Now in theaters
There’re some interesting movie choices in the days leading up to Christmas ranging from subversive comedy to probing documentaries to big budget spectaculars with an indie examination of self-realization or two thrown in for good measure.
Before we begin I want to comment on the lack of credibility in movie and entertainment related news. A recent national television broadcast about the passing of Mike Nichols got some of his credits wrong. That would’ve taken about ten seconds to look up on the interweb. Another national piece on the recent Golden Globe nominations stated that Ava DuVernay the director of Selma (12/25) was the first woman to be nommed for a GG directing award. The members of the Hollywood Foreign Press have nominated Barbra Streisand twice, once for Prince of Tides and again for Yentl, winning for the latter. Also Lina Wertmüller was the first woman nominated for an Oscar in 1977 for Pasqualino Settebellezze (Seven Beauties). Just saying that in the rush to be the first person to say something it would be nice to take a minute to vet.
Exodus: God and Kings gets a pass through the pearly gates on the strength of its collective production elements. It’s not many films that can make a series of plagues cinematic. That being said, Exodus joins Noah from earlier in the year as a revisionist look at religion. As we know it religion dictates a certain amount of faith that must be injected into the story. In Exodus the faith is sublimated into an objective point of view of the beyond. When Moses is talking to God we see him conversing with a child. But in an alternative point of view, from an onlooker, we see Moses talking to a rock.
Director Ridley Scott has already dealt with the Anunnaki in his previous film Prometheus, and perhaps he is the most agnostic filmmaker on the scene today. The events as they unfold in Exodus suggests as much. Moses is not so much a religious character as a film character – he is the chosen one. In a sense Moses is no different than Neo in The Matrix; Moses is the chosen one. As such he must lead a revolution against the arrogant ruling government.
Exodus also stars John Tuturro, Sigourney Weaver, Aaron Paul and others and they seem to be having fun parading around in all those cool Egyptian headdresses and gold bracelets.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies has three uses of “the” in the title. The latest and final installment of the Tolkien inspired franchise is literally rife with battle scenes. It’s like a phantasmagoric fantasy film that never wants to end. Not unlike Exodus, The Hobbit delights in its use of CGI. The technology of special effects has become so ubiquitous that epic movies like this seem the norm rather than the exception. I for one like the effort of any film that will use 48 frames-per-second (in limited venues) projection. That being said, I preferred the second film of the series in the final analysis.
How do you market a film like Take Five? A hilarious dark comedy (as opposed to a black comedy where people die) that lampoons modern media Take Five has such outrageous scenes as a tampon coated in hot sauce being used as a suppository, or another where writer/director/star Chris Rock gets arrested in Manhattan and the police put a choke hold on his neck. DMX sings a song written by Charlie Chaplin. Take Five may be the last film where we see Tracy Morgan.
Rock and Rosario Dawson walk around NYC, she a reporter and he obsessed with the opening of his new movie. Rock plays a player who became an Eddie Murphy level star in a series of ham-fisted action films. Only his new film is a serious drama about a slave rebellion in Haiti. He tells reporters at a press junket that the rebellion killed 50,000 white people “but we only kill about two or three thousand on screen.” Take Five is the funniest film of the year.
— Michael Bergeron