two main reason – the miscasting and the fact that thesis one boring film.   Whenever Mara appears, despite her angelic face, one can always recall her bad ass roles.  The same can be said for Phoenix only worse.  It is totally laughable when Phoenix as Jesus starts preaching doing good deeds.  Director Davis also sues the film to promote the feminine cause – the role of women in society.  The film drags on with event after event that does not really connect the audience with the narrative.  No one really cares if Mary fall in love or marries her soul mate either.

The film has an eclectic cast that includes Tahar Rah as Judas Iscariot, Tcheky Karyi as Elisha and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples (I did not know Peter was black and that Judas was Arab).  One can understand current films striving to be politically correct to further the causes of feminism and racism.

For MARY MAGDALENE – see it for what it is worth, which is not much.  Better to spend your money on Easter eggs!

Trailer: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5360996/videoplayer/vi3892165913?ref_=tt_ov_vi

Advertisements

Happy Birthday: Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel EjioforChiwetel Ejiofor

Date of Birth 10 July 1977, Forest Gate, London, England, UK
Height 5′ 10″ (1.78 m)

I remember getting cast in Amistad and getting this very strong feeling that I had overshot myself. It was a great shock. It made me realize that this is not a profession you can predict; that you can have all these ambitions and expectations and that they can all be thrown to the wind. What was peculiar about that situation was that my aspirations were so far below what actually happened.

I like to disappear into a role. I equate the success of it with a feeling of being chemically changed.

I always thought of the play as a sequel to Romeo and Juliet. I think Shakespeare’s so astute in his understanding of people being vulnerable, you know. And that love is so easy to corrupt. I think so many of Shakespeare’s plays are about how fragile love is – how perfect and beautiful it is, but also how terrifying and easy to manipulate it is.

But these are the realities of the artistic idealism and the stock, the commercial/financial realism, and, so, somehow sometimes it is going to work in your favor and sometimes against, and that’s all part and parcel of it. We just, in our end, just carry on trying to sort of produce the work, or the best work we can do, and hope that at their end they find a way of getting that to as many people as possible in the cinema medium.

Movie Review: TRIPLE 9 (2016) ****

triple_9.jpgTRIPLE 9 (USA/UK 2015) ****
Directed by John Hillocoat

Starring: Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Gal Godot, Kate Winset, Aaron Paul, Teresa Palmer, Michael Kenneth Williams

Review by Gilbert Seah

No stranger to violent films, director John Hillcoat’s (LAWLESS, THE ROAD and his best film THE PROPOSITION) latest entry into gangster genre proves himself apt at serious comic book sensibility. TRIPLE 9, the code for ‘officer down’, plays like a ‘real’ serious adult comic book version of DEADPOOL.

It takes a while for the film to settle on its bearings. The script by first time writer, Matt Cook is clever enough not to reveal all the plot points, but keeps the audience always one step behind what is happening. An example is the bank heist. Who are the robbers working for? What is their aim? One point is a bank officer removing a safety deposit box from the vault. As far as I now, it requires two keys, one from the officer and the other from the customer to open a box. It is a good tactic. For example, the audience is aware that one officer is going down, but never sure which one or for what reason. The characters are also individually distinct and eccentric all aided by superlative performances from a eclectic cast.

The key performance comes from Casey Effleck (brother of Ben) who has proven his acting mettle in previous films like THE TOWN. His character is the only uncorrupt one, and the key one that puts the whole story into prospective. The good must always prevail. The script contains a few too many close calls for his character. As for the ambiguous baddies, there are too many too count. Interesting enough, many do good for the wrong reasons. The true baddie appears to be the Russian moll, Irina played by Kate Winslet , complete with Russian accent and is barely recognizable in her makeup.. She is also doing bad for a good reason, to aid her crooked husband escape.

Hillcoat keeps the action and fury fast and furious and nonstop. Be prepared to be glued to your seats! The film alternates between highly charged action and drama sequences. For the action segments, the bank heist at the film’s start is hard to beat. The robbers show no mercy and show they mean business. They do not shout warnings. They fire and beat up the victims, and talk later. All this makes the heist even more gripping. Hillcoat also realizes that the devil is in the details. On the highway, a robber points his rifle at a car, only to have it rammed from behind and the robber moving backwards to avoid being hit. The camerawork is excellent, the best example being the one where the camera pulls back during a car chase showing where each in on the maze of highways in the city.

Hillcoat does not skimp on the violence as evident by showing a bag of bloodied teeth at another point in the film. The characters are always angry, screaming at each other but not without reason. Every character is desperate. Every character is ready to kill.

Stay for the end credits. The 1980’s song ‘Pigs” (called so for obvious reasons) by Cypress Hill is inventive, catchy, hilarious and totally appropriate. The song can also be played on YouTube.