Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Love Exposure (5 Stars)

1. Corinthians 13

 1. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
 2. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
 3. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
 4. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
 5. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
 6. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
 7. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 8. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
 9. For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10. but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
11. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
12. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

This is one of the best films ever made. It's definitely the best film ever made in Japan. I don't know how to describe it in a way that would do it justice. It tells the story of Yu, a 17-year-old boy in a strict Catholic house, and his attempts to find his one true love. As is to be expected from Sion Sono, the path to true love leads through a maze of religious guilt, madness and maniacal slaughters. The film rambles on for four hours, alternating between action sequences, moral dilemmas and teenage angst. It can't be pinned down to any one genre. It has to be watched to believed.

Tracks (4 Stars)

This is the incredible true story of Robyn Davidson's trek across Australia in 1977, based on her book about the journey. She decided to walk on foot from the east to the west coast of Australia, a distance of 1700 miles (2700 kilometres). While the distance itself set no records, it has to be remembered that the majority of the journey was across a desert where there was little or no water. Robyn used three camels to carry her load, which consisted of a tent, food and water. A fourth camel was the calf of one of the other camels that she didn't want to separate from his mother. She also took her dog with her for company.

Robyn carried out the trip with financial support from National Geographic. They sent a photographer, Rick Smolan, to rendezvous with her at intervals on her journey. The brief romance with him, little more than a one-night stand, seems out of place in the film, but assuming that it really happened it needs to be documented. Rick thought that it meant something and wanted to travel with her for a few days, but it was only the fulfilment of a temporary need that Robyn had, so she insisted on continuing alone. The only man who accompanied her was a tribal elder who had to walk with her across sacred land for religious reasons.

The film has stunning visual beauty. Mia Wasikowska does an amazing job portraying Robyn's determination in the face of adversity. Even though I've seen her twice in recent films, "Only lovers left alive" and "The Double", I've never paid much attention to her as an actress. Maybe because she played less prominent roles in both films. Originally Julia Roberts was scheduled to play Robyn Davidson, but I'm sure she wouldn't have been as convincing in the role.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Locke (5 Stars)

Ivan Locke is a good man. He loves his wife and children. He works long hours as the Birmingham manager of a multi-national construction company, and every day he drives home to his family. But then the unthinkable happens. One day before the start of the biggest project of his career, the boring of the site for a 55-floor building, he doesn't go home. He rings his wife and tells her he is going to spend the night in London. He rings his boss and tells him he's taking the next day off.

As we find out, while on a business trip the previous year he had a one-night stand with a woman from the London branch of his company. She's about to have a baby, and he's driving to be with her because it's the right thing to do. He has no feelings for the woman, but he feels compelled to be with her, even if it jeopardises his family and his career. He feels he has responsibilities to both the woman and the child.

The whole film takes place in Ivan's car as he drives to London. We see nobody else. We only hear the voices of the people he talks to on the phone as he drives: his wife, his sons, the other woman, his boss, an employee and various other people. The film is unique in its minimalism. In the hands of a lesser director or a less competent actor it would have been boring. The team of Steven Knight and Tom Hardy lift the film to the level of brilliance. If this film doesn't get at least a nomination for next year's best film Academy Awards there's no justice in the world.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Transcendence (3¾ Stars)

I must admit that I'm rather disappointed with this film. When I saw the trailers I expected a lot more. The trailers (which gave away about as much of the plot as I'll describe in this review) made it look like a brilliant, thought-provoking film. It is a good film, but it's not great. And it could have been made a lot better.

Johnny Depp plays Dr. Will Caster, a scientist working on creating artificial intelligence. A terrorist group calling itself RIFT (Revolutionary Independence From Technology) attempts to kill him. He is left with only a few weeks to live. During this time his colleagues upload his brain impulses to his super-computer. After his death his consciousness lives on in the computer, but aided by phenomenal processing speed. Over the next two years he makes great medical advances. He can cure people from any illness, from broken legs to blindness. But he also networks together everyone he heals, so that he can give instructions directly into their brains. This doesn't just scare RIFT, it also turns the American government against him.

The story, the plot and the concepts behind the film are fascinating. The problem is the film's pacing. When the film began I forgave the slowness since it was preparing the background and introducing the characters. But it remained just as slow when things started happening. The film seemed stretched out and could easily have been compressed into 60 minutes. Alternatively, it could have remained the same length if there had been more action. It's the first film directed by Wally Pfister, who has previously worked as a cinematographer for various films directed by Christopher Nolan. If Nolan had directed this film himself it would have been much better.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Raid 2 (4½ Stars)

Normally I sigh when I see posters like the one above. Claims like "The greatest action film ever" are usually a ploy to lure people into watching a third rate movie. But in this case it could be true. The action scenes are spectacular, and they take place from beginning to end, with hardly a pause for the viewer to catch his breath.

I haven't seen the first film, yet. As soon as I watched this film in the cinema I ordered "The Raid" on Blu-ray, that's how much I liked it. I've been told that the second film features some of the actors from the first film, but the plots are unrelated enough to make it possible to watch the second film first. The background story isn't important enough to be indispensable knowledge.

Rama is a young police officer in Indonesia. His superior wants him to go underground in a criminal gang with the intention of finding proof that there are corrupt police officers who assist the gangs, To do this Rama assaults the son of a rich businessman and lets himself be arrested, so that he can become friends with the already imprisoned Uco, the son of a gang leader called Bangun. Two years later Rama is released from prison and is invited to join Bangun's gang. At this point Rama seems to be distancing himself from his role as a policeman. He is loyal to Bangun as his boss and Uco as his friend, and he becomes torn when Uco plans a rebellion against his father.

The plot is complex. There are three gangs, not including corrupt police officers, and at times it's difficult to understand who's fighting who. I'm sure that will be cleared up when I watch the film again. But the fighting is amazing. It's mostly unarmed combat, the Indonesian martial arts style referred to as "Pencak Silat", but there are also guns and weapons such as baseball bats and hammers. To me the fighting style is reminiscent of Wing Chun, depending on close contact and short punches. In a way the battles are realistic, not as idealised as in modern Chinese films, but they are over the top in their extent. For instance, in one scene there is a car chase while Rama is on the back seat of a car fighting with three men in the car around him, one on either side and the third on the front seat. This fight at close quarters was so amazing, especially because the car was being rammed by other cars in the chase. I believe this is the first time a car chase and a martial arts battle inside a car have ever been combined.

Is it the greatest action film ever? Maybe. At the moment I can't think of a more explosive action film.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A Touch of Spice (4½ Stars)

This is the first Greek film I've ever watched, and it's beautiful. The original Greek title is ambiguous, and can mean either "The Cuisine of the City" or "Political Cuisine". Both meanings apply to the film.

Fanis Iakovidis was born in Istanbul in the mid 1950's. His mother was Turkish, but his father was a Greek whose family had lived in Turkey for several generations. Fanis' grandfather Vasilis (his mother's father) owned a shop that sold spices. Fanis spent all his time in Vasilis' shop and developed a deep love for cooking and a talent far in excess of his years. For instance, at the age of five he got up in the middle of the night and cooked the food his mother had bought for a party. His parents wanted to tell him off, but when they tasted how good the food was they forgave him.

Due to the military conflicts in Cyprus Turkey began to expel Greek immigrants. In 1963 Fanis' father was told he had to return to Greece unless he agreed to become a Moslem. He refused and had to leave the country eight days later, taking his wife and son with him. Vasilis repeatedly promised to visit them in Greece, but he never did, always making an excuse at the last moment. As we later find out, Vasilis might have loved his Greek relatives, but he hated Greece.

Cooking remained Fanis' passion over the years. In school he didn't play with the other boys, he sat with the girls giving them food he had cooked. His father forbade him to enter the kitchen, so for the next two years he slept in the bathtub as a protest. Eventually he found a solution: he went to a brothel every day to cook for the prostitutes.

When Fanis hears that his grandfather is on his deathbed he decides to go back to Istanbul to see him. This is his first visit for 40 years. In all this time Fanis has never married because he still loves Saime, a Turkish girl who used to visit his grandfather's shop. He meets Saime again and attempts to rekindle their childhood romance.

It's difficult to explain why I like this film so much. Something about it moves me. It's the childhood innocence of a boy who idolises his grandfather. It's the touching love of a young boy that he clings to all his life. It's also the fascinating obsession of a boy, later a man, who sees spices as the focal point of all life on Earth.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

TV Series: Xena Warrior Princess

"Xena: Warrior Princess" is undoubtedly one of the greatest television series of all time. Quentin Tarantino says that it's the best series ever made. I don't agree with him, but it's certainly up there with the best. It was first broadcast as a spin-off of "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys", but "Xena" soon surpassed "Hercules" in popularity. (I'll shorten the names of the two series from now on, using quote marks to show that I'm talking about the series and not the characters). The two series take part in the same world, they often feature the same supporting characters, and the main characters even guest star in one another's episodes, but they are very different series. It would be fair to say that "Hercules" is a program for younger viewers, while "Xena" is a program for adults. To prove my point, just look at the fight scenes in the two series. Hercules used his fists and makeshift implements to fight, but even when he used a sword he never killed anybody. Xena, on the other hand, never hesitated to kick a soldier in the balls, then plunge a sword through his heart while he was off balance. There have been arguments in forums about how many people Xena has killed, the estimates ranging from 400 to 100,000 depending on whether the off-screen killings are included or not.

The series alternated between serious and comedy episodes, in a ratio of about 3:1. I personally prefer the serious stories, but the comedy episodes are good as well. Joxer was a character that I greatly admired. Despite all the criticism he really was a brave warrior, but he lacked the skills to put his bravery into action. Autolycus is a powerful character, but be honest, who doesn't like Bruce Campbell? Salmoneus annoyed me when I first watched "Xena", but now he's grown on me.

In my opinion – and I welcome discussions from other fans – "Xena" reached its peak at the end of the fourth season, in the episodes "Endgame" and "Ides of March". In general, the episodes with Caesar and Callisto were the best, but to see them as allies was astounding. The first time I saw "Ides of March" I was shocked by Gabrielle's killing spree, when she killed eight Roman soldiers to protect Xena. Okay, so the cheesy after-death experience at the end of "Ides of March" did slightly spoil it. I found "Deja Vu all over again" out of place as the last episode of season four. Its placement was probably deliberate, to give viewers hope after Xena's death in "Ides of March" by seeing her reborn in the distant future in Joxer's body, but I still think it would have been more suitable to air this standalone episode earlier in the season, maybe directly before "Endgame".

Until the fourth season the Weltanschauung of the Xenaverse (I love that word!) was fairly simple. If you live a good life you go to the Elysian Fields after death, if you live a bad life you go to Tartarus. There were hints that where you went after death depended on where you lived, because each country had its own Gods who determined what to do with mortals after death. Okay, I can accept that as a logical possibility. But then in season four everything became more complicated. In the India tetralogy (episodes 13 to 16) we find out that Xena will follow a path of rebirth based on the Hindu laws of Karma, because she has done too much evil in her life to be accepted into the Elysian Fields. Ah ha, so Xena will be judged by the laws (and Gods?) of India's religion, even though she lives in Greece? Also in these episodes we see the man Eli who is obviously a picture of Jesus Christ, despite being an Indian. And then comes episode 21, "Ides of March", in which we find Callisto in a place called Hell where people go who are "too bad for Tartarus". The unnamed Master of this place is obviously the Devil. This mixes the Greek, Indian and Jewish religions together, claiming that they are equally valid. That makes my head hurt.

There's much more that can be said about this great series, and I'll probably come back to it in a later post, but that's all I'll write for now. If you live in England you can buy the complete Xena collection on DVD for only £42.50 from Amazon UK. There's no excuse for not buying it. In America it costs $109.99. Oh well, everything costs more in America.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Amazing Spider-Man 2 (3½ Stars)

I'd better write this review fast. After leaving the cinema today I gave it four and a quarter stars in my head. When I sat down to think about it I dropped it to a round four. And as I began to write I struck off another half point.

So what's good about the film? The web-swinging scenes are breath-taking, even better than in Sam Raimi's films. Spider-Man makes death defying leaps before firing his web to swing back up. The action scenes with Electro are good, although it's not the real Electro that we know from the comics. And that's where the problems start. The film includes three of Spider-Man's old villains from the 1960's, and none of them look vaguely like their comic book equivalents. Why doesn't Electro wear his shocking green and yellow spandex? (Sorry, I couldn't resist that pun). Why does the Rhino look like a robot? And why does the Green Goblin's hair stand up on end? Click on the pictures below to see the contrast between the real villains and the cinematic fakes.

The structure of the film is bad. I have serious doubts that Marc Webb knows what he is doing. Everything was fine when the film started and as long as Spider-Man was battling Electro. But the Green Goblin sequence was like a last minute addition, just slapped on for the sake of getting Gwen Stacy killed. That's not a spoiler to comic book fans, because we all know that Gwen Stacy was killed by the Green Goblin, leading Spider-Man to kill the Green Goblin in revenge. But apart from that, it was the wrong Goblin. It was the first Green Goblin, Norman Osborn, not his son Harry, who killed Gwen Stacy.

And then the Rhino is tagged on at the end for no reason at all. Maybe it was intended as an introduction to the Sinister Six, but this could have been done without the idiotic fight scene. The death of Gwen Stacy was highly emotional, even in the way that the film mis-portrayed it, so it could have been left to finish there. Please, can someone fire Marc Webb before he makes things any worse? Better still, bring back Sam Raimi. He's a director with skill and vision.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Amazing Spider-Man (4 Stars)

I decided to watch this film today in preparation for going to see the sequel in the cinema this afternoon. After giving it five stars in my last two reviews I had to down-rate it this time. It's the most superfluous reboot ever. Totally unnecessary. Even if Tobey Maguire was no longer available to play Spider-Man the studio could have continued with "Spider-Man 4". Changing an actor mid-series can be an unfortunate necessity, but if it's done well it's not too unpleasant. It's best to pick a new actor who looks similar to the previous actor, but look at the James Bond films. The departure of Sean Connery, then Roger Moore, then all the others was relatively painless.

Instead of this the new guy, Marc Webb, decided to start again from the beginning and do everything differently. Peter Parker's father plays an important role in the story, even though he was hardly ever mentioned in the comics. OsCorp has become an all-powerful corporate entity in New York, responsible not only for Spider-Man but for all the super-villains. Spider-Man's origin was simplified. There are some similarities between Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" and "The Amazing Spider-Man", but whenever they differ Sam Raimi's version was better and closer to the original comics. Maybe with one exception: the reboot follows the comics and makes the web shooters mechanical, not organic as in Sam Raimi's version.

The trouble is that Marc Webb was -- and still is? -- a beginner. Before this film he had only directed one other film. Maybe if he had waited another ten years he would have honed his skills and been able to make a better Spider-Man film. This project was way too big for him.

On the other hand, if the Spider-Man film franchise really had to be rebooted, it could have been done better. We could have seen Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man at 15, the right age. By choosing the right actor -- definitely not Andrew Garfield -- we could have kept him in school for a few films. We could have seen his rivalry with Flash Thompson develop, as well as his relationship with Liz Allan and other schoolmates. Oh well, it's too late now. Maybe that's an idea for the next reboot.

Calvary (4 Stars)

Just like "The Guard", "Calvary" was written and directed by John Michael McDonagh. Both films star the prolific Irish actor Brendan Gleeson in the lead role. Both films take place in small coastal towns in Ireland. But that's where the similarity ends. These are two very different films. Whereas "The Guard" is a comedy, "Calvary" is a very dark and intense film. That's not to say that there aren't occasional bursts of humour, but the humour all comes from the supporting characters. Brendan plays his role very seriously, aptly portraying a man who is deeply religious and very fervent in what he believes. He is fighting to uphold the values of the Roman Catholic church in a society which no longer believes.

James Lavelle is the priest in a small town in the Irish Republic. A man comes into the confession booth. We don't see who it is, and his identity is hidden from the viewers until the end of the film, but the priest recognises him by his voice. Instead of confessing, the man reveals that he was raped by a priest when he was seven, and it continued several times a week until he was twelve. He can no longer take revenge because the priest is dead. The man has decided to kill Father Lavelle in his place, even though he knows that he is a good priest. He announces that he will kill Father Lavelle on the beach a week on Sunday.

Father Lavelle is at first uncertain what to do, but then decides that he can't report the man to the police because of his vow of silence. Over the next week he goes about his normal business, visiting and counselling the members of his parish. Some of his parishioners are religious, most aren't. The viewers know that one of the men he visits must be the killer, but we aren't given any clues.

This is a very powerful film. When it ended there was absolute silence in the cinema, and it took a while for the first people to stand up and leave.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Divergent (4 Stars)

The film takes place in Chicago "100 years after the war". As far as the people of Chicago know they are the last remainders of civilization, but they also fear that something exists outside the city, because they have built a protective wall around the city. Mankind has been divided into five factions, depending on their abilities and functions in society: the Erudite (the intellectuals), the Dauntless (the police force), the Amity (peaceful farmers), the Candor (philosophers who value truth above all else) and the Abnegation (charitable people who look after others). The Abnegation are the city's rulers. There are many who don't belong to a faction, but they are treated as outcasts, having to live on the streets and not allowed to work. They would starve, if not for the Abnegation giving them food.

When they turn 16 children have to decide which faction they want to belong to. They are given an aptitude test as a guideline, but they can choose any faction regardless of the test results. 95% of the children choose the faction of their parents. Any who choose a different faction have to leave home to live with their new faction. Beatrice and her brother Caleb are Abnegations, but she chooses to join Dauntless while he chooses to join Erudite. The film follows Beatrice's training to enter Dauntless. There are 30 new Dauntless members, but they are told that only 10 will be accepted; the 20 who perform worst during training will be expelled and become factionless.

People reading this must be asking themselves if everyone fits neatly into one of the five categories. That's just the point of the film. In the authoritarian structure of the future everyone is expected to exactly fit his role in society. Those who don't fit in are called "divergents" and are executed. In her aptitude test Beatrice is found to have the traits of three factions, Abnegation, Erudite and Dauntless, but the tester protects her by not making the result public.

The film is based on the first of a series of books for young people by Veronica Roth. It seems to be yet another candidate for a film series intended to be a successor to the Harry Potter films. It's quite adequate for this. It has more action and moves faster than "Mortal Instruments". Let's see how the sequels pan out.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Double (4 Stars)

This film is based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel "The Double", but its adaptation is much closer to the style of Franz Kafka.

The film's main character, Simon James, works in a large impersonal office which specialises in data entry. The computers are in the style of the mid 1970's, but many other details in the film are anachronistic, so that it could take place at any time from the 1960's to today. It's a dark and gloomy world in which we never see daylight. Simon has been working in the office for seven years, but nobody has ever noticed him. He has a crush on his colleague Hannah in the photocopying department, but he is too shy to tell her. She lives in the building opposite, so he watches her every evening through a telescope.

One day a new employee joins the company, James Simon, who looks identical to Simon James. At least, he looks identical to Simon and to us, the viewers, because the two men are played by the same actor and wear identical clothing. The people in the office fail to see a resemblance. James coaches Simon in how to date Hannah, in exchange for Simon doing James' work. As soon becomes apparent, James is exploiting Simon in order to win a quick promotion. James even begins an affair with Hannah.

This is a very unsettling film, but it has a bizarre Kafkaesque beauty. It's worth watching more than once.

Monday, 14 April 2014

The Quiet Ones (3 Stars)

Sometimes people can spoil the enjoyment of a film in the cinema. When I went tonight there was a group of girls a few rows behind me who were laughing and giggling from the beginning. A man in the row behind me shouted at them a few times to be quiet. When the film was over he remarked to me that they must have thought they were in a comedy. I disagree. I doubt they were laughing at the film. It's more likely they were bored with the film and spent the 90 minutes chatting about something completely different.

In 1974 a professor at Oxford University is lecturing on the supernatural. He is a quasi-sceptic. He says that there are explanations for all supernatural phenomena, but science has not yet advanced far enough to explain everything. He invites three of his students to a remote house to examine Jane Harper, a 20-year-old girl who is seemingly haunted by a ghost. The professor denies the existence of ghosts and wants to prove that the strange occurrences around her are the results of her own negative energy. He thinks that the ghost, which Jane calls Evey, is something that Jane herself has unconsciously created. The professor, who obviously considers scientific advance more important than human life, uses physical and mental torture to provoke Jane's subconscious into action.

This is one of the new wave of Hammer Horror films, so I went to see it in the cinema with high expectations. Unfortunately I was disappointed. Of the recent Hammer films only the remakes, "Let me in" and "The Woman in Black", have been satisfactory. It seems that the company has problems finding new ideas that live up to the films they made in the 1960's and 1970's. Overall "The Quiet Ones" has little suspense and just relies on random loud noises and flying objects to scare the audience. So what do I suggest? Easy! The new films shouldn't attempt to be artistic or modern. They should copy the styles of the old Hammer Horror films. Castles, monsters and occasional gratuitous nudity set in 18th Century Germany and Transylvania. It might seem like a cheap trick to reboot the Frankenstein and Dracula franchises, but why not? The formula worked 50 years ago, so why shouldn't it work today? If done well. Both franchises are open-ended. After Baron von Frankenstein dies in one film his son can continue his work in the next film. Every time Count Dracula is killed he can be brought back to life 30 years later. The dates don't have to be explicitly stated, so there's no need for either franchise to catch up with the modern day.

Let's hope that someone who is able to make decisions reads my recommendations.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Noah (3½ Stars)

It's difficult to see what the target audience was when Darren Aronofsky decided to write and direct this film about the Biblical character Noah. He could have kept closely to the Biblical story, which would have pleased Christian fundamentalists while irritating the evolutionists, or rather the anti-creationists, as I prefer to call them. He could also have written a modern story, trying to explain Noah's adventure in the light of modern scientific theories, which would have pleased sceptics but annoyed creationists. Instead of this he wrote a fantasy epic, made up of 50% Bible and 50% his own ideas. Judging by the first reviews I've read, this middle path seems to have alienated everyone.

The trouble with filming the story of Noah is that even though it was a major event in human history, very little is said about it in the Bible. Mr. Aronofsky felt the need to add things to pad out the story and make it more dramatic. I can just about accept this as a necessity to make a good film, but in my opinion he went too far when he added things that contradicted the Biblical accounts.

I think everyone knows the story, so I won't shy away from spoilers in this review. We read about Noah in the Bible from Genesis 5:28 to Genesis 9:29. He received a prophecy from God that the world would be destroyed by a flood, so he built a giant ship, an "ark", in which he saved himself, his family and all living creatures that walked on the Earth or flew in the air.

Now let's talk about my problems with the film itself. Noah is assisted in building and defending the ark by "watchers", who are the remainder of fallen angels. Maybe they are included as a reference to Genesis 6:4, "The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown". There is a lot of theological controversy about the meaning of this verse, but the use of the same word in Numbers 13:33 shows that the Nephilim were giants. A common interpretation of the verse is that before the Flood the fallen angels ("sons of God") mated with women, and their offspring were superior in size and strength to normal pure bred humans. The "men of renown" would be the heroes of the old myths, men such as Hercules. That's a possible interpretation. The film's portrayal of the Nephilim as stone golems who had crawled out of Tolkien's imagination is highly speculative.

It is very strange that Mr. Aronofsky made Tubul-Cain a stowaway in the ark. In Jewish traditions Tubul-Cain was Noah's brother-in-law, the brother of Noah's wife Naamah. This story, though denied by many scholars, could have been used to add poignancy to the film. It could have been Noah's wife trying to save her brother, not Ham having sympathy with an enemy. But placing Tubul-Cain in the ark was just a cheap trick to add an extra battle to the end of the film.

To me it's incomprehensible why the story of Noah's sons and their wives is so mixed up. Genesis 7:13 is very clear on the subject: "On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark". It wasn't just Noah, his wife, three sons and Ham's wife, as the film portrays it. It's totally unnecessary for the film to make Ham the father of his brothers' wives, then wander off alone. In the Bible Ham had four sons after the Flood, Cush, Mizraim, Put and Canaan (Genesis 10:6), whereas Shem had five sons and Japhet had seven sons. Presumably they had daughters as well, but the Bible rarely considers women important enough to name them.

Overall, I have to praise the film for the good acting. My relatively low rating is a punishment for the inaccurate screenplay. It could have been a lot better if the story had stuck closer to the Biblical account.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

TV Series: Dawson's Creek

I recently began to watch "Dawson's Creek" again. It's a series I can keep returning to, even though I have to admit that after the first two seasons it wasn't as good. Somewhere in the third season the stories began to turn in circles and never stopped. But maybe the reason is that I could relate best to the early years when the cast was youngest. Or at least, when the characters were youngest. When the series began the four school friends were supposed to be 15, although the actors playing them were between 18 and 21.

It's the series' teen angst that fascinates me most, especially the character of Dawson Leery himself. I can relate to him. He thought about everything, he analysed everything, and he understood nothing. I miss those days. Sure, I knew a lot less than I do now, but I do miss those days of naive innocence. I just watched the episode in the second season in which it's Dawson's 16th birthday. He went to a blues club, got drunk, then went home to his birthday party and insulted everyone, including his parents. I don't remember what happened on my 16th birthday. It can't have been as memorable. I wish I could turn back the clock and be back on that day now.

My teen years were a difficult time, especially between the ages of 16 and 20. When I was 16 I had my first girlfriend. And my second. And my third. I was a late starter, but I quickly became so successful with girls that my friends envied me. Maybe it was my long blond hair? Nobody knew about the suffering I had inside. When I was 18 my mother developed a drinking problem. I tried to kill myself because I couldn't deal with what she had become. When I was 20 she left home to be with another man, and she seriously expected me to go and live with her. The poor deluded woman. I believed in eternal love. I believed in happy families. I was naive then. I wish I could be like that again.

It's ironic. Despite all the pain, I wish I could be back in those years. I wish I could be trapped in a time loop from the ages of 16 to 20. I feel like I'm 16 inside, whatever age I might look. I want to win back the carefree attitude of that age. I want the angst back. Angst? I invented it.