Exodus: Gods and Kings Here's how it goes: Once every few years, a Hollywood exec is sitting in his synagogue, struggling to pay attention to the day's lesson while being hopelessly distracted by his fantasy of snorting blow out of Gwyneth Paltrow's navel. Momentarily successful, he's able to take in a few plot points from the scriptures, and a thought hits him: "This is a great story! What a movie it'd make!" Which is why, back in 1998, Tinseltown threw all of its promotional weight behind an animated musical about the flight out of Egypt, with voiceover work by Val Kilmer and Michelle Pfeiffer. (Yes, this really happened.) Exodus seems to reflect a bit more think-through, however, making the canny move of casting Christian Bale, moviedom's biggest anger-management case, in the role of Moses, the Old Testament's biggest anger-management case. And that "directed by Ridley Scott" credit lends an extra patina of prestige ... until you remember how often the tag line "from the ______ of Gladiator" has been appended to a movie that was utterly wretched and disappeared overnight. Boy, what a YouTube montage that'd make. (PG-13)
Top Five I recently heard a news brief about the "controversial, inflammatory" interview Chris Rock had given to New York magazine. So I rushed to check it out, because I'm all about that stuff. Here's what the irrepressible Mr. Rock had to say: "The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let's hope America keeps producing nicer white people. " Jesus, can you believe that race-baiter? Yes, we've reached the point at which even extending an olive branch to some people can be taken as aggression – which is why a police union can get its nose out of joint because five football players took to the field displaying the universal symbol for "I surrender." Anyway, Rock's latest flick, Top Five, is a self-written and -directed indie comedy that launched a bidding war at the Toronto Film Festival. In it, Rock plays a comedian whose desire to explore straight drama is not shared by the industry – a conceit that, New York's Frank Rich pointed out, the film shares with Woody Allen's Stardust Memories. So does that mean Top Five is destined to be pilloried unfairly for decades until Rock does something that's actually deserving of ridicule? Naw – there's just too many nice white people nowadays. (R)
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