3/31/04

Frogs legs, ham 'n beans, and fish roe

We bought a pound of frogs' legs for a whopping $8.50. My wife wanted to cook them adobo style, but I thought, for that price, let's try something different.

So I dug up a Provencal recipe: season legs with salt and pepper, dredge with flour, then cooked in half a pound of butter on medium heat. The recipe said 3 to four minutes per side, but these legs were Schwarzenegger huge (only four pairs made up the pound); it took around six minutes at least to brown them. Sprinkle with minced garlic and chopped parsley, cook thirty seconds more, then serve.

Delicately flavored frog meat in a rich garlic-and-parsley sauce, with hot, steaming rice. Not bad, especially when you drip the butter sauce over the rice.

As backup (we didn't think the four pairs of legs was enough), I tossed lima beans in cold water to boil, chopped in some leftover country ham, and left it there to simmer till thick. Simpler to make than eat, and the ham-flavored beans (didn't need to even add salt) and tasty thick soup were wonderful with a chunk of hot French baguette.

And, finally, we found a good fish store. Not very large, and not a wide variety, but they have oysters, shrimps, and several kinds of fish, fresh and cheaper than in Walmart. We picked some fish fat with roe, had them scaled and cleaned, and fried the roe in butter till golden crisp. Also excellent with hot steamed rice.

.

3/30/04

Scanners 2

(con't)

 Interesting, but this film (along with Videodrome and Existenz) convinces me more and more Cronenberg is perfect to do a Philip K. Dick film--or maybe he's been doing them all along, and no one's noticed. Scanner's hero is the Dickian loser and outcast, who can't fit in because he has a unique perspective of the world (he's either schizophrenic, or has enormous psychic power, or both). The forces chasing him are the kind of vast governmental/corporate forces Dick builds into his novels. Even some of the dialogue resembles the Dickian style of pulp metaphysics, of cheap SF terms mixed with thought-provoking ideas--"Scanning isn't the reading of minds, but the merging of two nervous systems, separated by space." And the ending--well, I don't know if Cronenberg has read Dr. Bloodmoney, but the climax to Scanners bears a more than passing resemblance to the climax of that novel.

One more thing: people have mentioned the relative incoherence of the plot (though this was probably mostly before they saw his next work, Videodrome); actually it does come together, sort of, but you have to assemble the pieces in your head; Cronenberg doesn't give you much in the way of help. The confusing plot does help give the film an air of confused terror, of untrustworthy forces beyond your control, malignantly manipulating your life--or at least the story, for some 100 minutes. A great horror flick.

Scanners

I'm a fairly big fan of Cronenberg--I liked his latest work, Spider, and I think he's even more stubbornly wayward and perverse in his career choices than fellow shock-surrealist David Lynch, who does have something of the apple-pie boy scout lurking underneath all his weirdness.

That said, I've managed to miss this key work in his oeuvre till now. And it's something of a revelation. People always talk of how Cronenberg's specialty is "venereal horror," or horror that reflects the disgust and repulsion one feels at the human reproductive organs--Rabid, Shivers, the AIDs subtext in The Fly, Dead Ringers--they're clearly of this genre.

But maybe less well known and just as if not more interesting is a different genre, the genre of paranoia, conspiracies and head trips evidenced by films like Spider, Videodrome, and this film. It's not so much the body process, though there is some in Videodrome and to some extent in Scanners, as it is the mind processes that Cronenberg is concerned with.

So Scanners may not be your typical Cronenberg film (ha-ha, as if they could ever be called typical), but it's not all that unusual either. It's a head-trip, maybe not as bizarre as Videodrome, but fairly well and entertainingly told, with some spectacular setpieces--the exploding head, the online computer hacking (the first such, I suspect, ever depicted in movies), and the final duel between scanners. (con't)

3/29/04

Hitchcock

from pinoydvd, in response to gurang:

"I agree that The Birds could have been a very great film, but the first thirty minutes are a deadly bore, interesting only when the birds start foreshadowing their attack."

I think it IS a great film.  The first thirty minutes are problematic, but I'm usually sufficently entertained by Robert Taylor and Tippi Hedren's banter, the efficient way Hitchcock whips things along from San Francisco to apartment to Bodega Bay (I had the chance to go there, I didn't--damn) to the boat (it's something like the chase Novak gives Stewart at the start of Vertigo, only without the lush music). But feathers really do start to fly when the birds start misbehaving.

"Psycho is marvelous in how it forces the audience to identify with Norman Bates through a few point-of-view shots."

See, the horror of Psycho isn't the thriller setpieces (tho I think people do still grip their armchairs the first time Martin Balsam steps up the stairs) but Bates' character--a man we totally like but who is eventually revealed to us to be a monster.  It's that devil-next-door quality that gets you.

"Notorious is of course, Bergman at her most radiant, you can't believe that she's as slutty as she is being made out to be. Notorious is also, perhaps, the best translation into film of the notion that "true love conquers all""

Also please note that Cary Grant is an unregenerate SOB here, and that it's not a love affair, it's a love triangle--with Claude Rains sounding the most tragic notes.  That ending is remarkable, with Rains turning to, literally, face the music.

"North by Northwest is a sheer delight."

The easiest to love. Wouldja believe Hitchcock broke the law when he filmed Grant getting off in front of the UN building? (He did it without permission, under the nose of the UN security guards that you can actually see in the shot).

3/28/04

The relative merits of Raging Bull

From Peoplesforum.com:

Tonya:

"I remember a lot of passionate discourse at the other forum about how vile some thought Raging Bull was, that brilliant performance or no, the subject (and subject matter) didn't warrant glorifying the brute known as Jake La Motta."

My reply:

Well, their contention was that what Scorsese does with the story and character of La Motta wasn't very interesting.

I tend to disagree. As I wrote in an article (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/noelmoviereviews/message/149) once, as straight biography the movie tells you nothing, but if you see it as a story told by La Motta, what he tells and what he leaves out, I think it's something far more.  For one, all the violence and ugliness he leaves in, which is in keeping with the his masochistic nature, his seemingly unending need to expiate himself for some unnamed sin (sort of like Gibson, only with more sensitivity); in a way, I think the unrelenting brutality onscreen is La Motta's way of beating himself up all over again.

He does not, however, give us a definitive explanation for exactly what sins he's expiating. That remains unexplained, and that's what makes the film so fascinating for me. It's essentially a Passion Play with a mystery at its core--again, like Gibson's Passion of the Christ, only told with imagination and a real sense of spirituality.

David E. wrote an interesting essay on Raging Bull for Criterion by the way. Worth looking at.

Different Christs, again

From The Atlantic Online:

Ted Fontenot:

"Heston looks magnificent, at the height of his ugly-beautiful physicality--and actually he would have made a marvelous Jesus, I think--the antithesis, though, of Von Sydow's bloodless epitome of victimhood."

My reply:

Funny, I've been of the opinion that Heston would have camped Jesus up; as it is, he was pure country ham in the Baptist role--probably his reaction to not being given the lead...

I did like Von Sydow when he was prophesying there'll come a time when women will ask whole mountains to fall on them...it reminded me of his dark knight in Bergman's The Seventh Seal. And he pontificates and glares at the camera with becoming authority.

Compare that to Cavaziel, who had zero charisma. Had love handles too, which the Romans kept performing impromptu liposuction on.

I'd speak up for King of Kings. Jeffrey Hunter has no real blood in his veins but I suspect Nicholas Ray's real interest was Harry Guardino's Jesus Bar-abbas, whose life is told in parallel (someone even notes they have the same first name).

Intriguing, the way Ray staged the crucial Pilate scene--he doesn't. The whole thing is told to Barabbas, the point being the Romans deem Christ's brand of freedom fighting more dangerous than his. Actually the proper title should have been "The King and the Revolutionary."

3/27/04

More on Dawn of the Dead

The horror of Romero's zombie movies is very simple--it's the horror of a sinking ship. You sit in a watertight compartment, and you wait. Water is a weak opponent, it can be kept out by something as simple as a finger in a leak. But it's patient. Sooner or later you let your guard down, and then it has its way with you.

Here's a tribute site to Day of the Dead. It's a funny website--it disses the movie up and down the block, then apologizes for its crticisms (I think its main problem is that it doesn't really make a case for the movie's greatness). The speculations on why the zombies resurrect are interesting tho. Imagine if Jesus were one--he'd be a kickass zombie.

http://homepage.powerup.com.au/~vampire/day/day.htm

Dawn of the Dead

Saw Dawn of the Dead. It's okay, better than 28 Days Later I think, and the zombie birth scene was something new (I suppose they couldn't film it tearing its way out). The original still rules, though, and I think Day of the Dead rules over that.

After seeing this and 28 Days, I think I've decided I for some reason I much prefer Romero's slow zombies to these faster-moving ones. There was something to those slower ones, something patient and inevitable, plus the unhysterical camerawork and editing lets you see Tom Savini's makeup in its full glory.

3/26/04

Another new Gibson project

From Joseph Mark, in The Atlantic forums:

Gibson announces that his next movie will be "Holocaust Holiday."

In it, he will show the true story of how German Jews in WWII were taken to luxury holiday resorts to protect them from anti-semites. There, they were housed in top-quality homes, fed wonderful food (causing serious shortages for the rest of the German population) and served by a large staff of dedicated servants who pampered them and served their every need.

At war's end, the Jews rose up and slaughtered the servants, then ran off to Israel. Ninety minutes of the film are dedicated to beautifully shot scenes of the appalling cruelty and slaughter inflicted on the innocent Germans.

Our local critic, fred bean describes the movie as "superbly accurate, historically, and a tale that needed to be told to counter the appalling lies and slander of the Jewish lobby."

3/25/04

A Woman of Paris

A Woman of Paris is Chaplin's only non-comic silent feature and frankly I miss the comedy; it kept him more low-key, more astringent, more disciplined in his pacing, and it was a goad to his inventiveness. Chaplin's ideas of the moral corruption of the rich are maybe the funniest thing about the movie: he presents "champagne truffles" as the height of '20s decadence when nowadays they'd be a special episode on the Food Network. Edna Purviance is good but not especially memorable in the eponymous role; Adolphe Menjou, of course, insouciantly walks away with the movie. He even gets the last word.

 

3/24/04

Yet another Christ 5

(con't)

The movie focused on the fictional Brian of Nazareth, a Jew who is born in the manger next-door to Jesus and grows up to join an anti-Roman separatist group called the Judean People's Front but ends up being mistaken for the Messiah.

 

The film's creators have said it was meant as a spoof on Bible films and intolerance rather than Christianity.

 

But that distinction was lost on some who were offended by the irreverent flavor of the film, including a scene in which several crucifixion victims sing and whistle the tune "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" while hanging on crosses.

Yet another Christ 4

(con't)

Uproars

 

Owing to a heavy turnout by Christian moviegoers and weeks of intense media attention, Gibson's film opened to blockbuster success on February 25 -- Ash Wednesday. "The Passion" has gone on to generate nearly $300 million in North American ticket sales alone, becoming the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time.

 

"Life of Brian," stirred an uproar all its own 25 years ago, with some Christians condemning the film as blasphemous. The film only got made when former Beatle George Harrison stepped in to finance the picture after EMI Films withdrew from the project, fearing that it was too controversial. (con't)

 

Yet another Christ 3

(con't)

He said marketing for the re-release would play off Gibson's film by adapting such taglines as "Mel or Monty" and "The Passion or the Python" -- "we want to give people a choice."

 

The members of the Monty Python comedy troupe -- John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and the late Graham Chapman (who played Brian) -- all shared writing credits on the film and won back theatrical rights to it several years ago. Jaglom said the surviving members "all agreed this was a good time" to re-release the film and would help promote it.

 

(con't)

Yet another Christ 2

(con't) Inspired by the runaway success -- and public furor -- over Gibson's portrayal of the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus, the creators behind the 1979 biblical satire about an anti-Roman activist who spends his life being mistaken for a prophet are planning a 25th anniversary re-release next month.

 

"Life of Brian" will open at the end of April in Los Angeles and New York before expanding to other cities across the country, Rainbow Film Company president Henry Jaglom, whose distribution arm is reissuing the film, said Tuesday.

 

Jaglom, a writer-director whose partner, John Goldstone, produced the original film, said trailers for the comedy would appear in theaters starting on Good Friday.

 

"We decided this is an important time to re-release this film, to provide some counter-programming to 'The Passion,' " Jaglom told Reuters. "I intend it, hopefully, to serve as an antidote to all the hysteria about Mel's movie." (con't)

Yet another controversial Christ movie

Python's 'Life of Brian' to be re-issued

 

Film earned protests on original 1979 release

 

Wednesday, March 24, 2004 Posted: 10:22 AM EST (1522 GMT) LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Coming back soon to a theater near you -- a controversial film about a Jewish guy from Nazareth who is worshiped as the Messiah and crucified by the Romans.

 

No, it's not Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." It's Monty Python's "Life of Brian." (con't)

Do the mashed potato

Some twelve years back, I listened on NPR radio to a little anecdote about a man who discovered some buffet in New York, and this mashed potato that was so delicious he had to ask the cook what's in it. The cook told him, but didn't specify the proportions. The anecdote ended with the man noting the cook was from Afghanistan or Pakistan, I don't remember, and that if he was ever deported or if he ever returned home, he'd seriously consider emigrating.

Last night I decided to try replicate that recipe. I dropped maybe half a dozen potatoes in a pot of cold water with maybe a tablespoon of kosher salt to boil, dipped a leek in boiling water for a few minutes, and rehydrated maybe half a cup of sundried tomatoes prior to chopping them. When the potatoes were ready I mashed them in the pot, chopped up the leeks and tomatoes and mixed them in, added maybe a teaspoon of cumin, a little more kosher salt, and fresh-cracked pepper. And, for good measure, half a cup of heavy cream and half a stick of butter.

Not bad at all. Slightly tart from the sundried tomatoes, a kind of Indian hint thanks to the cumin, and the heady scent of leeks. I don't know about emigrating to Pakistan or Afghanistan, but I would like to visit, and maybe taste their potato dishes.

3/23/04

Anti-Semitism

From Pinoyexchange:

"And what if, AFTER viewing it, they say it doesn't make them hate Jews any more or less than they already did? (As many have said...)"

As Rabbi Ira Youdovin of the Chicago Board of Rabbis said: "we
must be aware of importance of the suffering of Jesus for Christian theology, and be sensitive to the feelings of those millions of good Christians who will be deeply touched by the film without being at all influenced by its portrayal of Jewish brutality, and accusations of Jewish complicity in the crucifixion. The film is filled with images associated with historic anti-Semitism. But being moved by it does not make one an anti-Semite."

Movies can provoke all kind of reactions (actually, I found The Passion rather boring, myself), and that millions don't go out killing Jews, that's a blessing. But remember the film hasn't reached Europe and the Middle East, where Jews are particularly threatened; remember that the film hasn't been subtitled to languages other than English, and that Matthews' "His blood be on us and our children" might easily be translated to, say, Arabic. We haven't seen the full effects of the picture yet, I'd say.

Be aware, is all I ask. Read my article (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/noelmoviereviews/message/425), be aware that Gibson's primary source isn't the bible but Emmerich, be aware that his religion doesn't recognize the authority of the Vatican, and neither does this movie.

3/22/04

Gibson's next movie 2

Gibson's next masterpiece has been reported to be an expose of the lies about the Spanish Inquisition, in which he will show superbly artistic scenes of those arraigned before the Inquisition being fed on the best foods and wines, sleeping in luxury homes and being released after questioning, with huge grants of land and money.

"Some of the tortures may have happened," said Gibson. "But those who were tortured were really heretics who denied Christ, so they got what they deserved."

Asked from where he got his sources, Gibson kicked the reporter in the balls and threw him out of the window. "I told you not to go there," he said.

The movie planned after that is a remake of "Samson." The movie will start at the point after Delilah has cut Samson's hair, and the next two hours and fifty minutes is devoted to a single scene of Samson's eyes being burned out.

Gibson's next movie

"Blood Of the Innocents: The Story of The Chanukah"

Setting: Ancient times. Hook nose and bad teeth prosthetics for all.

SHLOMO

Mmm, this Christian child's blood sure tastes good! (beat) Oh no, we're out of lamp oil!

JUDAH THE MACCABEE

And without lamp oil, we won't be able to heat up the Christian child's blood to the right temperature!

SHLOMO

You'd better find a way to make that lamp oil last for eight days. After all, the Christian child's blood is getting cold!

Gibson's defense: "It's not blood libel. It's clearly spoken by historically-authentic characters on-screen. That's blood slander."

Ressurection movies

Quick note: Dawn of the Dead has overtaken Passion of the Christ in the boxoffice.

Personally speaking, I think I prefer the former Resurrection movie to the latter.

3/21/04

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Dreamers

Eternal Sunshine is possibly the best thing Kaufman's written. It's a variation of something Philip Dick wrote that was turned into Total Recall, but Kaufman does make the basic idea his own, and for once solves his third act problems. Not a masterpiece, but pretty good stuff.

The Dreamers I like even better, but I guess I'm biased towards movies full of movie references and gorgeously kinky film nuts. I've got a problem with the sudden ending, but overall I do think it's beautifully filmed and performed.

3/20/04

Faith and reason

From av_phile1 in pinoydvd:

"Nothing that I said downplays the importance of scientific or historical or medical researches and studies.  What I said was in matters of faith, they are unnecessary and irrelevant.  There's this saying:  to a believer, no proof is necessary." 

What the church teaches  is that there is no contradiction between faith and science, that one must consider both important, and that one must use one's head as well as one's heart. Faith requires everything of you, not just your belief.

3/18/04

Statistics

From The Atlantic forums:

"A nationwide survey conducted for the Institute for Jewish and Community Research finds that 83 percent of Americans familiar with the film say it's made them neither more nor less likely to blame today's Jews for Jesus' crucifixion."

Mark Twain once said, there are lies, there are damned lies, and then there are statistics.

"He (Jim Cavaziel) only got struck once. An Italian guy on the set got struck twice."

Didn't get the hint, did they?

3/17/04

The Last Flight

Saw William Dieterle's "The Last Flight" with Richard Barthelmess in the lead role, and I thought it was terrific . The opening aerial battles, for all their primitive effects, were thrillingly edited; you even got the sense of high-spirited tomfoolery the combatants showed each other, even when one's shooting down the other.

The dialogue afterwards...well, I'm not too familiar with Hemingway's "lost generation" or with books and films on the subject, but did everyone talk in a somewhat hick accent then? I don't think so. Still, the characters do grow on you and in the end it's a pretty compelling portrait of a group of people desperately carousing, trying to forget the horrors they went through.

Good stuff. I'm surprised the film isn't better known; actually, I'm surprised Dieterle isn't better known.

Christ's hairstyle

Oh, a note on hairstyles...Cavaziel looks like someone's idea of a rock star; even in the flashbacks his hair looked liked it needed shampooing.

Latest bible scholarship says this is wrong: the Jews of that time wore their hair short and neat.

I forgot to mention this--Dafoe in Last Temptation had a neat cut; in fact, all the more pious characters (except for John the Baptist) wore their hair short and neatly trimmed. Later Dafote's hair grew longer, but I took this to be a sign of his gradual breakup with orthodox Judaism.

Gibson claims to have done research. What did he read--Marvel Comics?

I'm starting to think he DID get his Satan figure from Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey...

3/15/04

China vs. Japan

posted on the Atlantic forums:

I find both cultures fascinating myself, and it's hard to say one's more profound than the other...tho admittedly Japan is the younger culture, and takes much of its basic identity from the Chinese.

When it comes to the narrow field of films, tho, I do see Japanese enjoying an advantage, with their more active and diversified filmmaking industry. They had a huge range of filmmakers, not just muscular Kurosawa but delicate Ozu, beautiful Mizoguchi, austere Naruse, inventive Suzuki...then there's Kinoshita, Kobayashi, Yabushita, Miyazaki, Tezuka, Takahata, to name names off the top of my head.

I'd say when it comes to recent films the case for Chinese films is stronger: I can say Takeshi Kitano or Kurosawa Koyshi or Hirokazu Kore-eda, or Shinji Aoyama, but pit them against Fruit Chan, or Tian Zhuangzhuang, or Zhang Yimou (well, one film of his), or Hou Hsiao Hsien, or Edward Yang, or Tsai Ming Liang and I'd say I like the former team, but overall in terms of their humanity and profundity I'd prefer the latter...

3/14/04

Manila Bishops endorse Passion of the Christ

http://www.mb.com.ph/MAIN200403104510.html


Not a proud moment for the Filipino church, I think.

I do understand the church is hardly a monolithic entity--this is why it's survived for so long.

But you'd think those idiots back home would do more than serve up communion hosts and feel-good homilies; that they'd read up on issues and controversies brewing elsewhere in the world, instead of allowing themselves to be caught up in Gibson's fascistic filmmaking.

I knew Fr. Reuter, by the way; grew up working for him. He directed and produced many a theatrical production of lives of saints or something or the other where I was part of the cast. I even remember him changing the ending of one of the plays he wrote when I suggested that it was too optimistic.

This isn't his proudest moment, either.

Goat meat

Attended a baby shower with some fellow Filipinos. They brought leftover meat from a whole goat, butchered and grilled and diced into small chunks, which we sauteed with vinegar, onions, ginger. The meat had a smoky flavor and toasted texture from the grilling, was pungent from the ginger and onions (which were barely cooked), was tart from the vinegar and juicy-soft with fat.

3/13/04

Recent documentaries 2

(con't)

Errol Morris' "Fog of War" is easily the best of the recent documentaries I've seen. Eleven lessons from Robert MacNamara, and at first it feels like a screen adaptation of one of those management style books written by a former corporate executive (MacNamara used to run Ford, and claims credit for helping develop the saftey belt), advice on how to run a company or one's life, then turns (gradually, subtly, beautifullly) into something altogether more ominous--into a portrait of a complex and strangely fascinating monster, into a documentary about how MacNamara didn't take his own sound advice.

The eleventh lesson--that you can't change human nature--is like an epitaph on MacNamara's life, as you see him arriving at a kind of self-constructed state of equilibrium, coming to peace (in the course of the interviews) with what he is and what he's done...even if what he's done involved America in possibly the most ruinous war it ever fought (though Rumsfield looks set on breaking that record). You can't help thinking as you watch his face during the final minutes and epilogue: that epitaph, it could apply to all our lives.

Recent documentaries

Saw "Bowling for Columbine" and while I like the argument Moore's making--that gun deaths are somehow related to a fear-obsessed culture--it's the way he says it that keeps me from buying his movie wholesale. He likes to lecture, he likes to pose, to make dramatic gestures. One of his stunts works, and I'm as surprised as he is; then he goes and harangues a senile-looking Charlton Heston--a bonehead, in my opinion, but still: what did he think he was trying to achieve?

Andrew Jarecki's "Capturing the Friedmans" asks smaller questions, particularly of a single family (though it does show us a disturbing tendency towards sexual hysteria on the part of American society), and its storytelling is, compared to Moore's, anyway, more self-effacing. I know Moore has a style--kind of folksy, for-the-people--that people love, hence his popularity, so it could be more a matter of taste. I like documentaries that show, not pontificate.

Perhaps the most disturbing moment in "Friedmans" for me is when we see one of the sons talking to the camera and declaring this video footage is very, very private. It gives rise to the question: how did Jarecki get this footage? He doesn't put himself into the picture, and I like that, but maybe he needed to, just a little, at least on this question of access. I'm thinking of what Charles Burnett did in his wonderful documentary "Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property," considering each literary and historical interpretation of Turner, then turning his camera on himself, and asking himself the same hard questions. (con't)

 

Dafoe vs. Cavaziel

As far as his movie's concerned, the climax is the scourging. It's too much, too early; as a result, the actual crucifixion ends up as a kind of anticlimax.

And it's unconvincing--the man has to carry a crossbeam (the entire crucifix is something up to 350 pounds) about a kilometer up a hill, and take at least three hours to die; the way Cavaziel was flayed, he should have died there, and far too quickly.

Those men handling the flagellum, the officer in charge, they have some medical training; they should know when to stop--to save the best for last, so to speak.

I don't buy it.

Incidentally, the contorted position Dafoe assumes, which conforms to the illustrations on that one crucified man archeologists found, it's far more painful than that plain ole Y shape position Cavaziel assumes. He's literally too twisted to breath easily; he can only assume that position comfortably for about ten, fifteen minutes (Scorsese said about a minute and a half). The moments when Dafoe is literally trembling with pain, that wasn't acting.

3/12/04

Last Temptation 2

(con't from prev. post)

Scorsese, apparently, did his research; some of the sources he cites is the Biblical Archeology Review; Elaine Pagels' The Gnostic Gospels; National Geographic; Revolution in Judea: Jews and the Jewish Resistance, by Hyam Maccoby; Jesus the Jew: A Historian's Reading of the Gospels, Qeza Vermes; To Change the World: Christology & Cultural Criticism, by Rosemary Radford Ruether; The History of Ancient Israel, by Michael Grant; The Bible as History, by Werner Keller; Handbook of Life in Bible Times, by J.A. Thompson.

 

Compare that to Gibson's movie, which doesn't even get the basic research right--the Romans speak to the Jews in Greek, not Latin; the whole cross is too heavy to carry; the crosses were T-shaped and not pre-drilled (that's ridiculous; even a Roman would know that condemned men came in different sizes), a seat was used, not a footrest, and so on and so forth.

The Last Temptation of Christ

I was looking at Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ" and was struck at how accurately--historically and archeologically--Scorsese depicts the crucifixions. Nails into wrists, Jesus carrying a crossbeam and not the whole cross. T shaped crucifix, a sign with the condemned man's crime written on it carried behind him, to be nailed atop the cross. Even the way Willem Dafoe's legs are painfully twisted to one side (it's a far more excruciating position than the one Cavaziel assumes) with the nails hammered into the heels turns out to be based closely on the pathology reports of the one crucified corpse found by archeologists.

 

And of course, Dafoe is nude. I can't begin to say how Cavaziel's superhuman loincloth, able to withstand a ridiculously exaggerated scourging and Roman Standard Procedures to strip a man naked annoys me. (con't)

 

3/10/04

Gospel of Debbie

April 23

 

It’s all over. And it’s been terrible and amazing and I don’t know what any of it means or who’s right and who’s wrong but maybe I’ll figure it out later. Anyway, I’ll always remember what Jesus said to me. He said, Debbie, I can foresee that someday you’ll meet someone, someone wonderful, but for right now let’s at least think about college.

Gospel of Debbie 5

January 2

 

Oh my God, oh my God, I couldn’t believe it, but I was right there, and Jesus used only five loaves of bread and two fish to feed thousands of people, and it was so beautiful and miraculous, and my brother Ezekiel said, whoa, Jesus has invented canap├ęs and I said shut up! And then my best friend Rachel asked, I wonder if he could make my hair really shiny, and I said, you are so disgusting, Jesus shouldn’t waste his time on your vanity, and then Jesus smiled at me and I’m telling you, those last seven pounds, the stubborn ones, they were totally gone! And I spoke unto the angry Roman mob and I said, behold these thighs! Jesus has made me feel better about me!

 

Gospel of Debbie 6

March 12

 

Everyone is just getting so mean. They’re all going, Debbie, he is so not divine, Debbie, you’ll believe anything, Debbie, what about last year when you were worshipping ponchos? And I so don’t trust that Judas Iscariot, who’s always staring at me when I walk to the well and he’s saying, hey, Deb, nice jugs, and I’m like, oh ha ha ha, get some oxen.

 

 

April 5

 

So Mary Magdalene tells me that Jesus and all the apostles had this big party and that it got really intense and Jesus drank from this golden goblet and now it’s missing and the restaurant is like, this is why there’s a surcharge.

 

 

Gospel of Debbie 3

October 21

 

Everyone says that he’s just totally good and devoted to all humanity and that he was sent to save us and that’s why he doesn’t have time for a girlfriend, although I swear I saw Mary Magdalene doodling in the sand with a stick, writing “Mrs. Jesus Christ” and “Merry Xmas from Mary and Jesus Christ and All the Apostles,” with little holly leaves all around it. And I’m like, Mary, are you dating Jesus? and she says, no, he’s just helping me, and I’m like, you mean with math? and she’s like, no, to not be such a whore. And I said, but that is so incredibly sweet, and we both screamed and talked about whether we like him better when he’s healing the lame or with a ponytail.

Gospel of Debbie 4

December 25

 

I wanted to get him the perfect thing for his birthday, so I asked Matthew and he said, well, myrrh is good, but then Luke said, oh please, everyone always gives him myrrh, I bet he wishes those wise men had brought scented candles, some imported marmalade, and a nice box of notecards. So I go, O.K., what about accessories, like a new rope belt or clogs or like I could make him a necklace with his name spelled out in little clay letters? and Mark said, I love that, but Luke rolled his eyes and said, Mark, you are just such an Assyrian. So I go to see Mary, Jesus’ mom, and she said that Jesus doesn’t need gifts, that he just wants all of us to love God and be better people, but I asked, what about a sweater? and she said medium.

Gospel of Debbie 2

October 5

 

I saw him in the marketplace! Everyone says that he’s the son of God, but I don’t care one way or the other because he’s just so cute!!! O.K., he’s not hot like a gladiator or a centurion, but he’s really sensitive and you can tell that he thinks about things and then goes, “Be nice to people,” and I’m like, that is so true, and I wonder if he’s seeing anyone!

 

The Gospel of Debbie

THE GOSPEL OF DEBBIE

by PAUL RUDNICK

Issue of 2004-03-08

Posted 2004-03-08

Recent works like “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Da Vinci Code” seek to illuminate the life of Jesus. Not long ago, an additional text was discovered in an ancient linen backpack found in a cave outside Jerusalem, surrounded by what appeared to be earlyRoman candy wrappers and covered with stickers reading “I [heart] All Faiths” and “Ask Me About Hell.” A parchment diary found inside the backpack appears to contain the musings of one Debbie of Galilee. Many of the pages are still being translated from high-school Aramaic; here are some persuasive excerpts:

 

Alternative Passions

I was thinking, Gibson makes at most a botched job of adapting Emmerich. Who would have been better?

Brian de Palma would give the violence a beautiful look, but I can't see him taking up a religous nutcase, except to make a joke out of her--hmm, interesting idea.

Jodorowsky would, I think, maybe even exceed what Gibson's put in the picture--ALL of Christ's limbs dislocated, not just one, and other things. Come to think of it, he had a similar image in Santa Sangre--could he have been reading Emmerich?

Dario Argento--ah. He's almost as crazy as Jodorowsky and is (I think) a better filmmaker to boot. He'd do Passion as a straight giallo, blood and intestines flying everywhere. And he'd make it all so lyrical...

3/9/04

The Anti-Christ Awards

As the newly appointed Anti-Christ, I would like to thank my agent--Mike, you know I'm talking to you--my minions Ron (sorry you weren't nominated this year), George (don't worry, Episode 3 is going to do billions--I promise ya), Michael (hey, all forgiven for what happened to Pearl Harbor?). I know I'm forgetting some names and they'll make sure I'll regret it for the rest of eternity.

I'd like to thank that other Mike (sorry you were fired, but I got a position for you here in the ninth circle) and my wonderful, wonderful old friend Jackie V. (tomorrow the world, eh?).

And, of course, the man who made it all possible, the man who wouldn't take art--or Jews--for an answer.

Mel! Front and center, and jump up my ass!

The church on Emmerich

Here's the official church stance on Anne Catherine Emmerich:

http://www.americamagazine.org/articles/omalley-emmerich.cfm

3/8/04

No brain, just heart, thanks.

from av_phile1:

"I really couldn't care less what history and science has to say about the events during Chirst's times.  It is so obvious that critics of the film who purports to be well-entrenched historians or scientists would question the authenticity of the film when it suits his/her purpose of denigrating the film.  In the first place, the film is based on the life of a person whom Catholics hold in FAITH as someone who did exist and the people around him as essayed in the bible.  There is not a single historical or sceintific evidence that Christ even existed, apart from circumstantial, religious and literary writings.  As devout Catholics, it is NOT important that such assertions of faith are buttressed by historical aritifacts or reinforced by sources of unquestioned historicity.  Though that would be nice. This is about FAITH.  Not about HISTORY.  And as such, I do not see anything wrong turning to visionaries who either have the imprimatur of the Catholic Church or are endorsed by many Catholic priests and clergy to fill-in on the details of events on which the Bible is silent. It is as much an element of the faith to believe in apparititions as it is to make a film about an element of the faith enhanced as it were by the details of such visions or apparitions.  As such The film is a statement of FAITH by a man who strongly believes that what he is filming is based on the TRUTH.  Not about historical fact.  Historical FACT and the TRUTH are often on diverged roads on matters of FAITH." 

Fruit

"Agree, scriptural studies involve a study of visions and apparitions which the Vatican is into"

And not all visions and apparitions have church approval. Emmerich's does not, and it's demonstrably anti-Semitic.

"You would know the tree by its fruits"

Listen to the media storm, to the cries from the Jewish community, to authorities from the Jewish community. The movie has inspired fear and mistrust in our Jewish brothers, and I as a Catholic--well, former Catholic--am ashamed of having another Catholic (so-called Catholic--remember Gibson rejects the Vatican) cause all this.

The fruit is out, but it's not over. Just wait when the movie hits Europe and the Middle East.

History

"I really couldn't care less what historyand science has to say about the events during Chirst's times."

You should. As the Catholic church says, when presenting any dramatization of the passion, there must be an "overriding preoccupation to bring out explicitly the meaning of the (Gospel) text while taking scriptural studies into account" ("Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration 'Nostra Aetate,'" 1974).

Unless you don't recognize the authority of the Vatican, like Gibson.

But really, reading the bible alone without proper interpretation is dangerous. Many people have done that and used what they like from the bible to justify many criminal acts, one of them being the persecution of Jews.

Adolf Hitler praised the Passion Play at Oberammergau, declaring it "vital that it be continued…for never has the menace of Jewry been so convincingly portrayed as in this presentation of what happened in the times of the Romans."

The bible can be used to ANY purpose, often evil ones, and often has in the past. That's why proper interpretation, and by recognized authorities, is important.

3/7/04

Anne Catherine Emmerich

Here's a link.

Everything is there--Jesus thrown off a bridge, Pilate admonishing the Jews on their abuse of Jesus, an effeminate Herod, Pilate's wife giving Jesus' mother cloth to wipe away his blood, Jesus falling seven times, Christ's arm dislocated to fit holes drilled into the cross. Even the WAY the gospels are picked and arranged are due to Emmerich.

 http://www.emmerich1.com/DOLOROUS_PASSION_OF_OUR_LORD_JESUS_CHRIST.htm

This isn't from the bible, it's from some 19th century nut and anti-Semite.

3/5/04

Christ on the Passion 7

(con't)

 

 

Jesus added: "My version will have it all: drama, laughter, a spiritual message, and a couple of twists that will surprise even the most devout. The best part is that it'll be 100 percent accurate."

 

Continued Christ: "Even with the top-notch screenplay Ron and I are writing, I'll still need a great director to make the script shine. Unfortunately, Gore Verbinski is already committed to Pirates Of The Caribbean 2. If only he'd see that this movie is truly the career path for the righteous, I'd be able to get a firm commitment from Johnny Depp, too. Let us pray."

 

 

Christ on The Passion 6

(con't)

 

"Not only is Marty a fantastic director, but the story isn't the same old, same old," Jesus said. "It's like The Gospel of Mark filtered through an episode of The Twilight Zone. I love it. My one problem is with the casting of Willem Dafoe. He's good, but I think John Turturro would have made a better Me."

In spite of His love for Scorsese, Christ said He has no plans to simply make "the next Last Temptation."

 

"My movie about My life will be the greatest movie ever shown," Christ said. "It should be the last Word on Me. No more animated versions, no more musicals, and no more movies where the scourging scene is so violent, you could put it in Fangoria. I mean, yes, being crucified is very painful. But I can't see devoting more than, say, three minutes of film to it." (con't)

 

 

Christ on The Passion 5

con't

 

Returning to film adaptations about His life and Word, Christ said some inaccuracies can be traced back to the source material, the New Testament.

 

"Remember, at the time the Good Book was written, I was running around saving souls like a madman," Christ said. "I couldn't focus on a writing project, too. I basically gave My team of writers the broad strokes and hoped inspiration would fill in the cracks. Now, I'm not saying the New Testament isn't good-it is. It's great! But by the time I got around to reading the galleys, the monks had already finished the first printing."

 

The Lord Jesus did have positive things to say about Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation Of Christ.

 

(con't)

Christ on the Passion 4

(con't)

 

"We're still hammering out the treatment, but I'm really excited about where it's headed," Christ said. "It really beefs up My relationship with John the Baptist, something all of the other movies missed. They always put in the beheading, but they leave out the quiet moments when John and I would hang out, eat locusts and honey, and talk about the redemption of Man. I think our friendship will really resonate with a lot of viewers."

 

Christ said He is also working on a heist film based loosely on the loaves-and-the-fishes incident, but that the project is currently stuck in development.

 

"I tend to have problems pitching to studio executives," Christ said. "Last week, I appeared in a vision before a D-girl at Sony, and I said, 'Be not afraid, for I am Jesus--I have written a treatment and Matthew McConaughey is interested in the role of Herod.' Apparently, she was a little freaked-out by the vision and she ended up passing on the idea. Ron said that next time I should just schedule a lunch meeting like everyone else." (con't)

Christ on the Passion 3

(con't)

 

Describing one of His biggest complaints, Christ said that no film about His life has ever "made the apostles pop."

 

"In The Greatest Story Ever Told, the 12 are basically interchangeable," Christ said. "Directors get the piety, but they don't bring out the personalities behind the agape love. Some of those guys were real cut-ups, you know. Simon Peter could make you laugh until you cried tears of blood."

 

In order to bring these and other truths to light, Christ teamed up with screenwriter Ron Bass, who wrote both Snow Falling On Cedars and My Best Friend's Wedding. The two have been co-writing a high-concept script, temporarily called Untitled Jesus Project.(con't)

Christ on The Passion 2 (read prev. post)

(con't) "There have been a lot of films based on My life, and pretty much all of them have gotten it wrong," Christ said. "Just look at Godspell-what the heck was going on there? It's time I reclaim My image."

 

Christ said He considered returning to the physical world to make an accurate film depiction of His life for years, but seeing The Passion prompted Him to finally descend from heaven, meet with His agent Ronald Thatcher, and demand that He be attached as a producer on any future projects.

 

"Ron has a history of telling Me that the filmmakers 'totally understand' the Word Of God, and that the project is going to be 'fabulous,'" Christ said. "But when it comes out, it's all wrong, and Ron claims everything fell apart in post-production. At that point, there's nothing left for Me to do but say, 'Okay, fine. I forgive you all.' Well, next time, I'll be shepherding the project through from casting to final edit to marketing." (con't)

 

Christ on the Passion

JESUS DEMANDS CREATIVE CONTROL OVER NEXT MOVIE

 

The Onion, March 3, 2004

 

HOLLYWOOD, CA-After watching Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ Monday, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ announced that He will demand creative control over the next film based on His life.

 

"I never should have given Mel Gibson so much license," said Christ, the Son of God. "I don't like to criticize a member of the flock, but that close-up of the nails being pounded into My wrists-that was just bad."

 

Our Lord did not limit His criticisms to Gibson's Passion; He expressed frustration with historical inaccuracies in numerous film adaptations of His life. (con't)

3/1/04

Shock cinema

fred, ever seen anything by Kim Ki-Duk (I'm checking out now, so I'll read your reply maybe in a few days)? Check out The Isle. Beautiful looking film, about a vacation lake resort where the vacationers rent a boat cabin and just sit there, floating days on end, either fishing or playing cards. A beautiful woman runs the place and rides out to them in a little motorboat, with food or cigarettes or odd knicknacks, sometimes a prostitute or two. Sometimes she throws in her services, for a fee.

I think it's an interesting commentary on man-woman relations, by a really sick mind.

Watch out for the fishhooks.

Still more Passion

John Green:

"he happens to be a guy with the wherewithal and talent to make a movie like this"

I agree with "wherewithal," but disagree with "talent." I don't think the man is a filmmaker and his grasp of violence isn't very sophisticated or complex, unlike say, a Kurosawa or Peckinpah. Or even a Kitano.

As for shock cinema, well, I'm not a big fan of Noe or Miike, but they operate on a level above him. I AM a fan of Kim Ki-Duk, and he's a far classier provocateur.

And none of them can touch Romero, or above all, Pasolini.