We could not be happier to have been brought on board by Universal Pictures for Mary Magdalene. Our team caught an early preview of the film and were completely knocked out by it: and we knew that our many contacts in the UK church community would find it captivating too.
In a way, the film is quite an unusual proposition. It’s a biblical drama which makes a serious engagement with the person of Jesus and the Gospel accounts – but it’s more concerned with the spirit than the letter. It’s not a ‘Christian’ film, but people of faith who come to it with an open mind will find a rich and rewarding experience. For those who don’t believe, it’s a reminder of the fertile ground that biblical stories can still offer for creative exploration.
The A-List talent behind the film and the care and respect with which it’s been crafted make Mary Magdalene unmissable cinema.
Mary Magdalene(in cinemas 16th March) is a powerfully imagined portrait of one of the most enigmatic and misunderstood spiritual figures in history. The biblical biopic tells the story of Mary (Rooney Mara), a young woman in search of a new way of living. Constricted by the hierarchies and gender inequalities of the day, Mary defies her traditional family to join a new movement led by the charismatic Jesus of Nazareth (Joaquin Phoenix). She soon finds a place for herself alongside Jesus and at the heart of a journey that will lead to Jerusalem.
Written by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett, and directed by Garth Davis, Mary Magdalene also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tahar Rahim.
This companion booklet offers an insight into the making of the film, as well as questions and reflections for church groups wanting to engage with it more deeply.
Monday morning this week found me getting a bit teary at my desk. (And no, not because it’s January and it’s cold and I wanted to be back in bed.) The news was full of inspiring women speaking up for themselves, amplifying the voices of others – and perhaps, finally, being heard.
At the 2018 Golden Globes, the #TimesUp movement was the talk of Hollywood. The black dresses on the red carpet were, as actress Amber Tamblyn explained, not a fashion statement. ‘It is a statement of action. It is a direct message of resistance. Black because we are powerful when we stand together with all women across industry lines. Black because we’re starting over, resetting the standard. Black because we’re done being silenced and we’re done with the silencers. Tonight is not a mourning. Tonight is an awakening.’
In 1930s Tenessee, 31-year-old ‘spinster’ Laura (Carey Mulligan) makes a marriage of convenience to Henry McAllen (Jason Clarke) – despite being more attracted to his charming brother Jamie (Garret Hedlund). When the war breaks out, Jamie enlists, while Henry announces that he will be moving Laura, their children and his elderly father (Jonathan Banks) to a farm on the Mississippi delta.
Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan), one of Henry’s tenants, longs to own the land that he farms, as did his slave ancestors before him. His wife Florence (Mary J Blige) agrees to work for the McAllens, fearing what her absence might mean for her own children. Meanwhile their son Ronsel (Jason Mitchell) becomes a sergeant in a tank regiment, discovering that in Europe he’s seen as a liberator and a hero, not a second class citizen.
When the war ends, bringing Jamie and Ronsel home, the precarious balance of both family’s lives comes under threat.
On 5th October, New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey published a story detailing decades of sexual harrassment allegations against Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein. This predatory behaviour had been part of the rumour mill for years, but previous attempts to publish anything substantial had fallen foul of Weinstein’s far-reaching influence.
This article went off in Hollywood like a bomb. Within days, Weinstein had been sacked, and more women were coming forward. On 10th October, the New Yorker published a piece by journalist Ronan Farrow accusing Weinstein of many more counts of sexual harassment and assault. High-profile actresses like Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow joined the chorus.
And it didn’t stop there. Emboldened, women – and men – across the entertainment industry spoke about their own experiences of being sexually harassed, assaulted and intimated at work. Their stories implicated Kevin Spacey, Steven Segal, producer Brett Ratner, comedian Louis CK, and many more. They lifted a lid on a toxic culture where powerful men feel entitled to do whatever they want, without fearing consequences.
K (Ryan Gosling) is a Blade Runner, hunting down old-model replicants, synthetic slaves who once mounted an uprising against the human race. In the neon and shadows of futuristic Los Angeles, K lives a lonely life. His only companion is his holographic girlfriend Joi (Ana de Armas), who is programmed to please him.
Then while out on a routine job, K stumbles across a mystery which could disrupt the delicate truce between humans and replicants, leading to all-out war. As he follows the trail of clues, pursued by ruthless replicant-maker Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), K must confront a crisis that goes right to the heart of who he is.
Carol (Lake Bell) is an aspiring voiceover artist who’s grown up in the shadow of her father, Sam Soto (Fred Melamed), an industry icon. Sam belittles her career chances as a woman in the voiceover world, preferring to encourage male protégé Gustav (Ken Marino). She’s also at odds with her father for other reasons, resenting his young girlfriend Jamie (Alexandra Holden), who seems to represent the kind of ‘baby-voiced’ femininity Carol hates.
When Jamie moves in and Carol is kicked out of Sam’s house, she moves in with her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) and brother-in-law Moe (Rob Corddry), who are going through a rough patch in their marriage. Trying to keep things together in her personal life whilst pushing ahead professionally, Carol must find a way to make her voice heard.
Bright, beautiful young Effie Gray (Dakota Fanning) marries renowned art critic John Ruskin (Greg Wise), a man who is significantly older and wealthier than her, and whom she has known since childhood. To Effie, it seems like a fairy tale – but from their wedding night onwards, something is terribly wrong. The newlyweds move in with Ruskin’s overbearing parents, and over the years which follow, her in-laws interference and her husband’s neglect cause Effie to waste away.
A ray of hope comes in the form of Lady Eastlake (Emma Thompson), an acquaintance who offers a sympathetic ear. A trip to Venice sets Effie’s mind whirling as to the other possibilities which life could offer; and a holiday to Scotland with Ruskin’s handsome protégé Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge) could bring scandal or salvation.
The Scoop – A joyous and uplifting addition to the Disney pantheon
Long ago, the trickster god Maui (Dwayne Johnson) stole the Heart of Te Fiti – a stone belonging to an island goddess, which possessed the power to create life. When Maui was attacked by the lava demon Te Ka, the Heart of Te Fiti was lost, bringing down a curse which would eventually spread to all the surrounding islands.
A thousand years later, Chieftain’s daughter Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) is preparing to take on her responsibilities as a leader on the island of Motunui. Her father (Temuera Morrison) has forbidden her to go out on the ocean, but she can’t help but feel drawn there. When Motunui’s resources are threatened by a mysterious darkness, Moana’s grandmother (Rachel House) tells her that she is the chosen one: she must discover the truth about her seafaring ancestors, find Maui, and restore the Heart of Te Fiti.
Love & Friendship is rated U – no material likely to offend or harm.
The Scoop – A razor-shape take on a little-known Austen story
Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) – beautiful, widowed and wickedly witty – arrives to stay with her in-laws amid a cloud of society gossip. While Catherine DeCourcy Vernon (Emma Greenwell), her deceased husband’s sister, regards Susan with suspicion, Catherine’s handsome brother Reginald (Xavier Samuel) is soon smitten, much to the horror of his family.
When Susan’s daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark) runs away from school, she too comes to stay with the DeCourcys – and idiotic suitor Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett) soon follows. With steely resolve, and with her friend Mrs Johnson (Chloe Sevigny) at her side, Susan sets about securing a future for herself and her daughter.