Sunday, December 26, 2004

Lesions To be Cheerful

Determined as ever to get to grips with the real true meaning of Christmas, Dead Kenny watched the C4 doc 'Who Really Wrote The Bible?' last night in which Bouncin' Bob Beckford revealed that the bible was almost certainly written many years after the fact, cobbled together from apocryphal tidbits by clerics determined to quell civic disobedience and unrest. All of which is hardly breaking news to any sentient being outside of the Bush administration, but it was better viewing than Parkinson. Followed this up by watching a rental DVD copy of Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ (plenty of seasonal cheer in the Parallax View household, as you can imagine) while cradling a bottle of Absolut. 'TPOTC' is, of course, the much-touted, 'historically accurate' (see above), biography of that straggly-haired son-of-God geezer who died horribly and painfuly for all our sins those many years ago. And, believe me, from about halfway through the slow, uninterminable journey of JC hauling his own cross up a great hill, I was beginning to know how he felt. Gibson was a good choice for director, though: having gone through most of his life as a shortarse with a bad mullet he's no doubt developed a keen sense of what it means to have a persecution complex. And actor Jim Cavaziel, who once bullied co-star Jennifer Lopez into putting on some clothes for a sex scene in 'Angel Eyes', surely had it coming to him.

A bundle of laughs to the last, 'The Passion Of The Christ' concentrates on showing the last couple of hours of Christ in something approaching 'real'-time, save for a few flashbacks and a depiction of his father as the woman from the Scottish Widows advert carrying around a baby with an old man's face (just to show that Gibson has seen a few decent David Lynch films in his life, if nothing else). The performances are uniformly strong and Caleb Deschanel's stunning cinemotography should be similarly commended, but ultimately the film is floored by it's overweaning sense of self-importance and the self-defeating nature of the premise. By concentrating in such prolonged graphic detail on the final martyrdom at the expense (save for aforementioned flashbacks) of the many more positive and enhancing aspects of Christ's story, the film becomes an atrocity exhibition likely to win over more serial killers and Hitler-freaks (it's seemingly all down to the Jews in Gibson's interpretation) than true converts. It's grimly watchable but when it gets to the bit where the soldiers break Jesus's arm so they can stretch it into place to get the nails in on the cross, the sheer unrelenting, po-faced brutality of it all is just so implausible and gratuitous that mentally I just switched off from it and had to start laughing.

Dead Kenny understands the perception that a moral code for living provided by formal religion is necessary to keep the angry proletariat in order, and you only have to step outside into any town or city centre in Britain of a Friday night to witness the bacchalanian excess that can often result from living in a secular society, but Parallax View found the vision of Christianity presented in this film just as staggeringly preposterous as the vision of that other religion that suggests murdering lots of people will lead to an afterlife where you get to pleasure sixty virgin brides.

We forgive the director, though, for we're pretty sure he knew not what he was doing. For true believers (of the artistic genius of Mel Gibson) only, then. But in the massive shadow of the recent fuck-off tsunami, perhaps it's best to remain humble and hedge our bets.


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