Exodus: Gods and Kings ★★★



When your heroes fail you in some ways (like, say, through horribly racist comments that remind you that an artist is sometimes also a 75 year old English guy who was born when homosexuality was still a crime) what I find I most often have to take solace in is whether or not they can still actually fucking do the thing you respected them for in the first place. That, it turns out, is a mixed bag.

What I liked here, and what RidSco should consider doing if his next film isn't boffo, is the landscape painting. Especially when the biblical weather turns up. Absolutely flooring digital composite work. But then, when has he been anything other than totally assured at that sort of thing? It's everything else, as literally everyone pointed out, that lacks flare. It's not *bad* it's just flat and ridiculous. Which...actually, wouldn't be a problem necessarily because it has a peculiar spatial arrangement, which first showed up in Prometheus, but you couldn't really tell because it moved so goddamned quick. He and Dariusz Wolski are an interesting pair. RidSco's a semi-nomadic collaborator. He switched photographers almost every other film, like clockwork, back in the day. He used Hugh Johnson and Adrian Biddle twice, and then it looked like he'd be sticking with John Mathieson, but ever since handing him off to Jordan to shoot Cracks, it's been the Wolski show all the way, including the upcoming The Martian. I suppose it didn't *really* matter because he's got Pietro Scalia behind the boards, pounding images like hot steel at a blacksmith's and making big old broadswords out of these things.

Wolski likes to make every inch of the frame visible, while maintaining a cool darkness. He's sort of Bruno Delbonnel's grounded cousin. Delbonnel turns everyone into a beautiful cartoon character, all rounded edges and secondary colours. Wolski is similarly a fan of the otherworldly glow, but he likes a face to look like a face. Loves them pores. That's probably why Johnny Depp carried him from film to film like he was part of his posse all those years. Exquisite ugliness. Made everyone look so fuckin' sweaty and sexy in The Counselor by makin' em ugly and pointy and craggy and like they were all looking to get fucked. Honesty, I guess is what I'm saying. So all these perfunctorily shot dialogue sequences in Exodus at least have a kind of interesting lighting scheme that thrust them right in the RidSco wheelhouse (the tactile reality of the fantastical). But he doesn't seem interested in doing anything with them. He's like Joel E's Ramses. "They're just Frogs." Dude seems to believe that.

I've lost my train of thought. This movie's really throwing me. I didn't hate it. Sorry, Terence Nance. But you're right about everything you said. That much is true. But like...this isn't even close to Ridley's least essential film. That would either be Robin Hood or A Good Year. This is prettier than both of them, even without Lea Seydoux, Oscar Isaac, Marion Cotillard or Abbie Cornish. And you know, I'd probably sooner watch this again than The White Squall. That fucking Dead Poets/Stand By Me, "white kids are special" narrative is more offensive to me than any of this cod Bibley blackface shit. The difference is in emphasis I guess. Exodus says: Egypt is worth talking about, just not with Egyptians. Offensive. White Squall says: white kids need a push in the right direction to become great, namely toward a yacht where they can protect a negligent prick from a murder rep. Bet young black or hispanic kids would have sent him to prison. Can't have that! I could see Paul Ryan watching that shit in theatres and then taking it home and telling his maid he wanted to go into politics, then probably having her deported when she catches him masturbating to the "Never Gonna Give You Up" video on MTV classic.

Once more...I've lost track of what I'm saying. This movie's fucking with me. I usually feel strongly about les filme de RidSco, and I wanted this to have something worth remembering that I couldn't capture in three VLC screengrabs. Alas. This'll be a footnote when I eventually write the book on this motherfucker. Still love ya, budzo. Wish you hadn't made this, but I get it. Tony's gone and you needed to believe in risen Jesus for a sec (nobody beats the Riz). We all have moments of weakness and I'm very, very sorry you had to deal with all that shit. I haven't forgotten how good you are, and I know you haven't either. I like all those little movies you made while you were figuring out the part of your life you're currently trying to put back in order. G.I. Jane and Thelma & Louise and Someone to Watch Over Me and Matchstick Men and American Gangster and yes, The Counselor. That shit was off the chain. I love you, dude. Seriously. So...we'll get through this. Together. That whole "Mohamed so-and-so" thing? Not great. We can do better. I get it. It's a product of the place you came from. That and you're probably very tired of answering questions about movies that people don't seem to get anymore, so you tossed off some blase racist shit you thought sounded less offensive that it did. You were probably like "I just made a bible movie and you're bugging me about stuff? It's about the bible, guys, none of that's real, so why nitpick?" And it just came out like "I'm a big xenophobe! Lookitme!" You're one of the last guys who gets trillion dollar paychecks to make movies and after convincing studios that Prometheus and The Counselor were good ideas, you then had to deal with everyone saying how terrible they were. The Counselor is actually great, so fuck everyone who told you it wasn't. I apologize on their behalf, man. You're probably exhausted. So don't give up because I still believe in you. I bet The Martian's rad. Just make sure you don't do any of this race-bending shit anymore. That's not gonna win you any fans. It's abhorrent but lucky for you, I'm in this for life, so it's gonna be you and me, holding hands driving off that cliff. Will you be my Louise, Ridley?