Quite appropriately for a movie about the apocalypse, it gets most interesting at the end. But to explain why would spoil it, and most of the time it’s already too close to spoiling itself. For starters: Yes, here is another goddamned movie about the apocalypse, and with a god-saved hero to boot.
The Denz of days: Denzel Washington outlasts the apocalypse with a Bible and badass weapon skills in The Book of Eli.
It’s hard to know what the average American moviegoer—Christian or otherwise—will make of an autodidactic Bible scholar who happens also to be handy with shotgun and machete. But it must matter that he’s played by Denzel Washington, reminding us again of his great gift for dignifying almost anything. Like many loner movie heroes before him, Washington’s saintly badass is laconic, deadly and blessed—sort of a post-rapture update of Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider. Or, he’s an archly comic-booky version of Cormac McCarthy’s archly literary paladin in The Road, just one man traversing a ruined America on foot with the Lord’s mysterious ways on his mind.
Guided by the voice of the Almighty in his head, or at least by the voice of Al Green in his headphones (not a bad runner-up), Washington’s so-called “Walker,” also known as “Eli,” carries with him the last known copy of the King James Bible, which he reads every day. All he knows for sure is that he’s headed west, and that he must keep the book safe until he gets there. Eventually he meets an aspiring dictator who wants to take the Bible away from him. And in another nice touch of apocalyptic appropriateness, that person is played by Gary Oldman.
“It’s not just a f#$%in’ book!” Oldman says. “It’s a weapon!”
Cue the prophet-versus-false-prophet throwdown. Good thing screenwriter Gary Whitta and directors Allen and Albert Hughes aren’t at all daunted by the many extant precedents for their samurai-western schtick. Behold Mad Max as imagined by Sergio Leone with a goth-industrial update of the music from Blade Runner. A supporting role for Mila Kunis, way out of her element, seems only marginally more considered than the afterthought cameos by humanity’s other sacred texts. (Oh look, they do have the Koran. Hope the guy who walked that one across the hinterland had an easier trip.) When last the Hughes brothers brought out a movie, it was From Hell, but before branding them simonists and banishing them back there, we should consider the deficiency implied by that movie having been released almost a whole decade ago.
As for the end of this one, “most interesting” should not imply satisfying or commendable. How about enjoyably preposterous? It involves Malcolm McDowell, after all—and a transformation, of sorts, which, when all is said and done, just goes to show the difference between the big reveal and the Revelation.
Leaving an internationally acclaimed band’s a pretty outlandish move for anyone hoping to make a living as a performer. But that’s what Dom Flemons, a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, did last December. It wasn’t because of some in-fighting, he said over the phone from North
While his band The Strokes are on hiatus, punk rocker Julian Casablancas is keeping busy with countless tributes, collaborations, and side projects. He can be heard alongside Queens of the Stone Age, Daft Punk, Pharrell, Eddie Vedder, and even Andy Samberg on a slew of songs. His current act
U2 Songs of Innocence/Interscope Records Bono’s voice is cracking, The Edge’s riffs aren’t exactly scraping against the stars anymore, and even drummer Larry Mullens, Jr.’s beats have slowed down a tick, but despite all of this, U2 finds another gear on Songs of Innocence. Most of the energy is
Want inspiration from the darkly humorous Lester Burnham or calculating Congressman Frank Underwood? Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey, well-known for his roles in American Beauty and the Netflix series “House of Cards,” is this year’s guest at UVA’s President’s Speaker Series for the Arts.
You know you’re in for something when every actor in a movie’s press release gets an individual citation for the role that got them either an Academy Award or a nomination—Robert Downey, Jr. (Chaplin, Tropic Thunder), Robert Duvall (Tender Mercies), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air)—while the
Guitar slinging country crooner Eric Church has traded Jimmy Buffett covers in the back of dingy dive bars for 15,000-seat arenas where he belts out original, cheeky Southern anthems to packed houses. Currently touring in support of his second No. 1 album, The Outsiders, he continues on the
With the recent release of Put Your Needle Down, produced by T Bone Burnett, The Secret Sisters prove they’ve come a long way from their Alabama youth. The sweet-voiced siblings have managed to retain their innocence and charm following projects with big shots like She & Him, Ray
The only things that move quickly in the world of acoustic music are fingers over strings. When the folks behind the reincarnation of Charlottesville’s beloved Prism Coffeehouse announced they were raising money for a comeback last November, no one thought it would be nearly a year before the
Take a moment to remember what you were like at age 16—whether it was learning to drive, passing a chemistry test, or finding a date to the prom, you probably felt like you had your hands full with the basic American rites of passage. Well, 24 high school juniors and seniors are about to make
Last year, UVA creative writing department director Chris Tilghman was trying to convince a prospective MFA graduate student to enter his program when he dropped a quiet bomb. “I said we were hoping to welcome James Salter as a writer-in-residence,” Tilghman recalled. “There was this long pause
Cold and flu season is nigh, so grab yourself a dose of the best medicine with the finalists of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” VIP pass holders can rub elbows with professional side splitters Nikki Carr, Rocky Laporte, Joe Machi, Rod Man, and Lachlan Patterson at a pre-show meet and greet. The
Travis Book has transformed the land next to Devils Backbone Brewing Company at the base of Wintergreen Resort. What was once a farm and later a nursery is now a fertile playground for outdoorsmen and women—home to four miles of hiking and biking trails and well-kempt campgrounds. What’s
Roberto Lange apologizes after stammering through some small talk. The bilingual musician’s just gotten off the phone with another interviewer in Chicago in Spanish, and he’s having a little linguistic difficulty switching back to English. The music Lange makes under the nom de plume Helado
When it comes to paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, the further a movie moves away from the “true” story as documented by these proven frauds, the better it gets. Despite its success with audiences at the time of its release, going back to watch the aggressively mediocre The
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust—a series of church burnings sets UVA Drama’s new season in motion with Marcus Gardley’s acclaimed 2010 play Every Tongue Confess. Weaving Biblical lore with the true history of a small Alabama town, this Southern spectacle also mixes gospel and blues hits for a
Like most brides to be, Wendy Blair Winkler spent more than a year planning her wedding. Unlike most wedding parties, her guests spent months building the event themselves on a farm in Free Union. Winkler modeled her wedding on experiences at Burning Man, an annual art festival held on the arid
This town is no stranger to open mic nights. We boast Big Blue Door storytelling and improv night; the musicians, poets, and comedians of Verbs & Vibes; and Olio, a pechakucha-style series that was popular until its untimely demise in 2011. So, how is the upcoming TEDxCharlottesville Open
Comedienne Tig Notaro has risen to the top thanks to an unabashed, honest commentary about life and love through laughter. Her 2012 set at Largo in Los Angeles, in which she spoke openly about her breast cancer diagnosis, mother’s death, and the end of a long-term relationship was nominated for
GRMLN Soon Away/Carpark Records Bay Area-based Yoodoo Park a.k.a. GRMLN, has undergone quite a metamorphosis in his several years as an artist. Originally something of an ambient singer-songwriter with a penchant for beautiful, mellow melodies, he’s gone full-on rock and roll on Soon Away
Despite being a ballet company, there are no tutus or relevés in this celebration of movement by the Latin Ballet of Virginia. You will find dazzling costumes and acrobatics mixed with the electric flair of Latino dance in a high-energy performance that celebrates Central American traditions.