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I review books, films, and other things when I have the time. Your next favorite book could come from here.

Caution: Spoilers inside. If you’re going to see the movie, watch it then come back to this.

If you’re still thinking about it and are just as intrigued by HOW something happens as with WHAT happens, read on, friend!

Movie poster taken from TheHollywoodNews.com

There is wisdom in childhood.

Think back to when you were a kid. There were things you wanted to do, or a certain way of doing things that just seemed natural.

Then you turn 12 or 13. You go into middle school, and if your passions aren’t respected or valued by your peers, you start building a filter. Band is for nerds. Nerds don’t get girlfriends. I want a girlfriend, but cannot get one if I am in band, so I’ll stop playing the saxophone, even if I love it.

This gets amplified in high school. Hopefully you go to an out-of-state college where you get a do-over – where people are so busy trying to build their futures and are so open-minded that you can explore these things without judgement.

Joy didn’t get that do-over, but she remembered who she was after years of living through what she wasn’t. Those memories from childhood reminded her of what she was willing to work so hard on, so she would never accept failure.

I heard a quote somewhere: If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine – it’s lethal.

Your problems are not just your problems.

Think of what other people need and if you solve that need, you can become wealthy. All the gurus say that because they are right, but there was always a disconnect when I read that.

People. Who are these people? What the hell do they want? The concept of other people is so abstract. Are we talking about Americans, my family, the people in my town, “the rich”, coworkers – which people?!

Joy was trying to mop up broken glass and cut her hand. Joy realized that SHE WAS people. She had problems, dammit. So she set out to solve one of her problems, thinking that if she had that problem, other people did too.

That’s the connection.

What do you need? It’s a question that you often answer when you are pissed off.

Thinking about yourself isn’t always selfish. Expecting other people to solve all your problems for you is.

That being said, Joy spent most of her day solving other people’s problems. Almost to a fault. There is something called boundaries, where if people act like you’re their servant, you call them out on it, but only to the extent that they start taking care of the things you know they can do.

Joy didn’t do this, and she suffered for it. But she also got the social equity needed to guilt trip her dad into pitching his new girlfriend on her idea. In most people’s eyes that is justified.

In this lack of boundaries, she managed to cultivate a determination to move forward no matter what. That determination could have been bred outside of such a toxic environment, but in this case it was because of the toxic environment.

Two trustworthy friends can be better than your entire family put together.

Sometimes your family is going to misunderstand you. They aren’t trying to shelf your talent, they are just so busy trying to mold you in their image that they forget you are your own person.

That being said, in this movie, Joy’s family is terrible. They are lazy, co-dependent, and turn on her like jackals whenever she’s wounded. It’s enough to sink most people. We are the average of those we spend the most time with, which is why becoming rich from nothing can be a big challenge.

My Mom was like that. I loved her in spite of it, but she died, so she didn’t have the pulse to shame me for wanting to write. I couldn’t imagine having four or more people like that all the time.

In contrast, Joy’s childhood friend truly got her. She saw the light in Joy’s eyes when she did what she was born to do, and knew what it was to face adversity. Joy’s fight was her fight as well.

Joy’s ex-husband was kind of a fool in this movie, but he couldn’t be anything but who he wanted to be. He didn’t get a lot of respect, but his gut feelings about manufacturing partners were spot on – as you’ll see. He knew what a conflict of interest was. In fact, he avoided conflicts of interest so much that he was unemployable in the adult world. Joy tolerated him because – subconsciously – that’s all she wanted for herself, too: to live her own life doing what she was born to do, even though it would have been irresponsible to live like he did. Her husband’s transient job history gave her the connections she needed to meet the people running QVC.

Success brings its own challenges

When you finally start succeeding, some people see you as a target. Joy’s manufacturer raised the price high enough to kill the product, and tried to knock off her design because they couldn’t figure out how to make the idea work for themselves. Notice that this happened AFTER her product started selling.

She gets angry, and the police come in. People who enforce laws will misunderstand you, especially if you create. Enforcers exist to maintain systems, and creation is by nature disruption.

And when our creative babies are stolen from us, we blow up. We lose our shit! Those who were born to enforce laws have tremendous value to our security, but most won’t empathize, and can’t help with that even if they did.

Getting successful is one thing, staying successful means continuing to do what got you there. Learning, growing, fighting, being misunderstood, and it’s lonely at the top without those friends to back you.

Business friends are not always the same as true friends.

They will spend time with you when it is in their financial interest to do so. If you’re lucky, you will have respect for each other even when it is not. They’ll give you a shot if what you’re saying makes sense, but only if it makes sense. So make sense.

Passion is everything

QVC hired the best salesman they had to sell Joy’s product and he made a mess of it. I believe that was meant to be, because Joy was meant to be on that stage, selling her ideas to the world. If the actor had succeeded, it would have been a tragedy against mankind. Joy would be free from her problems, but not from her insecurities.

Joy knew the problem she was solving. Joy knew the product, and she knew that if anybody else did this for her, nobody would understand how their lives would be improved.

Joy was the low-tech Steve Jobs. Steve had passion, which is what made him so good at showing people what they wanted in such a way that they absolutely needed it.

In her first interaction with the salesman, Joy knew this lesson; it was just hidden in her gut. Director David O. Russell and the actors did such a good job making you feel that same tug under your ribcage as you watched the scene.

Is it all worth it?

Someday…In a few decades, years or even months – we’re all going to die. This is going to happen whether we invent a mop that changes an industry or not. Even if you don’t make a single dime your entire life, you’re not exempt. Religion gives you pretty good answers to what happens after, but until we live it, we don’t really know.

Joy went through a lot of birth pains before she could be rewarded for her talents, and continued to experience failure. The narration says her own family tried to sue her, even after she funded their ideas. Was it all worth it?

If you expect other people to solve your problems, the answer is no.

But if you want to solve other people’s problems, including your own… then maybe.

Sooner or later you realize everything from the last few paragraphs and decide. You would rather die living, than live dying.

When Joy goes to Texas and has her own private chat with the invisible enemy who had sabotaged her through half the movie, she had hit that point. From there, every ounce of pain was worth it, and when he saw that in her eyes, it was over.

Watch this thing

This movies comes out Christmas 2015, and I was fortunate enough to see it in advance through sheer luck. Watch it. Some of Robert De Niro’s lines are a little too on the nose, but aside from that it’s a fantastic movie.

 

Noah, film poster taken from wikipedia.orgThis is for those who are thinking of seeing the film ‘Noah’.

It’s also for anyone who watches this film to better understand how true Christians really act and think.

NOTE: Major Spoilers Ahead. If you don’t like the plot told to you before watching a film, then wait till after the movie to read this post.

Without further ado, here it is:

The Good

Creative liberties have to be taken to take a story that takes one minute to read, and turn it into a 2.5 hour long film. Some of it was actually pretty cool.

Let’s be fair here.

How the animals get to the ark – In one part of the movie, Methuselah (played by Anthony Hopkins) gives Noah (Russell Crowe) a seed from the original garden of Eden. Noah plants the seed and it sprouts instantly – into an entire forest! The water spreads out in 5 different directions, forming rivers lined with vegetation.

This gives all the animals on Pangaea a pathway to follow leading to the forest where the ark will be. Pretty smart.

The Incense – This was a cool element that allowed the plot lines between Noah and his family to play out undisturbed by moving animals, and explains how so many animals could board the ark and not trample themselves inside. Personally, the plot would have been improved if they were trapped for 40 days with a bunch of live animals, but the budget – Oh the budget!

The Struggle for Answers – Noah prays, looking up to the sky, but hears no answer. The director, who is an atheist, may have had a separate agenda in mind here, but he also connected to the life experience and struggle of all Christians who want to follow God and long for concrete answers from on high. This is an element of the Christian struggle that most Christian films sugarcoat over and/or ignore. The storyline of Ham, the lonely son in need of a wife, compounds the struggle.

Ila – Despite how many Christians may despise my saying this, Emma Watson (known for playing Hermoine Granger in the Harry Potter franchise) really stole the show. This is a new character not mentioned by name in the Genesis story of Noah, though the Bible does mention Noah’s sons having wives. This is a creative liberty that made the story bearable in places that otherwise would not have been.

Remember the part about Noah’s sons having wives? This brings us to-

The Bad

Wives – In the genesis story, Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth had wives.

In the film, only Shem is coupled with Ila, who remains barren as an unnecessary plot point.

The story of Ham being frustrated was brilliant on one level – it connected with the struggle we all have to put faith in God even when it seems He’s not meeting our needs. On the other hand, it tells viewers that God doesn’t care about our needs even when the fate of humanity is at stake.

Consider these points:

Genesis 6:18 KJV – “But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.”

Maybe that was just a typo, is there mention of there being wives for all his sons anywhere else?

Oh, yeah:

Genesis 7:7 KJV – “And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark…”

But how many wives, exactly?

Genesis 7:13 KJV – “In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark.”

I could quote more, but I’d just be a bully about it at that point.

Anti-Human Agenda – In this story, Noah is led to believe that all human beings are wicked so they ALL need to be destroyed – even him and his family. Noah even goes to the point of saying that if Ila, who becomes pregnant on the ark, has a daughter, he will kill her. For a moment, it even seemed like Noah was going to turn into a slasher film. This anti-human agenda is only negated when Ila tells Noah, who decides to spare her child, that ‘God chose him BECAUSE he wouldn’t go through with it.’

What?!

So God chose to get rid of the wicked because they disobeyed God, and then chooses Noah to get rid of humanity, only for Noah to fail (disobey) because God wanted him to disobey? Did I miss something?

It says here that:

Genesis 7:5 KJV – “And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him.”

That doesn’t sound like disobeying to me. Perhaps God wants us to do all He asks of us? Just maybe?

and –

Genesis 9:1 KJV – “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”

Doesn’t sound anti-human to me. How will this impact people who never read the Bible? How will young people think of themselves? As parasites, or beings who have been blessed and made in God’s image?

The false debate between environmentalism and subduing the earth – Tubal Cain, the descendant of Cain (the first murderer), is the bad guy of the story. His crimes include the traditional bad guy crimes: Murder, Destruction, and Slavery. But they also extend to far worse crimes. Such as “the Paleo diet, Mining, and Wanting to Subdue the Earth”.

While Noah wanted to care for the plants, avoid meat-eating, and pursue justice. All noble pursuits, but skewed out of context when you consider the film’s message as a whole.

Simply put, subduing the earth is not the same as destroying it.

Genesis 1:26 KJV “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth on the earth.

Genesis 1: 28 KJV “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful ,and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

These sound a lot like the words Tubal-Cain uttered over and over again. While it is very much like a devil to quote scripture in promoting a selfish philosophy, Tubal-Cain’s character ignored the ‘Replenish the earth’ command, making the whole debate false. After all, how can mankind be fruitful and multiply while replenishing the earth, if they are meant to be completely destroyed? But that would mess up Darren Aronofsky’s storyline, wouldn’t it?

And about meat – and this is coming from a (mostly) vegan:

Genesis 9:3-4 KJV – “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.”

So, stay kosher and you’re good. Everything else is a matter of personal conviction and health reasons.

Noah was kind of a dick in the movie – especially to people who weren’t his family

In the film, Noah is asked about the Ark, and Noah tells Tubal-Cain “Nobody’s getting on that boat, because you’re all wicked.” (paraphrasing here).

Yet Noah in the Bible was quite different.

2 Peter 2:5 KJV – And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;”

Noah is described here as a preacher of righteousness. A preacher to whom? Who else but everybody on earth who isn’t himself?

How would people unfamiliar with Christianity, or who had a bad experience with Christians, view this film? They would believe that Christians want to keep salvation and truth away from people. When in truth, Noah preached to many people, but the only ones who listened were his family.

This film basically teaches that Christians are holier-than-thou assholes who want you dead, which is contrary to the entire Christian message.

Golems, fallen angels, oh my A major plot point involves Watchers, who (in the film) are basically Angels (Seraphim) who wanted to help humans. God said ‘no’, they said ‘yes’, and as they went down to earth, God cursed them with disfigured stone bodies. They helped all humans, Cain’s people started killing them, and it isn’t until Noah recruits them that they begin to help build the ark.

Story wise, this reduces amount of screen time spent actually building the ark, and creates some pretty cool action scenes when it starts raining.

Here’s the problem: Fallen angels = Demons.

And in the movie, when these golems ‘die’, they go right back up to heaven – what?!

So we have demons helping Noah build the ark, killing people (Which Noah cites as a reason he himself should die), then they go to heaven again AFTER disobeying God. Yipee!

Now in the book of Enoch, which is a controversial book some cultures include in the Bible, fallen angels really do go down to heaven to help people. They are called Nephilim, and they help the Bad Guys!

This film takes the Nephilim concept, combines it with the mythological Golem creature, and twists the characters into opponent-allys who sacrifice themselves to save a man absolutely determined to kill himself and his family. Well played, unnecessary characters.

For those who say its just a movie…

People make movies for many reasons, not always in this order:

  1. To impose their beliefs upon others
  2. To make emotionally charged messages to influence others
  3. To create conversation pieces.
  4. To entertain.
  5. To make money

Noah will succeed in all of these points, but some of the messages might not be for the best. This is unavoidable due to how many hands get involved in a project with this much money behind it – the agendas, screenplay rewrites, directorial decisions, and producers egos and more. Nothing will be perfect, but we need to try.

But maybe I am being mean and sarcastic here.

As a wanna-be screenwriter, I hold no personal blame on any individual involved. To suck up a little, every producer, director, and actor are great all the time, and they really should hire me for a bazillion dollars.

But David, I’d like to see you try to make Noah entertaining:

How the story could have been made way better without straying from the bible at all?

Antidiluvian Society¬†and Culture – What made the first Conan movie so much better than all the others? Every set piece, every prop, every piece of clothing – they all had symbolism specific to their cultures. You could feel that even though you’re only seeing a fraction of this big world, this really is a big world, filled with things you’ll marvel at but not have time to understand. Perhaps there was a great city that disappeared after the flood? Some historians may take up argument with me, but why can’t this city be Atlantis 1.0?

Pre-flood technologies – Everything the pre-flood people may have made has been lost to us. They could have made anything. We know the people were smart, and were ‘exceedingly great in their wickedness’ (to paraphrase), they could have had any sort of technology. Futuristic, Medieval, Roman-age, Steampunk, Genetic modification, crossbreeding of animals, etc. How about Dinosaurs? Most films that throw in a Veloceraptor or two tend to do well.

Giants – Genesis 6:4 KJV says:

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”

That was in the Bible, and nothing was done with it in the movie.

Book of enoch elements – but done in a way that doesn’t violate the content in the rest of the Biblical account of Noah or the spirit of Christianity.

Animals with no fear of humans: It says this in the post-flood account of Genesis:

Genesis 9:2 KJV “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all hte fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.”

You mean there wasn’t fear of humans in animals before? Imagine a film crossed between the cultural depth of the Original Conan, the relative epic-ness and (relative) biblical accuracy of The Ten Commandments, and the Otherworldly awesomeness of the aggressive creatures in Avatar, and you’ve got yourself a strong story world.

Adjust the ‘No Wives’ plotline – In the end, Ham and Japheth should have gotten wives, even if it happened at the last minute.

Noah as Teacher –¬† imagine Noah preaching to people who mock him, laugh at him, and beat him. This makes Noah’s triumph more satisfying in the eyes of the audience, and makes them less sympathetic for Tubal-Cain and his ilk.

Cinematography, make the earth straight up and down – no axis. Have a layer of water surrounding the sky as well as having water in the sea. This creates a reflecting, translucent, crystaline effect to most of the scenes involving sky.

Less CGI (keep it with the animals, but the snake thing, come on!).

These are just some of the many ideas I would consider to make an awesome Noah story without straying far from the Biblical account.

To sum up

Overall, a Noah movie that paints humans as bad, has conflicting philosophies, and paints a negative picture of Christians – has every right to exist, from a free speech perspective. However, it may not do a world of good for people as a whole.

Did this review help? Are there any elements you wish were different about the Noah movie? Sound off in the comments!