I really can’t believe that my blog has been going for 10 years. I want to thank each and every one of my followers. You’ve been a constant throughout these years. And I’ll take this opportunity to say that I know I haven’t been on as much as I usually am, but I’ve not been in the best frame of mind. Thankfully, I’m feeling back at full strength again and promise to check out all of your work. My apologies if I’ve been absent, I’ve just had a lot to deal with in the case of my anxiety and depression. But I love all of you so much and I promise more content is on the way. You guys have been the driving force behind the success of my blog and I want to extend my love to all of you. I seriously can’t believe it has been ten years for this blog.
Depicting the last twelve hours in the life of Jesus Christ, Mel Gibson’s unrelenting religious drama pulls no punches on the brutality scale. Though that does offer hope, if you can get make your way through the startling brutality depicted. All in all, The Passion of the Christ emerges as a truly powerful and emotion churning film.
We begin in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus(Jim Caviezel) knows he will be betrayed . Judas( Luca Lionello), one of his trusted disciples, betrays Jesus for pieces of silver and leads them to where the master he followed is . Arrested, Jesus is accosted by priests and faces the temptation of Satan. Watching are his disciples, plus his mother Mary(Maia Morgenstern) and Mary Magdalene(Monica Bellucci), who are devastated by the proceedings that follow. As the hours pass by, it’s an emotional rollercoaster for all involved. From being taken to the conflicted governor Pontius Pilate(Hristo Shopov) to his scourging by soldiers, Jesus is put through sickening abuse and soul shaking cruelty. Despite being tortured and mocked, Jesus remains as resolute as he can in his conviction of his purpose to be the saviour of the people. As his torture continues, Jesus eventually carries the cross to his place of death as jeering crowds and devastated followers continue with him. The hope of resurrection comes in a soulful conclusion with the ascension of the Messiah.
Mel Gibson directs with real conviction and pardon the pun, passion. He’s created a film that doesn’t sugarcoat or simplify the last twelves of Jesus Christ’s life . I’ve found that often in religious movies depicting Christ, the brutality and hardship of his last hours is watered down and over rather quickly . And while many of those movies are fantastically made and crafted, The Passion of the Christ is a different movie altogether. Gibson crafts a truly harrowing experience that both rewards and scars. The decision to have the film be in Aramaic, with also bits in Latin and Hebrew, is an interesting one that I think pays off because it makes things feel realistic and immediate. Now I’ve read that there are those who view as anti-Semitic because the main people wanting Jesus put to death are Jewish priests. While I can understand where the accusation is coming from , though I don’t believe that the film itself is anti-semitic . It rather shows how there is sin and darkness on either side of things and how man can often be cruel and shockingly vicious towards others . The scenes of vicious brutality are intercut with flashback from Christ’s past, including the Last Supper and rescuing Mary Magdalene from the street. These scenes are bathed in a beautiful glow which counteracts the almost muted colour palette of the early passages, followed by glaring brightness as the journey towards crucifixion comes into motion. All of this is strikingly shot and realised by the talented cinematography Caleb Deschanel . His work is stark yet strangely beautiful; reminiscent of old fashioned painting and artwork. Among the savagery on show, the cinematography holds moments of soulful grace. The focus on eyes throughout is arresting in a very visual sense and in between the often harrowing images depicted, translates a lot of emotion to the audience. Sound editing makes every moment of brutality stand out, particularly the sound of the whip that cuts in the back of Jesus and into the ears of the audience. A truly haunting score from John Debney heightens all the emotions displayed in a way that is truly hypnotic, dark and yet stirring as it unfolds. For many viewers, the level of brutality, violence and general intensity will prove too much for them. And it is true that The Passion of the Christ is a test of endurance on both the emotions and the stomach. Some parts of it due feel like overkill, like a beating that refuses to end. But I believe that’s the main point of the movie and that by refusing to shy away from the brutality, it is attempting to bring a level of reality to the story which is often eschewed for something nicer.
Jim Caviezel is truly astounding as Jesus Christ in what is obviously an immensely challenging role. Caviezel finds the core of strength that comes through when experiencing startling torture. His soulful expression, underneath viciously inflicted wounds, brings volumes of depth and beatific humanity to Christ. Put through the emotional and physical mill, Caviezel is on hand to deliver a performance that says so much and is filled with deep reverence and dignity throughout. Maia Morgenstern is sublime as Mary, the mother of Christ who is seen throughout the movie enduring every parent’s worst nightmare. What this woman conveys with her eye is simply extraordinary; you feel every emotion goes through her and is expressed on her marvellous and nuanced face. My hats off to the immensely talented and totally believable Maia Morgenstern. The same can be said of Monica Bellucci, who doesn’t have a lot of dialogue but whose face speaks more than reams of dialogue ever could. Both women are truly superb as the important women in the life of Jesus. They both must watch with mournful, expressive eyes, the man they care about go through immense pain in order to save people from their sins. And they truly deliver work that like that of Caviezel, burns itself into the memory for its power. Hristo Shopov, who possesses a palpably haunted and weary aura, plays Pilate as a man who is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t . The burden weighs heavy on him and Shopov plays this convincingly and authenticity .Rosalinda Celentano appears in the brief but important role of Satan. With her piercing visage and unnerving aura, she’s a memorable part of The Passion of the Christ and pretty unforgettable. Luca Lionello appears as the traitorous Judas, who soon feels the immense guilt and feeling of disgust that comes with betraying someone who trusted you. Lionello embodies when he’s on screen this feeling of self-hatred and regret as demons swell around him.
At the end of the day, The Passion of the Christ is both a soul shaking and powerful movie. It’s not for the faint of heart and I wholeheartedly mean that , but if you have the stomach, it’s an unforgettable experience.
1980's, Art Carney, David Keith, Drew Barrymore, Firestarter, Freddie Jones, George C. Scott, Heather Locklear, Louise Fletcher, Mark L. Lester, Martin Sheen, Moses Gunn, Science Fiction, Stephen King, Thriller
Based on the Stephen King novel, Firestarter is something of a mixed bag when it comes to it. A thriller with some science fiction leanings, it generates some suspense and has a good cast, headed by a young Drew Barrymore. It just has a few inconsistencies that stop Firestarter from rising to a level of major greatness
Andy McGee( David Keith) is on the run with his young daughter Charlie( Drew Barrymore) from a nefarious government agency known as The Shop. We learn that when Andy was younger and a student, he met Charlie’s mother Vicky(Heather Locklear) in an experiment conducted by the mysterious agency. After being injected with a dose of a hallucinogenic compound, they developed strange powers. Andy can manipulate people through mind control to do what he wants, while Vicky is telepathic . When Charlie was born, she too had powers. In her case, she can cause fires with her mind, often brought on by stress and anger. Andy’s power also weakens him because it uses up so much of his brain function and needs to be controlled as often as possible . With the government onto them and observing them, Vicky was murdered and Charlie was briefly kidnapped . Following his retrieval of his daughter via mind control, Andy is now wanted and on the run. Andy wants to tell the papers about what they’ve been through and expose the nefarious organisation that won’t let them rest. This in turn puts him and Charlie in dangerous territory as they can never really trust anyone. The Shop wishes to use Charlie’s powers for their own ends and are headed by the slippery Hollister(Martin Sheen). He sends crazed and extremely dangerous assassin John Rainbird ( George C. Scott) on their trail. The assassin has his own disturbing agenda for wanting them captured, in particular little Charlie . Once captured, Andy and Charlie are experiments on by Hollister and sinister Dr. Pynchot(Moses Gunn) . But it’s only a matter of time for as Charlie’s powers continue to grow, no one is going to be safe from what she will unleash.
Mark L. Lester does a pretty decent job of adapting the Stephen King material and sprinkling memorable moments in there. Yet his control over timing and other areas is less assured. The decision to start the movie in medias res causes Firestarter to loose steam as it continues into the story. Though it is redeemed by a rather eventful and truly explosive finale , Firestarter shoots itself in the foot with its decisions and contrivances that make you scratch your head. The opening half is watchable and has tense moments , but the middle part sags because it wants to have its cake and eat it . Which brings me onto the pacing of the film. I find that Firestarter looses some steam in the middle section because the story gets repetitive and could have been tighter. As the film goes on we are gifted to moments that do generate some considerable suspense . I’ve seen people group into the genre of horror but I’d put it more as a thriller of paranoia and in the realm of science fiction in some areas Where the movie does score high point is on the effects, which still hold up for their age and just how explosive they do get. For reference, check the climactic scene if you wish to see a lot of fire and destruction . It’s pretty fantastic and truly memorable stuff and it’s a blast seeing practical effects too. The score by electronic band Tangerine Dream is pretty wonderful; evocatively though a pulsing soundscape evincing danger, hope and action with a lot of style. It adds to the atmosphere of the piece and raises Firestarter up a few notches on the watchability scale.
What sparks Firestarter into life is the main cast. A pint sized Drew Barrymore brings strikingly mature conviction to a role that is quite challenging for someone of such young years. Barrymore gets across the feeling of trying to control something she never wanted, while also showing just how powerful she can be when pushed to the limit. In the emotional stakes she doesn’t miss a beat and is immediately sympathetic to the audience. A lot of Firestarter hinges on Barrymore and though the film is a mixed bag, Barrymore is incredibly impressive and does the heavy lifting of conveying innocence and danger with ease. David Keith is a little histrionic as her father, but once he settles into the part he is great and finds a certain groove to play. Kieth has a weariness and intensity about him that shows the fatigue and his “gift has caused him but how deeply he also cares for his daughter . Barrymore and Keith work well together and you do believe in the father daughter bond they share, which I find goes a long way. George C. Scott who I find always delivers, is on sensational form as the extremely creepy assassin who tries to win Charlie over. Scott is as slippery as a reptile and cunning as a fox; you can tell he’s relishing playing a nasty piece of work and he plays it for all it’s worth. Also on slimy duty is Martin Sheen who is reliably villainous and like Scott, having fun being nasty here. Rounding out the villains is Moses Gunn, who has a level of charm and niceness that really disguises cruel and unusual intentions. Evil when it’s presented with a smily face is rather unnerving and Gunn definitely understands the assignment. Art Carney makes the most of his role of man who takes Andy and Charlie in and risks his life in the process. It’s Louise Fletcher and Heather Locklear who are shortchanged with roles that don’t often much in the way of memorability. Both women are good actresses so it would have been nice if they’d be gifted with something to work with. And the same could be said about Freddie Jones, who is only really there to show that some in The Shop have become disillusioned with the practice and to suffer a rather grisly death.
So overall, Firestarter is a film of good and bad. But it can be commended for its evocative score, some standout sequences and wonderful cast, especially Drew Barrymore as the eponymous girl with Pyrokinesis