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Non-Review Review: The Jesus Rolls

The Jesus Rolls is a loaded premise on a number of levels.

Most obviously, it is a film that takes a memorable supporting character from a beloved film and asks them to hold focus for ninety-odd minutes. Not all characters are designed to support a feature film, as the cavalcade of failed Saturday Night Live films will attest. It’s possible to get lucky, as with cases like Wayne’s World, but these happen relatively infrequently. Jesus might be a character who works best as part of the larger wacky ensemble of The Big Lebowski, where he exists in a heightened world of wandering cowboys, conceptual artists, pornographers and nihilists.

The risks are compounded by the change of authorship. Jesus Quintana was a character created by the Coen Brothers, and so makes a great deal of sense in their world of dysfunctional and cartoonish eccentrics. While actor John Turturro has experience as a writer and director, he is very clearly a different sort of filmmaker. Turturro’s last theatrically released feature was Fading Gigalo, released in 2013. There’s little in Turturro’s filmography to suggest that his approach to Jesus will mesh with the character’s origin in a stylised Raymond Chandler homage.

The Jesus Rolls is a strange sort of misfire. It’s a surprisingly flat film, which says a lot considering its gonzo inspirations and its bawdy preoccupations. There’s a hollowness to it all, an emptiness and a lack of focus. It lacks the energy or zeal that might excuse its paper-thin approach to its plot and protagonist, aspiring towards a weightiness that neither its characterisation nor its content can support. The Jesus Rolls often feels like a series of interlocking vignettes rather than a movie, but none of which succeed at holding the audience’s attention.

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Desert Island Discs

The ever wonderful Andy over at Fandango Groovers has put together a rather excellent little project among film bloggers where we’re all essentially playing ‘desert island discs’. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, it sees the person in question stranded on a desert island somewhere with only a handful of items – in this case films. Each person will then choose their own eight films that will presumably see them through the rest of their lives in something resembling tranquility. Of course, the kicker is if we arrive on the island and there’s no DVD player.   

The Losties were less than pleased when Darren phoned ahead with his movie choices...

Note: I’ve also compiled a list of movies and bloggers, so you can see if anyone else shared your picks.

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Non-Review Review: The Big Lebowski

Apparently The Big Lebowski wasn’t anything special when the Coen Brothers drafted it. Just a routine little film with a main character very loosely based on a film producer that they used to know. To this day they’re still a little perplexed at the massive success the film has had, becoming a cult phenomenon and a serious contender for the mantle of “Best Coen Brothers Film”. In a way, that’s almost perfectly suited to the kind of film this is. It’s a lot of hubbub over a film clearly meant to be very small, much like the film itself is a very big story wrapped around a very ‘small’ character, so to speak. It’s always reassuring to know that The Dude abides.

"This is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules."

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