The Book Of Life

( 1 )

Overview

Shot on digital video for a French series celebrating the year 2000, The Book of Life doesn't have the sort of glossy production values going for it that make movie buffs exclaim "Thank God Lawrence of Arabia is finally on DVD!" But writer/director Hal Hartley's ever-growing number of fans will be happy to have this short, witty metaphysical comedy on DVD, and perhaps some newcomers will stumble onto his feature film work through this entertaining, funny, and oddly moving rumination on biblical scripture and ...
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Overview

Shot on digital video for a French series celebrating the year 2000, The Book of Life doesn't have the sort of glossy production values going for it that make movie buffs exclaim "Thank God Lawrence of Arabia is finally on DVD!" But writer/director Hal Hartley's ever-growing number of fans will be happy to have this short, witty metaphysical comedy on DVD, and perhaps some newcomers will stumble onto his feature film work through this entertaining, funny, and oddly moving rumination on biblical scripture and humans' place in the new millennium. The DVD's special features include production credits, filmographies of Hartley and star Martin Donovan, and a digital newsletter.
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Special Features

Scene access; Filmographies; Weblinks
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Jesus Christ wears a suit and tie and hangs around in hotel bars in The Book of Life, an offbeat riff on the Book of Revelations from director Hal Hartley Trust. Martin Donovan plays the New Testament star who arrives in New York City on December 31, 1999 to bring on the Apocalypse and to judge the living and the dead. That the Book of Life itself turns out to be an icon on the desktop of a Mac laptop is just part of the fun here. Singer P.J. Harvey is cast as a distinctly downtown Magdelena i.e. Mary Magdalene and Thomas Jay Ryan Henry Fool is a rather unimposing, low-rent Satan. Although God doesn't make an appearance in The Book of Life, his interests in the situation are ably represented by the firm of Armageddon, Armageddon and Jehosephat. Shot as part of 2000 Seen By... a series of end-of-the-millennium films commissioned for French TV, The Book of Life is stylishly photographed in hand-held digital video, and features a superb soundtrack that includes music from Yo La Tengo and P.J. Harvey herself. The result is a delightfully savvy satire -- trés hip and totally Hartley.
All Movie Guide - Brian J. Dillard
Henry Fool may have reached for a lot more than it could grasp, but independent figurehead Hal Hartley's follow-up doesn't even have high ambitions to excuse its failures. The only American entry in France's "Collection 2000" series of millennium-themed fare, The Book of Life is a glib exercise in kooky obscurantism -- the cinematic equivalent of hearing someone laugh at his own joke. It's hard to say what's more frustrating, the film's deliberately smeary digital-video palette or its maddeningly elliptical storytelling style; the film is literally a chore to watch, both visually and narratively. In her acting debut (not counting her highly theatrical stage shows), protean rocker PJ Harvey glides serenely through her role as Magdalena, the Biblical whore who now serves as Christ's bodyguard. Meanwhile, Henry Fool's Thomas Jay Ryan continues to chew scenery in another larger-than-life role, this time that of Satan himself. Martin Donovan cleverly plays Jesus the same way he has played any number of other passive-aggressive protagonists for Hartley, Don Roos, and other directors. Despite plenty of cleverly written scenes between these principals, however, the film never really adds up to much. Too many digressions and too much pretentious banter will wear out all but the most reverent audiences. The film's chief strength is its brief, one-hour running time. Stunt casting and profane Christian revisionism yielded far more kinetic results with Kevin Smith's subsequent Dogma, while other "Collection 2000" filmmakers, including Laurent Cantet, seemed more inspired by the approaching 21st century.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/7/2000
  • UPC: 720917524825
  • Original Release: 1998
  • Rating:

  • Source: Fox Lorber
  • Region Code: 1
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:03:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Martin Donovan Jesus Christ
PJ Harvey Magdalena
Thomas Jay Ryan Satan
David Simonds Guy in Bar
Miho Nikaido Edie
D.J. Mendel
Katreen Hardt
James Urbaniak
Yo La Tengo Salvation Army Band
William S. Burroughs
Technical Credits
Hal Hartley Director, Screenwriter
Simon Arnal Producer
Caroline Benjo Producer
David Byrne Score Composer
Thierry Cajianut Producer
Pierre Chevalier Producer
Pascal Comelade Score Composer
Jim Denault Cinematographer
Steve Hamilton Editor
PJ Harvey Score Composer
Yo La Tango Score Composer
Matthew Myers Producer
Jeff Pullman Sound/Sound Designer
Carole Scotta Producer
Ben Watt Score Composer
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Scene Index

Scene Access.
0. Scene Access.
0. Menu Group #1 with 8 chapter(s) covering 01:03:10
1. The Hour Of Trial. [:33]
2. One Last Soul. [7:39]
3. The 5th Seal. [9:36]
4. 12/31/1999. [10:36]
5. Magdalena. [3:22]
6. Breaking the Rules. [6:54]
7. A Deal. [9:59]
8. Possibilities. [6:29]
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Menu

Main.
Play the Movie.
Production Credits.
Filmographies.
   Martin Donovan
   Director-Hal Hartley
DVD Newsletter.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    FINALLY A SITE WHO HAS IT!

    This film is great!, and finally i have found a site who has it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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