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The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Someone commented in a local newspaper that one does not watch this film, one experiences this film, and I agree. What an experience.
Mel Gibson centered the whole thing around the most unhappy portion of Christ's life: His arrest, his trial & torment by the Jewish leaders, his trial by Pilate & Herod, his scourging, his carrying of his cross, & his crucifixion & death. Very, very few happy moments are shown, and then only in brief flashbacks.
After the movie, I felt sort of worn down & nauseated and, in a way, thankful the whole thing was over. I don't think I've ever seen a more graphic depiction of gore in a movie my entire life. (When Christ is scourged, you can see his ribs through his torn-away skin; on the cross, the malefactor mocking Christ has his eye pecked out by a crow. Those are only two of around 1000 examples.)
A few thoughts:
* ON THE CHARGES OF ANTI-SEMITISM: Is it anti-Semitic? See it & judge for yourself, but after having seen it & pondered this, I would simply answer no. Caiaphas & Annas & the rest of the Sanhedrin (with the obvious exception of Nicodemus [from John 3, John 7:50, &John 19:29]) are portrayed as scheming, heartless men (which they were). Every time you see traditional Jewish priestly garb, you despised that character. The direction of the movie forces it. However, Veronica (the little girl from Catholic tradition who wiped Christ's face during his walk to Golgotha) and Simon the Cyrene (see Mark 15:21) were specifically referred to as Jews by the Roman soldiers, and were obviously very compassionate towards Christ. There are many other compassionate Jews in the movie and, of note, practically every Jew (besides the Jewish leaders) who look Christ in the face are converted, or at least moved to compassion, for Jesus. Even Barabbas walks away sadly after looking at Christ's eyes.
* PONTIUS PILATE: Historically, Pilate was a bloodthirsty, paranoid, heartless beast of a ruler. He even ignored Rome's laws, & he railed against the Jews without mercy. (Luke 13:1 mentions this, as do numerous historical references.) However, in the Gospels, he was somewhat compassionate towards Jesus, and in this movie, he is very compassionate. There are three historical traditions on Pilate: One, he was converted to Christianity (James Talmage's masterpiece, `Jesus the Christ', comments on this); two, he committed suicide after being deposed by the Roman emperor; and three, he was put to death specifically by Caligula.
In this movie, Pilate's wife (historically referred to as Claudia Procula , but in this film the credits list her as Claudia Procles) is relegated to a stronger role in the Passion. [I think her only mention in the scriptures is in Matthew 27:19, which reads: `When he was set down on the judgment seat, Pilate's wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.'] In this motion picture, Pilate was sandwiched between his fear of the Emperor Tiberius & the ingenious but ever-evil political maneuverings of Caiaphas.
* MARY THE MOTHER OF JESUS AND MARY MAGDALENE: Mother Mary is portrayed by a Jewish actress (Maia Morgenstern), and Mary Magdalene by Monica Bellucci (from the second & third `Matrix' films). Joseph is never shown in this film. One could argue that Maia Morgenstern steals the show; one imagines this woman spending week after week after week of filming simply staring past the cameras, tears in her eyes, a look of grave fear & mourning on her face. Monica Bellucci, who normally plays the gorgeous Italian sexpot in films, is also fantastic, utterly fantastic, in this film.
* THE ACTOR: James Caviezel portrays Jesus Christ. Caviezel was in another of the most uplifting films of all time, `Pay it Forward', with Helen Hunt. If you haven't seen `Pay it Forward', RENT IT! James Caviezel is a devout Catholic. His initials are J.C. (The same as his character.) He was the same age as Christ was when He died. James was utterly perfect for the part.
* MEL'S ARTISTIC LICENSE: My one real complaint on the movie were the Devil scenes. Mel admits he took some artistic license with these scenes. However, some of the devil scenes were very effective: Mother Mary & Mary Magdalene walking on one side of the road to Golgotha, weeping at the sight of the bloodied & exhausted Jesus, as female Satan is walking on the other side, watching the torturous events unfold with triumph & glee. Other scenes, such as the demon-haunted death of Judas Iscariot & the demon which shrieks at Peter, felt disruptive to the story.
* THE PLOT: Obviously, being focused on the final hours of Christ's life is a very unhappy plotline. However, some complaints I have read (and I also offer up) is that so very few miraculous/uplifting scenes were offered. (Of course, in Jesus' final 24 hours, there were very few miracles performed.) In this snippet of his life, Mel Gibson obviously wanted to show his human side, not the divine side. They did show him healing Malchus' ear after Peter had cut it off, plus the darkening of the sky, the earthquake, and a very, very brief resurrection scene. Other than that, this film was far more historical than celebratory. Mel also chose to show Jesus clearly suffering from the agonies of the torture & brutality inflicted by the Romans. In this film, unlike so many others, he groans, weeps, cries out, & is consistently bathed in blood.
CONCLUSION: This film is absolutely a work of art, although a nauseating work of art. Christian or not, you will certainly be moved to compassion by the man who suffered through so much in the final hours of his life, 2000 years ago.
In the Bedroom (2001)
This could have been a great film, had it lasted around 45 minutes. The movie makers simply took a screenplay which had minimal plot & dialogue & stretched it into 2 hours +. I was truly astounded why they felt they needed to stretch each 15-second scene into two or three minutes of sheer NOTHINGNESS.
I longed for sleep. But it wouldn't come. I was too angry at the editors of this mess.
Against a Crooked Sky (1975)
What a great little flick
Fun film, sometimes exciting, MAJOR plot twist, a blast. One of the signature films of my childhood.
Those of you hoping for a 90's version politically-correct movie MUST skip this one. Those of you ready to enjoy something fun from the 70's, prepare to be entertained.
If you like bad 80's flicks, this is your movie
Awful songs, crummy acting, Troy Beyer the babe, "combat dancing", living in a water tower, this one's got everything for the bad movie 80's fanatic. I rented it once, loved it, & bought it off E-bay for $1. Worth every penny.
One a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with one star being the lowest & 5 stars being the highest, I rate this one an A-. . .
Scared us to death as kids
I remember watching this one in the Downey, Idaho theater & being scared witless, as were all of my friends. I was astounded by the gore & terror in this one as a kid. And what an ending!
One of the all-time greats
This is one of my favorite movies. I have watched it 50+ times. From the barbecue in a Jersey backyard where the lawnmower gift runs amuck, until the end, when James Lorintz cries out to Patty Mullen, "Where's my johnson?!" I was caught up in the magic of such a perfect little cult flick. Out of a possible five stars, I give this one an A+.
Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979)
One of the all-time greats
This is another late 70's/early 80's cult classic. PJ Soles is one of my favorite actresses, the Ramones one of my favorite bands, & this one of my favorite flicks.
We discuss this on one of my we-groups all the time:
Savage Streets (1984)
Greatest 80's trash of them all!
What can I say? I love this film! Arguably the worst-acted 80 exploitation film of them all. I've watched it a jillion times. Fast forward the rape scene. Watch it again & again, each time picking up more horrible acting cues & more subtleties of the pure trash screenplay. Thank you Linda Blair!
Arguably the funniest movie ever made.
I was in the mood for something funny, & saw Siskel & Ebert's "2 enthusiastic thumbs way up" on this one. Although I usually disagree with S&E, I couldn't stop laughing at this one. Disrespectful & politically incorrect, but absolutely hilarious in so many spots! I think that "Kingpin" & "Planes, Trains, & Automobiles" & "Midnight Run are the funniest three movies ever filmed.
Both hilarious & horrifying
I loved this film. It's one of my faves. The constant bickering between Earl & Val is so great, as are the worms themselves. Kevin Bacon is great in everything, & in this one, he shines. Michael Gross & Fred Ward & Reba McIntyre were also fantastic in this one. This is one of those movies you can quote endlessly.
Rocky II (1979)
My favorite movie
In my humble opinion, this is the greatest action movie ever filmed. From the scene where Adrian says, "I want you to win" until the final seconds of the film, goosebumps are unavoidable.
People sometimes mock the Rock, saying they don't care for the series, but stick this video in & watch them become glued to the screen.
YO ADRIAN! I DID IT!
Spawn of the Slithis (1978)
One of the greatest, most awful movies ever made
What a flick! I bought this one just for the front cover - it was in the 25 cent special bucket at a local pawn shop. This video was worth every one of the 25 cents I paid for it, and I'm guessing the producers lavished at LEAST 26 cents on the filming of this masterpiece. Looking for cheesy, overblown, low budget, backyard trash on film? Look no further!