Tag Archives: hanging

The Passion of the Christ

That’s right, I watched it. After having watched the South Park episode, “The Passion of the Jew”, I had to check this out to see why I was laughing. And it wasn’t far off. Amid the screams and oddly modern Middle Eastern music, what Kyle Broflovski witnessed is what I witnessed, with the same face of horror and awe. Mel Gibson may be a crazy person who runs around in his underwear with guns and hates Jewish people

A handsome lookin’ Jesus.

excessively, but I’m going to try to be unbiased and non-sacrilegious at this juncture. I’m going to rate this as a movie, not as a representation of religion. So let’s try to be P.C. here, folks. This is Jesus after all.

So, most people, religious or not, know the story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Just the title of it says it all. Jesus (played by Jim Caviezel) is betrayed by Judas (played by Luca Lionello) and beaten and crucified. This movie ties in all the trials and tribulations of Jesus in his last 12 hours before death, including a supernatural earthquake at the end. Insert Easter reference and you have what has been coined as “a two hour and six minute snuff film”. That’s not far off.

Brutal…

Okay, movie standpoint.

It is entertaining, like one of those public executions you can’t look away from. Like a schoolyard brawl. Like a car accident. It’s so horrific and brutal that you want to avert your eyes, but it is Jesus after all. The costumes seem to be taken straight from a nativity scene (or straight from the artwork that depicts Jesus’ death) and everyone

Brutal cont…

in this movie just can’t deny Jesus. He reattaches a man’s ear with just his hand for God’s sake!

But this movie starts to drag. In getting your point across, sure, you have to be accurate to an extent. But Jim Caviezel spent literally 2

… You know what, this was 90% of the film.

hours of the film writhing in agony and wanting to speak (as I’m sure he did at length in the Gospels) but not being able to make words through the gurgling blood. I’m about to throw out an obscure reference here. Has anyone seen the movie Waiting with Ryan Reynolds? Does anyone remember the new waiter that comes in (from Freaks and Geeks) who is always constantly interrupted until he erupts at the end of the film? That kind of epic speech is what I expected at the end of this film. Maybe that didn’t happen. But the biggest part I was looking forward to was the Roman soldier stabbing Jesus with the spear. This is due to my like of the movie Constantine. (Figure that one out.)

But yes, there could have been more of a focus on dialogue and deliverance of the emotions rather than a 2 hour visual narration of a man being beaten and tortured to death. I know that Mel Gibson said that Jesus had it worse than this movie depicted, but at some point it becomes the inspiration for a Saw film.

I got chills at this scene with the veil.

Coincidentally, the first Saw film came out in 2004 around the time of The Passion. Coincidence? It is. But what about the other 6 films? Hmm…

Pain fest and a half.

Jim Caviezel is praised for his performance in this film. Now, it’s a big role to take on that a lot of people wouldn’t do (is it sacrilegious, is it an homage? Iffy…) and I wouldn’t do it myself. But, I think the more powerful performances in the film came from Luca Lionello as Judas. His tortured character, as well as all the accompanying horrific images, really adds a damning element to the movie. You know he did the wrong thing, and he was to blame. It sent chills seeing him hung on that tree by the decaying horse.

Other strange performances came from Jesus’s mother, Mary. Maia Morgenstern, the Romanian actress really added an element of what appeared to be more a love interest than a motherly figure. (I know Jesus wasn’t romantically involved with

Monica Bellucci. Sexy since 33 A.D.

anyone, but if you kiss someone’s bloodstained feet, that’s pretty committed, I’d say.) She wept and stared throughout the whole film, saying maybe 3 lines. Visual film indeed. Speaking of visual, get a look at Monica Bellucci¬† in this one as Mary Magdalene. You know after The Matrix series and Shoot ‘Em Up that this woman is packing a hot body underneath that shawl. She was the eye candy in this one, although Jesus was almost nude through the whole film.

If I have to say something really good, I was impressed highly with the make-up effects.

So you get all the iconic religious images and the Bible basically comes to life. Meanwhile, Judas is wiping his nose on wall and everyone is falling to their knees in despair. Even the head Jewish rabbi had the strength to rip two layers of woven clothing. That’s pretty redonk. But what was strange was all these representations of emotion are uncommon in the range of human emotions since the dawn of man. Showing emotions in these ways came off as too archaic to me, when the movie is trying to transmit emotion across the chasm to us modern viewers (at least, I felt that way…).

And now we get to the torture. The movie literally only focuses on this. One reviewer said it best when (along these lines) they said something about how watching this movie is not uplifting spiritually, it is more downtrodden and guilt ridden than

You wanna pass me some of my body?

anything else. I tend to agree. I just felt bad that people did this to Jesus (agnostically speaking, if this happened). Him falling over every 10 minutes made the movie drag almost to a comic degree. A ten minute flogging scene? I’ve already seen torture films that have more decency than this one. This movie takes violence to a degree that, although tame in comparison to films I’ve seen, it feels all the more real and uncomfortable because we’ve heard stories about this

… Aaanddd top it all off with Satan and the man baby.

gruesome affair. Add in a creepy Satan and man baby, and you have a film that is just too real and gritty, without much substance. From a movie stand point.

I’m not gonna take a huge stance on this from either side. I’m just gonna say it was weak for a movie from a movie enthusiast’s point of view. All visual, no grounded plot or substance of character. Jesus is spoken for and his story is taken for granted that the world already knows and doesn’t need cues. But, from a 2004 view, it did. Just an average film about the last hours of Jesus. Sorry if that offends… 5 out of 10.

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The Conspirator: 19th Century Courtroom Drama

I didn’t know much about this movie as me and my family sat down to watch this Robert Redford film of drama. I thought, “Hmmm, James McAvoy? Courtroom drama? Civil War Era? I’m in.” Always having had an interest in the courtroom (I love The Rainmaker.) and becoming a lawyer, fighting for equal representation, this movie piqued my interest once again. And the injustice of another trial was the perfect setting for this film of one of the biggest conspiracies in American history.

Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) is a hardened Civil War

Never stop acting, you lovely man you, James McAvoy.

Northerner that has found his place in the martial court of the newly reunited United States of America. Prejudiced like so many against the South, Frederick hesitantly walks through a newly formed Union, as if on eggshells. And then one night it happened.

President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. John Wilkes Booth (Toby Kebbell) the man who pulled the trigger, escaped on the only bridge opened that night in D.C., and

Some wonderful images from The Conspirator.

was subsequently shot by his pursuers. It was not this man alone though who crafted one of the worst killings of all time. Also implicated were a dozen other men, including one Mrs. Mary Surratt (Robin Wright). It was at her boarding house that those men, with or without her knowledge, plotted a beloved President’s assassination.

In conjunction with Mary Surratt’s case, Aiken must defend a woman who he finds detestable, a Southerner, and do it with all the equality he can muster. With inner turmoil, a D.C. village who outcasts Aiken for his ability to abide by justice for all citizens, and a government attempting to hang a woman out to dry for her boarding house/son’s doing, this film full to the brim with injustice. And like it or not, the ending with frustrate the shizz out of you. And, despite this harrowing fact, I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

Just some of the great cast from the movie. Chillin'.

Why, you may ask? The actors. And surprisingly, a bunch of English actors parading about as Northerners and Southerners of America. It appears as if Robert Redford found their caliber of acting to be far better than that of an equally good American counterpart. But that’s besides the point. Let’s talk about James McAvoy. This wonderful actor really took a role that spoke to me and my own beliefs. He attention and hold to justice was admirable and honorable all in one. Despite the persecution he felt from his contemporaries, he fought fairly for Mary Surratt and her unfair incarceration and foreboding hang date. And Robin Wright herself was a beauty to watch on film. Her prim and proper character fought for her son and daughter and the injustice that was done to her was denied until the end.

Other notable people? Of course there are lots. Kevin Kline played a key, behind the scenes role as

Wonderful scenes happened here.

Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War and initiator of the Mary Surratt trial. He knew his Northern counterparts demanded a scapegoat, some form of justice, and he gave it to them. Tom Wilkinson played the helpless Southern Marlyand lawyer in charge of Mary’s case who had to decline taking it on the grounds of his bias. His noble stature as Reverdy Johnson stood out to me, despite his cowardice. Evan Rachel Wood played a solidly respectable Anna Surratt, the daughter and poorly mistreated girl that Aiken came to respect despite her ability to turn in her brother. And Danny Huston played a fantastic antagonist as Joseph Holt, the prosecuting attorney and lowlife scoundrel.

A film to be remembered.

The list goes on as is expected from a Redford backed film, and I appreciated the attention to detail in costume, characters, and time period. For the love of God, we must talk about the lighting! It was superb. If any detail in a time period without electricity needed paying attention to, it was this. The lighting in this film blew me out of the water. It literally blew my mind how a film could still function with minimal lighting and dust floating through the air, and make it seem so so so so so authentic. It was superb and caught all of my attention, as if the trial was taking place just right in front of me. The town felt like a suburb of D.C., and all actors carried resemblances of their Civil War characters. If any period piece film about the Civil War need be watched other than Glory (that most important #1), it should be this one. 9.5 out of 10.