News Ian O'Doherty

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Russell Crowe – he's gonna need a bigger boat

Published 13/03/2014 | 02:30

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Holy row: Russell Crow and Jennifer Connelly star in 'Noah'

When was the last time you went to a movie and found yourself shocked and horrified?

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When was the last time you saw a film that left you so outraged that you had to step outside the cinema and take a deep breath to regain your equilibrium? Off the top of my head, I can't think of any movie of recent times that had that effect on me. But then I spend an inordinate amount of my time watching Japanese exploitation flicks. In fact, the only film I can think of that left me genuinely shocked, stunned and silent was the brilliant but criminally neglected The Grey Zone.

Tim Blake Nelson's 2001 account of an inmate uprising in Auschwitz is notable for many things – not least the sight of Love/Hate's Brían F O'Byrne playing a spectacularly nasty Nazi – but there was nothing in it that could be described as offensive.

Horrific, unflinching and profoundly distressing, The Grey Zone remains the most powerful and horrifyingly authentic portrayal of life and death in the gas chambers. But while it remains probably the most affecting movie I've ever seen (seriously, if you haven't seen it, rent it immediately), the only sensibilities it could upset would be someone's delicate stomach.

Similarly, I know one movie critic who went to a press screening of The Passion Of the Christ and he had to leave the cinema twice to have a sneaky fag – not because he was upset or distressed, as he stressed at the time. No, it was simply that watching a two-hour torture porn movie at 10 in the morning is hardly an ideal way to start the day.

Now it seems that the latest movie to take a story from the Bible and enrage sensitive souls is Noah, the Darren Aronofsky-helmed epic that stars Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly.

The Religious Right in America alongside political conservatives and Muslim groups across the Middle East have all come together to condemn its portrayal of the world's most famous ship builder.

So far, three Middle Eastern countries – Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE – have banned it outright, while Egypt, currently enjoying the fruits of that Arab Spring that so many useful idiots in the West thought was a good thing, is set to add Noah to its ever-growing list of films that will feel the slice of the censor's knife.

Still, given the fact that we have seen more than one home movie come out of that region where the slice of a knife comes from someone having their head slowly sawn off, that's probably not a big deal.

But while it's easy to laugh at the God-fearing folk who seem to have missed the chapter in the Bible about tolerance and forgiveness – you know, the boring bits – the most fabulously daft objections come from those who are miffed that the movie talks about over-population and climate change.

Now, as annoying as the zealots who would have us believe that earthquakes and volcanoes are the result of climate change undoubtedly are, it would appear some Yanks are truly shocked that 'their' Noah would be used to spread a message they don't agree with.

They've even promised to place pickets outside every cinema in America, which will certainly increase interest, if nothing else.

In fairness to Aronofsky, when you consider the fact that Noah was forced to build a boat because it wouldn't stop raining, I imagine the weather was a rather large topic of conversation at the time.

But the whole controversy brings us back to one depressing thought about how conservative, timid and weak we have become as a society.

Let's put it this way, The Life Of Brian is probably the funniest movie of all time – does anybody think it would have been made today?

Still, given Crowe's famously healthy ego, he has probably convinced himself that he, and only he, could be the man to unite both Christians and Muslims in a common cause.

Well done, Russ – we'll get you a job at the UN yet.

THE STUDENTS ARE REVOLTING. AGAIN

As you know, NUI in Galway is holding its student elections at the moment – I know, I've hardly been able to sleep a wink, either – and some interesting characters have put their name forward.

One of them, Enoch Burke, is standing on an anti-gay platform, which is sure to go down well in liberal Galway. But I was particularly struck by one picture of him holding a placard quoting Leviticus as his justification for hating the gay lads (and lasses, one mustn't be sexist).

Now, if he wants to base his campaign on Leviticus, that's his right – but I'm sure one of the students will ask him if he also believes in the other fun stuff from that book – such as killing people for wearing clothes made from mixed fabrics, or shunning menstruating women. And I wonder does Mr Burke also share the Leviticus position on selling children into slavery?

I guess he's just a hardliner.

THE DEFINITION OF MASCULINE

Being far more important and special than you lot, I often get invitations and press releases that mere civilians can only dream of. Like the one that arrived yesterday promising a new product that "is masculine and understated".

And what is this masculine and understated product that just reeks of confident manliness?

Um, iPod sleeves.

I must confess I have never, ever, ever seen two blokes have a conversation about how masculine their iPod sleeves are.

Maybe I'm just hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Irish Independent

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