‘Leviathan’, I Love You
by James Franco
On a Tuesday night, the Music Hall theater in Beverly Hills was seemingly empty. I arrived an hour early for the 10 PM screening of Leviathan. I walked in thinking it was a poetic documentary about the lives of deep-sea fishermen.
Before the movie I sat in the lobby and read Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter. At some point, a huge crowd of Israeli women filed in and overpowered the Daft Punk emanating from my headphones. Must have been a special screening. It was then I noticed a poster for the LA Jewish Film Festival depicting a bunch of directors’ chairs arranged like the Star of David. Underneath it read a different kind of star.
My companion arrived at ten. We entered the all-but-empty theater and sat in the back because I always sit in the back. The film started with an appropriately weighty epigraph from the Book of Job, something about the “hoary deep.” I was already sold.
I’m the biggest Moby Dick fan ever, and here was a movie that relies on biblical-level pretensions while capturing the fishing life with an unblinking gaze. It’s modern-day Melville, at least the nonnarrative chapters that relate the whaling life through nonfictional accounts and facts.