Sometimes you review a movie and can’t quite figure out where to begin. That is not the case with Exodus: Gods and Kings; one of the film’s biggest issues is right there on the porcelain-white surface. I’ll let director Ridley Scott take it from here: “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such. I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t come up.” He’s got a point – why even consider ethnically appropriate actors when you can make a movie about ancient Hebrews and Egyptians starring superstars like Joel Edgerton, Ben Mendelsohn, and Aaron Paul? The closed-mindedness that Scott exhibits here is incredibly frustrating, and that very notion ought to invalidate the movie entirely. But it was made and released regardless, so reviews must be written.
We go from what could be construed as a declaration of depression to a movie starring a man whose darkness ultimately got the better of him. ‘Cause I needed a pick-me-up. God’s Pocket features one of the final performances of Philip Seymour Hoffman, but it unfortunately does not quite live up to the cinematic standard Hoffman often curated. It is difficult to ascertain where the blame lies, though it would be even more difficult to lay it at Hoffman’s feet.
John Turturro has had the good fortune to work with some of the most creative filmmakers working in modern cinema, including Joel and Ethan Coen and Spike Lee. (He has also worked very closely with Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison conglomerate and Michael Bay, but that is a different conversation). It turns out that Turturro is a bit of an auteur himself. I have never seen any of his earlier films, but if his latest feature, Fading Gigolo, is any indication, he has not picked up the best traits of those visionary directors.