Noah director Darren Aronofsky and I kicked it around for 20 minutes today. The idea was to inject Noah (which has made Paramount happy by earning $360 million worldwide) into the award-season conversation, and that shouldn’t be too hard as far as…oh, Jennifer Connelly‘s supporting performance, Matty Libatique‘s cinematography, Mark Friedberg‘s production design, and Patti Smith‘s song (“Mercy”) are concerned. It’s a measure of my high regard for Aronofsky that I don’t have a problem with his tennis-ball haircut. He’s been through that “feeling of emptiness” that Kirk Douglas spoke about in The Bad and the Beautiful and is now onto the next thing, which of course he won’t talk about. Me: “Are you going to downshift into…what, some little black-and-white film?” Aronofsky: “I’ve already done that.”

Noah director Darren Aronofsky — Saturday, 10.11, 12:05 pm at Le Petit Ermitage.

Our loose-shoe discussion happened on the roof of Le Petit Ermitage, a smallish boutique hotel on Cynthia Street in West Hollywood. Fresh fruit, blueberry muffins, good coffee…oh, and bikini-clad women by the pool. And a general aura of Roman splendor. Again, the mp3.

Noah thoughts from 3.23.14: “What a myth! What a severe, surreal, eye-filling, Old Testament buzzard of a 21st Century Bible movie, and with rock giants yet! Defenders and ark-construction helpers who stand 20 feet tall and speak with the weathered, synthesized voices of Nick Nolte and Frank Langella but who sound to me like Optimus Prime. Noah isn’t perfect but it’s certainly a mad, imaginative leap off the high-dive board. Some of the scenes are mind-blowing, shattering. (Especially those creepy depictions of Noah’s underwater hallucinations and that Terrence Malick-like story-of-creation sequence.) It’s not soothing, not comforting, not conventional — it’s really and truly out there on its own planet.

“It’s a dead-serious fantasia, Noah is. And in no way does it resemble anything more or less than a fevered hallucination in a certain filmmaker’s head.

Noah is totally down with the idea of the Godless receiving the merciless punishment they deserve — straight out of the End of Days manual. This aspect will certainly strike a chord with the nutters. It’s odd but you really can feel the presence of a brooding and displeased Creator in the vibe of this film, and also the severity of God’s Old Testament law…it’s a hard, cold, right-or-wrong realm. Righteous and condemning and rather horrid. But Noah is also rooted in a fertile, verdant imagination. It’s a movie made by a madman…a man as mad as Noah, mad as Moses, mad as Howard Beale. As mad as Abel Gance or F.W. Murnau or Eric Von Stroheim.

“And it’s a hell of a lot crazier than anything ever made or even dreamt of by that pompous right-wing douchebag, Cecil B. Demille. Yes, DeMille depicted God’s vengeance in The Ten Commandments (Edward G. Robinson and his heathen followers dropping into the caverns of hell) and Samson and Delilah, but even DeMille’s hypocritical fantasies shrank from the extermination of hundreds of thousands of sinners, not all of whom, we have to presume, are as evil and egoistic as Ray Winstone‘s Tubal-cain.

Poolside on roof of Le Petit Ermitage.

The books behind the couch in the fourth-floor library lounge are fake.

“This is probably the creepiest and most unnerving movie about God’s scheme since Michael Tolkin‘s The Rapture (’91). If you remember that 23 year-old film and particularly how it made you feel (especially during the Third Act in the desert), you have a rough idea of what Noah is. Seriously — what a fantastical fable and an original loopy fantasia. An initially nutso portrait of moral absolutism that gives that shit up at the very end.

“There’s no clear didactic line in this film. It’s unruly. Tubal-cain is obviously the stand-in for capitalistic or Christian arrogance but Winstone isn’t given any other aspects or dimensions to play. He’s reduced to standard-issue villainy. Russell Crowe’s Noah is obviously the good guy but then he isn’t. He descends into dogmatic blindness. And all the faceless, nameless characters who aren’t part of Noah’s family (except for the unlucky hot girl who briefly hooks up with Ham) are growling ravenous beasts. So there’s no major figure to side or empathize with except for the supporting cast — Connelly’s Mrs. Noah, Watson, Noah’s sons (played by Logan Lerman and Douglas Booth) and the makeup-covered Anthony Hopkins, who plays Noah’s grandfather Methusaleh, who won’t stop thinking and talking about eating berries.

Noah is a handful and an eyeful and a huge bear to wrestle with while you’re watching it, and an experience that probably won’t leave you alone the next day. The linger factor is always the best sign of quality, and this movie has it in spades.”