Review Club #6 – Agora

agora_poster05

To switch things up a little, here’s my review first (I know, I’m a wild one!):

Mel’s 10 Things About: Agora (2009)
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Ashraf Barhom, Rupert Evans, Homayoun Ershadi, Michael Lonsdale, Sami Samir

agora

So this was a pretty hard movie to watch. It had a hard time finding distributors, and yeah, I can understand why. I’m having trouble completing full ideas today, so here’s a list of my thoughts about the film. {SPOILERS AHEAD}

1. I like Rachel Weisz. She’s hot.
2. The young slave is also hot. Who’s he, and where’s he been all my life?
3. The acting ranged from decent to good.
4. The sound mixing was AWFUL. The music would blare one second and then the talking was so low it was ridiculous. My tv volume went from 12 to 34 regularly. It’s annoying.
5. I don’t understand why Davus turned so fast and became a murderous dick. Did I miss something? And don’t say it’s because she called him an idiot in the heat of the battle. He’s smarter than that.
6. It made me angry and sad to see the Library of Alexandria get trashed. “We don’t need all this stupid science when we have God”. Ugh. So much knowledge, destroyed. How much more advanced would we be now if all of that needn’t of been relearned?
7. The film just fueled my disdain and, shall I dare say, hate?, of organized religion. All of them, not just Catholicism. “It’s written in a book, so it must be so”, right? In that vein of thought, vampires are real, we’re all pod people, and werewolves occupy positions in government offices. Ridiculous.
8. The film was shot beautifully, the sets and costumes absolutely gorgeous.
9. You’d think the most disgusting character would be the Bishop in black, but he’s not. He’s evil, yes, but always was. The worst character is Hypatia’s friend, the Bishop in white, who turns on her in the blink of an eye after hearing a quote from that damned book.
10. It’s a real shame Hypatia didn’t have a Davus to kill her peacefully at the end in real life. The poor woman was stripped, stoned, dragged around town behind a horse, her body being skinned and torn to bits, then she was burned. This lady didn’t have a good go of it.

8.5/10

M.

 

Up next is Eric, from over at The IPC.

Agora AKA One Million Angry Christians in the House

I had never heard of this movie before Mel assigned it to us but I saw that it had Rachel Weisz in it so I got a little excited – I think she’s super hot and can act well sometimes. My semi-chub was reduced to nothing pretty quickly as this movie started and NOTHING happened for any amount of time. The only thing I could think of was “fuck these Egyptians are awful white” and I couldn’t keep track of any of the male characters because they ALL had white skin, black hair and had a name that were five syllables long and ended in “ius”. Erictheopolius. Ericmeniopolius. Ericmomonius, etc. So there was that and the fact that this was REALLY boring so I didn’t care. The most interesting and bizaare thing to happen was when Weisz’ character brings one of her suitors a blood stained rag and says “this is the essence of my womb” or something which I guess was her way of saying “I don’t want to go out with you”

blood rag

Then the Alexandrian Whites got angry and started killing the Christians who got mad and then started killing the Alexandrians and destroying everything so the Alexandrians converted to Christianity and then they all started throwing rocks at Jews who threw rocks back and then the Jews were all killed or exiled and Weisz figures out that the earth revolves around the sun so they stone her to death. I have to admit that this movie looks really pretty but the dialogue is atrocious and silly and it was kind of embarrassing to see Weisz commanding her slave to “Grab the bag! Just grab the bag! Do as I say and grab the bag!” during the big siege scene. Oh well – I didn’t like this very much. Say – someone once told me that my first Gravatar image looked like a “period stain” – what do you think?

theipclogo5a

2 bloody rags out of 5

 

Up next we have my darling husband Francois, over at FrankishNet.

Agora – a short review

I have mixed feelings about Agora.

The first feeling is love. I loved it. The historical accuracy and setting, the costumes, the actors. It is also original in the sense that it is an “Historical religious move”, and yet not, since it’s about science. I position myself with our heroine: there is science, the rest is not really worth believing in, as it is a tool to serve a political agenda, or to justify hate and murder. On this account, this movie brilliantly demonstrated the relationship of hate and horrifying acts justified by religion, that we live in daily still today.
No wonder they had troubles distributing the movie…

The second feeling is hate. I hated it. Already charged with political, scientific and religious turmoil, the movie was already heavy for the regular watcher. Then add in the mixed opinions on slavery and possession. Our heroine is gentle and intelligent and respects the slaves. Yet, they are still slave and are meant to obey. And that is totally normal given her birthright, upbringing and era.

However, her acts of kindness toward a slave, who is very intelligent and kind as well, are twisted and transformed in his heart, making him fall in love with his mistress. How is this represented? He asks the gods to “own” her, and ultimately kills her himself, after betraying everything he had learned with her, because she had reminded him of his slavery when the library was being taken.
Yes this adds a lot of dimension to both the movie and the character. But with a movie that was already heavy with subject matter, this felt too much and out of place. They should have left the topic of “Slaves wanting to own their mistress so badly that only them are allowed to kill them, and that is fine” out of the movie and kept it as background noise. “There are slaves. Slaves are slaves. Its the era, its fine”, and let us cry horribly when she is stoned to death, as happened in history.

So here, a good mix of hate and love. It was a very heavy movie, that does not leave you feeling good with yourself, but it did a great job at making us reflect on just how much pain are we ready to take or inflict for our believes, and if those believes aren’t just in truth disguised lust for power, or survival.

I’ll give it a solid 8/10 in its “historic” category, and a mixed 5 in “I enjoyed watching it”.
(Except for her ass. Her ass is 10/10).

 

And finally, rounding things out is Rob, from over at MovieRob.

Before Mel chose this as the next Review Club entry, I had never even heard of this and upon reading the summary, it definitely seemed interesting.

This movie does a very interesting job of trying to discuss modern seemingly contradictions between religion and science set in an ancient world.

Many people nowadays still believe that these two subjects cannot coexist in society in the same way it was believed during the time that this movie takes place 1700 years ago.

Unfortunately, despite it revolving around a very interesting subject matter, the story itself is less interesting and I actually got tired of the soap opera-esk storyline.

I didn’t find any of the male characters compelling enough for a story like this and as great a job as star Rachel Weisz does here, her role isn’t ‘meaty’ enough and in some parts of the movie even seems like she is completely wasted.

As far as historically accurate movies go, I have no idea what really happened or not in real life. Personally, I don’t go to the movies for historically accurate depictions on the big screen, I go to be entertained by the stories. If I did, I’d be better off just watching ‘The History Channel’ all day. 😉

Some of the effects in the movies were done well, but the coolest effect is the use of ‘Google maps’ to zoom in and out of cities and magnifying things to minute details.

This could have been so much more interesting, but instead it was a wasted storyline that comes off quite mediocre.

5/10

And that’s it folks! Join us again in two weeks for when we review Chef!! 🙂

 

PS, what do you guys think of my new review format? I was having trouble making a coherent paragraph for Mel’s 5 Second Review, so I came up with Mel’s 10 Things About. Do you like it? Which format do you prefer? Let me know please! 🙂

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12 comments on “Review Club #6 – Agora

  1. I am sorry I never got around to this one but I don’t think I would have liked it.

    I quite like Mel’s 10 Things though!

    • Yup, had mixed reviews elsewhere in the netiverse, too. Seems to be one of those love it or hate it type of film. Let me know what you thought once you get around to it 🙂

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