New York openings
Abel Ferrara’s MARY, which I saw … gulp … back in 2005, is opening today in New York. It’s a meta-film about the problems making of a Jesus movie in which Matthew Modine was the director and Star, and Juliette Binoche played Mary Magdelene. Forrest Whitaker plays a New York talk-show host who wants Binoche on his program. I didn’t care for the film at the time and I’ve hardly thought about it since I posted the following quick inadequate thoughts at Amy Welborn’s combox (slightly changed here) a couple of years ago:
As for MARY, the less said, the better. I have no doubt that the prize it won at Venice was an f-you to Mel Gibson. It is not worthy of a prize at the world second-most-prestigious juried festival (and there’s lots of films I don’t like that I realize are aesthetically distinguished and “prize-worthy”. MARY is not. It is lazy, padded, unfocused and just felt unfinished and phoned-in.
For example, if you know anything about movie editing techniques (I don’t mean by that you have to be able to write about them — I mean **know anything**), you realize that apart from a brief opening scene, Juliette Binoche, probably the picture’s biggest “name” thespian plays her entire role alone. Never sharing a frame with any other name actor — her role consists mostly of phone conversations and phone messages. Some shots of her are by herself. But basically she is like something stitched in, only you can still see all the seams and the grafts that didn’t quite take. Having your lead actors almost never in the same world tends to underline a stitch job.
And then there’s huge chunks — and I mean several minutes at a time, which feels much longer than it is — of the film literally given over to monologs of talking-head theologians spouting on this and that in re their views on Christianity, straight from the “a minister, priest and a rabbi” school of religious diversity. Except for their views. Elaine Pagels was among them, there were no representatives of religious orthodoxy I recognized, and the one obvious Catholic set off some of my alarm bells.
When director Abel Ferrara gave his post-film Q-and-A when I saw MARY at the Toronto Film Festival (he insisted on doing it sitting on the stage and not using a microphone), he said he had been to Catholic schools but never heard of Mary Magdelene. I’m thinking … whaaaaaa….?????
On a happier and better note, here’s a link to my Toronto review of Mike Leigh’s HAPPY GO-LUCKY, an excellent film which opened last week in the Big Apple and is starting to make its way around the country today, including Washington.