June 10th, 2008 at 10:04 am
Posted by admin in Book of Life, The

Links for The Book of Life:


February 5th, 2006 at 7:01 pm
Posted by admin in Book of Life, The


DVD cover
DVD Express


DVD back cover
DVD Express


Magdalena & Jesus
High Museum Program


Magdalena & Jesus
Eye


Magdelena & Jesus
Possible Films


Magdelena & Jesus
Possible Films


Soundtrack – Front
Hal Hartley site


Soundtrack – Back
Hal Hartley site


Jesus
Hal Hartley site


Jesus
Possible Films


??? & Jesus
Possible Films


Jesus & Magdelena
Possible Films


Martin & Hal Hartley
Possible Films


Jesus
Possible Films


Jesus
Possible Films


Jesus & ???
Possible Films


Magdelena & Jesus
Possible Films


Magdelena & Jesus
Possible Films


Magdalena & Jesus
NY Film Festival


Magdalena & Jesus
Cinéma
tout écran ’98


Jesus & Magdelena
Possible Films


Jesus
Possible Films

Images were taken from various sources, and are the copyright of their respective owners.


April 30th, 2002 at 3:58 pm
Posted by admin in Book of Life, The

Variety, June 15, 1998
The Book of Life
By Deborah Young

Hal Hartley is the only American director to contribute to France’s Collection 2000 Seen By series, a group of one-hour TV films about the end of the millennium. In “The Book of Life,” he gives a playful, irreverent and quite unorthodox account of the Second Coming of Jesus, who is depicted as a young businessman returning to earth to kick off the Apocalypse. Though pic’s cast and buffoonery partially overlap Hartley’s recent feature film “Henry Fool,” this is a distinctly different story. It is one of the hipper items in the Collection 2000 and should be one of its most popular episodes with liberal-minded TV buyers.

A feeling of doom pervades the jaded population of New York as they get ready to turn the Big Page on the calendar. In a hotel bar, a young gambler (Dave Simonds) and the waitress who secretly loves him (Miho Nikaido) chat with a down-and-out (Thomas Jay Ryan), who is the devil in disguise.

Meanwhile, Jesus (Martin Donovan) makes a smart re-entry at JFK airport with his sexy assistant Magdalena (PJ Harvey). He has been sent by his wrathful Father to break the seven seals on the Book of Life and bring about the end of the world. But he has second thoughts.

It’s a fairly witty conceit, as Hartley sets up his premise and has Jesus pick up the fateful Book — now conveniently on computer disk — in a bowling alley locker room. Donovan and singer Harvey hit the right note of straight-faced, tongue-in-cheek farce. The parallel action in the bar, with its pseudo-philosophizing and poor man’s Faustian pact, is far less fascinating than their mission, but in the end the two segments dovetail as all the characters come together in a hotel room.

Lacking a neat conclusion to his story, Hartley finds himself with nowhere to take the strong setup, and film wraps a bit lamely.

Many faces in the cast are familiar from Hartley’s other films but are amusingly distinctive here in their updated morality play roles. Lensed in digital video by cinematographer Jim Denault and blown up to 35mm, pic has an eye-catching techno look that goes curiously well with its omnipotent hero. Not only the music but abstract sounds are imaginatively used to give events a familiar yet otherworldly feel.


April 30th, 2002 at 3:58 pm
Posted by admin in Book of Life, The

The Times, August 25, 1998
A Bit of Grit for the Eye (excerpt)
By Geoff Brown

In “The Book of Life,” another American attraction, most of the actors wear deadpan faces or irritated scowls. There is a reason for this: the director is Hal Hartley, and he sculpts his performances in his trademark way for this hour-long contribution to a French TV series featuring the millennial musings of leading directors. But visually he has broken out with a vengeance: shooting on video, he keeps blurring the images, creating a kind of kinetic painting usually associated with the cult Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wei. Aspects of the subject matter are also unusual: you don’t expect Hartley to show Jesus Christ snaking through Manhattan in a business suit on December 31, 1999, the fate of the world in his laptop computer. Hartley regular Martin Donovan assumes that role; Satan, grousing in bars, is Thomas Jay Ryan. The talk, at least, follows the usual pattern of philosophical jousting: good fun for Hartley fans, slimmer pickings for anyone else.


April 30th, 2002 at 3:57 pm
Posted by admin in Book of Life, The

The Scotsman, August 22, 1998
Jesus’ Sidekick is P.J. Harvey. Satan is a New York Bum. The King James Version it Ain’t.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 4)

Millennium fever brings Jesus to JFK in a business suit.

This is the Second Coming, Hal Hartley style, the acclaimed indie director’s playful and highly inventive contribution to France’s Collection 2000, television films about the end of the millennium. Jesus, in Hartley’s world, is accompanied by P J Harvey as Magdelena, all plush lips atop a stick-thin body.

Satan, meanwhile, is propping up the New York bars, posing as a down and out, waiting for Jesus for the apocalyptic showdown on 31 December, 1999. The Book of Life has been downloaded on to a computer and an angry God wants his son to break the seven seals and end the world. But Jesus, played by Hartley’s veteran stalwart Martin Donovan, ain’t so sure, and the Devil — Thomas Jay Ryan, excellent as the constantly irritated fallen angel — just wants to get the whole thing over with as he is bored with humanity.

It’s a celestial High Noon in New York filmed in blurry digital video and the glaring colours of a feverish world.

Irreverent but not mocking and occasionally inspired, Hartley’s hour is a short delight.


April 30th, 2002 at 3:56 pm
Posted by admin in Book of Life, The

The Guardian (London), August 27, 1997
By Jonathan Romney

As prophesied by Hal Hartley, the Apocalypse will come when Jesus flies into JFK in search of The Book holding the names of the redeemed. The book is an Apple Mac Powerbook, of course, and it only takes a double-click to unfasten the seals that will summon plague, pestilence and the rising of the dead souls. But first, the Messiah must engage in negotiations with uptown lawyers, a breed especially beloved of the Almighty.

“The Book of Life,” an hour-long vignette, is Hartley all over. Jesus is played by the director’s craggy-faced, impassive regular Martin Donovan as a charismatic, careworn executive in a business suit. His brisk, glamorous personal assistant, Mary Magdalene, is played to rather wooden effect by avant-rock queen PJ Harvey. Satan is in town too, a shambling lounge-lizard. Played by Thomas Jay Ryan, with an appealingly shaggy Tom Waits edge, it’s Satan who provides the film’s pithiest moments. But isn’t that always the way?

“The Book of Life” is a new departure for Hartley only in terms of the visuals. Shot with High-Definition TV equipment, the image constantly shakes, shivers and blurs. But the film relies too heavily on this visual frenzy for its energy: it suffers from Hartley’s usual complaints, a stiltedness in the dialogue and acting, and a chronic fixation with surface glamour.

The trouble is, there’s nothing very new about the film’s satirical passion play. Jesus and Satan engage in philosophical disputations like a couple of boardroom litigants. They used to work for the same boss, Jesus points out. “I quit,” retorts Satan. “You were fired,” Jesus corrects him.

The metaphysical crux of the story revolves around the fate of the one Good Soul in New York, a Japanese waitress (Miho Nikaido), who wins a million on the lottery and decides to spend it all dispensing soup — which makes for one of the film’s better running gags. But the more flip the film becomes, the more you feel that Hartley imagines it to be a terribly trenchant jeu d’esprit rather than the souped-up sketch that it is.

The mix of dry theological dialogues and disjointed slapstick suggests warmed-over Dostoevsky given a Godard polish. So this is how the world ends, neither with a bang nor a whimper but an arched eyebrow.