TakuChat http://www.takuchat.com Wed, 23 Apr 2014 02:44:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 Destiny gets new footage and a site relaunch. http://www.takuchat.com/destiny-gets-new-footage-and-a-site-relaunch/ http://www.takuchat.com/destiny-gets-new-footage-and-a-site-relaunch/#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 02:44:22 +0000 http://www.takuchat.com/?p=24061

Well out of nowhere Bungie relaunched the official website for Destiny, along side that we got some new footage of each of the classes.Check it out-

Warlock


Titan


Hunter

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New Fatal Frame coming to the Wii-U http://www.takuchat.com/new-fatal-frame-coming-to-the-wii-u/ http://www.takuchat.com/new-fatal-frame-coming-to-the-wii-u/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 21:30:35 +0000 http://www.takuchat.com/?p=24040

Tecmo Koei announced today via Famitsu that  they will be bringing the next entry in the  Fatal Frame series to the Wii U.

While we didnt recieve a trailer or any details, we did find out  that they are to expand  the series through a series of new multimedia outlets.

According to Nintendo enthusiast translation -”Kadokawa will be shooting a live-action film starring Seventeen magazine models Ayami Nakajo and Aoi Morikawa for release in Autumn. Also, Kadokawa Horror Bunko will publish the novels Multiple Personality Detective Psycho and The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service in August 2014. Finally, a comic is in the works.”-s1

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Dragon Age: Inquisition gets a release date, and a trailer http://www.takuchat.com/dragon-age-inquisition-gets-a-release-date-and-a-trailer/ http://www.takuchat.com/dragon-age-inquisition-gets-a-release-date-and-a-trailer/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 21:14:42 +0000 http://www.takuchat.com/?p=24039

Dragon Age: Inquisition releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC on October 7th.Check out the trailer below-

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A Tip That Can Improve Your PlayStation Gold Headset or Pulse Headset Experience http://www.takuchat.com/a-tip-that-can-improve-your-playstation-gold-headset-or-pulse-headset-experience/ http://www.takuchat.com/a-tip-that-can-improve-your-playstation-gold-headset-or-pulse-headset-experience/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 02:59:10 +0000 http://www.takuchat.com/?p=24029

As an owner of the Sony PlayStation Pulse Elite wireless stereo headset I have to say that I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I find it sounds great, the pulse feature is very cool (although can be annoying depending on the game/scene), it’s comfortable, has custom EQ settings for certain games and it’s relatively inexpensive all things considered.

I didn’t get the newer Gold headset however as it felt like more of a downgrade compared to the more expensive Pulse but I did read a review of it and noticed that the reviewer highlighted one issue that has annoyed me with the Pulse (and that is still present in the Gold) and that is the built-in mic. I’ve found it to be passable for chatting in online games and party chat for the PS4 but when I’m recording footage using the PS4′s share button and commentating at the same time it becomes clear that the mic just isn’t up to standard. But there is a fix.

lad

Billy here just told a fantastic joke, too bad his 7 YouTube subscribers won’t be able to hear the punch line thanks to his poor audio quality.

Both the Pulse and the Gold headsets came with with a 3.5mm audio cable, all you have to do is plug one end of the cable into your headset of choice and the other end into the bottom of your Dualshock 4, this greatly improves the quality of audio captured by the built-in mics, but be warned, once you plug it into your Dualshock 4 both headsets become regular stereo headsets and that means no wireless goodness and no fancy pulsing (not that the Gold has the pulse feature anyway), although this does give the advantage of not having to worry about the battery life of your headset.

In a perfect world we wouldn’t need to use workarounds like this and I’m sure many people wouldn’t bother going to the trouble and just put up with the audio quality as it is or buy a superior headset, that’s fine for those people but I’m writing this because I wish I knew about it sooner, because remember that story I told you about Billy? That was me.

 

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Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Box Art has been released http://www.takuchat.com/dragon-age-inquisitions-box-art-has-been-released/ http://www.takuchat.com/dragon-age-inquisitions-box-art-has-been-released/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 00:39:57 +0000 http://www.takuchat.com/?p=24022 Dragon Age: Inquisition is to be released on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One later this fall.

03V5mW9

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Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate gets a new trailer http://www.takuchat.com/monster-hunter-4-ultimate-gets-a-new-trailer/ http://www.takuchat.com/monster-hunter-4-ultimate-gets-a-new-trailer/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 21:21:05 +0000 http://www.takuchat.com/?p=24017

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate releases for the 3DS in Japan this fall. It will receive an international release early 2015.

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[NSFW - graphic imagery warning] [Reviews] Movie Review: The Passion of the Christ http://www.takuchat.com/nsfw-graphic-imagery-warning-reviews-movie-review-the-passion-of-the-christ/ http://www.takuchat.com/nsfw-graphic-imagery-warning-reviews-movie-review-the-passion-of-the-christ/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 05:55:40 +0000 http://www.takuchat.com/?p=24011

Despite the poster and the film, Easter is a joyous occasion. Jesus is risen indeed.

I really don’t know how much I actually need to say. Mel Gibson’s blockbuster arrived to mixed reviews, made a boatload of cash on a small budget, and laughed at the face of any sort of “bad publicity” it may have gotten, earning a few well deserved Academy Award nominations for the effort. The story, though still slightly embellished, is a simple retelling of the final hours of Jesus Christ’s life and is relatively predictable compared to Scorsese’s own rendering of the event.

The Passion is not primarily about narrative, which for some viewers may serve to be its undoing, along with the sheer amount of blood and gore that literally fills most of the movie’s running time. Is it necessary to watch this, as an adult or particularly as a teenager, to comprehend and appreciate what Jesus went through? That’s not an easy question for me to answer, but the film has a macabre talent, and it shows it off all too well.


The story isn’t deep, but there’s a lot of setup.

Following the Isaiah 53 quote that opens the film, the first thing the viewer is likely to notice is that instead of English, dialogue is spoken in Aramaic, Latin, and Hebrew, and if the film’s subtitles don’t automatically kick in (e.g., you’re watching an old fullscreen DVD of this film on a Blu-ray player), they may take several trips back and forth between the menu and the production in order to actually show up properly, which is needlessly exhausting. In terms of the movie itself, the reliance on subtitles focuses the viewer’s eye on text instead of the actors’ and actresses’ displays of emotion, which can be distracting. The writing and speech would have been just fine in English.

Jesus is praying in the garden of Gethsemane, and his disciples are asleep. It’s a night scene, about as poorly lit as an Underworld movie, and the characters look like silhouettes. The atmosphere is established well, however, thanks to an ominous environment and soundtrack. The perspective shifts to the disciple Judas Iscariot, who has just agreed to betray the Lord in exchange for a fee. Why is Jesus agonizing? Those not familiar with the Biblical story might actually feel lost, because the the movie at its beginning doesn’t really stop to establish Jesus’ atonement by substitute for the sins of mankind. Perhaps the target audience was assumed to be well familiar with this.

Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - Satan - from http://www.catholicmannight.com/the-temptation-of-jesus-christ/thanks-satan-for-attempting-to-tempt-jesus/

I kind of see Marilyn Manson–no offense to him–now that I think about it.

The devil, Satan, appears for the first time and heavily resembles Voldemort and someone else I can’t place. In any case, the devil here is a lot less subtle than he can be in The Last Temptation of Christ or even occasionally in the Word itself. Here he doesn’t spend a whole lot of time attempting to tempt or deceive Jesus, instead accentuating much of the physical and emotional pain the Messiah endures. One of the few exceptions is when Satan tries to convince Jesus to doubt his own identity and that of his father, not getting very far. On an unrelated subject, the antagonist’s apparent gender is rather difficult to nail down in this film, especially since this Biblically male figure (such as in Matthew 4) is played by a woman. The appearance is quite unsettling either way, and for purposes of this review, I’m using the character’s pronoun, not actress Rosalinda Celentano’s. Oh, and the devil can summon a serpent, whose head Jesus crushes.

It isn’t long before Judas and Jesus’ would-be captors show up, and there’s a really impressive slow-motion fight scene 300 would be proud of, wherein Simon Peter lunges at these men and begins attacking, cutting off one individual’s ear. Peter’s devotion to his lord is admirable, but as Jesus has accepted the events that lie ahead, he looks stern even while healing and reattaching said ear. Jesus is taken into chains before being dangled from a height for the sake of his captors’ entertainment. John, an apostle, warns Mary (Jesus’ mother) and Mary Magdalene (a follower of Jesus) of what is happening to the Lord; one of these women prompts the captive to reminisce of a happier time when he is making a table. It feels like a very subdued skit, but this kind of movie benefits from whatever comic relief it can muster, which isn’t much. The Roman soldiers generally treat Jesus horribly throughout the film, but frankly they still look characteristically excellent in their costumes. Naturally there’s some blatant foreshadowing from a man who happens to be driving a nail.

Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - Jesus and the Jewish high priest Caiaphas - from http://tribunadoceara.uol.com.br/nas-prateleiras/sessao-nostalgia/ha-10-anos-paixao-de-cristo-2004/

Jesus and the Jewish high priest, Caiaphas. Note the lack of 21st-century dental hygiene (nice touch).

Pontius Pilate, a governor from Rome charged with keeping the increasingly unruly Jews in line, has a wife who here is named as Claudia (and is amusingly played by an actress of the same name). She’s one of the most likable and respectable characters in the film, defending Jesus’ innocence against her easily pressured husband as she does in Matthew 27:19, while also comforting the other women closest to the prisoner as his physical abuse progresses. The Jewish high priest Caiaphas interrogates Jesus in what is essentially a show trial, but Jesus doesn’t take the bait and is rarely provoked to say anything at all. He gets slapped. The prosecution at least asks for proof, but others at this point simply make up evidence out of lies.

I’ve never cared for a certain specific thing Peter does in this movie. He denies Jesus multiple times, as is done in Matthew 26, but at one point Peter outright uses obscenity against an accuser, raising the question of whether his “curses” were simple instances of foul language or were something even more disturbing. Regardless, Peter is reminded of his promises of loyalty to Jesus and is brought to mourning over his actions.

Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - Judas returning coins - from http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-news/13-classic-cinematic-betrayals/

I find it somewhat easy to pity Judas, since he at least apologizes for his deeds.

Judas, meanwhile, penitently tries to atone for his mistakes by returning the silver he was paid to hand over Jesus. The amoral priests don’t even care whether Judas has betrayed innocent blood, and they don’t lift a finger to help him. Later, he is tormented by arguably the strangest characters in the whole movie, demon children who bite him and chant only-God-knows-what. Judas, who in his state has torn his bottom lip to shreds, takes the only option of forgiveness he knows, and with it, his own life.

Questions and brutality

Claudia admonishes Pilate not to condemn a man who hasn’t actually committed offenses worthy of punishment, and even Pilate himself is skeptical that Jesus deserves death. (The governor here lacks the visible albeit dubious force of personality he is given in The Last Temptation.) Nevertheless, Jesus is turned over to endure shame and mockery at the hand of the ruler Herod, this coming after he’s already had his face beaten. There’s a moment of perhaps distasteful black comedy with one man pretending to be dead so Jesus can resurrect him, laughing throughout. Even Herod lets Jesus go without sentencing.

Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - Claudia, Pilate's wife - from http://pyxurz.blogspot.com/2011/10/passion-of-christ-page-3-of-7.html

What if someone you loved had a life-or-death decision to make–and made the wrong choice?

Pilate’s wife is essentially the angel on his shoulder, petitioning more than once on behalf of Jesus, but Pilate fears for his reputation and position and asks a large crowd whom they want freed–Barabbas, a murderer who was involved in an insurrection (Luke 23:19, 25), or Jesus, who is being taken advantage of by so many people around him. Pilate chokes, and though Barabbas cackles upon his release, he doesn’t have the audacity to do so when looking right at Jesus, who at this point is marked for execution by the crowd. The governor compromises and allows Jesus to be severely harmed but not to the point of death, and–well, here we go.

(Graphic and extreme violent content are ahead. Children and the squeamish are hereby warned.)


Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - the beginning of Jesus' whipping - http://jesusthrumary.blogspot.com/2011/04/april-22-2011-good-friday-homily.html

The movie’s near-total lack of aversion to depicting blood and gore is probably its foremost identifying feature, and the story nearly drops out of sight. Jesus’ punishment begins, which is horrible to watch but is only the start of what the Romans and their implements have prepared. Jim Caviezel is rather disturbingly adept at portraying a man enduring nearly unimaginable torture, eventually lacking enough energy to stand up. Satan passes unseen among the soldiers, with the same hollow look in his eyes that Gollum had in The Lord of the Rings. Some of the supporting characters look on at Jesus’ bloodied form, and the Roman soldiers begin or continue jeering the Christ. End of round one.

Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - scourging - from http://everlastingloveandtruth.blogspot.com/2012/05/powerful-song-hey-peeps-its-been-too.html

A scourge, similar to a cat o’ nine tails, is brought out. As the lacerations on Jesus’ back grow with each swing, one of those swings gets caught in his back and has to be ripped out. I don’t know whether to cry like at least one of the Marys is shown doing, or to be in awe of the absolutely incredible makeup job. Someone had to go through the trouble of making all this, as perverse as that might sound to note, but the craftsmanship is clearly given quite a lot of effort. The soldiers also do an amazing acting job: one of them laughs, one looks stoic, and others look horrified. Each swing resonates within Mary’s own heart–I’m thinking this is the mother of Christ–and the film keeps going with these scenes for a very long time after it’s well and truly made its point.

Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - Jesus, bloodied and scarred - from http://mschaut.wordpress.com/2008/02/22/freedom-become-terror-hr1955-r3volutionaries/

Tactfulness and brevity are not the point of this film, but it doesn’t really spend so much time dwelling on context. Jesus didn’t choose to do any of this because he felt like it, but his enduring all of this was a necessary part of his offering salvation to an otherwise hopeless world (Romans 3:23, 6:23; Hebrews 9-10). That being stated, the movie’s actual mentions of that salvation feel strangely thin, as though–along with the rest of this story–the audience is simply expected to know about this already. The problem is, what motivation would a hypothetical audience member with no understanding of Heaven or justification or the Resurrection even have for wanting to sit through the rest of this highly unpleasant film?

Claudia goes to offer her comfort to the other grieving women. They don’t know whether to trust her, but it’s a sweet and nurturing moment. She runs off quickly, and the soldiers by now are spattered with Jesus’ blood, which fills the cracks in the streets.

Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - Jesus lying on the ground - from http://kristen-soley.blogspot.com/2014/02/jesus-compassion-in-his-passion-he-died.html

It’s perhaps a grim testament to Roman discipline that these soldiers keep doing this over and over without a hint of remorse. Jesus, in a sepia-toned flashback, gives encouragement for people who may be dealing with persecution of their own. He lies on the ground, and the streets are smeared as he is dragged away. The soldiers are scolded for being excessive in their punishment, and the crown of thorns is stuck into Jesus’ forehead. One of the thorns looks like it’s digging into just above his eye.

Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - Jesus, with the crown of thorns - from http://nicolesylvester.webstarts.com/power_of_the_blood.html

Another flashback shows Jesus defending a woman caught in adultery (John 8), who here is presented as being Mary Magdalene. She remains prettier than one might expect a person covered in blood to be, but Jesus is now reddened from head to toe. In one of the few moments of restraint the movie exercises, the camera cuts away right before a soldier spits his drink all over Jesus.

Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - Mary Magdalene - from http://jade7163.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/the-reign-of-the-precious-blind-white-man-continues/attachment/18375164/

The King of the Jews

Pilate brings Jesus before the people again, who now call for their king to be crucified. Indeed, one person says, they have no king but Caesar. (Remember that the Jews had no reason to like the Romans or to enjoy submitting to them.) Claudia is appalled, and by this point I’m so fascinated by her character that I’d gladly sit through a movie of her own if she had one. A hand-washing scene set at the Last Supper is contrasted against Pilate washing his own hands of Jesus’ blood. This didn’t end up working out so well for Lady Macbeth.

Most all that lies ahead of Jesus now is the cross, which he is shown carrying. I haven’t done a lot of reading into whether Jesus would have had to carry the whole cross or just the crosspiece, or whether the nails went into his palms or his wrists, but for the sake of reference, the nails in the movie go into Jesus’ hands. A man named Simon is introduced and told to carry Jesus’ crosspiece, which if anything may be a small relief for a man who’s been beaten too many times to count, to not have to lift something so heavy. He at first refuses but eventually agrees, on the condition that the people know he is innocent and is carrying the cross of a condemned man. The film only really excels at one thing–evoking emotion–but this is done exceedingly well as the story nears its end. A flashback of a young Mary helping the boy Jesus when he falls over would feel corny if not for the unending darkness surrounding the scene.

Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - Jesus carrying the cross, zoomed in - from http://biblefilm.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/2012/04/27/the-passion-of-the-christ-the-crucifixion/

Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - Jesus carrying the cross, somewhat lucid - from http://es.paperblog.com/recordando-la-pasion-de-cristo-la-controvertida-obra-maestra-de-mel-gibson-2549296/

God, grant us this measure of devotion to follow You.

In the midst of an environment where his abusers’ laughter has reached a fever pitch, Jesus’ messages of loving one’s enemies and of offering his body and blood somehow avoid feeling preachy or repetitive, possibly because of the large sections of this movie that lack dialogue, easing at least part of the load on the translators and the audience. The music, which is extremely well done throughout the whole movie, swells as Jesus’ arms are bound by ropes, right before the nails go in. After that is done, which actually takes a while, the cross is flipped over so that he is on the bottom.

Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - Jesus on the cross - from http://merovee.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/pope-benedict-jews-innocent/

Jesus is crucified along with two other individuals, one of whom repents of his sins, while the other questions Jesus to the very end. The former earns his likability and, by the grace of God, finds his place within Jesus’ kingdom within the span of a few lines. The other criminal gets his eyes pecked out by a raven. The weather grows overcast and begins to thunder, and several soldiers gamble for Jesus’ clothes. These monstrous proceedings are finally ending, however, and Jesus at the last gives up his spirit. He closes his eyes, and a single drop of water strikes the ground. The catch? That’s not a teardrop; that’s a raindrop, and it signals the coming of a disaster.

Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - earthquake - from http://israelsultimatevictory.blogspot.com/2012/04/it-is-finished.html

A storm begins, accompanied by an earthquake that carries a lot of theological implications that the movie doesn’t get into, such as the splitting of the curtain in the Temple (Matthew 27:51). As a parting gift from the soldiers, Jesus–now dead–is pierced with a Roman spear. The buildup of bodily fluids essentially causes the side of his torso to explode, but the soldiers, priests, and scholars are struck with the gravity of what has transpired here. They are humbled, and the devil gets one last appearance, screaming in an isolated location.


Conclusion: A simple but meaningful tale for a brave audience.

While theologically thin, The Passion of the Christ serves not as an in-depth discussion of the history or implications of Jesus’ brief time on Earth, or even as a complex investigation into this life’s significance for any of us, but rather as an intense and generally unflinching examination of what Jesus may have felt and experienced during his final hours. Other than in flashbacks, the movie is surprisingly not very introspective or personal, and thus it seems to miss the character development that The Last Temptation attempted and mostly succeeded at.

The Passion of the Christ has a rather narrow set of skills but has polished those to a morbid shine, and I don’t know if that means that the story needs improvement or that the visuals deserve commendation. This isn’t an easy film to watch or review, and it likely wasn’t an easy film to make. For the most part, however, the movie is a successful one, especially in the area of its production values. I’d forgotten just how amazing the music is in this film. It sounds like a collection of incredibly epic and climactic action-movie themes, and while one might expect that kind of music to become exhausting with use, that doesn’t happen here. The makeup is also superb, but I’ve said and shown plenty of that.

Ultimately, though it’s given such a brief reference that someone close to me forgot it was in the movie at all, the most important part of the story comes at the very end. The cross and the tomb were not the end for Jesus. On the contrary, he is and will be alive forever (Revelation 1:18), and death has no more hold on him. Some details from Matthew 28 regarding an angel and his rolling aside of the stone sealing the tomb are missing from the movie, but the point still stands. Jesus has been resurrected, and despite our faults, he gives us every reason to have a hope we could not have imagined.

Icon Productions - The Passion of the Christ - Jesus' Resurrection - from http://www.patheos.com/blogs/filmchat/2013/04/the-naked-christ-in-film-birth-death-and-resurrection.html


Image credits (property of Icon Productions)

- Movie postersource
- Satansource
- Jesus and Caiaphassource
- Judas seeking forgivenesssource
- Claudiasource

- Jesus in early stages of abusesource
- Jesus being scourgedsource
- Jesus, heavily bloodied and scarredsource
- Jesus on the groundsource

- Crown of thornssource (masses of graphic material)
- Mary Magdalenesource

- Jesus carrying the cross, zoomed insource
- Jesus carrying cross, somewhat lucidsource
- Jesus on the crosssource

- Earthquakesource

- Resurrectionsource (NSFW due to subject matter)


This post was originally written and published on my movie review blog, Projected Realities.

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[Reviews] Movie Review: The Last Temptation of Christ (marked spoilers) http://www.takuchat.com/reviews-movie-review-the-last-temptation-of-christ-marked-spoilers/ http://www.takuchat.com/reviews-movie-review-the-last-temptation-of-christ-marked-spoilers/#comments Sun, 20 Apr 2014 01:56:43 +0000 http://www.takuchat.com/?p=24003

“Is there a story,” I once asked myself, “where instead of an ordinary person being propped up on a pedestal and touted as a Christ figure, the reverse happens?” I’d long imagined Jesus and Mary Magdalene enjoying an evening in a corner diner, savoring life at its most mundane as any of us might do.

Director Martin Scorsese, who himself loves The Robe and introduces the fiftieth-anniversary edition, places on the screen a book adaptation that I must first describe as “riveting.” For better or worse, the story openly acknowledges and embraces its scriptural divergences, which it uses to create an original if sometimes reckless narrative that mostly remains powerful all the way through.


There’s plenty of food for thought here.

Universal Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Films - The Last Temptation of Christ - Jesus carrying another's cross - from http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/53716/last-temptation-of-christ-the/

To think, that’s not even his.

To its credit, The Last Temptation begins with a disclaimer that it is not meant to be a straightforward Biblical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The movie instead sets itself up as an exploration of the eternal spiritual conflict between following the ways of God or of the devil; even still, with a premise like this, comparisons to the Bible are nearly unavoidable. The Word records in Hebrews 4 that Jesus experienced the same temptations common to men and yet did not sin. This movie instead asks, What if He did? What if Jesus repeatedly doubted God, himself, and everyone around him, making himself appear greatly disturbed in much of what he said and did? What if God’s son shared not only our struggles but our moral imperfections, becoming a sort of allegorical “man-figure?”

Willem Dafoe, in the movie’s central role, narrates his internal psychological strifes and other difficulties. He fasts for months. He experiences pain that starts off as a tender feeling and turns into claws inside him. He pushes himself through additional pain, scourging himself when not making crosses at the Romans’ command. Someone enters Jesus’ room suddenly, and it’s none other than Judas, the man who turns Jesus over to the Romans in Matthew 26. In this version of the story, Judas becomes one of the most important characters as he seeks a military triumph over his enemies and questions Jesus’ plans to seek and achieve victory on God the Father’s own terms. A Jew killing Jews and a coward are but two of the titles Judas gives his would-be savior; meanwhile, Jesus plans to pay for his own “sins” with his life, which at this early stage feel like an informed attribute. Unless this is referring to the cross-building, Jesus hasn’t been given time to do much of anything, making his self-loathing feel more awkward than pitiable. It does give a sense of finality, as though much has happened offscreen, only allowing the audience has to join in this story at its end.

Universal Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Films - The Last Temptation of Christ - Judas - from http://thejesusquestion.org/2011/04/09/gethsemane-  part-3-through-the-oil-press-or-the-final-temptation/

Judas, one of the movie’s most principled (if not quite noble) characters.

While Jesus fights Himself, Judas and other Jews fight Rome; the film suddenly shifts to a short but tense fight scene, with a killing blow just off-screen. Subsequently Jesus carries a crosspiece behind a Roman soldier, with the people addressing the Lord as a traitor. His mother Mary steps in to defend her son, but another woman in garish clothing merely spits on him. The Jews are unable to stop the Romans from executing a man for sedition, and what’s more, Jesus ties the rope down and helps to put the nails in. He then gets spattered with the man’s blood.

Jesus’ internal agonies begin provoking some very odd responses, prompting him to ask God to find someone else and to say that he will crucify all of God’s messiahs. A woman asks if Jesus is being tormented by the devil. Jesus’ answer is haunting: “What if it’s God?” The answers don’t come any more easily as Jesus heads to a marketplace, which happens to be filled with topless women. “Thank you, Lord,” Jesus says, “for bringing me where I did not want to go.” The setting is impressively cosmopolitan, and Jesus is surrounded by people of numerous ethnicities. Many of those people are watching a woman audibly gasp while having sex. Set amid cuisines and other cultural aspects, the woman openly displays her breasts while her client grinds against her. Quite possibly deep in thought, Jesus appears to enter another state of mind while trying to look away. The client looks bored when he walks away after finishing, giving Jesus a moment to contemplate walking toward the girl.

Her name is Mary Magdalene, and upon seeing her visitor, she covers herself and asks apprehensively of his intentions. Jesus apologizes for doing “too many bad things,” returning my such as what concerns, and asks for her forgiveness while saying he’s going out into the desert. Mary, however, is bitter against both him and God, saying the latter took Jesus away from her. She tries to tempt Jesus sexually and is cynically repulsed by his refusals, prompting a realization I force myself to come to terms with: The story begins (at its earliest) in medias res, and we don’t see the establishment or breakdown of Jesus’ and Mary’s relationship. We do see a dying romance between the two that feels unrequited not because of mismatched desire but because of circumstance. Whatever else Jesus may have wanted, He had more important goals to achieve.

The indecision of Jesus

Though another man expresses jealousy of Jesus’ intimate relationship with God, Jesus himself doesn’t consider it a blessing to know what God wants, instead treating God as cynically as Mary treated him earlier. Without much evidence given us, Jesus continues berating himself as a liar and a hypocrite, saying that he lacks courage to tell the truth and only obeys God out of fear. Such internal bitterness is heartbreaking to hear from a modern Christian, no matter what truth it may even hold; how much more tragic is it to hear this from Christ himself, as though this is healthy humility! Dafoe’s Jesus behaves irrationally and is powerfully acted, essentially worshiping fear and blaming his dreams of divinity on the devil.

Universal Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Films - The Last Temptation of Christ - snake - from http://film-grab.com/2010/08/08/the-last-temptation-of-christ/

Satan sometimes employs traditional Biblical imagery.

After Jesus is purified from another temptation, he and Judas begin an embittered working relationship: Judas, who seeks to kill Jesus, is met with and repulsed by an opponent who does not resist him. Indeed, in this version of the story, it is Judas who holds his own leader accountable under threat of death if the latter should stray from his mission.

Jesus’ intervention to save a woman in the middle of being stoned clearly evokes the incident at the beginning of John 8 but is given additional details. Here, for example, several named men stand in favor of their prisoner’s death, but the man Zebedee is condemned for cheating his workers and possibly lying with a widow named Judith. Jesus’ angry face is amazing: Judas and the other characters are generally likable in their performances, but their Lord’s fury contains its own unnerving measure of tranquility.

Universal Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Films - The Last Temptation of Christ - Jesus and Mary Magdalene - from http://www.cinemaviewfinder.com/2012/04/on-judas-in-last-temptation-of-christ.html

One of the most touching moments in the film.

His telling of the seed on soil (Matthew 13) is changed here: the seed no longer specifically represents God’s word but is broadened to represent love. Sometimes Jesus seems remarkably lucid while speaking of this and similar topics, and other times he appears unstable and overwhelmed by psychological trauma. He’s unpredictable in a way that doesn’t make me want to guess what he’ll do next: while the movie places a welcome emphasis on its storytelling rather than on setting up for an inevitable end, Jesus’ own arc feels so focused on evoking emotion that it sometimes doesn’t seem authentic anymore. No matter how engrossing watching him is, Jesus can only call himself a liar and a hypocrite so many times before this threatens the audience’s empathy: should he be continually embraced and actively supported, or should he be left alone and allowed to succeed or fail by his own decisions?

Occasionally Jesus stops not to simply preach about love but to put it into practice, such as by wiping a woman’s blood-covered feet. The rift between his and Judas’ goals becomes ever clearer throughout the film, with the former wanting freedom for the soul and the latter wanting freedom for Israel. In one of the film’s most powerful monologues, Jesus evokes Luke 11:24 by talking about changing one’s spirit and of replacing internal evil with godliness. He answers the question of how not by appealing to the power of God but by simply referencing “love” as he’s done before, which starts to lose its effectiveness with each repetition.

Universal Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Films - The Last Temptation of Christ - Christ within the rocks - from http://www.2ndfirstlook.com/2013/09/the-last-temptation-of-christ.html

It makes me ache to try to sit like that.

When John the Baptist enters the story, he speaks with an amazing, devoted fervor that makes Andre Gregory’s performance another of this movie’s finest. The God-given power in his voice is unrelenting. The nude women dancing energetically around him seem neither crass nor particularly relevant, and he is concerned first with honoring Jesus and dealing with idolatry in the world. Jesus is indeed baptized, but it feels odd that his character is so radically changed from its inspiration when John the Baptist seems more or less left alone without overt character flaws.

Jesus stays in one area and refuses to leave it until God speaks to him. For once, he accepts God’s sovereignty, but his character development seems uneven and forced; it’s not entirely clear what causes Jesus’ attitudes to behave one way or another. His outbursts of emotion, when being tempted to care for his own needs at the expense of the world’s, are horrifying to watch. Resisting on his own terms instead of citing Scripture as in Matthew 4, Jesus overcomes the devil’s temptations but doesn’t walk away without scars.

Becoming a messiah

One particular event found in the Bible is played here like a sudden and unexpected plot twist, and it actually works: the story is at its best when it uses its differences from the Gospels to be unpredictable in a way that remains compelling. While various disciples speak of whether Jesus is the Messiah, he himself wields an axe, speaking with utter calm of inviting them not to a celebration but to a war. He pulls out his own heart, which bleeds everywhere.

He then begins working miracles and healing people, grappling with some to cast out the devil while restoring the vision of others, which throws still other people into an uproar. At a wedding, Jesus defends a woman who is nearly thrown out because of her impurity–but if purity is a requisite for attending, then I can’t say I’m deserving, and I don’t know who could. The wedding itself is sealed with an exchange of rings (how far back does that custom go?), and Jesus indeed turns water into wine, giving a smug look that is absolutely hilarious.

Universal Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Films - The Last Temptation of Christ - smug Jesus - from http://www.moviefanfare.com/jesus-christ-movie-star/

For my Dafoe-loving friends, this is for you. All for you.

While speaking of the “world of God,” Jesus preaches against the amassing of earthly riches at the expense of the poor. Many people think he’s crazy, with one person questioning his authority to speak and another blaming his being unmarried for this, saying that Jesus’ semen is backing up into his brain. Amazingly, even when some people move to stone him, Jesus does not rescind the invitation into the kingdom of God that he gives them. His many followers often come from the “lowest” walks of life, and he speaks of them as an army, whether in the physical or spiritual sense, which becomes one of the movie’s defining moral decisions. His dismissive treatment of his mother, who becomes so confused that she breaks down in tears, is especially hard to understand and sympathize with.

The resurrection of Lazarus gives another interesting insight into the character of this Jesus: when the dead man shows signs of life, Jesus himself is startled and surprised, as though he didn’t expect his divine abilities to work. Lazarus grasps Jesus tightly with his newly operative hands, and it’s kind of creepy to look at a man when his hands are one of the few areas that aren’t completely wrapped up in linens.

Universal Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Films - The Last Temptation of Christ - Lazarus - from http://theclubofcompulsivereaders.blogspot.com/2013/06/lazarus-de-leonid-andreyev-vs-lazarus.html

Go on, hug him! Lazarus doesn’t bite!

As the Word itself records in John 2, Jesus becomes hostile upon discovering that the Temple in Jerusalem is being used as a marketplace and currency exchange. People will be hard-pressed trying to focus on their prayers with so much activity around them, and as such, Jesus picks up money trays and tables and begins smashing them against walls. The people are outraged, but they don’t initially begin fighting back. Coins fly high into the sky and land next to blood. The imagery isn’t very subtle, but it makes its point. Jesus’ statements about “throwing away the law” and being the “saint of blasphemy” are strange, but whether these–such as the former, contrasted with Matthew 5:17–make sense when compared to Scripture or not, little is done with them in the story either way. When he speaks of coming to bring a sword instead of peace, as in Matthew 10:34, he is referring not to the militaristic victory that Judas desires but to the necessity of people prioritizing Jesus even without the approval of their families or existing lifestyles.

Jesus is surrounded by requests for miracles and healing, some of which he rebuffs angrily. His refusal to fulfill the physical or spiritual needs of individuals who are “filled with hate” seems odd, due to how much time he’s spent talking over and over about love, especially in light of Luke 6:35, where God is spoken of as being kind even to the wicked. That being stated, one of the movie’s best decisions is to portray Jesus as a complex individual who can be compassionate but is not always submissive or docile. It’s a stark change from the one-dimensional portrayals he’s sometimes given, and it’s a welcome one.


As the Zealots push toward revolution, Judas works to maintain his unusual kind of loyalty to Jesus, who addresses Judas as the strongest of all his friends. Jesus reads a prophecy from Isaiah 53 and begins speaking in explicit terms of his forthcoming death on the cross. Judas cannot reconcile the necessity of death with Jesus being the Messiah and questions Jesus’ ever-changing plans (“first it’s love, then it’s the axe, and now you have to die!”). In this story, however, even Jesus himself does not understand the details of God’s plan for him. Judas doesn’t believe these words but is understandably worried that Jesus will change his mind again. Other people are convinced that a new government and physical rebellion are in the works, or they want to worship in the Temple without the presence of Rome, or they are displeased to think about crucifixion.

Jesus’ donkey ride through the streets of Jerusalem, complete with an excited crowd waving palm branches, soon becomes a small riot and a question of whether Jesus, who wants to die quickly in battle and not slowly at the hands of the Romans, will decide to fight the oppressors. The Father does not provide the Son with the means to do so, however, and Jesus turns back around, being mocked and pelted by his own followers for his decision. Jesus comes to terms with having to die on a cross, which Judas refuses to accept, and his betrayal–not of Jesus to the Romans but of Jesus’ plan altogether–comes slowly from Jesus’ choices and not quickly with payment. Here, Jesus actively wants Judas to betray him, readily admitting that if he were in Judas’ place, he himself could not do so. As can be said about the rest of this movie, the acting all around is superb.

Universal Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Films - The Last Temptation of Christ - Jesus and others leaving the Temple - from Universal Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Films - The Last Temptation of Christ - Lazarus - from http://www.ugo.com/movies/judas-has-your-back

The Romans have no qualms about attacking the people, who are endangered as Judas has to lead them away. The Passover rituals have already begun, with a visibly slaughtered lamb’s blood being gathered in a cup. The Last Supper takes place, with both men and women appearing to be present, and Jesus offers the bread of his body to the people. His words about sharing the bread heavily evoke his earlier statements about giving freely to the poor, though that miracle oddly seems to be absent from this movie. The wine representing his blood literally becomes that substance in one person’s mouth, at which point Judas refuses to drink any more.

Torn between his desire to live and his mission to fulfill the will of God and offer redemption to the world, Jesus’ bitter tears in the garden of Gethsemane are painful to watch, particularly as he talks about many Bible individuals who were saved while he himself must be crucified. Judas eventually does arrive with others to take Jesus, and Peter does take his sword and slice one man’s ear off (it gets healed). From there, Jesus is turned over to Pontius Pilate.

The last temptation

Pilate of all people is one of the most interesting personalities in the movie, interrogating Jesus with more than a hint of sarcasm and dry wit. Jesus refuses to play along except to mention a Daniel 2 prophecy–then given to King Nebuchadnezzar–and apply it to himself and his heavenly kingdom. Pilate here is more than an official who kowtows to the will of the people, and he is aghast that Jesus wants to change altogether how people think and feel. Pilate doesn’t want this change, regardless of whether it is achieved amicably or not, and he’s more than willing to try to intimidate Jesus and his followers.

Universal Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Films - The Last Temptation of Christ - Pontius Pilate - from http://www.cineplex.com/Movie/The-Last-Temptation-of-Christ/Photos?id=371401

Pilate is still not admirable, but he’s impressively brutal instead of weak. Oh, and that’s David Bowie.

The Romans flog Jesus brutally, who is now naked (his rear is shown, but you see his pubic hair when he’s on the cross). He is given his crown of thorns and is bleeding down his spine. It’s a humiliating, degrading scene. He’s given a dirty robe and is made to carry his crosspiece. There is no Simon to bear any part of Jesus’ burden for him, and the fear, exhaustion, and sadness in Dafoe’s eyes are plain to see. The man’s nonverbal acting skills are as excellent as anything he says. Jesus apologizes to his mother for being a “bad son,” and in a reminder of the beginning of the movie, Jesus is tied to his cross, asking the Father to stay with him as the nails go in and all other sound goes out. Oh, Lord.

(Massive SPOILERS from here on out until the conclusion.)

The depiction is graphic, and the music and the atmosphere become completely horrifying at this point as people begin cheering for Jesus’ death, oblivious to the weather slowly becoming out of control around them. As thunder booms overhead, a strange little girl appears at the foot of the cross. She’s Jesus’ guardian angel, and she says that his father has sent her to save Jesus, stating that he has suffered enough and citing the story of Abraham and Isaac. At this point Jesus is bloodied and fatigued, and the angel removes his crown of thorns–it makes me wonder if this would only increase his bleeding–before removing Jesus’ nails and actually bringing him down off the cross.

Universal Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Films - The Last Temptation of Christ - angel - from http://eclecticbreakfast.blogspot.com/2013_03_25_archive.html

Confused about his messianic status but grateful, Jesus is led into a beautiful forest, and he and the angel gaze upon a wedding ceremony in progress. It is his, and Mary Magdalene is the bride. She cries in joy upon seeing him, and they embrace. Some time later, they relax privately, she in her bridal gown and he still wearing next to nothing. Mary nurses his wounds, which are still visible, and they begin their marital embrace. Mary wants to have a child, and their intercourse is partly covered in shadow, though Dafoe’s hip movements are clearly depicted. She does conceive but is later killed. This movie really starts getting weird when the angel tells Jesus that “there’s only one woman” in the world and that another person is now carrying Jesus’ child. It only gets weirder. Jesus at this point flat-out proclaims God to have been wrong to take the original Mary’s life.

Though ashamed of his mistakes, he is happy enough with his new-old spouse, and their life goes on as usual. The apostle Paul speaks of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, neither of which have yet been completed; Jesus, who actually meets Paul here, calls him a liar. God’s son throws off his divine status, ancestry, and mission in order to live life on his terms, and for a while, everything seems acceptable if not for Paul’s blatant disapproval.


Later, Jesus is shown to have grown old, reminiscing on when he and Mary planted a set of vines; “this will all pass,” the angel reminds a savior who has decided to amass worldly comforts. It soon does. The Romans return, killing all of the Jews they can find while setting Jerusalem on fire. Red smoke fills the sky as Jesus lies on rugs. A number of Jesus’ disciples manage to find him, having grown old themselves. Judas, who here shows no remorse for his actions, is absolutely contemptuous toward his master, because the Romans have won: the Temple is destroyed, Judas has been fighting in Jerusalem to no avail, and this Jesus is a traitor who left his place on the cross. Jesus appeals to the angel, who carries a plot twist that I imagine the viewer has long guessed; Judas definitely has (Jesus’ inability to do so seems like a plot hole, in light of him doing similar things for the people earlier in the movie, but it makes sense when this part of the film is shown for what it really is).

Jerusalem burns, but Jesus’ sometimes inconsistent development throughout the film finally comes to a head. He replaces his spiritual anxiety with determination enough to ask God to listen to him. He apologizes, placing himself in the position of the prodigal son and asking to be the messiah even if that means crucifixion.

And so it goes.

Instantly, Jesus is back on the cross, and if this whole preceding scene was an “all just a dream” mechanic, then it’s the single best use of that mechanic I’ve ever seen. The Savior, now a savior indeed, bleeds from head to toe, but he is victorious even before his resurrection: He’s conquered all of the devil’s temptations. He has every right to express honest satisfaction in an otherwise horrifying context. Jesus, not Judas or the Romans or the devil, has won, and these give his final words on the cross and in the film all the more meaning:

“It is accomplished!”

(Spoilers end here.)


Conclusion: One of the strangest and most powerful films I’ve ever seen.

The Last Temptation of Christ, in straying so far from Biblical events, takes its fate into its own hands from the word go. Judas and John the Baptist feel more consistent if flat in their moment-to-moment personalities than Jesus does, and they (particularly John) earn the audience’s approval through their force of personality, which is more than enough to make up for their lack of complexity when compared to this version of the Messiah.

While much of the film’s sexual content makes sense because of the story, some of it simply feels random, like the nude women dancing around John the Baptist. (This is not to be confused with the dance of the seven veils.) Other than that, the frustrated feelings Jesus and Mary Magdalene show early on for each other are poignant even if their story doesn’t feel as complete as it could.

Somehow, the concept works. Jesus’ story plays out similarly to what I think of as a classical hero’s journey or even to the Biblical story of Jonah, which is one of my favorites because of its depiction of God as a giver of second chances for individuals as well as for nations. Even for readers who skipped past the story spoilers, it’s safe to say that second chances are very much a part of the tale this movie wants to share, and its unusual story line heavily encourages the viewer to be familiar with Scripture and the Gospels on a deep level. I can definitely understand that not all viewers will want to accept this story’s changes even for the sake of the plot, and I don’t blame them either way.

It’s reasonable to desire that a work that draws at least in part from such well known sources should value accuracy and faithfulness toward those, but most of the risks this story takes really do pay off. Some moments in the film do feel “preachy,” which is obvious in context of the Bible but still somewhat tedious in the context of a secular movie that I’m watching for entertainment. Even still, so much else about the film simply works, ranging from the universally powerful acting to the surprisingly terrifying production values, especially in the final act. Though not for everyone, especially not for younger or spiritually confused viewers, The Last Temptation of Christ is essentially a proof by contradiction of the necessity of Jesus to fulfill his mission on Earth. It’s not the most flattering or edifying portrayal of one of the most influential people to ever grace the world, but I’ve seen much worse. This film is a classic that, while difficult to watch, is very much worth watching, and I heartily expect my Dafoe-adoring friends to devour this anyway. As well they should.


Image credits (property of Universal Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Films)

- Movie postersource
- Jesus carrying another’s crosssource
- Judassource
- Snakesource (graphic imagery)
- Jesus and Mary Magdalenesource
- Jesus within the rockssource
- Smug Jesussource
- Lazarussource
- Averted riotsource
- Pontius Pilatesource (image 58)
- Angelsource


This post was originally written and published on my movie review blog, Projected Realities.

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Phantom’s Pain: Monster Hunter http://www.takuchat.com/phantoms-pain-monster-hunter/ http://www.takuchat.com/phantoms-pain-monster-hunter/#comments Sun, 20 Apr 2014 01:42:07 +0000 http://www.takuchat.com/?p=24000

I decided to record Mark of a Hero for a video for our Youtube, and since I just recently picked the game back up, I’m of coarse pretty bad at the harder quests in the game.  Watch  below as I struggle for almost three hours on this quest and pick out some pieces of the videos.  There’s some language as well so… ya screw this quest

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Wolfenstein: The New Order 30 minutes of footage http://www.takuchat.com/wolfenstein-the-new-order-30-minutes-of-footage/ http://www.takuchat.com/wolfenstein-the-new-order-30-minutes-of-footage/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 23:09:56 +0000 http://www.takuchat.com/?p=23996

Wolfenstein: The New Order is currently planned for a May 23rd release on PC, Ps4, Pps3, X-one and the Xbox 360

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H1Z1 live stream videos are up http://www.takuchat.com/h1z1-live-stream-videos-are-up/ http://www.takuchat.com/h1z1-live-stream-videos-are-up/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:17:04 +0000 http://www.takuchat.com/?p=23988

Earlier today SOE streamed some test of the upcoming game, Vuxxy Gaming recorded it and put it up on Youtube for our viewing pleasure, check it out.

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PS4′s Video Editor Detailed, Called ‘SHAREfactory’ http://www.takuchat.com/ps4s-video-editor-detailed-called-sharefactory/ http://www.takuchat.com/ps4s-video-editor-detailed-called-sharefactory/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 04:22:51 +0000 http://www.takuchat.com/?p=23955

Check out the video straight from the official Playstation channel. The SHAREfactory appears to work as a separate app that you’ll see on the dynamic menu and it’s looking quite robust with options like adding themes and transition effects as well as apparently using your PS4 camera to add video/commentary. You’ll also be able to add music to your clips and stitch different clips together. This app was developed with the help of the people behind Sony Vegas so we can expect good things. No release date yet however all signs point to update 1.70 (which will include the SHAREfactory) coming soon.

 

 

Looks pretty sweet eh?

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PlayStation Update http://www.takuchat.com/playstation-update/ http://www.takuchat.com/playstation-update/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 03:48:14 +0000 http://www.takuchat.com/?p=23951

PS4 Hits 7 Million Globally

Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. just announced that PS4 has cumulatively sold through more than 7.0 million units globally as of April 6th, 2014. PS4 software sales are another bright spot, with more than 20.5 million copies sold at retail and PlayStation Store worldwide as of April 13th, 2014.-PSblog

Sony Sells All its Square Enix Shares

Sony Computer Entertainment has announced that they will be selling their 9,520,000 shares in Square Enix to Japanese financial company SMBC Nikko Securities. The sale will earn Sony ¥4.7 Billion ($47 million) .-Sony

The other things

 

  • Niconico live stream support will come to PlayStation 4 via a firmware update on April 30 in Japan.-Source
  • InFamous Update releases tomorrow, for more info click the source or watch the video below( both is recommended to see all the info).-Source

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Child of Light gets a new trailer http://www.takuchat.com/child-of-light-gets-a-new-trailer/ http://www.takuchat.com/child-of-light-gets-a-new-trailer/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 02:12:05 +0000 http://www.takuchat.com/?p=23944

The trailer is truly beautiful, so check it out.

Child of light releases on April 30th.

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[Reviews] Movie Review: The Help http://www.takuchat.com/reviews-movie-review-the-help/ http://www.takuchat.com/reviews-movie-review-the-help/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 06:17:33 +0000 http://www.takuchat.com/?p=23934

When a recently hired columnist begins to speak out against the cultural and economic injustices endured by her city’s maids of African descent (“the help”), she establishes herself not as a white messiah but as an amplifier for the opinions and ideas these disenfranchised yet intelligent women hold. The Help smartly rises above its own civil-rights trappings, becoming a memorable and exceptionally well written character drama.


More than a standard genre entry.

As the movie’s title is written on notebook paper, a maid speaks of how her mother had the same career and how her mother was a house slave. The person currently speaking is a remarkable parent–but she is forced to look after white babies, not her own blood. It’s obvious she cares deeply for each child she watches, but from the Leefolt family, her thanks for her endless devotion are long hours and low wages.

The Jackson, Mississippi of the 1960s is shown as a heavily segregated environment, complete with de jure or de facto racial restrictions on everything from taxicabs to bathrooms. It is the location of a journal where Eugenia Phelan (Emma Stone), a young and inexperienced author-to-be, finds herself writing for a domestic-maintenance column. She, meanwhile, has other plans: her most powerful stories are going to be the ones the people of Jackson end up telling, whether they know it or not.

DreamWorks SKG et al. - The Help - Eugenia Phelan - from http://media.theiapolis.com/d8-iD38-k9-lDS5/emma-stone-as-eugenia-skeeter-phelan-in-the.html

I have such wonderful memories of typewriters. Ding!

The fact that Eugenia even has a job seems to confuse her mother Charlotte, who is bound and determined to see the girl marry and have children, even if that means telling the poor girl her eggs are dying. (Eugenia is nowhere near old enough to start worrying about her chances of conceiving.) In any case, the girl approaches her livelihood and her spare time as an opportunity to serve the disadvantaged, among whom are Aibileen Clark and another maid, Minny Jackson. Clark lost her own son, Treelore, years ago. To lighten their spirits, the maids joke about their employers while out of sight.

Phelan and Clark initially have a working relationship, answering letters for the former’s maintenance column–Eugenia is not shown as experienced with cleaning, a forte for Aibileen–but this eventually grows into a stronger bond as Aibileen, whose distrust of most Caucasians is frankly understandable, learns to appreciate her unlikely ally’s intentions and goals. This movie’s early character-establishing scenes, including ardent racist Hilly Holbrook and deeply questionable parent Elizabeth Leefolt (her daughter looks too old to be wearing a diaper and is said to sleep in her own filth, with this being among the least of her concerns) as well as various maids and other individuals, can be difficult to follow and slow to build to a point; that being stated, all of these people are clearly defined individuals who prove their worth throughout this carefully crafted story.

DreamWorks SKG et al. - The Help - Aibileen Clark - from http://paragrafopontofinal.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/you-is-kind-you-is-smart-you-is-important/

“Maybe she’s born with it ..”

Later parts of the film showcase Celia Rae Foote, one of the few white characters who treats African people as humans with value. While eccentric, Foote’s character contains a surprising amount of depth and is one of the film’s most compelling. She has an unsettling but worthwhile secondary drama with Hilly, who centralizes the city of Jackson’s contempt toward Africans. (Other ethnic minorities are rarely even mentioned, let alone depicted, but this may simply come down to the demographics of the setting and time.) This drama might seem out of place at first, but it and other subplots go along way toward refusing to pigeonhole these people based solely on their feelings about race relations, no matter what those ideas happen to be.

Hilly herself is not complex but is a frustratingly effective centralization of The Help’s racist setting. There’s not much to say about her worldview, but actress Bryce Dallas Howard–who incidentally played the same role of Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man 3 as Emma Stone played in The Amazing Spider-Man–does an excellent job of traversing among emotional extremes, being evilly gleeful in one moment and caught up in unbridled anger in another. She sneers, she treats many others poorly (including whites), she thinks her lack of compassion literally does other people favors, and she’s trying to get an initiative passed that will require white homes to have separate bathrooms for the colored help.

DreamWorks SKG et al. - The Help - Hilly Holbrook - from http://boxofficeboredom.com/2012/01/04/the-help/

That look says it all! It really does!

The moods and subplots are quite diverse.

Two story lines begin to take root here: the first is that Aibileen overhears Hilly’s plans and has to decide whether to trust Eugenia; the second is Eugenia’s push for details of what happened to Constantine, the maid who raised her and grew close to her before abruptly quitting. The flashback that shows Phelan’s and her maid’s friendship comes close to feeling silly instead of inspirational, but even if Constantine seems almost unbelievably sweet (given the setting) and consigned to giving advice, her words about not believing insults from the unwise are valuable.

While getting housekeeping tips for her column, Eugenia wants to interview Aibileen and numerous other maids in secrecy about their work conditions. Elsewhere, one of the other characters discusses wanting an expensive extra bathroom, showing just how impractical segregation potentially becomes to enforce altogether. Many other problems arise almost all at once, ranging from natural disasters to spousal abuse, and the movie skillfully navigates each of these, showing its characters as generally multifaceted individuals without straying too far from its themes of racism. These stories of various maids’ backgrounds and work histories make one wonder why racist whites even bother allowing “the help” to watch their children if not to do much else. Hilly eagerly demonstrates how unsympathetic she can be, as her villainous grins threaten to remove what little subtlety this narrative even has.

DreamWorks SKG et al. - The Help - Celia Foote - from http://www.mrs-alanas-miscellany.com/2012/04/girl-talk-recipe-swap.html

At times this girl just giggles uncontrollably because she’s great like that.

Celia, a sometimes hyperactive sweetheart who (while not initially telling her husband) clandestinely employs Minny and genuinely appreciates her presence and assistance; sadly, thanks to her reputation, Celia often isn’t treated much more respectfully than the setting’s black people are. Foote’s personality and Eugenia’s are heavily contrasted, with the latter being one of the very few understated characters in this movie, at least until various other girls try to set Phelan up with a man named Stuart. This threatens an unimaginably cheesy romantic subplot that’s even more unwelcome than the one Kiki’s Delivery Service narrowly avoided, but thankfully The Help expects some realism from its romantic interests: several of Stuart’s actions sour Eugenia’s opinion of him fast.

More importantly, the plight of the maids and of various other black individuals has yet to improve. They don’t make minimum wage or get Social Security benefits, and they don’t always receive even what little they’re promised. One person has his carport bombed (also not shown–the movie usually shies away from depictions of violence, though one character is visibly beaten by her husband, and descriptions are given of unrelated events). As Phelan asks dozens of maids for help and is continually rebuffed, one character unveils an especially heartbreaking portion of her story, and personal and societal difficulties increase for essentially everyone in the film.

“Love is to be prepared to put yourself in harm’s way for your fellow man.”

Hilly has grown particularly confrontational, provoking Eugenia toward her own kinds of responses. Stuart’s treatment of his “date” and of her ideas is inconsistent, which makes him feel unnecessary in a movie that generally uses and develops its characters extremely well. One parent proves just how abusive she can be, just before a much worse act of violence takes place at a distance. Another person, who would likely make a loving mother, has a miscarriage–and she’s had several. The shot of the graves of these children is haunting. Several characters get arrested, one woman speaks of hers and likely others’ quality of life as essentially being slavery by a different name, and the aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination is shown.

As with movies like The Fellowship of the Ring, of all things, The Help seems to have internal issues with deciding how it wants to treat its antagonists. Some of the protagonists speak of loving one’s enemies, and then the movie goes and plays an act of revenge for laughs. To be perfectly honest, it is really funny, at least until one character gets kicked out of her own house and sent against her wishes to a nursing home just for laughing. This subplot as a whole doesn’t match the increasingly grim tone of the rest of the story, which may well be intentional and done for the sake of relieving the viewer.


Eugenia’s and the maids’ plot starts to become a little too straightforward, but the movie makes up for this with not one but several two major character revelations. These story moments sometimes feel predictable but are usually just sincere enough to not feel emotionally manipulative. While this is not a film that interests itself in traditional Hollywood action, one of its funniest and most delightful scenes comes toward the end of the story, in the form of an unorthodox stealth sequence in a grocery store.

The movie does not end on a universally happy note, and the conclusion comes across as bittersweet if (barely) optimistic. In order to keep from becoming too sugary, the plot very nearly goes in the opposite direction. Whether that’s a welcome decision or not, its reasoning is believable enough, and the remainder of the story generally does an excellent job resolving its many subplots. While the film moves slowly through its two and a half hours, its adept use of most of that time and its willingness to distinguish its characters make it one of the most complex stories I’ve ever seen executed so successfully.


Conclusion: If you can love your enemy, you already have the victory.

Thanks to films like Red Tails, I had overwhelmingly negative expectations for this film and its premise, and both could hardly have surprised me any more or better. While The Help is by no means as graphic or unsettling a depiction of its themes and era as it could have been, the movie establishes itself as its own unique sort of success. It’s not a “white guilt” movie. It’s a story that heavily involves racism but makes all of its characters, even Hilly, notable for traits and behaviors that go well beyond the various ways this group of mostly women treats black people. The acting is excellent all around, with Viola Davis presenting another memorable performance to go alongside her turn in 2008′s Doubt (rest in peace, Mr. Hoffman). Emma Stone also does a wonderful job playing her character as one who knows when to be quiet and when to be anything but.

The various environments are lovely to look at, and the movie is to be commended for usually knowing how to be tactful. In a film that generally takes itself extremely seriously, violence is limited only to what the story requires, which may interest parents who are wanting to discuss this movie’s ideas with their teenage children. Profanity does seem rather common, and the multiple uses and variants of the N-word feel specifically deployed to shock as opposed to appearing as a logical part of an otherwise rather restrained setting. As far as I’m concerned, however, this movie excels in crafting stories in a way I’d all but forgotten movies were capable of doing, and for that, it is to be enjoyed and appreciated; given the viewer’s patience, The Help eventually blooms into something wonderful.

Oh, and three things:

1) Never trust a pie.

2) I didn’t like Eugenia’s nickname “Skeeter,” hence why I didn’t address her as such.

3) Celia looks absolutely amazing in that dress (don’t expect me to spoil!), and the camera flatters her.


Image credits (property of DreamWorks SKG et al.)

- Movie postersource
- Eugenia Phelansource
- Aibileen Clarksource
- Hilly Holbrooksource
- Celia Footesource


This article was originally written and published on my movie review blog, Projected Realities.

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