CVIndependent

Mon01202020

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Mary Magdalene, the latest take on the title character—who has had widely ranging portrayals in cinema over the years—suggests that Mary (Rooney Mara) was Jesus’ closest disciple, and was by no means a prostitute, effectively declaring Barbara Hershey’s depiction of Mary in Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ to be total bullshit.

According to this film from director Garth Davis (Lion), Mary wasn’t just the closest confidant of Jesus, but easily the most boring. Mara’s Mary just skulks about in this movie, arriving late for all the big events, like Jesus tearing up the temple, the Last Supper and the whole Crucifixion. (In a strange way, she reminds of Brian in Monty Python’s Life of Brian; however, she’s not as funny.) While Mara’s Mary is a snooze, she’s excitement personified next to this film’s Jesus, portrayed by the usually reliable Joaquin Phoenix.

In the hands of Phoenix, Jesus becomes a quizzical sort who looks cold all the time, pulling his little shawl/robe shut to avoid chills and coming off as super-depressed. In short, Phoenix is a terrible Jesus … one of the worst ever.

While it’s admirable for Mary Magdalene to be portrayed as more of disciple than a prostitute, this movie makes the whole dying-for-your-sins event a sleepy afterthought. Too bad … I like a good Jesus movie, and this isn’t one of them. It’s not a good movie in general.

Mary Magdalene is now showing at the Palm Desert 10 Cinemas (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-340-0033). It is also available via online sources including iTunes and Amazon.com.

Published in Reviews

A young Indian boy gets lost in a train station and loses his mother in Lion, an uplifting film based on a true story from director Garth Davis.

After a long odyssey through orphanages and abuse, Saroo winds up in Australia, adopted by new parents (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). After 25 years, Saroo (played as an adult by Dev Patel) decides it’s time to find his birth mother. How does he do it in the modern world? Google Earth! (The film is a nice commercial for that little platform.)

Patel is outstanding as Saroo, especially when his personal conflict about heritage comes to the forefront. Rooney Mara is also good as his supportive girlfriend, one of the more down-to-earth characters she’s played in recent years. The performance most people will talk about in this film, however, is that of Kidman, who puts together some of the most powerful work of her career.

The story seems farfetched, but it’s the real deal, as evidenced by real footage of Saroo and his moms at film’s end.

In a year that had a lot of great movies that delved into darkness, it’s nice to have this one. It makes you feel good.

Lion is now playing at the Century Theatres at The River (71800 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-836-1940); and the Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 (72777 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage; 844-462-7342).

Published in Reviews