As we reach the final stretch of Lent, we’ve been blessed by two pop-culture occurrences: (1) A compact, nearly nude Jude Law filming The New Pope in a tight little white Speedo and (2) last Friday’s release of Mary Magdalene, starring Rooney Mara as the titular character, and her boyfriend Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus.
To be clear, my enthusiasm is not reserved for the actual movie Mary Magdalene, a “feminist” retelling of Jesus’s most famous female follower’s story. It has a 43 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics have called it “a confused and frequently enervating effort,” “dull as dirt,” and “a holy bore.” But much like the crowd welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, I welcome it into the world, because it gives me occasion to publicly reflect on some of my favorite paparazzi photos of all time: Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix smoking between takes … while in full biblical costume.
The photos are entirely absurd and deeply, satisfyingly uncanny; looking at them is a bit of a religious experience in and of itself. Imagine Mary Magdalene taking a quick break between weeping at Jesus’s feet while he’s being crucified to light one up. Imagine Jesus in The Bible Bum, directed by Harmony Korine. Could these possibly get any better? The answer is yes, duh, imagine if they were ripping Juuls instead.
Now stop imagining and look upon these miracles with your own eyes.