Exclusive: The Shack co-star Aviv Alush on being the first Israeli actor to play Jesus in an English-language movie

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The Shack had one of the biggest first weekends in the history of “faith-based” films. It is also making history in one other important way: it just may be the first English-language movie to feature an Israeli actor as Jesus Christ.

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Does the chariot race sequence in Ben-Hur need dialogue?

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There are many problems with Timur Bekmambetov’s remake of Ben-Hur, but one of the more emblematic ones, I think, is the way he insists on adding dialogue to the chariot race. Bekmambetov can’t rely on the thrill of movement alone: instead, he has to pump the soundtrack full of exposition and dull action-movie banter.

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Ben-Hur: some quick notes on the Blu-Ray bonus features

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Ben-Hur is out on DVD and Blu-Ray today. My take on the film hasn’t changed much since I wrote my review — if anything, I was even more struck by the casually anachronistic dialogue this time (“Wow,” “Oh my God,” “opinion-makers,” etc.) — but I did want to jot down a few quick notes about the Blu-Ray’s bonus features.

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The Nativity Story marks its 10th anniversary today

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Today marks the tenth anniversary of the theatrical release of The Nativity Story — the first attempt by a big-ish Hollywood studio to replicate the box-office success that Mel Gibson had found two years earlier with The Passion of the Christ.

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Prophet Joseph — episodes forty-three to forty-five

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Synopsis. The sons of Jacob prepare to go to Egypt. Jacob dictates a letter to the Egyptian governor, who unbeknownst to him is his son Joseph. Meanwhile, in Egypt, Akhenaten visits Joseph’s house and decrees that Zuleikha must marry Joseph. Joseph speaks to a crowd — many of whom have become technically enslaved to the Pharaoh in exchange for wheat — and declares that everyone in Egypt is free now, except for those who owned slaves and exploited the poor before the famine. Joseph’s brothers arrive and ask him to let Benjamin go back to Canaan. Joseph produces the bill of sale that they signed when they sold him into slavery, and reads it aloud.

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Prophet Joseph — episodes forty-one and forty-two

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Synopsis. Joseph and Asenath pay a visit to Zuleikha and find that she is still deep in prayer. Asenath says she isn’t jealous that Joseph will be getting a second wife soon, but she says she does covet Zuleikha’s spiritual growth. Meanwhile, Joseph’s brothers split up into groups of two or three and enter Thebes by different gates, to avoid being detected — but they are spotted anyway and taken back to the palace. Joseph reveals his identity to Benjamin but tells him to keep it a secret. Joseph tells Asenath he has to find a way to keep Benjamin in Egypt so that their father, Jacob, can give up his sons and get them back the same way Abraham almost sacrificed one of his sons, only to get him back. The brothers leave Thebes and begin to make their way back to Canaan, but Joseph’s soldiers ride out and accuse the brothers of stealing a golden chalice.

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