Saturday, March 29, 2014

5 Reasons I'm going to see Noah.

So there's been a lot of press recently over the new Darren Aronofsky interpretation of Noah. While I don't try to make a habit of fanning the flames on stuff like this, there are several reasons why I feel like I need to sound off this time. So, here are the top 5 reasons why I'm going to see Noah.

1. I like movies.
Movies have been a part of my life since I was a little kid and some of my best memories with my Dad were watching movies together and then talking about them. If you hang out with me for any amount of time at all and are even just a little influenced by movies, you'll catch me quoting movies line for line during otherwise normal conversations. I like movies for as many different reasons as there are genres and sub-genres of movies. I like them for the stories, the laughs, the special effects, the plot holes, the campy acting, the not-so-special effects... movies are an escape for me. And this one looks like it fits several categories of goodness to me.

2. I'm used to being disappointed by "movies based on---"
Usually, this category of disappointment falls under the movies based on a book. I have seen hundreds of movies that were based on or adapted to film from a written source and cannot think of a single one of these that even came close to getting it right. I'm used to it. I usually lower the bar of expectations if I'm seeing live action versions of what my mind has already made up things for. Sometimes, I'm even pleasantly surprised by the results, but not often. Generally, books don't translate well to cinema because books contain insane amounts of internal dialogue from the narrator or significant details that seem campy when pointed out by a speaking character in the movie. The end result is that screenwriters and directors have to decide what to include, what to not include, and what to embellish to make a movie that fits into a 90 minute to 2hr time frame. It's hard to do, and the results are often disastrous. In this case, we're talking about a written story that has several hundred years of history crammed into a few lines of text that has been expanded into a 2 hour movie. That fact alone implies that ANYONE making this movie would have to stray away from the source text. Period.

 I'm used to being disappointed by "movies based on---" pt 2
The other big category is movies based on true events. (For the record, I fully believe Noah is both categories) Generally, the problem with this category is that true stories are boring. Hollywood has a nasty reputation of taking a true story that is slightly interesting and then going completely overboard to make it entertaining. The end result is that people doubt the reality of the actual events it was based on in the first place thus ruining the cinematic experience. Again, we have a different set of circumstances with Noah. Here we have a story based on true events that seems so fantastic and unbelievable that even some believers doubt the reality of the events. From what I've seen of the previews, this movie brings those events to life in a way that seems at least credible, if not completely believable.

3. I don't usually agree with critics.
Usually, I'd be talking about paid movie critics that seem to have absolutely no taste for actual good movies but we somehow are supposed to  listen to them and take their opinions seriously. Movie critics have a worse batting average with me than a weather forecaster in Arkansas, and there have been many movies that I've rushed out to see simply because the critics hated it. Some of those have ended up being personal favorites. In this case though, I'm talking about the critics who are bashing this movie without having seen it and with no intentions of doings so. I simply cannot respect the opinion of a critic who is basing their judgement solely off of hearsay.

4. At least he's been honest...
I'm talking about Aronofsky here. There's been a lot of talk about how he's trying to trick good Christian folk into seeing this "Bible Movie" and then inundate them with blasphemies and social agendas. Firstly, every movie ever made has some sort of agenda and most of them are rife with blasphemies. Some are hidden better than others, but they ALL HAVE THEM! Secondly, every  interview I've seen with Aranofsky he has flat out denied that this is a biblical movie. He is upfront about his beliefs, and he's up front about the fact that he's an entertainer. To him this was just another script, not an attempt at a spiritual revival. What gets me is that many of the same critics (and even friends) that I've seen attack this point are the same ones who sang the praises of the "Bible" mini-series which was done by professing Christians and contained so many biblical errors that it makes me want to scream. The same people that demonize this movie for distorting and corrupting the Word of God (holding out my opinion on this point until I've actually seen it, thank you) will happily turn around and sing the praises of the prosperity gospel and the hick-accent preachers that embrace it. Aranofsky's honesty and bluntness are actually refreshing when compared to the excuses and slippery non-answers these charlatans dance around with.

5. Last but not least...I aint scared. 
 One of the biggest arguments I've heard against seeing this movie is that it could challenge some people's faith. To which I have to ask...What kind of puny god are you worshiping? The God that I worship made Darren Aronofsky and did so full well knowing that he would eventually make this movie. My God is not threatened by this puny speck of a mortal, and my faith is not going to suffer because of a two hour experience in a theater. If your faith is that fragile, you need to have a serious look at the god you are following and the depth of your relationship with him. This man and this movie have only the power or lack thereof that the creator of the universe gives them. No more, no less.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Go Limp

“Go limp!”

  It was one of those orders that brooked no quarter, left no room for debate. That, and the fact that the voice sounded suspiciously and irrationally like my grandfather, compelled me to obey. So I went limp. To this day, I’m not sure if that saved me, or caused more pain, but for the sake of argument, we will go with saved.

   A 1976 Chevrolet Suburban is two and a half tons of steel, aluminum and plastic and when traveling at 35 miles per hour is almost guaranteed to make short work of a scrawny, 130 pound fourteen year old, and it did so to me.To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember the impact. I have no recollection of the fender meeting my shin, or my face kissing the hood. I don’t recall flopping across the front of the giant, rusted-tan beast or skidding under it to be introduced to the black asphalt and tar beneath it. In fact, my memory skips straight from a command that my grandfather couldn’t possibly give to laying on my back and trying to make sense of the nearly white gravel pebbles stuck in the deep treads of the rear wheel of a very large tire mere inches from my nose. 

  It was several more seconds before the pain hit.

  It came in waves, and was made all the more confusing by the fact that my other senses were scrambled. I had a first person perspective of what cartoon characters must see when the stars are floating around their heads. The tire I was looking at was intermittently obscured by rapidly flashing white light. The pungent odor of asphalt, old oil and burned rubber was overpowering, but seemed more like someone else describing the smell than me actually smelling it. I heard sounds, but in the same distant, echoing sense I had experienced when I swam too deep at the pool and my eardrums popped. The only thing I could taste was the salted copper that some distant part of my mind associated with blood. 

  It was another, equally distant part of my brain that was trying desperately to inform the rest of me that I was hurt. Bad. Unfortunately, that distant part was being argued with by the much nearer knowledge that going limp couldn’t possibly cause this much pain and therefor I was fine. So I attempted to sit up. When nothing happened, I realized the right side of my body wasn’t working. So I told the left side to sit up and was able to move my arm enough to leverage my torso into a near vertical position. I regretted that immediately. 

  Needles of pain rocketed up from my wrist to my shoulder. The flashing lights were replaced by a piercing lance of pure white agony that started, somehow, at the back of my skull. I felt bile rise to the back of my throat and something in the base of my nasal cavity erupted into my mouth and out over swollen lips. I tried to breath, and began choking as my lungs rebelled against their only purpose. Each cough was accompanied by the white lance of pained vision, and between those bursts I was able to see what had become of my right leg. 

  From the knee up, everything looked fine. About three inches below the knee, though, the leg took a sudden and unnatural turn left. Through the torn flesh, I could see the splintered white of bone that was my shin. I looked at it with a sort of dazed detachment, as if it was some other unfortunate boy’s leg. Somewhere in my chest, I could feel my heart thudding against my ribs. The blood spurting from the slivers of bone was flowing in the same rhythm, making it clear even to my disoriented consciousness that it was indeed my own leg. That sight faded, and so did the white light. As inky blackness came in from both sides, someone, somewhere, screamed.

  “Do you know your name?”

  If it hadn’t been for the seriousness of the man’s tone, I would have thought he was joking. Of course I knew my name. It was Ben. So I told him that. But somewhere between thinking and speaking, everything got weird and even my ears heard the answer as “Vmphn.” I tried again, and felt something in my teeth keeping me from forming the essential sounds of my own name. Whatever it was felt like a cross between over-chewed bubblegum and the stringy tendons you sometimes get in a steak. I felt almost triumphant when I figured out that something was my lower lip, but then the awful implications of that discovery sank in and I gave up on answering the man’s questions. 

  Time went all wonky from that point on. There were more questions, more incoherent answers, and more pain as the paramedics maneuvered me into the ambulance. I remember that same voice speaking to someone else and hearing the phrases like “concussed, internal hemorrhaging, and possible compound fracture.” That last one made me want to slap him. Even I knew that my leg was well beyond “possible compound fracture.” 

  Our arrival at the hospital was accompanied by more voices, more questions, and yes, more pain, as they rushed me from the ambulance and into the sterile halls of Bate’s Memorial. At this point, I became distinctly aware that I was not in me anymore. The pain was fading, and I was looking down at someone that vaguely reminded me of me. I watched, fascinated, as they pried my lower lip away from my teeth and began setting the bones in my right hand and wrist. Then they moved to my leg, and I was me again; just in time to feel bone scraping against bone as they snapped my shin back into a more natural position. I heard that scream again, and it took a couple of seconds to realize it was coming from my own throat. 

  Darkness again. 

  I woke to more questions. But this time, the questions were being asked by familiar voices and the answers came from someone who sounded calm, but in charge. I opened my eyes and saw a stranger with dark hair and small, professor-looking glasses. He was looking over me and speaking to someone behind me. Most of what he said didn’t make sense. Something about craniums, and bruising and vegetables. There were some percentages thrown in there, and something about wheelchairs, tibias, and rest of life. I heard crying, and the realization that this squinty eyed stranger had just informed my mother that I was probably going to be a vegetable, and if not, I would never walk again without aid. I heard the desperation in her cries, and that gave me the strength to recognize the lie being told. So I reached out and grabbed her hand. Her eyes locked onto mine, and I concentrated to make sure the words came out correctly.

  “Mom, I’m gonna be okay.”

And I was right.