Noah, the big-budget Biblical spectacle from auteur director Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Black Swan) hit theaters this weekend, pulling in a surprising amount of cash and generating no end of controversy. With a stellar cast including Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, and Ray Winstone, an array of impressive effects-driven setpieces, and the benefit of a generally familiar story, it’s received generally favorable reviews. I, for one, was impressed with it. Like much of Aronofsky’s work I think the ambition ever so slightly outweighs the execution, but there’s no standout flaw that might make the average film fan regret dropping the cash to go see it. Of course, since it’s a “Bible Movie”, there’s a lot to talk about here outside of what’s shown onscreen. In particular, I find the fact that audience-driven scores on sites like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes are currently trending far below those of critics to be interesting. I don’t place much stock in aggregate review scores as a general rule, but when there’s nothing inherent in the quality of the film itself to cause such a rift, I think it’s worth talking about. Don’t worry, I’ll get to the film itself eventually.
It’s no secret to anyone who spends more than a half hour or so in conversation with me these days that I have an interest in Alfred Hitchcock that could be accused of bordering on hero worship. Although he died the year I was born, he was probably the first director I was consciously aware of, thanks in large part to the syndication of his anthology television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I loved the series as a child, and pursued anything I could find with Hitchcock’s name on it, including countless compilations of horror and suspense stories that he lent his name to. I didn’t realize at the time of course that his presence in everything I’d seen or read was largely ceremonial, and I’m not sure it would have mattered if I did. As good as the episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents typically were, his bookends on each were my main reason for watching, combining the macabre with a dry sense of humor in a way that made a huge impact on child me. So when I saw my first actual Hitchcock film not long after all this, I felt an immediate connection as I watched. This was the first time I really had a face, a voice, and a personality to connect with the actual construction of a movie, and that was that. I was hooked. The film in question was, appropriately enough, Psycho; the making of which is the subject of the new biopic Hitchcock, directed by Sacha Gervasi and starring Anthony Hopkins as Hitch himself.