Wednesday, March 31, 2010

God and Satan in Films

God and the Devil: The Movie

Thought it would be fun to do a blog post on films where the Christian version of God appears in. Not that I believe in Christianity or any of its teachings; I just thought it would make a fun post.

I’m just going to focus on the Christian idea of God, you know, the father of Jesus, the creator of the universe and all that. I’m not counting the times when we only hear gods voice, I’m only counting the films on which we actually get to see God or a part of God, like his hand for example. I’m also going to mention some of the films on which Gods arch nemesis (Satan) has shown up on film.

One interesting thing I discovered while researching for this post is that God likes to appear mostly in comedies, while Satan likes to show up in both comedies and horror films. Hell, Satans even done a documentary (Haxan). I guess it’s true what they say that God has to have a sense of humor, since he only appears in comedies. I mean, look at the platypus! Also, Satan enjoys acting a whole lot more then god does. Feel free to mention all the movies I obviously left out. Also, answer this question: who from this list would be your own personal God or Satan in your own personal universe?

The Devils Advocate (1997) - On this one Al Pacino plays a lawyer who is also Satan! He wants to make Keanu the Anti-Christ. Best part is Satan’s dialogue on this movie, where he accuses God of everything!

Best Line Spoken by Satan: “Look but don’t touch, Touch, but don’t taste. Taste, but don’t swallow. And while you are jumping from one foot to the next, what is he doing? He’s laughing his sick fucking ass off! He’s a tight ass! He’s a sadist! He’s an absentee landlord! Worship that? Never!”

The Devils Rain (1975) - On this one Ernest Borgnine plays Satan who is trying to gather as many followers as he can, so he can take their souls to hell with him! But he needs a magical book that William Shatner has. The ending has all the Satanist melting into a gooey mess. The founder of the Church of Satan had a hand in making this movie “believable” as a result of this desire on the filmmakers part to have as much  authenticiy as possible on this film, we get Satan with a beer belly.

The Stand (1994) - On this one, some kind of virus wipes out most of humanity. The remaining humans separate into two factions: the good guys who are on Gods side and the bad guys who hang out in Vegas with Satan. How come satanists always have all the fun? On this one, we only get  a glimpse at Gods hand (the pic you see above).

"And thanks for creating weed too!"  

Bill and Teds Bogus Journey (1991) - On this sequel, Bill and Ted die and run all around the after life. First they wander the earth as ghosts. Then, they get sent to purgatory, where they end up gambling their fates in a game of Battleship against Death. They also go to heaven and talk briefly to God, congratulating him on an excellent planet. They also go to hell and meet Satan, they let him know that “he’s not such a bad guy”. This movie is all sorts of fun and a one up on the original.

Best line spoken by God: “Station!”
Best line spoken by Satan: “You may go!”

Bedazzled (2000) - On this one, Satan takes the form of super sexy Elizabeth Hurley. She offers Brendan Fraser a couple of wishes in exchange for his soul. He is so desperate for a girl that he accepts.

Best line spoken by Satan: “Paragraph one states that I, the Devil, a non profit organization with offices in Purgatory, Hell and Los Angeles, will give you seven wishes to use as you see fit”

Alucarda (1978) - On Alucarda, two girls (Alucarda and Justine) end up living in the same orphanage, which just so happens to be run by nuns. But Alucarda and Justine are two rebels and they run off into the forest, play around with the idea of lesbian love and stumble upon a pagan celebration where they quickly sell their souls to Satan himself!

Bruce Almighty (2003) - On this one, Bruce is having a bad day and blames God for not doing what a god should be doing, helping a brother out. Suddenly, God appears and gives Bruce His powers. In this way, he gives Bruce the chance to do God’s job for a while. But apparently, its not an easy task to answer everyones desires to win the lotto. On this movie, God comes to us in the form of Morgan Freeman.

Best Line Spoken by God: “Parting your soup is not a miracle Bruce, it’s a magic trick. A single mom working two jobs, and still finds time to take her kids on to soccer practice, that’s a miracle. A teenager who says no to drugs and yes to an education, that’s a miracle. People want me to do everything for them. What they don’t realize is that they have the power. You want a miracle son? Be the miracle.”

God: Sorry Steve, but The Office has been canceled!
Steve: Nooooooo!

Evan Almighty (2007) - On this one God appears to Steve Carell. He gives him instructions to build a giant ark, just like the one Noah built in the bible. Why? What is Gods ultimate purpose? I didn’t like this one so much because it becomes too preachy, something that the first film was never guilty of. But it does have some nifty effects in its last 10 minutes.

Best Line Spoken by God: “One nation, under ME, indivisible…”

Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983) - On this one, we see God three times. The first time is  during the opening animated sequence, where God is looking at two planets, one is square the other is  a circle, with a face like, he's trying to figure something out. The other time is  when Gods hand comes out of the skies and blows a military officer out of existence with a bolt of lightning. And then, on another occasion during the last frames of the films, where all of the characters that have died in the film are in heaven, and God comes down to welcome them all to heaven. God is played by Graham Chapman in that last sequence.

Best Line Spoken by God: “It’s Christmas in heaven, there’s great films on TV. The Sound of Music twice an hour and JAWS one two and three”

Monty Python’s The Holy Grail (1975) - God appears briefly in one scene, talking from heaven.

Best Line Spoken by God: “Every time I try to talk to somebody its “sorry this” and “forgive me that” and “Im not worthy”

South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut (1999) - On this one Satan is a big cry baby who gets verbally and sexually abused by Saddam Hussein.

Best Line Spoken by Satan: “You treat me like shit! I’m leaving you Saddam!”

Mulholland Dr (2001) - I’ve always seen The Cowboy in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive as God. Why? Well, he is the one “driving this Doom Buggy” and you got to do what he says. He brings that girl back to life, he is running around the background through out the whole movie, like some omnipresent watcher. And since Lynch’s films are so open to interpretation, I say he is God to me in that movie. I bet I’m not alone in thinking this either.

Best Line Spoken by God: “No, your not thinking. You’re too busy being a smart aleck to be thinking. Now I want you to “think” and stop being a smart aleck. Can you try that for me?”

Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922) - This documentary is all about “witches” and how basically anyone who didn’t believe in Catholicism got burned at the stake or worse. Tortured. When these women who were accused of being witches were tortured, they told the people who tortured them anything so the torturing would stop, including stories of having seen the devil in a Black Mass and all that. The documentaries bring these tall tales to life. The devil on this one is one evil dude, he seduces women in the middle of the night, has orgies and parties with every witch in town and even sacrifices babies!

Constantine (2005) - Peter Stormare plays Satan in Constantine, a film about the son of Satan wanting to turn against him.

Best Line Spoken by Satan: “No. You will live, John Constantine. You will live so you will have the chance to prove that your soul truly belongs in hell. Oh, you will live. You will live.”

Dogma (1999) - On this one two rebellious angels who were kicked out of heaven are looking for a way to go back in. They find a loop hole in Catholic mythology that will allow them to do it! Problem is that they will unmake all of existence in the process! God herself, played by Alanis Morisette has to come down from heaven to fix the mess these two rebellious angels are doing.

Time Bandits (1981) - On this one a crew of time traveling midgets who work for the 'Supreme Being' steal His map of the universe and use it to travel through time so they can steal priceless artifacts and have adventures through time. God is played by Ralph Richardson. On this one God is fair, just and wears a suit and a tie, a very classy version of God. Satan is played by David Warner. Satan is obsessed with nuclear weapons, lazers and technology.

Best Line Spoken by God: “I should do something very extroverted and vengeful to you. Honestly, I'm too tired. So, I think I'll transfer you to the undergrowth department, brackens, more shrubs, that sort of thing... with a 19% cut in salary, backdated to the beginning of time”

Best Line Spoken by Satan: “If I were creating the world I wouldn't mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock, Day One!”

Rosemary’s Baby (1968) - Rosemary has been targeted by Satanist to be the vessel for the anti Christ! Rosemary gets raped by Satan himself on this one!

Angel Heart (1987) - Robert Deniro plays Satan. Mickey Rourke owes him something and Satan wants him to pay up. DeNiro plays Satan very cool, very educated, but he will take out his sharpened paws if he has to!

Best Line Spoken by Satan: “They say there's enough religion in the world to make men hate each other, but not enough to make them love.”

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) - This is a “what if” take on the Jesus story. What if Jesus didn’t die on the cross, but instead decided to have a wife and kids? Interesting take on Jesus’s story. Satan appears in the form of a hungry lion in the middle of the night, just like the bible describes him, like a lion who comes for our souls in the middle of the night.

The Passion of Christ (2004) - This is the story of Christ told by a bloodthirsty Mel Gibson. A pretty cool take on the story if I say so myself! Satan on this movie is brooding in the background, always present.

Best Line Spoken by Satan: “Do you really believe that one man can bear the full burden of sin? No one man can carry this burden, I tell you. It is far too heavy. Saving their souls is too costly. No-one. Ever. No. Never.”

The End of Days (1999) - A girl is born, she has the mark of the one who will carry Satan’s son! On New Years Eve 1999, its up to Arnold Schwarznegger to protect this girl from Satan and his followers. Satan is played by Gabriele Byrne.

Best Line Spoken by Satan: “Something good happens, "It's His will." Something bad happens, "He moves in mysterious ways."”

Little Nicky (2000) - This movie has Adam Sandler playing Little Nicky, the son of Satan. Actually, he plays one of three sons. They are all fighting to become the next one to sit on Hell’s throne. Unfortunately, Satan doesn’t want to give up his power just yet, so two of his three sons get angry and  decide to, in a fit of anger go to earth to wreck havoc. On there way out of hell, they close the gates of hell! Nicky, Satans favorite son, is sent to earth to stop them. Rodney Dangerfield plays Satan, Keitel plays the antichrist.

Best Line Spoken by Satan: “In exchange for eternal damnation of your soul? You're too nice of a guy for me to want to do that to you, Mr. Marino.”

Ghost Rider (2007) - On this one, Nicholas Cage screwed up a pretty cool concept by handing this film over to an incompetent director. Not to mention the fact that he himself sucks as the spirit of vengeance! Peter Fonda plays Satan, who owns the Ghost Riders soul! Not a particularly inspiring portrayal of Satan. 

Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny (2006) - On this one, JB and KG try to become “the greatest band in the world” but first, they have to find the mystical “pick of destiny”, a guitar pick with supernatural abilities that grants its wielder the ability to rock! Unfortunately, the pick belongs to Satan! In the ending of the film, the Tenacious duo have to face Satan in a rock off! Winner takes all! It should be noted that Dave Grohl, lead man for Foo Fighters is the guy who plays Satan on this one. Interesting note to all you Satan fans out there: Grohl also played Satan before in a music video for Tenacious D, the song? "Tribute".

Prince of Darkness (1987) - This one is about Satan trying to make his way to our world from another dimension, which is of course, presumably hell. But first he sends the antichrist to pave the way for his coming. Unfortunately on this one we only see Satans hand as he is about to emerge. Still, we get a glimpse of the evil one. Had this movie had a bigger budget, maybe they could have afforded it, but Carpenter made this movie with a meager 3 million dollars! 

The Devil Rides Out (1968) - Devil Worshippers want to sacrifice a virgin, its up to the good guys to stop them. In an unusual role for actor Christopher Lee, who normally played villains in these old Hammer films, he actually plays one of the good guys on this one. 

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (2009) - Dr. Parnassus is the owner of a traveling theater group. He encounters Satan who wants to strike a deal with him. All the devil asks in return is the soul of Dr. Parnassus’s daughter after 16 years have passed. Now Satan has come to collect! Will Parnassus hand over his daughter to Satan or fight for her soul? Satan is played by non other then Tom Waits. While the God like figure comes to us in the form of Christpher Plummer, in the god like role of Dr. Parnassus. Good vs. Evil battling for the souls of humanity, an interesting premise. 

F.W. Murnau’s Faust (1926) - A deadly plague spreads through Faust’s home town. Faust tries using his alchemy and science to find a cure, but is unable to do it. He decides to conjure up Satan so that he can rid his town of the plague. Unfortunately, Satan is interested in Faust’s soul! This version of Satan is equal parts gothic, and equals part cartoon. Lovely visuals dominate this classic of German expressionism.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Precious (2009)

Title: Precious (2009)

Director: Lee Daniels

Writer: Geoffrey S. Fletcher

Stars: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz


Precious was one of the films with the proverbial "Oscar buzz" going for it this past awards season. It was nominated for a couple of Oscars, and everyone was talking about Mo’Nique’s amazing performance. But the film had been getting praise long before the Academy Awards ever came along. It won awards left and right, for its writing, its acting and direction. It premiered to great acclaim at Sundance, and won three of the best awards you could win in Sundance: Audience Award, Grand Jury Prize for best Drama and Special Jury Prize for Mo’Nique’s performance in the film. It’s won many more awards since. I had also read some extremely positive reviews around the blogosphere about this film, so needless to say, I was pumped to see this movie. Did it live up the hype?

Precious is the story of Clarice “Precious” Jones, a 16 year old girl who’s having one hell of a time getting through life. Her mother and father abuse her sexually; she has gotten pregnant by her father and has just been kicked out of school for it. It goes without saying that Precious has a hellish family life, her mother Mary treats her like less than nothing, spewing such gems at Precious as “I should have aborted your ass”. But Precious believes in herself, and she believes she can drag herself out of this misery she lives in. Will she be able to do it?

Precious is the kind of film that thrusts its main character into the deepest pits of despair with no apparent way out. One horrible thing after another happens to Precious and you kind of feel like the onslaught of negativity reaches unrealistic levels. This is one of the reasons why this film has gotten some criticism. According to some, the level of trouble that is inflicted upon Precious is not believable, because it’s just so much. The film is based on a novel by an author called Sapphire. Im not familiar with Sapphires work, and I have not read the novel, but what I’m thinking is that the author of the novel was trying to inflict the main character with all these extremely horrible situations and moments, as a means of collectively commenting on them. Precious is 16, abused by both her parents, pregnant and kicked out of high school for it. A couple of other truly horrible things happen to her, but I won’t mention them, just so you’ll experience the film for yourself. To me it felt like the films onslaught of negativity was the author’s way of exposing her audience, through the use of one character, to all these real life situations that do happen out there in the world. It’s a compilation of evil. So, if all the bad things that happen to Precious seem a little too much for you, remember, the filmmakers are just trying to let you know that these things do happen in our society and that we have to collectively try and stop them from happening! Precious is a mirror of what happens in the real world. At least I saw it that way.

The novel on which the film is based on

There’s a lot of talk about how the film is shocking, and yes, a bit difficult to process; yet I see some positive angles to the film. In my book, exposing issues like rape, incest, verbal and physical abuse and other issues out in the light is something positive. Of course, it’s hard to digest because they are dark themes; ugly sides of human behavior, but by talking about these themes and exposing them, I think a greater good is achieved. A film like this could help a person going through similar situations to overcome them, face them and deal with them. So that’s positive. Another positive angle is that Precious takes it upon herself to better herself. She wants out of this situation, and she is doing something about it. She searches through the proper channels for help, no matter what her hateful mother might tell her. She realizes her family situation is messed up and she is doing something about it. So the character is a fighter, looking for a way out of the dark.

Mariah tries her hardest to get us to forget all about 'Glitter'

Speaking of Precious’s hateful mother; she is played by Mo’Nique an actress who I always associated with silly comedies like Soul Plane or Phat Girlz. She’d done a dramatic role or two in the past, but she was mostly known for her role in comedies. After Precious, any preconceptions I had about Mo’Nique were shattered! She displayed a great capacity for dramatic roles, she nailed her character. Mo’Niques ‘Mary’ was 100% pure concentrated evil. Its not surprising. Many actors known for their comedic roles have the capacity to perform in serious dramatic roles as well. I mean, think about how many comedians have made that jump from comedies to drama: Tom Hanks, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Jamie Foxx, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Murray, Robin Williams, to name but a few. Now we can add Mo’Nique to that list. There were more then a few moments in the film where I literally shouted out “and that’s why she won the Oscar!” The thing about the performance is that it feels so real, so evil, so genuine! Of course, she had a great script to work with, but wow, she really brought that character to life. The Oscar was very well deserved.

Mo'Nique is the sum of all evils on this film

The actress who was chosen to play the role of Precious (Gabourey Sidibe) had never acted on any other film, but she also shines. Her physical persona is very imposing; even the boys at school are intimidated by her. She protects herself from the outside world by projecting this angry “don’t fuck with me” persona. But at one point in the film she peels off that angry face and she pours out all her pain and suffering in one of the most touching moments in the film. Praise goes to Mrs. Sidibe as well, she was an essential part of what made this movie work. Mariah Carey does a surprisingly good performance as the social worker who helps Precious confront her problems. Lenny Kravitz plays a small role as a nurse. Not entirely sure why he was in there, cause his role seemed unnecesary, I guess he just plays the male nurse who treats Precious nicely while she's at the hospital. So that’s my take on Precious. I highly recommend it. In my book, the film deserves all the praise it’s gotten.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bad Biology (2010)

Title: Bad Biology (2010)

Director: Frank Henenlotter

Written by: Frank Henenlotter, R.A. The Rugged Man Thorburn


Frank Henenlotter films are a guilty pleasure of mine; I enjoy them for their sleazy nature, their often times disturbing situations and their whacked out stories. It’s a sure fire bet that a Frank Henenlotter film will shock you in one way or another. I mean, take the Basket Case movies for example! Who the heck makes a movie about a man who was born with a deformed brother attached to his torso? Not weird enough for ya? Well, how about Brain Damage? A movie about a century’s old slimy slug creature called “Elmer” who injects blue hallucinogenic fluid into your brain and turns you into a junkie? And what about Frankenhooker? A movie about a guy who reconstructs his dead girlfriend with parts of whores who exploded by using super crack? Who the hell makes that movie? Frank Henenlotter that’s who!

Henenlotter’s latest freak fest is Bad Biology; It tells the story of Jennifer and Batz, two human beings with extremely strange sexual disorders. Jennifer’s disorder involves being “born with seven clits” as she so bluntly puts it in the first lines of the film. She likes taking pictures of her numerous lovers, some of whom die during sex with her. Things get worse when we find out that every time she has sex, she gives birth to a mutant baby two hours after; a mutant baby that she quickly either discards or abandons, like a piece of garbage. Jennifer is looking for that one perfect guy who will satisfy her demanding sexual needs, but so far, nada. Batz is a guy who had a bit of trouble when he was born, when his circumcision was performed, they also snipped off his package! It was sewn back on, but it’s never worked the same since. He now has a penis that’s addicted to drugs in order to get a hard on. It’s a penis that literally has a mind of its own! Will he ever keep it under control? And will Jennifer and Batz ever find each other?

Getting rid of her mutant babies aint a big deal for Jennifer

So that’s the basic premise of this movie, but trust me it gets crazier then that! Which is really something to be expected from a film by Henenlotter. Truth be told, this film holds a lot of similarities with previous Henenlotter films. One thing that Henenlotters films have always been about is freaks! His films are a celebration of freakdom! I mean, the Basket Case films were about two freak brothers going on a revenge spree, killing the doctors that brought them apart. But the sequels (Basket Case 2 and 3) brought in a whole other group of freakazoids into the mix! Brain Damage had a man who lived with a slug attached to his head for most of the film! Bad Biology is no different, the two main characters are freaks of nature; there is no doubt about that. One scene has Jennifer about to have sex with her new boyfriend, until he gets a glimpse of her mutant clits! Another scene that fully displays the freaky nature of this film has Jennifer opening a door to find Batz battling with his humongoid monster penis! Batz can even hear his thing talking to him! Freak territory in deed!

Getting sexual pleasure is something of a task for Batz

There is one difference though, between old Henenlotter and new Henenlotter. The old Henenlotter felt grimier. This has to be his slickest looking picture yet, production values apparently went up a bit with this feature. I mean, its still low budget territory, but it looks good in terms of colors and picture quality. Also, on this film he used attractive looking people, which is something I wasn’t used to seeing in his films. Some of the people in the first Basket Case movie for example looked like real bums, drug addicts and whores that Henenlotter might have picked up from the New York City streets. But not on Bad Biology. Bad Biology has good looking people all over. One scene that lets you know this is when a detached penis (yeah, you read that right!) goes on a screwing spree across the city, effectively screwing every beautiful girl in the city! I mean, Henenlotter chose some beautiful actresses for these scenes! So that’s one difference as well. Excessiveness of sexuality is something that was never present in any previous Henenlotter films. Bad Biology has somebody having an orgasm or being involved in some sexual act in one way or another every other five minutes. Also, there is a huge amount of nudity on this one as well. So if you can’t take films that are overtly sexual, don’t even go near this one! If on the other hand you don't mind that sort of thing, then this movie's for you. 

Its not that sexuality is something new in Henenlotters films. He had addressed sexuality in previous films, but never as openly and as abundantly as he did in Bad Biology. For some reason, the sexual act is always something frustrating in a Henenlotter film. I remember one scene in Brain Damage in which the slimy creature that lives with the protagonist pretends to be his penis! Pretty shocking scene! Actually, I read somewhere that part of the crew that was filming that scene walked out on it cause they considered it so schocking. So this is something that happens a lot in Henenlotters films, the mixing of the sexual with the freaky. In Basket Case 2, Dwayne is about to have sex with a girl, when suddenly, a creature emerges from her stomach and freaks the hell out of him, effectively changing the perfect image he had of this girl he liked! So frustrating sexual acts have always been a part of Henenlotter films, but Bad Biology takes it to another level, it takes it up a notch.

This movie was partially produced by The Rugged Man, an underground rapper from New York; so this is probably why we hear rap music through out most of the film. Jennifer, the main character in the film is a photographer, and she has a photo shoot with a bunch of rappers, this is the only way in which rap figures into the story, so the use of rap music through out most of the film doesn’t make much sense, except when we remember that The Rugged Man produced it, then it makes perfect sense. But hey, if it wasn’t for The Rugged Man, Henenlotter would probably not have gotten the chance to make this flick, so I guess certain sacrifices had to be made to make this movie. It didn’t really bother me though; some movies have a rock and roll soundtrack for not reason whatsoever, so why not hip-hop? No big deal. I would have preferred a score, rather then rap songs through out the whole movie, but whatever. It wasn’t a big issue for me. The only other negative point is that they used some stop motion animation in one scene, where we see a disembodied penis slithering around like a snake or something. Henenlotter has used stop motion animation in his films since day one, with Basket Case. Some of you out there might let the stop motion animation in Bad Biology pass as part of the charms of watching a b-movie like this one, but others will undoutedly think the effect wasnt achieved very well. You be the judge.

So my final take on this movie is that it’s exactly what you can come to expect from a director like Henenlotter. It dives a bit deeper into the sexual side of things, almost to the point of going overboard. Scratch that, it does go overboard with the kinky stuff. But what the hell, I gotta hand it to the film for sticking so persistently to its themes, even if they are so over the top freaky and sexual. Plus, I’m just glad to see Henenlotter back to making movies after a 16 year hiatus! Welcome back Frank! What's next?!

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

Bad BiologyFrankenhookerBasket Case (20th Anniversary Special Edition)


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