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Posted: August 1, 2014 at 1:57 a.m.

Noah, directed by Darren Aronofsky


directed by Darren Aronofsky

(PG-13, 138 minutes)

Darren Aronofsky is very good at turning unique personal visions into cinematic art. In such challenging films as Pi, Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan, he makes delicate stories resonate with force.

In retrospect, giving such a director $130 million to make a biblical epic about God's wiping man off the face of the earth in a giant flood might have not been the most prudent decision.

Aronofsky's Noah remains recognizably his, but not a product of which he should be particularly proud. It's a mishmash of CGI action flick, character study and metaphysics that is unlikely to satisfy any of its potential audiences.

Noah (Russell Crowe) is a weary and haggard man, especially when the weight of God's intention is made clear to him. He informs his family, including wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), sons Shem (Douglas Booth), disobedient Ham (Logan Lerman) and innocent Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll), along with Shem's would-be wife Ila (Emma Watson) of his plan, makes peace with the local giant rock creatures (fallen angels of heaven burdened with helping mankind ) and begins the process of building his ark to save his family and pairs of animals (you probably know the basic story).

Unfortunately, word eventually gets to King Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone), a descendant of Cain (yeah, Abel's brother), who demands Noah allow him and his army on board to propagate his race of further wickedness.

Every plot point comes together precisely as the flood waters hit, with a huge showdown between Noah, the bad guys who seek safety, and Noah's sons, who defy their father in their disbelief of God's true intention.

It is not surprising that Aronofsky created a film of such faith -- 2006's The Fountain, his other large-budget experimental film, has similarities -- but it is surprising that he would make a film so sloppily assembled. It still might have worked if he hadn't tried so hard to construct it on the foundation of a standard action flick.

The Other Woman (PG-13, 109 minutes) This obnoxious romantic comedy about three women who are (unbeknownst to each other) involved with the same man resorts to the lazy and overused device of letting the audience know a joke is coming, delivering said joke, then reminding the audience that a joke had recently been on screen in case you missed it. This is a sorry use of fine comedic talents Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton. Their efforts (especially those of Mann, who has great timing and a game spirit) can't overcome a lame, cliche-ridden script. With Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Nicki Minaj; directed by Nick Cassavetes.

Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music (R, 184 minutes) Three hours of peace, love and music on the grounds of Max Yasger's farm in the Catskills, flowing with the spirit of the late 1960s, can be found in this immensely entertaining 1970 documentary, now available on Blu-ray. Among the performers the film captures at this groundbreaking three-day rock festival -- which also offers a generous helping of social and political ideology -- are Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills and Nash, John Sebastian, Sly and the Family Stone, Arlo Guthie, Richie Havens, The Who, Joe Cocker and Joan Baez. You shoulda been there, but if you weren't (or if you hadn't been born yet), this is the next best thing. Directed by Michael Wadleigh.

On My Way (unrated, 113 minutes) Take a rambling road trip with 60-something Bettie (Catherine Deneuve, as divine as ever), a one-time beauty queen who has lost her latest lover and is struggling to cope with business problems at her family's restaurant. So she jumps in the car and winds up having all sorts of adventures, including attending an ex-Miss France gala and repairing a frayed relationship with her estranged daughter and grandson. With Claude Gensac, Paul Hamy; directed by Emmanuelle Bercot. Subtitled.

MovieStyle on 08/01/2014