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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

'Da Vinci Code' Radiation Smothers NYC Area; PR Zombies Walk the Earth

Just when I thought I was going to be able to bypass the entire Da Vinci Code craze on account of its essential non-New Yorkiness, a deluge of related news and notes flooded my beleaguered inbox over the last 24 hours. It would be bad enough that The Times gave Tom Hanks the run of its Web site for a tribute to his retiring makeup man, but these latest heads-up raise the bar on ancillary excess–and put our fair city in the position of swatting mosquitoes before summer has even started.
The trouble began early Wednesday, when something called Chosen People Ministries fired off a press release evidently intended to be printed out and affixed to your computer monitor like a big, cross-shaped Post-It Note:

Message to Da Vinci Code Author, Film Makers & Fans: Don’t Forget Jesus Was Jewish!

NEW YORK, April 26 — The Da Vinci Code has caused an uproar in many Christian circles, since it claims that the traditional Church has suppressed the real story of Jesus. The best-selling book and movie also assert the New Testament documents in the Bible are unreliable. There have been numerous, substantial responses from Catholic and Protestant circles, but none from Messianic Jews (Jews who follow Jesus as Messiah) which is striking, considering that Jesus and his first followers were all Jews.

“Messianic Jews bring a unique perspective to The Da Vinci Code debate, yet their voice is being completely overlooked,” says Dr. Michael L. Brown, a biblical scholar and the author of the multi-volume series, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus. …

Many believe the time has come for Jewish people and especially Messianic Jews to also reclaim Jesus as one of the greatest Jewish leaders.

“If there is a conspiracy, it is that somehow Jesus has been separated from his roots and is viewed apart from his Jewishness,” said (CPM president Dr. Mitch) Glaser. “This is something Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code author [sic], completely missed in his book and the movie will not do anything differently.”

So there is your message of conscience for the day: Give Jesus his props as a Jew, and buy Michael Brown’s multi-volume series. Also attempting to enlighten your spiritual and beach-reading agenda are director Jonathan Stack and author Dan Burstein, whose documentary collaboration Secrets of the Code had a preview last night at the Tribeca Film Festival. While I will abstain from commenting on what I have not seen, you have to appreciate the pair’s highbrow-lowbrow marketing savvy:

From glimpses of the sacred feminine in a prehistoric cave in France, to musical mysteries hidden in a chapel in Scotland, and from a Templar tomb in London to the catacombs of Rome, the film takes the viewer on an intimate journey along the paths traveled by The Da Vinci Code novel. …

“(T)he overarching issue,” (Burstein said), “the one that ties all the other fascinations together, is the one that novelist Dan Brown alludes to throughout The Da Vinci Code in the persona of his fictional character, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon: the human desire to understand man/woman’s place in the universe and to create stories that become the basis for powerful myths, religions, and belief systems that seek to provide answers. Jonathan Stack’s interpretation of these issues turns Secrets of the Code into a film that is its own independent, entertaining, and thought-provoking meditation on the themes of The Da Vinci Code.”

But for today’s most ambitous-if-not-overbearing Da Vinci Code offshoot, drop in on Rahway, N.J., resident Martin Goldberg’s Leonardo’s Code 57. The Web site does amazing work pairing fill-in-the-blanks philosophy with all the poetic grace a place like Rahway will allow; a quick glimpse at Goldberg’s home page will have Ron Howard scrambling to add a $50,000 “Goldberg epigram” line to The Da Vinci Code‘s post-production budget:

Now it’s time to take a look,

at a very popular book,

portending that The Holy Grail

is actually a divinely inspired girl. …

Pray tell, Leonardo, what hath thou in mind?

In the mirror shall we look?

Are you a genius or a kook?

Simple this just cannot be

reflecting on life’s mystery.

Yeah, well, it seems simple enough. Tomorrow, noted theological experts will debate the implications of the “live black crucifix” going down in Los Angeles. Operative phrase (I am not making this up): “I’m impressed that many people seemed not to be shocked at the sight of a black Jesus!”
Will the next person who comes across Dan Brown slap him, please? For me?

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2 Responses to “'Da Vinci Code' Radiation Smothers NYC Area; PR Zombies Walk the Earth”

  1. Jason Okamoto says:

    So Dan Brown is rich for making shit up. BIG FUCKING DEAL!. There is a line in “Barton Fink” when a drunk Faulkner type cahrater gives advice to a writer, something like: “Son, some men write from a deep dark place. But me. I just make shit up” DV Code is a good STORY.
    – Jason O.

  2. Up here in Edmonton, the DVC is playing all over town, including at five of sixteen theatres at one Cineplex Odean complex. I haven’t read the book, and have no interest in seeing the movie. I have nothing against Dan Brown, but enough already with the hype. Anyone remember The Celestine Prophecy?

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon