Friday, March 18, 2011

Thoughts on The Last Temptation of Christ

-Willem Dafoe stars as, uh, Jesus, Martin Scorsese (damn you, last name! DAMN YOU!) directs, a telling/retelling of Jesus's life, death, and subsequent others.

-The thing is, this is probably one of M.S.'s most personal films. And it shows. There is not one reel that isn't so overwhelmingly naked, it makes you feel like you're intruding. Every shot has been composed to perfection, but for the sake of finally telling a story you've been waiting for your entire life. It's so flawlessly raw sometimes, yet elsewhere, deliriously satisfied with it's own existence. Or, that's not a good way of putting it. Because you'll never have a scene of someone hanging out, doing nothing. There'll be a subtext, or a conversation about religion, or at the very least a tortured voiceover by Dafoe. Here is a case for vanity projects everywhere. Here is a film that knows, loves, hates, ogles, and leans into its subjects with reverence and imagination and, after all is said and done, complete and total faith in it.


-The score is lovely. Very bizarre.

-And...okay, another thing. Rarely does M.S. (his name until I can spell it properly) inject comedy into the mix (intentionally, anyway), so serious is he about the whole deal. But then, he isn't afraid to show Jesus as a man. He gets scared, he gets angry, he gets happy, and a lot of the times, he just seems schizophrenic, going on about voices and the need to drown the pain out with self-punishment (hence the building of crosses used for crucifixtions, which I don't know if that's canon or not). And the Judas thing. I mean, it's pretty much entered common lexicon that Judas means douchenozzle who you shouldn't let watch your kids if you don't want them taken in for dealing or whatever, he's bad. But here, he's Jesus's most loyal deciple (played by a gingerfied Harvey Keitel, no less), and only rats him out under direct orders from the man himself, so that he may fulfill the prophecy (cause this is like Star Wars, right?), and near the end (amid the semi-infamous hallucination parts), he actually calls Jesus a traitor for not dying.

-Barbara Hershey plays Mary Magdeline, and one senses that M.S. is quite happy about this. Her introduction is both one of the intentional and unintentionally funny bits.

-John Lurie is some guy named Paul or whatever, a Saint, I think, and Harry Dean Stanton, who I thought was Dennis Hopper until the credits.

-DAVID BOWIE HOLY SHIT was the guy who sentenced Jesus to death and, curiously for an English-language period piece, is the only one with an English accent. Because it's his. Anyway, he played the guy as kind of sympathetic towards Jesus (besides the obvious 'King of the Jews' thing, and I'm still confused over this: how can we be blamed for Jesus's death? He was Jewish, too. I don't see how Jews could've prevented this shit either way. Better yet, why not blame the Romans, those pricks.), but very much into the status quo of things, but he's so pragmatic and reasonable-sounding, and you almost side with him. In fact, he's kind of cool, level-headed and such. And he's played by David Bowie. Of course I dig him.

-Willem Dafoe. Of course. He's playing Jesus. Hard to criticize. So I won't.

-Every time Jesus and Judas were onscreen together, I just wanted one of them, so straight-faced, to say 'bros before hoes'. Then fist bump. Or make out, the way they were going at each other.