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The Nativity Story

tn_nativitystoryWhy do we gotta prequelize everything? We already know the backstory in THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, does it really gotta be spelled out for us who the guy’s mom was and what the tax rate was when he was born and all that shit? I mean come on.

THE NATIVITY STORY is the movie version of the Nativity story, from the director of TWILIGHT, adapted from the book by God featuring Luke and Matthew. Academy Award nominee, whale rider and Queen Amidala successor Keisha Castle-Hughes plays Mary, the mother of Jesus. Some baby plays Jesus. I’m not sure if it’s a baby that has done anything else. It wasn’t a particularly memorable baby or anything. I mean, it was fine, I’m not criticizing the baby.

But of course this is mostly the story leading up to the birth of Jesus. Mary is just your typical Nazareth round-the-way girl, she says prayers and carries jugs of water around or whatever. Helps with the kids. Joseph is an older guy that has his eye on her, and in this culture it’s not considered pervy so her dad is cool with that. So why not? He gives her marriage to him. Joseph is played by Oscar Isaac, a great actor who I’m sure is about to blow up. He was great as the bad guy in SUCKER PUNCH and the husband in DRIVE and he brings a little bit of that menace to the initial Joseph scenes. Then you realize he’s a nice guy. That would be weird if Jesus’s dad was a total dick. Although I guess they’re not blood relatives, they don’t share any genetics. It’s more of a Papa Kent/Superman type of relationship.

mp_nativitystoryWell, fuckin King Herod (played by the same guy that played Caesar in Rome) is being a dick. They don’t show this in the movie but I bet people are carrying around signs of him with a Hitler mustache. His soldiers are collecting taxes but the thing is they’re real wasteful with tax money, for example they take a guy’s goat and then say right in front of him that they’re gonna kill the goat ’cause they have too many already. Like everybody, Herod has heard this prophecy that’s been going around about God hooking up a new King. It makes Herod jealous so he’s snooping around trying to find the King to kill or maybe just ask him politely to leave or who knows. Meanwhile three “wisemen” – who are actually just astronomers who are picky about food and collect fancy hats – have also heard the prophecy and figured out which star to follow to find this king. Actually it’s 3 stars that are gonna look like they’re touching. They know what it is. They’re not dummies. I already said they’re wisemen.

I don’t know if Mary has heard about the prophecy per se, but she’s heard from no less an authority than a fucking angel that God is about to miraculously knock her up. It’s not like a guy with wings or John Travolta or anything but it’s a glowy guy that talks to her in a vision. Doesn’t seem that impressive but I think maybe if you actually experience it you can tell it’s legit, because she seems to trust it. She goes off without Joseph to stay with her cousin for a while and when she comes back everybody immediately notices the ol’ baby bump.

This is the fucked up part of the story that I never really thought about. Joseph looks at her with those angry Blue-from-SUCKER-PUNCH eyes and it’s like, holy shit, her story is so implausible. OF COURSE everybody thinks she went off and screwed some guy. I’m thinking it and I saw the damn angel with my own eyes. And this was a less enlightened age. I mean it’s technically the New Testament of course but it’s pre-Jesus so it’s almost like a post-script to the Old Testament in my opinion. They think this little girl is Joseph’s property and that he should throw her out like an empty printer cartridge. Actually, an empty printer cartridge might be able to be refilled, so the Mother of God’s status in this society is lower than an empty printer cartridge. Everybody, and I mean everybody, believes that the reasonable thing to do in this situation is angrily throw rocks at her until she dies.

Joseph even has a dream about it. He’s thinking it through. When he decides “No, I will not help an angry mob murder my wife and her unborn baby with rocks” they tell him “You have shown great mercy, Joseph.” That’s the kind of world they live in.

Luckily, Joseph gets one of those angel visions too. A skeptic might think it was a sympathy angel vision or a rationalizing angel vision, but we know how the story ends so we can buy it. Anyway he’s on board now, he’s okay being Papa Kent. But other people in Nazareth are dicks about it, they get all quiet and stop having fun when Mary and Joseph show up, they don’t want anything to do with them. This part of the story was later appropriated for secular Christmas celebrations in the form of not letting poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.

Meanwhile, the prophecy has something to do with Bethlehem, so Herod calls some kind of a census that requires people to go back to their hood of origin, which forces merciful Joseph to take his property Mary and head for Bethlehem. Wouldn’t you know it, she doesn’t look like it but she’s about to pop. So right when they get there he starts freaking out and trying to find a place to stay.

Actually the famous “no more room at the inn” aspect seemed a little short-changed to me in this movie. I thought they were supposed to be looking around all night trying to find a hotel and blowing it. In this version he spends about one minute knocking on doors before settling on a stable. I guess it’s just economic storytelling. But I wonder if they considered a montage? Get a hit song on the soundtrack.

Then she has the (SPOILER) baby (Jesus) and the wisemen and other visitors start showing up to pay their respects and give him baby shower type gifts like frankincense, etc. (this was before Elmo dolls).

I kind of felt sorry for the guy that let them use his stable. As far as I noticed they don’t show his reaction to all the people on his property but I bet he felt like that dude that rented his farm out for Woodstock. He didn’t charge them or anything, and he probly had to clean it all up himself to get his animals back in there. Actually there could be a whole separate movie about cleaning up the property I bet. I don’t know how animals feel about their joint smelling like frankincense and myrrh. I guess they’re probly not picky. And if they didn’t auction off the manger at least it was cool for pigs to eat slop out of where the savior to the humans was born. That’s a pretty big fuck you to the fucking humans, I bet.

I’m surprised they haven’t done a spin-off about the three wisemen. It could be some of that revisionist “actually, people forget but the 3 wisemen were the Indiana Jones of their time” type bullshit they do whenever they want to repackage an old literary character or historical figure. The wisemen would use astronomy to solve murder mysteries, and they would do martial arts and have some kind of early gun and other crazy inventions. And then they have to fight a vampire that’s gonna destroy the world with a doomsday device in a hot air balloon or something.

I don’t really like talking about religion anymore, I’ve come to think of it as a very personal thing. But even separated from any sort of faith or belief I think alot of the stories and ideas from different religions can be interesting or even beautiful just as stories. What I really dig about the Nativity story is the idea of this great “king” and “lord” who is so not-born-with-a-silver-spoon-in-his-mouth that his parents actually have to squat in some dude’s little animal shelter. It’s the most humble of origins. Probly smelled like donkey dung and pig piss, everybody’s got mud and hay and shit sticking to their feet and the tails of their robes, but it’s still beautiful, and kings have traveled from afar to check it out. They know where the happening parties are, the mainstream hasn’t caught up yet. Hopefully their exotic oils can cover up the smell.

And I never really thought about that the reason there was no room at the inn was because everybody and their non-virgin mother was coming back to Bethlehem because of this census thing. It’s like when there’s a convention in town, you better get your reservations early. Anyway the King was trying to stop this other king from coming to fruition but nothing was gonna stop him. Make her give birth in an outhouse, the trunk of a car, the hot dog machine at an AM PM, the plastic ball pit at Chuck E Cheese, it doesn’t matter. Jesus will be born anywhere. He’s not picky.

Not to be a Nativity nerd, but I got one complaint: the little drummer boy is not in this one. I don’t know, maybe he’s not considered canon but I think he is a good character, that would be a good nod to the fans by putting him in there.

This is a decent movie and I enjoyed watching it, but it’s nothing real revelatory (lukeandmatthewatory?). The filmatism is pretty straight forward and classical, though every once in a while there is some hand-held camera to modern things up, such as in the thrilling falling-off-a-donkey-in-the-water/snake-grabbing scene. It’s not much of a reinvention or recontextualization or ultimately lush version of the story. I think it was worth doing though just to have a better produced version of this to show in churches and on the Jesus channel at Christmas time.

hohoho

Anyway, thanks everybody for reading my reviews, it means alot to me. I’m happy to have you all in my life as movie buds. I sincerely wish you all a merry Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, thing for Muslims, Buddhism, Hindu Spring Break, weekend, Life Day, Charlie Brown, or whatever you’re into.

http://youtu.be/iAZ6S46_B7I

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Saturday, December 24th, 2011 at 12:51 pm and is filed under Drama, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

39 Responses to “The Nativity Story”

  1. A bunch of new Vern reviews in time for the holiday? God bless us, every one.

  2. “This part of the story was later appropriated for secular Christmas celebrations in the form of not letting poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.”
    Brilliant as ever, Vern.
    About that Three Wise Men spinoff you suggest…wasn’t there word a few years ago about there being a Young Jesus tv show in development? It would have been about him travelling around the middle east and asia, getting into adventures and learning from various spiritual leaders. JESUS BEGINS, basically.
    Happy Holidays Vern and every one of my fellow commenters.

  3. I always forget that Catherine Hardwicke was once considered a seriously good director. As far as I remember, her debut THIRTEEN and LORDS OF DOGTOWN were pretty well received. I never saw any of her movies, but it seems like TWILIGHT totally killed her reputation.
    I also read on IMDB, that she worked on that TJ LAZER clips from the original ROBOCOP.

    Merry Christmas, everybody.

  4. I just realized that this is probably the only website I’ve seen never to have any Religious debates

    Merry Christmas guys

  5. Meh, it’ll never be as big as the book was.

    Merry Christmas all!

  6. Hey Vern,
    a Guy who had allegedly turned water into wine, must have a certain appeal to you, and what you do on your Site.

    Merry Christmas to Vern and all my fellow Disciples!

  7. If you think this prequel’s bad, get a load of THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD and THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. Like we need to know what happened before Jesus, and even Mary and Joseph were born.

    Amazing review, Vern. Printer cartridges, the prequel thing, ass kicking wiseman, the Die Hard pic… It’s a Christmas miracle.

    The snake scene made me want to stand up in the theater and shout “Get this motherfuckin’ snake off the virgin motherfucker!”

  8. A Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Ashura, etc., to all

  9. Wow. They really did try to sell this as a film “just like PASSION OF THE CHRIST”. I mean, they used even the same font on the poster and everything. Guess it still help the film’s success. It goes to show that you can’t make a toned down PG-13 prequel to a gritty R-rated film and get a good film out of it.

    Maybe Hardwicke should direct a TJ Lazer feature film to get her Hollywood clout back. I’d watch it.

    Merry Christmas everyone! I look forward to returning to this classy joint next year for more intelligent cinematic discussions.

  10. Merry Christmas, all. I’m about to celebrate the holiday in the traditional way and watch DIE HARD. It’s probably what Jesus would be doingif he was around cause he can totally relate to having holes in his feet.

  11. Mr. M – If Jesus was around today, he would be Tim Tebow.

    Because Tebow certainly throws like Jesus after getting Crucified.

    (Your tasteless joke for the holidays. Merry Xmas!)

  12. Happy Charlie Brown everyone, and best wishes. May the spirit of Schulz be with you. Will be celebrating with the yearly watching of REPO MAN here.

  13. Vern, you should check out NUTCRACKER: THE UNTOLD STORY. It’s kinda like a Cannon Films attempt at a Christmas movie, only with $90 million.

  14. NUTCRACKER: THE UNTOLD STORY. Sounds like a porn movie from the 70’s.

  15. Mixing Christmas and Badassness, I recently read ‘Jesus of Nazareth’, by Jesus Seminar member Paul Verhoeven (also director of such Jesus-themed films as Robocop and not-so Jesus-themed films as Starship Troopers and Total Recall). He takes an explicitly atheist and revisionist (focusing mostly on parts of the text that seem out-of-place) stance to tell Jesus’ life story as he would film it. Even though it’s not exactly scientific it’s a fun read and made me enjoy the NT a lot more. It’s only available in Dutch but I’ll try to relate his general timeline. Some points he has taken from other members of the JS, some are his own. I might have made some mistakes in translating the Dutch names to the English ones:

    Youth
    – Mary was raped by a Roman soldier during a revolt in Sepphoris, 4 kilometres from Nazareth in 4 BC. The revolt and the violent reaction from Roman soldiers sent by Varus are historical. John 8:41 and Luke 3:23 point to rumors about Jesus’ origins.
    – After Sepphoris was completely burned down it seems likely Jesus learned the carpenting trade from his ‘dad’ and worked rebuilding the city, which was finished in 19AD.
    – John the Baptist was an apocalyptic preacher with a small following who believed that only through his Baptism they could escape the soon-to-be hell on earth. Part of the baptism was a confession, and so it seems likely that Jesus underwent it in an effort to get rid of his sins. Verhoeven says it’s possible that as someone with a lot of charisma and organizing skill it could be that Jesus earned a more than decent wage in Sepphoris and felt guilty about this. Being Verhoeven, he also speculates that Jesus just plain loved whores and confessed about that.
    – Jesus stays with John the Baptist for a while and sees him as a great prophet (Matthew 11:11 with “yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” being added later and Matthew 11:7-9, Luke 7:24-26 with Matthew’s lines revised to when John the Baptist was already in prison). Here he meets his first disciples, Andrew, Simon (Peter) and Philip.

    Jesus starts preaching
    – Here Verhoeven makes a pretty big change in the most common chronology. He places the cleansing of the temple while Jesus is still a follower of John the Baptist. He is full of an angry, apocalyptic vision in which the temple is obsolete, the only way to escape hell is John’s baptism. Verhoeven describes this as a group of young rowdy Jews, quickly creating as much chaos as they can and sneaking out before they could be recognized. Maybe closer to the climax from Do the Right Thing than something spiritual.
    – Jesus’ self-confidence gets a pretty big boost and he starts to perform baptisms himself (John 3:22-26). This leads to fights between John the Baptist and Jesus, most evident in the greek word Zètèsis. Jesus had taken John’s unique style of preaching and pretty much stolen it. As an excuse for Jesus’ behavior the miracle of water into wine is inserted here to prove how special Jesus was, but that’s of course a fabrication.
    – John the Baptist is arrested by Horodes Antipas’ soldiers and taken to the fortress of Machaerus. Antipas was scared of John’s influence on the Jewish people and that he might incite a revolt. His decision could even have been influenced by Jesus’ actions in the temple. When Jesus hears this he knows he might very well be next and flees into the desert.

    Jesus changes his religious views
    – Of course Jesus isn’t tempted by Satan in the desert, but he does undergo a spiritual change. The arrest of John the Baptist could give him doubts about his holiness and the forty days (even though that number is obviously fabricated) in the desert alone, scared and hungry would have had a big impact. Either way when he returns to society he has changed his philosophy from waiting for the apocalypse of a vengeful God to waiting for the Kingdom of heaven on earth.
    – This Kindom of God/Heaven/On Earth is pretty easy to explain. It basically comes down to
    1. God loves everyone, always. Except rich people.
    2. God knows everything and is all powerful.
    So if you trust in God, love him, give away your valuables and follow him you’ll be fine. Verhoeven reinterprets Jesus parables to talk about this in more detail but I’m going to skip that.
    – Of course there’s also evil in the world: demons. In the first century BC those were still a very real thing in the minds of the people, and several exorcists travelled around Palestina. After Jesus appears from the desert he goes to Kafarnaüm, where he meets up with Peter, Andrew and Philip. They introduce him to John and James. He tells them about his visions and when they start to preach near the synagogue a man starts screaming at Jesus (Mark 1:21-28). Jesus goes into full exorcist mode and pushes and screams at the man, who falls to the ground in what could be an epileptic fit. The disciples are impressed, but even Jesus seems shocked. The next morning he wakes up early and goes to pray, alone. One of only three times in the Bible he does so.
    – Jesus and his gang start travelling, doing exorcisms. Not in the calm rational way we have come to associate with Jesus, but spitting and screaming. His succes makes Jesus confident that the Kingdom of God is coming closer and closer, and more and more people start following him.

    Jesus on the run
    – In the meantime Antipas has taken notice of this follower of John the Baptist. Soldiers and spies are on the lookout for Jesus. Verhoeven interprets Mark 3:7 like this: “The Herods prepared a plot to get rid of Jesus. But Jesus fled to the lake. And he ordered his disciples to keep a boat ready for him, so they (the herods) could not endanger him.” Jesus was an outlaw on the run, especially after the execution of John the Baptist.
    – More and more people show up at the lake, some curious, some thinking Jesus is their king, some might have been spies. Half of Jesus’ disciples are professional fishermen, and they feed the visitors. About five hundred men, angry at the Romans for oppression, for the death of John the Baptist, who just had their first good meal in a while and are pumped up. Rebellion is in the air, but Jesus flees again, to a mountaintop where he prays for the second time and decides against using violence. He rejoins his disciples afterwards. They hide.

    Back to Jerusalem
    – Jesus realizes that shit is about to hit the fan and, trusting God, decides that the day of His kingdom arriving are close. He travels to Jerusalem, and settles in Bethania, a village close to the city. He sends out a messenger to the city announcing his arrival, and spends the night with the sisters maria and Martha, and two sick men called Lazarus and Simon. The sisters oil Jesus as king, like Elisha did in Kings 2.
    – The next day Jesus and his followers ride into town, and the mood is estatic. Crowds gather, and the Kingdom of God is at hand.
    – The next three months Jesus moves between Jerusalem and Bethania. God still hasn’t arrived but Jesus visits the temple daily, arguing with the priests and the Jews, performing exorcisms even on the Sabbath, not fasting and generally angering everyone with power.
    – The priests order an arrest on Jesus, but he flees again. In his absense he is declared an outlaw and essentially already sentenced to death.

    Lazarus and death
    – Lazarus, the sick man that Jesus stayed with in Bethania and out of whose house he organized has been arrested and is probably being tortured for information. Jesus had great affection for this man (John 11:3) and is terribly upset. He prays for two straight days, finally deciding to go back to Jerusalem. He will give himself up to the authorities to save Lazarus. When he arrives in Bethania he hears it’s already too late. Lazarus is dead. Jesus cries, having come out of hiding for nothing.
    – Jesus is enraged. He orders his disciples to sell their clothes, buy swords. A safehouse is found and used as a base where the disciples are now arming themselves. But it’s too late. Jesus can’t hide for long and a group of soldiers informed by two unnamed servants arrest Jesus, after a short fight where blood is spilled. But the people in the house are no match for the soldiers.
    – Jesus is tortured and crucified.

    Of course there’s no way Verhoeven would ever get the money to actually make this, but I like how it makes Jesus a real flawed human character.

  16. Happy Christmas Vern! Thanking you kindly for your words of wisdom over these last twelve months. Hope you get your fiction book finished next year, as I’m immediately hooked whenever you start typing (kissing ass too much?). Hope you have a cool weekend, Outlaw.

  17. Oh and happy Christmas to the board guys also. Especially Griff, Holden and Mr. Majestyk. he shit you guys come out with never fails to make me chuckle.

  18. Great review, but you should have reviewed ZIGGY’S GIFT!

  19. Simon – ya know it’s interesting because most atheists think that Jesus was never even real, personally I’m willing to bet the founders of all the world’s major Religions were real guys, whether they were divine or not is up to you

    ParkerPops – awww, thanks for including me on that list

  20. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    December 25th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Griff, as an atheist, I have no problem believing in Jesus. Doesn’t mean I believe he was God’s son.

  21. No. Most Atheists do not, “Believe he never existed.” We Atheists have *no* belief that he existed. We don’t deny the existence of G-d, we simply have no belief in G-d.

    Do you have a belief in Pegasus? No. But you’re not defined by not believing in Pegasus. You simply have no belief in Pegasus one way or the other.

  22. um Tawdry, all I was saying is a lot of atheists think Jesus Christ never existed at all, not even as just a normal, non divine guy

    no need to get all Hitchened out

  23. Sorry, didn’t mean to sound aggressive. Just a point of clarification. Personally, I have no real opinion on if Jesus existed or not. I see some pretty good historical evidence for his existence, but I also see a book full of necromancy and dragons fighting zombies for supremacy of the universe that makes it difficult to trust anything involving the story.

    I will say this however; there have been 3 occasions in my life when I had a permanent moment of personal change that was accompanied by a sudden understanding of a biblical story. And while I don’t believe in any kind of magic, I have certainly found great solace and wisdom in those books.

    Here’s something I wrote about those books. It’s…historical fiction?:

    Have you ever heard of Michael Collins?

    He went to the moon, but you probably don’t remember him. He was the other guy. The guy who had to stay on the capsule while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made history. He didn’t get to take even one small step, much less that proverbial giant leap.

    I think about him a lot these days. How it must have felt, to work your whole life, to train for years, to make the cut, to go all the way to the moon and then to not get to go all the way. I think about him sitting up in that capsule. Looking down on the lunar surface, looking back to the earth, being stuck in between.

    It reminds me of the story of Moses. He fought his entire life, forsook his brother, freed his people, wandered through the desert for 40 years and then he couldn’t enter Canaan.

    Not one of the Israelites who crossed the Red Sea ever saw the Promised Land. G-d waited until every last man, woman and child who had tasted slavery died before he revealed the way.

    The commentaries say that G-d did this because even with the shackles removed, the Israelites were still slaves in their minds. They could not build a nation as slaves, but their children could. The children, born free, could start the nation that their parents could not.

    The Israelites didn’t know this when they left. I wonder if they still would have gone, knowing.

    But Moses was special; Moses was loved by G-d. He was allowed to stand on the hills surrounding Palestine. He was allowed to gaze down upon it. But he had known slavery too, so he could never enter.

    Forty years of wandering in the desert. Michael Collins was almost 40-years old in April of 1969.

    I imagine Moses standing on Mount Nega just before first light. I imagine him smelling the salty air of the Dead Sea as the morning winds picked up. I imagine that his greatest gift was seeing dawn break over those hills. Seeing that G-d’s word was true. I imagine him looking out at the moon, never able to enter. I imagine Collins looking down at the earth, never able to exit.

    That’s how I feel with you. I can get so close to you. I know you, the scary parts too. I could even sleep next to you. But I will always be just this far away: standing on the hills outside the valley, staying in the capsule, going all the way, but never getting to go all the way. And Collins was a great man. I’m not even an average man on my best day.

    I try, I really do. But I am still apiece to shackles that bound me as a child. Perhaps I need to wander my own desert a little longer. And I don’t mean to compare myself to Moses, it’s just that you’re the closest thing I’ve ever known to a land of milk and honey.

  24. Speaking of Vernhoeven’s Jesus movie, I would like a movie adaptation of BEHOLD THE MAN, which actually won the Hugo prize back in the day.

    Short synopsis: Guy travels back in time to 28 AD Judea to meet Jesus, only in IRONIC PLOT TWIST he ends up becoming the historical Jesus basis for the legend.

    (Big plus: he does meet the real “Jesus,” except he’s a retarded hunchback who only says his name. The South will not like that.)

  25. Here in Norway we have this huge debate about Jesus each year. It’s a proven fact that people had this huge shindig here called Yule thousands of years before Olaf the Holy came along with his army and forced christianity on people. Even the bible admits that Mr J wasn’t born on the eve of what has become known as Christmas in English speaking parts of the world. And of course we atheists love to point this out, making a lot of people really pissed off. Not on a Fox News level, but still…

  26. @Dan:

    Well I’ll add my two cents here since the Potpourri thread is a little dead at the moment.

    On the plus side the action scenes look fairly good. A few awkward cuts in the editing – they do that thing where they show a punch from two different angles at one point, I noticed – but other than that it’s fine.

    On the negative side… I can’t help feeling that this might be a case of Machete / Snakes on a Plane syndrome, by which I mean this film is to – well, us – as “The King’s Speech” was to the Oscars. It’s not so much made to entertain as it is to curry favour with a particular group of people.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame the trailer for “marketing” the movie. I just don’t want the whole movie to be “marketing”. Instead of, you know, being a good movie. If it was made with a good story and characters in mind, well, good for it. If it was made by someone who made a list of things that action movie geeks like – hey, there’s Ron Perlman! Hey, there’s Danny Trejo! Hey, there’s satirical elements about the web culture! Hey, there’s an old guy being badass! – and tried to stuff them into a film, well, it won’t work, for the same reason that “Snakes on a Plane” didn’t work.

  27. …And I’ve just seen that they’re remaking one of my favorite films of last year, the one-take Uraguayan silent horror film “Silent House”. My initial reaction is: “ARE YOU FOR SERIOUS?!” If there’s EVER a film that didn’t need a Hollywood remake, it’s that one. Come up with your own fucking ideas for once!

    Jeez, sometimes I hate Hollywood…

    On the plus side, “Haywire” is coming out soon. Let’s see if Soderburgh can break his run of extremely well-made films that leave me utterly cold.

  28. Pretty sure The Silent House has already been remade and released.

  29. My biggest issue with this turkey is the simple fact that the bible is filled with stories which are interesting but are not necessarily interesting stories. The fundamentals just don’t work. There’s no character arcs or plot developements, just a bunch of stuff that happens. PASSION is like that too. Removed from the context of a larger story, there’s just not much drama. It’s a slightly unusual birth story and a slightly unusual execution, and that’s it. It’s as if they made a whole movie about, says, just the wedding scene in THE GODFATHER. Kind of interesting, obviously well made, but not really a “Story.” More like an event. It’s not all that satisfying to just watch an event, even when it involves famous people who went on to other (arguably more notable) things.

  30. Yeah, the Bible is pretty much the Greatest Story Ever Told Badly. You gotta bring some style and a point of view to make it work, like that scene in THE PASSION where Jesus invents the table. Dying for our sins was nice and all, but anyone could tell that story. Only Mel had the artistic sense to recognize that we’d all be eating off the floor if it wasn’t for the J-man.

  31. “My biggest issue with this turkey is the simple fact that the bible is filled with stories which are interesting but are not necessarily interesting stories. The fundamentals just don’t work. There’s no character arcs or plot developements, just a bunch of stuff that happens. PASSION is like that too. Removed from the context of a larger story, there’s just not much drama. ”
    The Bible is a poor man’s PULP FICTION, you mean? There was after all a miracle in that which one man chose not to acknowledge and was smote down later because of it.

  32. Actually I’d argue that PULP fiction is full of fairly straightforward stories which introduce a character, put them through a series of discreet events which change them in some way, and wrap up succinctly. There are some odd beats and monologues in there, but mostly its just three fairly clear short stories woven together. NATIVITY and PASSION are like if the film ended at the point where Vincent and Julius shoot Brad. No story, no context, just an interesting scene. Yes, you can pull off narrative-free films, but they’ve got to have waaaay more going for them than either of those two films do. Christians may have some advantage in that anything that Jesus does may be inherently interesting, but to me it’s like watching a film of Ghandi as a sophmore in law school.

  33. Mr M — I actually always thought PASSION would benefit greatly from Mel inserting himself a little more. He puts in some fucking brilliant insane touches (Satan holding a hairy baby puppet, for instance) but they’re too few and far between to reall sustain it, especially since like the whole second half is shot in slow motion. It’s not that its badly made, its just that the bible is actually kind of a poorly constructed narrative. You could probably fashion a reasonably satisfying film about Jesus’ whole life, but these “week in the life of Jesus” films simply don’t have enough context to be meaningful or enough events to be interesting.

  34. “but these “week in the life of Jesus” films simply don’t have enough context to be meaningful or enough events to be interesting.”
    The only way it could work is if it was done as a SPINAL TAP style fakeumentary comedy. Instead of a film crew following them around, it’s just some scribe interviewing Jesus and the Disciples, as well as miracle recipients. I’d certainly prefer Judd Apatow doing something like that than his KNOCKED UP spinoff.

  35. Stu — that would actually be fucking awesome. But I think you need to make it trendier by having it be a “found footage” deal, where the guy behind the camera keeps having to explain why he’s still filming.

  36. And he can be called Newton “Newt” Estament.

  37. You know, the word NATIVITY always bothered me. It sounds like it should be about being a native of somewhere. I know it comes from the etymology of natal, but we never use nativity to refer to any other birth in common conversation. It just sounds so much like native.

    I think NATALITY would be more indicative of what they mean.

  38. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa: NATALITY…FLAWLESS DELIVERY.

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