The saga of Abel Ferrara's MARY, still not released in North America...
Film Comment, Nov/Dec 2004
Vincent Gallo Superstar. Yes, he of The Brown Bunny will partake in a film delving into the psyche of our Lord Jesus Christ, and yes, Abel Ferrara, our baddest cinematic lieutenant, will direct. Gallo will play two roles in Mary, one as the director of a controversial (you don't say?) film depicting the life of Christ - and the other, we assume, will give him yet another cross to bear. Sarah Polley will play the titular virgin."
Hollywood Reporter, August 2005
Modine will also be in Toronto to tout "Mary," in which he plays an independent director casting himself as Jesus Christ in his film. Abel Ferrara directs the drama that includes Juliette Binoche as an actress playing Mary Magdalene. The drama will first bow in Venice before having its North American premiere in Toronto.
Venice Festival, Summer 2005
"U.S. director Abel Ferrara won the Jury Grand Prix for "Mary," starring Juliette Binoche as an actress haunted by the figure of Mary Magdalene after having played her on screen."
But here's the reaction from Variety when MARY screens at the 2005 Toronto Fest
"Maverick helmer Abel Ferrara's Catholic angstfest "Mary" met with considerable disbelief after its first Venice screening, but the Ferrara faithful will recognize a partial return to form after several disappointments. Not quite a standout like "Bad Lieutenant," but hardly a dud like "New Rose Hotel," "Mary" reps a sincere grapple with faith and redemption in cynical times. Tricky construction, nesting a film within the film, hits plenty of duff notes. But passionate turns from Forest Whitaker and Juliette Binoche could be the touch of grace needed to get pic a distribution blessing after ancillary-only releases for the last few Ferrara pics.
Cocky American film director Tony Childress (Matthew Modine, amusingly channeling Ferrara's persona) finishes helming a revisionist biblical drama shot in Italy called "This Is My Blood," that stars him as Jesus and major Euro star Marie Palesi (Binoche) as Mary Magdalene. Portions show Mary not as a prostitute but rather a full fledged disciple locked in a power struggle with fellow-disciple Peter, and feature an intense perf by Binoche/Marie.
Having gone deep into the role, Marie has had some kind of spiritual epiphany. When it's time to strike the set, she refuses to go home and sets out for Jerusalem.
A year later in Gotham, Ted Younger (Whitaker) hosts a slightly implausible weeklong, primetime nightly network TV special examining the historical truth about Jesus. Various experts (played by real-life scholars such as Jean-Yves Leloup, Amos Luzzatto and Elaine Pagels) and clergy discuss alternative gospels or issues in theology on the show.
Younger goes to see a press screening of "This Is My Blood" introduced by Childress. Younger asks Childress to appear on his show to discuss the film, which looks set to reap similar controversy to Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." Younger would also like to book Marie on the show, but Childress claims not to know where to find her. . . ."
Summer '06, word of a potential US distributor, and PTC comments
"Jeffrey Wells says the eventual DVD release should include Rafi Pitts's Not Guilty (2003), a documentary about Ferrara, as a bonus feature. Personally, I think it would be even more appropriate to package the film with Alex Grazioli's Odyssey in Rome (2005), which chronicles the making of Mary."
Paste mag is dismissive...
Over-the-top Biblical mess intrigues as only Abel Ferrara can
Louder and more chaotic than its material seems to warrant, Abel Ferrara’s Mary seems like the condensed version of a much larger movie. It includes scenes from a religious epic, TV interviews, street fights, limo rides, infidelity, hypocrisy, apostasy and conversion, but at a mere 83 minutes it’s over before it really begins.
Forest Whitaker plays a TV host examining the historical Jesus on a nightly broadcast, and Matthew Modine is the director and star of an unconventional Biblical film. Modine agrees to appear on Whitaker’s show, boosting both their careers, but one person they can’t yoke to their PR efforts is Juliette Binoche who plays Mary Magdalene in Modine’s movie. She’s been so transformed by the experience that at the shoot’s end she drops everything and heads to Jerusalem.
Very little of this mess works in any conventional sense, but as the performances begin to redline — as Whitaker bottoms out and begs God to save his child and Binoche takes to the water like a fisher of men — the movie examines the relationship between performance and contrition. All the characters are actors; some are trying to open a channel to God while others are putting on a show intended to earn some grace. It’s a fitting topic for Ferrara, whose movies frequently embrace the same contradictions. They’re all here in Mary — the excess, the guilt and the search for truth. Intriguingly jumbled with some assembly required.
And now Matt Page tells us there's a European DVD available through Amazon (in France).
But still no sign of MARY round about these here parts...