Blu-ray Review “Noah”

Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: July 29, 2014
Run Time: 137 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Director Darren Aronofsky has come ALONG way since his first film “Pi”, which was shot for $60,000 and mostly without permits etc. Now he is making $120 million dollars films and I saw good for him since he is a great director. “Noah” is the theatrical re-telling of the story of Noah’s Ark from The Bible. This film has had a lot of controversy surrounding it but I actaully really enjoyed it. It has a fantastic cast including Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson, whom all deliver great performances. The film is paced well and is visually stunning. Plus it is cool to find out it was partly shot in Long Island, NY (my hometown). Make not be straight from the pages of the Bible, which is not a bad thing, but this is a very visually entertaining movie. Key word being that exactly…movie!

If you don’t know the premise for this film, then you probably shouldn’t be seeing it. But here it is anyway “Noah (Crowe) suffers visions of an apocalyptic deluge before taking measures to protect his wife (Connelly), children and thousands of animals from a coming flood.” I love that before the film they had to put the following text in to make everyone happy. “The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.” This is a movie people not a freaking biopic…chill out.

Paramount is delivering “Noah” as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD included. They have also created one of the best Blu-ray presentations that I have seen all year. The 1080p, 1.85:1-framed transfer is absolutely fantastic. You can see that a lot of work went into this film in post and the digital effects are superb and very detailed. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 is also outstanding. Since this is taken from the Bible, it is quite epic and the when the flood comes raise the volume and just enjoy this great well-balanced track.

The special features included on this release are good and add up to about an hour of extra content. I would have loved to seen a commentary track but these are still solid. “Iceland: Extreme Beauty” focuses on the shooting in Iceland, it’s benefits and difficulties and contains some great behind-the-scenes footage. “The Ark Exterior: A Battle for 300 Cubits” talks about planning and building of the film’s ark. It also includes some great on-set footage. “The Ark Interior: Animals Two by Two” is a deeper focus on the ark and the process that went into bringing it and it’s passengers to life.

Film Review “Noah”

Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 2 hours 18 mins

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

There are going to be three types of people showing up to the cinema to check out the new film “Noah.” First will be people who go to see the big movie-of-the-weekend with the big-name stars. Second will be those people expecting a Biblical tale. Third will be devout fans of filmmaker Darren Aronofsky. I am part of the third group.

I am also a fan of both Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly. Crowe first caught my interest in the mid-nineties with the film “Romper Stomper” while Jennifer Connelly was probably every young boy’s crush of the late-80‘s and 1990’s. However, even with their talent and pull, I don’t know if I would have even gone and seen this movie if it weren’t for its director and co-writer, Darren Aronofsky, whose career I’ve been following since his 1998 directorial debut “Pi.” I have been waiting for years for a major studio to give him a large budget and let him unleash the undeniable talent that he has. And, with “Noah,” a studio finally has.

Those in tune with Aronofsky’s style and previous work could easily see this as a tonal prequel to his 2006 film “The Fountain.” There is a similar visual style at work here as well as the concept of the story. Aronofsky co-wrote “The Fountain” with Ari Handel, with whom also co-wrote this film.

“Noah” is an epic tale, with grand landscapes and fantastic visual effects (for the most part). Yet the story relies mainly on the humanization of the Noah character. As we all know the story of Noah, one doesn’t need to rehash it. This story brings Noah into human form and shows that he isn’t all-knowing and miraculous; rather he is shown as flawed and in constant struggle. Crowe does an excellent job at making you fall for his compassion and sincerity. In due time he is also able to make you fear him and root for him to change his mind. This is certainly one of the better performances he has given in years. It’s worth calling to attention that this is the second time that Russell Crowe has performed opposite Jennifer Connelly. They are husband and wife here, just as they were in 2001’s “A Beautiful Mind,” a film that earned them both Academy Award nominations, with Connelly taking home the Oscar for BestSupporting Actress. Here their characters are quite believable and have an obvious chemistry.

They seem to draw great performances out of one another. The same can be said of the team of Aronofsky and Connelly. This is their second film together, after working previously on 2000’s “Requiem for a Dream.” For reasons only known to the filmmakers, for a majority of the film Connelly’s role seemed to be that of turning to the camera and showing awe or concern. I feared she was going to be underused in the film, until the third act when she steps forward and gives one of the most compelling performances of the film. Hopefully another Oscar nomination will come her way next award season.

The final positive I have for this film is the beautiful-yet-haunting score by Clint Mansell. Like the film itself the music blends well with his score for “The Fountain.” It is powerful, operatic, and seems made to be played against the backdrop of Matthew Libatique’s beautiful cinematography.

If there are any negatives here they are small. One is the composition of the visual effects. The effects themselves are fine but they do not blend well with the live-action shots. I blame this mostly on the clarity of digital projection. Film grain, in the past, helped blend the seams a little better. While most of the visual effects shots were epic and powerful, a few were too noticeable and brought me out of the moment. The second negative is the story structure. While the writing itself was fine, it sometimes came across as a little cliché’; you could almost feel some sort of studio influence at hand.

That being said, “Noah” is a film that should be seen on the big screen with the hope that it will be remembered next award season


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Noah Hathaway talks about returning to film with his role in “Sushi Girl”

Noah Hathaway is know best for his film roles in “The Neverending Story” and “Troll” and TV roles in “Battlestar Galatica”. He is returning to film after a long break with his new amazing film “Sushi Girl” playing the role of Fish. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Noah about his role in this film and what we can expect from the role and what he has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: After such a long break from TV/film, why did you come back for “Sushi Girl”?
Noah Hathaway: I was living in Amsterdam with my now ex-wife.  I was tattooing, chilling and happy there. I am not crazy about the cold weather but the rest of Amsterdam is pretty awesome. We are talking about possibly going back to LA for pilot season that year but nothing serious.  A couple weeks later I got an email at 3am on Facebook from this producer.  He was asking if I would be interested in doing a movie with Tony Todd, Sonny Chiba and Mark Hamill.  Growing up with the films from Tony and Mark is amazing but when you are a lifelong martial artist and somebody asks you if you want to do a film with the closest living thing to Bruce Lee, I don’t know about you but I say “Yes!” [laughs].  We Skyped a quick couple page audition and I am sure the director wanted to make sure I could still read well.  Literally I was on a plane 6-7 hours later to start shooting.

MG: What did you enjoy most about playing the role of Fish?
NH: I liked that the Fish was kind of the innocent out of everybody.  The rest of them had this hard criminal past or experience, some more than others.  He wasn’t a good guy but still the most innocent out of the group. They gave some room to play around a bit and have some fun with the character.  It is a gangster movie and I love those.  The script was tight and exciting.  It also gives people a chance to get invested in more than just one character.

MG: You role is quite physical; tell us about the make-up effects used?
NH: We probably had about five hours of prosthetics used for a few days after the scene with Andy Mackenzie. Not going to give it away…after the stinky sock scene [laughs]. But they were really great instead of having me come to set; they would come to my hotel room at like 3am, wake me up and start the makeup. Prosthetics are not really my favorite thing but I was able to just nap in the chair.

MG: When we interviewed Mark Hamill, he commented on your “blood-curdling screams”; how did you channel that?
NH: When we were shooting it, the line producer, the camera girl and one of the assistant actually had to leave the set since it was so difficult to watch.  The screams that were coming out of my mouth were so horrid. They just left the set and couldn’t take it. Mark kept getting mad at me saying that I was going to ruin my voice. I said “Yeah, but I will win the Scream award for Best Scream but what do I give a shit”. [laughs] When you say “blood-curdling screams”, everyone was kind of freaked out when I let these out.  They just sounded so real and horrific. I did fuck my throat up for a good couple of months as well, I sounded like a pubescent boy. But it worked great with the ladies [laughs].

MG: How was it collaborating with such a fantastic cast?
NH: It is a weird movie to be involved in where you actually really like the people and want to spend time with the people you just worked with. That is a rarity. You hear so many horror stories with huge celebrities that won’t talk to each other.  We are still hanging out on weekends for BBQ’s. I am having the fight at my house this weekend with Tony, Jimmy (Duval), Andy, probably Mark and a bunch of the other guys including the director Kern (Saxton).  We are planning to just hang out have some drinks and watch the fight…and this is a year and a half later!

MG: I have a really this film is destined to become a instant cult classic; after being involved with “Troll” and “The Neverending Story”; How can you reflect?
NH: I think I have just been lucky that having done some movies that have stood the test of time. I think that this is a cool enough movie that it will do the same thing. It might not make a gazillion dollars but it will be one of those movies that people talk about and watch over and over.  Ten years down the line I can see people saying “Man, remember that fucking scene from “Sushi”?” I think it will be one of those films. I think it all goes back to the quality of the directing and writing and a little bit of everything.

MG: What else do you have planned next?
NH: I did a short film for Tom Holland, who directed the original “Fright Night”.  He is coming out with his “Twisted Tales”, which is like “Twilight Zone”.  So I did the first one, which he thinks is his personal favorite. They are putting it through the festival circuit now and it is called “Boom”.  I play a retired Iraq bomb disposal grunt, who is losing his mind and accuses his wife and best friend of having an affair. I have movie also that I did with Jimmy Duval, that he provided called “Blue Dream” now; it’s had like five titles. So I have got a few things coming out but I am just really excited for “Sushi Girl”.  I have a feeling that people are really going to dig it.


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Barry Sloane talks about joining ABC’s “Revenge”

This month when ABC’s hit show Revenge returns it will be welcoming English actor Barry Sloane as Aiden, “a mystery man from Emily’s (Emily VanCamp) past”. Previously seen by American theater audiences in Broadway’s Jerusalem last summer, Sloane comes from acclaimed turns on British tv shows such as Hollyoaks and Holby City. Along with “Revenge”, Barry talked to Media Mikes about his upcoming film roles in “Penthouse North” and Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah”.

Lauren Damon: So you’re joining into “Revenge” cast which you’ve done before on other established TV shows, how is that?
Barry Sloane:  It’s great, it’s a really cool show and  when the opportunity came up to be a part of it, I was very excited, you know.  It’s got a fantastic cast. Great actors, isn’t it? I knew it was going to be a fun part. From what I was told about the character , it’s going to be a cool character to play and there’s a lot of mystery to the guy, We’ll do some interesting things.

LD: All I’ve read is that he’s a ‘mystery man’ from Emily’s past, but a lot of times her people from the past don’t do so well, is that a concern for you?
BS: (Laughs) Well these things, you know, you come in and I think the main thing is you’re going to be involved in with Emily, Emily VanCamp’s story, so getting to work with her quite closely is going to be great because she’s fantastic and she’s a great girl as well. We’ve had a couple of scenes so far that have gone really well so you kind of come in to these things and you never as an actor, you never kind of say ‘oh I’m going to be here three, four, five years’, you know. You kind of come in and the first thing, you do an arc or something interesting like that. So with these types of shows it’s always interesting because you get as much as the viewers most of the time because you’re kind of getting scripts very close to when you’re filming it. So you never get any  information so when I’m doing this type of show I always enjoy it because I kind of open the script and it’s like ‘Oh, that’s what I’m doing this week!’  It’s always an exciting moment when you get that and especially when we all get around and do the table read and you get to hear it for the first time. So who knows what’s going to happen but I’m excited to get the next script, that’s for sure. (laughs)

LD: The finale of the first season was a crazy, sort of white knuckle episode, are you working on anything that compares?
BS: They set the bar very high.  And that’s why you know, when you’ve got a great following viewing, they’re very passionate about the show, the fans of the show. I think Mike [Kelley]’s got some great ideas to keep everybody hooked and there’s so much more that can be told with the story and what Emily’s going to go through—or Amanda, should I say?— so there’s going to be loads of twists and turns and intrigue and drama, all the things you expect, you know? It’s going to be fun.

LD: “Revenge” has been getting the kind of ratings that “LOST” used to get, are you excited for that level of viewers?
BS: I don’t know that I’m entirely prepared for the level of exposure that will come with the show but I kind of, as with anything, it’s all about the character and the job really. And you know, anything else that comes with it will be fun I’m sure. But it’s only good to have that many viewers if you do a good job, so I intend to do a good job! (laughs)

LD: No pressure, by the way!
BS: No, that’s cool!

LD: Is it different working here than in England?
BS: Well, the weather’s fantastic, and the people are great and there’s an ocean.  The locations I’ve filmed at so far have just been beautiful,  just amazing places. You’re getting to work along a lot of the coastline of  Los Angeles, so it’s…yea, I’ve got no complaints! Let’s put it that way.

LD: Are you allowed to say if you’re kind of more of a bad guy? Or are you in the middle?
BS: Again, the information that’s out, he’s a character that’s linked to when Amanda was becoming Emily so they kind of went through a lot of the same things, they’ve got a history together.  I’m the kind of guy that gets things done in the same sense that she does so I think he’s as perfectly  as dangerous as  she is.

LD: She seems kind of like a revenge sniper, she picks her target and she gets it done…
BS: Yea, she’s quite dark and dangerous, she can hold her own, she could probably take him. But I’m having a good go. (laughs)

LD: I see you’ve got movies coming up as well like “Penthouse North”?
: Yea, “Penthouse North is due for release”, I think, November time. Got a screening coming up soon with Michael Keaton and Michelle Monaghan, should be viewing that with them soon. And I’ve just been, prior to this, just before I flew out to LA I’ve just filmed the new Darren Aronosky film, “Noah”.

LD: That’s huge…
BS: Yea, yea, it’s going to be epic. I was working with Russell Crowe, so that was cool. He’s a cool guy.

LD: What’s you role like in that?
BS: I’m playing a poacher who—obviously Noah’s keen on animals and I’m playing a poacher. I’m playing a poacher, he’s trying to kill animals. So you can work out how that’s going to end up! (laughs) It’s a fantastic script, it’s such a good script and with Darren Aronofsky directing and stars like Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connolly, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, you know, with a cast like that it’s just going to be a huge huge movie and it’s not going to come out til 2014 so I’ve kind of got a few years to wait to watch it. But just to be part of it is really exciting and I hope to work with the guys again.

LD: Where was that filmed?
BS: We filmed in Iceland.

LD: A lot of things are filming in Iceland recently…
BS: Yea, well it’s because you get twenty-two hours of daylight, it’s just good for filming. When I arrived I was given like a welcome pack with an eye mask and I was like  ‘Hmm, that’s odd, why am I given an eye mask?’ and then having come out the bar late and then I was like ‘Ah, because I won’t be able to sleep!’

LD: And then “Penthouse North” looks to be a heist movie, are you also kind of bad in that one?
BS: In Penthouse North? Yes, I’m quite an unsavory character in that shall we say.  I’m kind of Michael Keaton’s associate so, he plays a guy called Hollander, who’s a very very dangerous man shall we say. And however dangerous I might be, he is a lot more dangerous than that. Again, getting to work with that guy was amazing.

LD: He’s Batman…
BS:  Exactly. Exactly, you know it’s not so bad. Yea,  it was quite funny because I did that with Michael Keaton—so I’d just worked with Batman and then I got a pilot called Gotham, which was strange, so I thought this is becoming very Batman-themed.

LD: How did it go with “Gotham”?
BS: Gotham’s done, yea we made it for ABC, and we didn’t get picked up unfortunately. But it was a fantastic pilot and Francis Lawrence directed and he’s now doing the Hunger Games sequel and it was Michael Green who co-wrote The River and Heroes and Kings. So the script was incredible, so I’m sure Michael is going to get something huge very soon and hopefully I can be a part of that.

LD: And obviously ABC kept you on for “Revenge”.
BS: Yea. Yea, I must have done something right! (laughs)

LD: Do you think you’ll ever get back to theater after your big “Jerusalem” run?
BS: Yea, absolutely. I mean, it’s kind of difficult to top the whole “Jerusalem” experience because  that was just like an epic dream theatre job, you know? …The whole cast was just golden and the whole experience of doing it was wonderful and just the quality of the piece as well. I mean when I get back to the UK that’s the first thing I want to do is maybe work at the Royal Court again or do some theatre when I get back just to get back into it and get the live audience.

LD: Now when you’re in England, are you based in London?
BS: I had been but I moved back to Liverpool to be close to family for a while and then obviously when you do that you end up getting a job in LA (laughs) So we were close to family for about a month and a half.

LD: I’m sure they appreciated it.
BS: Yea! Yea, a month and a half with me is enough for anyone I think they were kind of happy for me to leave (laughs). But yea, so it’s all good and I’m excited for this season on Revenge, it’s going to be fun and hopefully the viewers are going to enjoy it and they’re going to enjoy the character.

Revenge” stars it’s second season on September 30th at its new time slot of Sundays at 9pm on ABC.

Noah Wyle reflects on Season Two of TNT’s “Falling Skies”

Noah Wyle is currently playing the role of Tom Mason on TNT’s “Falling Skies”. The series is wrapping up its second season this month, but don’t worry since it has been already renewed for a third season set for Summer 2013. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Noah again to have his reflect on season two of the show.

Michael Smith: You now have a year under your belt with this character, are you still learning more about the character and finding different ways to perfect him?
Noah Wyle: Yes I sort of feel like I am just getting started you know they aren’t going start with this guy really will extent over three or four years in this slow deconstruction of his intellectual aspects. And his becoming a little bit harder and they’re way having a big of transference with the Weaver character who starts off very militaristic where Tom’s a bit more of a humanist. And then gradually Weaver becomes a lot more vulnerable and a lot more human and Tom gets a lot more practical and a lot harder edged. We sort of continue in that vein hopefully arriving at some sort of synthesis between the two of them as the most effective way of leading this group which isn’t not traditionally military dogmatic style and not exactly touchy feely human but something in between.

MS: Is it a challenge for your trying to act or interact with skitters or any other computer generated elements in the show that aren’t there with you on the set?
NW: I hadn’t done a lot of that kind of work up until this show but it’s a muscle that the more you exercise the better at it you get. And it’s kind of 50 50 between the screen and practical we do a lot of work hack into tennis balls on the end of sticks. But then we also have a really talented puppeteer and a really great skitter suit, for the close up personal interactions with the aliens. I would say the most difficult part is when you’ve got four or five actors in the same frame all having to react to the same thing that’s not there, trying to find a line of continuity and performance can be tricky.

MS: What continues to be the most challenging aspect to you for the series for your character?
NW: It’s kind of an aggregate thing. It’s a tough show to do most of it, it takes place at night, so you go to work around 12 in the afternoon and you work till 5 in the morning. And because we wanted this year to be less focused on any single location have the group be a lot more mobile, it made for some long wet nights as were shooting in mostly practical locations and exteriors.

MS: How did the second season differ for you, compared to the first?
NW: No there were some significant differences, you know we moved the production from Toronto, Canada to Vancouver, so we had allnew crew for the most part, we only had two or three people on staff that were there in season one. We had almost a brand new writing staff certainly a new show runner, so it wasn’t like we were building on internal momentum, we sort of had to start and get to know each other all over again which gave it a different era, just sort of ambiently. And then storytelling wise I thought we really stepped up the notch you know not having to dedicate so much of our screen time to exposition, establishing the world, establishing the characters. Allowed us a little bit more freedom to be creative in flushing out these character arcs and exploring the mythology of the aliens and why they’re here and who they are and how we’d radically misunderstood the situation in season one.