Archive for the ‘Religious Zeal’ Category

City of Angels

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Meg Ryan

This is another movie that is specially formulated to make you cry every 5 minutes or so. It’s about a bunch of angels, who live in a library, and one of them (Nicholas Cage) falls in love with a mortal (Meg Ryan). Um, you cry some more and then they do some heart wrenching things and talk about life in ways you never realized before. We learn a great deal about taking life for granted. We also learn the most important lesson of all- don’t ride a bicycle with your eyes closed.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
This is what will happen if you vote for Pat Robertson!
Starring: Natasha Richardson, Aidan Quinn, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall

Natasha Richardson stars in this Futuristic Dystopia about the US being taken over by a group of Right-Wing Fundamentalists. In the “recent future,” (?) industrial pollution in the environment has rendered 99% of the female population sterile. The United States, now called The Republic of Gilead, is a religious Oligarchy controlled by a handful of powerful military “Commanders” and their Tipper Gore-esque “Wives.” Since the wives are all infertile, the few remaining women who can still procreate are herded up by the government and forced into slavery as surrogate mothers, in a bizarre reenactment of an Old Testament story.

Kate is one of these “Handmaids” who was captured by the police while trying to cross the border (into Canada? I want to claim political asylum in CANADA!) with her husband and little girl. She’s sent to live with Fred and Serena Joy, and renamed “Offred” (kind of like Off-White, I guess…) Unfortunately, however, Offred fails to become full with the seed of Fred, which probably means that he’s infertile, too. Desperate for a baby, (to eat, probably) Serena Joy sets Offred up with Nick, Fred’s Chauffeur. She gets preggers and has to fight for her unborn baby’s freedom, yadda yadda yadda… I won’t spoil the dramatic climax of this movie!

I never read the Margaret Atwood book that The Handmaid’s Tale is based upon, and it’s probably a good read. However, the movie itself is a schlockfest of Lifetime Television Networks proportion! You can’t help but stare dumbfounded at things like cattle vans full of screaming women, waving frantically through the bars of their cage, as you ask yourself the question, “am I really supposed to take this seriously?” And as much as this movie is supposed to make a deep feminist statement, it pretty much drives home the idea that women are all just helpless martyrs at the hands of men. For instance, Offred doesn’t particularly want to do the nasty with Fred; she’s just trying to stay alive. But when Serena sets her up with Nick, she jumps happily into the sack with him, even though he spent the first half of the movie leering at her nastily and making dirty remarks. So I guess men really can say whatever they like to women, as long as they’re young and hunky.

But you can’t help but cherish moments like a crowd of frenzied Handmaids ripping off the head of an accused murderer, or references to “Baptist Guerillas” and greetings like “Blessed be the Seed!” All in all, this movie was a nice Grim Vision of the Future mixed with a little Religious satire. I just wish the filmmakers had sprung for a box of 100-watt light bulbs! It’s impossible to see what’s going on throughout half of the movie! I like a Dark Portrayal of Things to Come as much as the next guy, but this was taking it a little too far!

What Dreams May Come

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorria, Cuba Gooding Jr.

OK, I’ll admit that watching this movie was nice. The special effects were pretty and the scenes of Hell were really cool. However, besides the effects, there’s not much else. This is yet another movie that’s scientifically formulated to yank as many tears as possible from the innocent moviegoers’ heads. I think it was actually written and released by a group of aliens who feed on human tears. Anyway, I wasn’t moved. I mean, I find it sad when people die. I’m not a completely unfeeling rock. However, when I am repeatedly bombarded with the command to feel sad, It just makes me a little irritated rather than teary.

Besides the effects, there was not much to this film. If you took the swirling colors and painted skies out, the movie was basically kind of meandering and dull. The kids die. The Dad dies, the Mom commits suicide… she goes to Hell, but along comes Dad to bust her out. Then they all live Happily Ever After with their dead dog in Heaven. Isn’t that sweet?

This movie was just another attempt to placate the masses into thinking that everything is going to be OK forever. The afterlife is one big happy place, and love will conquer all etc. etc. Maybe it’s because I’m a cynical Agnostic that I don’t buy into it. Maybe it’s just because seeing little angels all over everything on the K-Mart shelves gets on my nerves. I think Atheists, Agnostics and Born Again Fundamentalist Christians were most annoyed by this film. I’ve never been in the same category as a Christian Fundamentalist before, and this is kind of interesting! A lot of people found this movie to be “life affirming” and comforting. I say, go read a good book and then visit an art museum. You’ll save a lot of money on tissues.

Noah’s Ark

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: John Voight, Mary Steenburgen

After staring open-mouthed at the TV screen for 2 and a half hours, I finally came to a conclusion as to why it was created. It was actually an insidious plot to get us to read the Bible. Why else would they take the story of Noah’s Ark and totally change it? It causes you to question every detail of the story. Well it worked. I read the Bible section devoted to Noah and his aforementioned boat, and I was amazed at exactly how short it was. I mean, the whole Noah episode takes up exactly 1 and 1/2 pages in my Bible (3 paragraphs in my illustrated children’s Bible). I guess that’s why the filmmakers felt the need to throw in a little Sodom & Gomorrah being destroyed, some townspeople rioting, and plenty of potty-humor.

Ah yes, the potty humor. Shem and Japheth (Noah’s sons) keep mentioning the poop. Who’s going to clean up all of the animals’ poop? Japheth even manages a nice, clean, made-for-TV “shhhhh…” as he slips on the animal poop. Hardy har har!

There’s lots of boozing and lust as well. Noah is quite the lush, always with his bottle of wine. But then, he was a bit of a boozer in the Bible, but not until after the whole ark episode. As for the lust, well…Noah’s sons and their fiancees (in the Bible they were actually married, but this makes for more lewd jokes) throw lots of innuendoes around. Ham is really intent on slipping Ruth, his intended, the sausage, for example! Shem’s girlfriend keeps mentioning how it would be nice to be naked. Another hearty har har har!

There is also the disaster element. In the beginning, Noah is actually a citizen of Gomorrah. God tells Noah of his destructive intentions, and proves it by making some stock footage of Mt. St. Helen’s explode. Noah must then lightly hop over streams of rapidly flowing computer animation, er, lava in order to get home. Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed with another rain of computer animation fire balls from heaven. Even the rats catch on fire and neglect to stop, drop, and roll, as they run around with flaming fur (does PETA know about this?)

Also in the destructive vein, watch the Ark crash into Mt. Ararat with a loud, splintering bang. We watch with anticipation as the Crew of Noah’s Ark prepare to smash to their deaths in a Titanic-esque collision. Never mind the fact that giant animal-laden boats don’t generally drift around at high speeds, a disastrous crash was in order. All in all, this movie merits the highest cheese rating a film can possibly earn! It annoyed both movie connoisseurs and fundamentalist Christians! What more could you want? Oh yeah-you could want the salesman. The other survivor of the flood besides Noah & Co. was a traveling salesman on a funky homemade barge. This allowed Noah and family the opportunity to shop while floating through the sea of God’s destruction. See, God is benevolent after all! He wouldn’t deprive his favorite human of the opportunity to shop, even after He destroyed the greed and avarice-filled human race. Alert the philosophers!

End of Days

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney

The plot is simple: Arnold Schwarzenegger, a disgruntled alcoholic former cop, saves the world from a Satanic prophesy by wielding large weapons. What more can I say? The cheese is laid on thick in this high predictability factor action thriller. Lots of stuff blows up, and there is lots of blood. There are a couple of priceless Moments of Cheese. Here they are, in order of decreasing cheesiness:

1. Satan jumps into Gabriel Byrnes’s body and compliments a passing punk on his “Satan Rules” T-shirt.

2. Satan offers Arnold his dead wife and daughter back in exchange for information that will speed along the end of the word. The following dialogue ensues: Satan: What is it that you want? Arnold: I want you to GO TO HELLLLL!

3. We discover that in dreams, symbols often appear mixed up or backwards, thus “666” actually means “999” as in…1999!! *gasp!*

4. A former priest is found dead (crucified to the ceiling of his hospital room, actually), with words carved into his body. “Christ in New York?” the investigators try to read… no, wait! The main character’s name is Christine York! Ah, the levels of cheese movie makers will stoop to!

Yes, it’s moments like these that make our jobs (or rather our geeky past times) worthwhile! All of these moments occur on what will arguably be the cheesiest day in history– December 31st 1999. On that day Satan will come to earth to do the wild thing with Christine York (Robin Tunney) between 11:30 and midnight on December 31st 1999 (eastern standard time). Thus he will bring about the “End Of Days.”

Enter Christine. Christine is a local Manhattan woman prone to visions and anxiety disorders, who just happened to be born during the “eye of God” phase of the moon. Because of this, she has a birthmark shaped like a Black Sabbath album cover on her arm, and the doctors in the hospital where she was born forced her to drink the blood of a live rattlesnake when she was a few minutes old. It was all prophesized before, that’s why a bunch of priests wearing Sacred Heart necklaces from Dollar Depot are trying to kill Christine. By killing Christine, they will stop Satan from gettin’ booty from her, and thus keep the world going for a little while longer (until of course Sen. John McCain gets elected president of the US, when we’ll find out the true meaning of the term “End of Days”).

Meanwhile, Satan (Gabriel Byrne) takes over the bodies of all sorts of dead people, turning them into one big chanting mass of evil. But hey, it’s the end of the 1990s. It’s not exactly the end of the millennium, as any geek worth his price in RAM will tell you, but it’s close enough for a party. Every Times Square-bound party animal can pass for an undead minion of Satan on New Year’s Eve. Even Christine’s own step mother is in on the Satanic conspiracy, as she’s been waiting since Christine was born for this moment (that qualifies her as a ‘Mean Caregiver’ for the Mean Mother category). As everyone prepares for Satan’s ritual wedding and consummation with Christine (they even have a skimpy black dress in just her size waiting for her), in bursts Arnold, ready to save the day (and the world). He discovers that bullets and missiles only delay Satan a little bit, but in typical Arnold fashion, he continues to use them anyway.

This film is a must for anyone afflicted with millennium hysteria, or for anyone who loves a good cheesy romp through the subway systems in NYC. I’ll bet you never knew that people get the stigmata and are crucified on a daily basis down there, did you?

Jesus of Nazareth

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

You’ve all seen them- the saint cards and velvet portraits of Jesus. Jesus, eyes searching to Heaven in that melancholy stupor. Jesus, who knows that the crown of thorns is coming his way. Well that’s exactly what he looks like in every frame of this film! He has the ethereal manner about him- even the Apostles are a bit scared. But even though he’s portrayed as being slightly insane, he’s still the same lovable old Jesus. Joseph and Mary are pleasantly Semitic looking in this one, though Jesus himself is as white as they come. If you’re into two-tape epics of biblical proportion, Jesus Of Nazareth is the one for you!

Meet Joe Black

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins

What would it be like if Death himself came to the world of the living disguised as a clueless stud? This movie examines that scenario in great detail (a two-tape set). When Bill, the Rich guy’s life span is about to expire (Hopkins,) Death himself decides to hang out with the human race to see what it’s all about. Instead of the usual black cloak and sickle attire, though, he’s jumped into the body of Brad Pitt, whom he conveniently splattered in a traffic accident.

Things are complicated, though, because Bill’s daughter has decided that she no longer wants to go out with her dad’s #1 associate, a mean sarcastic heartless businessman. She falls for Brad in a coffee shop before he gets splattered. When The Reaper shows up to dinner that night wearing Brad’s body, she of course doesn’t realize that he’s Death incarnate. She doesn’t Fear the Reaper, as she finds his odd fixation with eating peanut butter charmingly cute.

Death (now renamed Joe Black to better blend in with human society) makes an awkward human. In his state, however, he doesn’t fool an old Jamaican woman who’s on her death bed. We get to see Brad talk like a Rastafarian to her- it’s amusing.

The best part of this film, however, is all of the puns that present themselves effortlessly to the viewer. I never realized that there are so many idiomatic expressions involving death! For example, when Bill’s daughter and Death do the Wild Thing, is she on her Death Bed? And Bill is at Death’s Door when he knocks to summon him for dinner… all very amusing. Don’t miss the super Disneyesque ending complete with cheesy triumphantly sad symphonic music and fireworks.

The Eighteenth Angel

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Christopher McDonald, Rachel Leigh Cook

The Etruscans predicted that Satan would return to Earth sometime in this century. In fact, they even built a very sinister clock to mark the time until he arrives. When the clock reaches 666 o’clock- watch out! Some monks will have to sacrifice 18 corpses with human faces sewn onto them so he can take human form! Of course, the faces that the monks sew onto the corpses have to be beautiful, so what better way to lure beautiful women to their dooms than pose as modeling agents? Christopher McDonald goes all over the world in search of comely lasses and then brings them to his villa in northern Italy, and then– you guessed it. Satan bait one and all.

Enter Lucy, an American teenager who’s wanted to be a model all of her life. Her mother, an art restorer, is vehemently opposed to this career move. So what does Lucy do when her mother inexplicably hurls herself out a window during an interview with Satanic monks? She runs off to Italy with a strange guy who starts taking pictures of her on a school field trip. Now, if you were in a museum, and some strange beret-clad guy started snapping pictures of you, what would you do? I’ll bet you would do what Lucy did– start pouting and posing for the camera.

Lucy’s dad gets a job in the same town in Italy where Lucy is “modeling,” so he gets to watch over her. Why is that creepy wife of the photographer making a latex mask of her face? Why does Lucy’s beloved cat keep dragging home screeching Hell-beasts? Something strange is going on! And then people start getting attacked by demonic housecats, and all Hell breaks loose, if you’ll excuse the pun.

It’s all being run by a bunch of monks who like to stand in a circle and chant “Say, Say, Say!” while pounding their chests. Yes, they’re all big Michael Jackson fans– or are Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney really Servants of the Dark One? After all, “Say, Say Say” is really Italian for 666!

OK, so it’s now 666 O’clock, I’ll skip over the subplot about cloning, because I really didn’t get it anyway. I’ll skip the bit about the faces of dead people being buried with latex replicas, so the monks could steal their real faces- I didn’t quite get that either. We’re back at 666 O’clock- which body will Lucifer choose to inhabit? Will it be Lucy? No way! This was meant to be a creepy horror-type film, with cats jumping out at opportune moments and strategically placed lightning bolts. The scariest thing, though, was that the end was left wide open for a sequel.

The People

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: William Shatner

This made-for-tv movie is a must for those who love William Shatner. It starts with a young teacher who is assigned to a remote village inhabited by a strange religious sect. The members wear big clunky shoes and shuffle around joylessly. It turns out that they are actually aliens who wear big clunky shoes to keep themselves from spontaneously levitating. The teacher draws the secret out of them and teaches them not to be ashamed and to embrace their alien heritage. One of several 1970s films about aliens who crash land on earth and attempt to assimilate, but can’t for their telekinetic powers.

The Prophesy (parts I and II)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Christopher Walken

The Prophesy starts when the Archangel Gabriel goes bad. He’s a mean dude, and he’s out to kick some butt. He’s PO’d at God, and plans to get back at Him by destroying mankind. Fortunately, he’s banished to Hell by a Native American ritual.

This brings us to the sequel- Satan (played brilliantly for the entire 50 seconds he’s on screen by the guy from Dokken) decides that Gabriel is way too irritating for Hell, and, in an explosion of fire and brimstone, chucks him back up onto Earth.

Gabriel is played by Christopher Walken (just once wouldn’t you like him to star in Pollyanna?) who gets to be very sarcastic and cause things to explode by blowing kisses at them. In the sequel, he tries to kill the unborn child of Jennifer Beals, who was knocked up by a good angel (Oh what a feeling!)

A must for anyone who’s sick of those little angel pins everyone seems to be wearing these days.

The Rapture

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: David Duchovny, Mimi Rogers

Mimi Rogers plays Maggie, a disillusioned telephone operator whose main hobby is partner-swapping with her aged English companion. She eventually is swapped with, and falls in love with Randy (David Duchovny), a former hit-man.

One day she discovers God and is born again. Randy gets born again as well- you can tell because he suddenly gets a haircut and wears a suit. They become the Model Christian couple with a daughter named Mary who is under the influence of a bizarre Christian cult.

Things fall apart when Randy is shot by a disgruntled alcoholic former employee and Maggie starts getting visions that she should camp out in the desert and wait for the Rapture. It gets weird from here on. What you thought was a movie whose main point was to convert you to Fundamental Christianity begins to change. Then the Horses of the Apocalypse appear.

An interesting movie for those who are sick of chasing door-to-door Christian salesmen from your door!

Santa Sangre

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

OK, OK, this isn’t actually a bad movie. It’s a really good move. I love this movie.

It tells the tale of Fenix, a lusty mental patient with a darkly stained childhood in the world’s worst circus, who is one day rescued by his armless mother, a fallen cult leader who worships the raped and mutilated Santa Sangre. The two hastily re-package themselves as a variety act; while Concha relates a highly paraphrased Book of Genesis, Fenix stands behind and provides the arms. Everything is ducky for the winsome couple until Concha develops a taste for blood and physical control of Fenix’s hands.

The sheer breadth of Fenix’s saga defies any description; every scene is described in excruciating detail, right down to the last cocaine-snorting retarded mental patient. Every scene of this gem is so relentlessly schmaltzy that you may find yourself physically exhausted by the very end.