ARCHIVE REVIEW: The Fountain

The Fountain
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Darren Aronofsky (screenplay), Darren Aronofsky & Ari Handel (story)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, and Sean Patrick Thomas

There are many movies that are so beautifully filmed that you could take almost any still-frame from it and hang it in your house.  Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain is one of these movies.  In fact, it may have been better off as individual frames in an art gallery instead of a movie.

This is a film where the filmmaking technique is serving a story that is almost as ambitious but not nearly as realized.  It follows Tommy (Hugh Jackman) a doctor who is trying to cure his terminally ill wife Izzi (Rachel Weisz).  That is the barebones of a story that dips back to ancient Spanish culture as well as travels hundreds of years into the future.  You’ll come to learn that Izzi wrote a book about Spanish conquistadors and the Tree of Life, and when Tommy starts reading it he envisions himself as one who is pursuing the Tree so that he can live forever with the queen (also played by Weisz).

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BEST PICTURE NOMINEE: Black Swan

Black Swan
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Mark Heyman, Andres Heintz, & John J. McLaughlin
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, and Barbara Hershey

Perfection: chased to the elegant stage by way of the not-so-elegant back rooms.  That is the goal viewers watch Nina (Natalie Portman) hurt, bleed, and dance, dance, dance toward  in Darren Aronofsky’s hallucinatory Black Swan.

Aronofsky, fast becoming one of American cinema’s brightest renegades and fiercest visionaries, has never been shy about making you feel his characters’ pain.  By removing all distance between you and them by rapid cutting and frantic pacing, you feel a kinetic connection to their turmoil.

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Our (Belated) List of Favorite Movie Directors

1. Martin Scorsese- It may seem unimaginable that nearly three years ago director Martin Scorsese had yet to hold an Academy Award in his hands, but it is the disappointing truth. The once would-be Catholic priest entered the film making world with hits like Boxcar Bertha and Mean Streets which put him at the forefront of New Hollywood with his violent, audience-specific films. Though Francis Ford Coppola felt he was unfit to helm The Godfather: Part III, Scorsese quickly overshadowed Coppola to become an icon of his own, creating films filled with themes related to violence, machismo, Italian-American identity, immigration, Catholicism and New York City. Five decades of classics like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and The Departed, Scorsese set a style of quick editing, rock and roll soundtrack and frequent collaboration with actors and editors who claim Scorsese to be a living encyclopedia of film history. The film that did it for us: Though he’s created modern epics including a personal favorite, Gangs of New York, Scorsese’s talents are most apparent in Taxi Driver, a film with some of the most carefully constructed technical detail and powerful themes of isolation, violence, sex and how they are related and lead to destruction.

2. Stanley Kubrick– One of the unprecedented visual artists in all of cinema, it’s hard to not love movies when Stanley Kubrick makes them.  His gift for telling a compelling story is aided by those infamous distant shots, able to encompass the idiocy in The War Room (Dr. Strangelove) or gravity-defying in the great beyond (2001: A Space Odyssey).  He never told the same story twice, but each film carries with it his distinct visual flair,  helping him to create some of the most fully realized worlds the movies have ever seen.  Kubrick is one of the biggest influences on American cinema not only because of his artistic genius, though.  His ruthless dedication to his vision of the material led to feuds with his actors and the writers of the source material (both on The Shining.)  Perfectionism is costly, but with it he created many things that are, in fact, perfect.  The film that did it for us: There’s never been a more beautifully filmed comedy than Dr. Strangelove, and there are few as horrific.

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REVIEW: Black Swan

Black Swan
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Mark Heyman, Andres Heintz, & John J. McLaughlin
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, and Barbara Hershey

Perfection: chased to the elegant stage by way of the not-so-elegant back rooms.  That is the goal viewers watch Nina (Natalie Portman) hurt, bleed, and dance, dance, dance toward  in Darren Aronofsky’s hallucinatory Black Swan.

Aronofsky, fast becoming cinema’s brightest renegade and fiercest visionary, has never been shy about making you feel his characters’ pain.  By removing all distance between you and them by rapid cutting and frantic pacing, you feel a kinetic connection to their turmoil.

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TRAILER REVIEW: Black Swan

Never enough can be said about one of the most important, yet unrecognized directors of the past decade whose triumphant films include Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain and most recently, The Wrestler. Two of the films are highly ranked in IMDB’s top 250 films of all time and find themselves frequently on best of the decade list, for innovative editing, large as life performances and storytelling that rips the pages of storytelling our with your heart and explores the deepest and darkest parts of humanity. Yet for some reason, Darren Aronofsky remains quite underrated and quite under appreciated for his contributions to modern cinema. Black Swan stretches to change that all. Continue reading

If they were in television… Darren Aronofsky

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Notable Films: Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, Pi, and The Fountain.

Famous for: Unbearable honesty, emotionally destroyed and hopeless people, gritty surrealism, and intentionally ambiguous endings.

Hypothetical Premise: A cocaine-addicted woman is divorced by her extremely wealthy tycoon husband.  Since there was a pre-nup and she came from a poor and abusive family, she has nothing.  Over the course of the season, she goes from having everything to being a lonely, drug-ridden bum on the streets of Seattle.  Her husband makes sure she never gets a job or has any way to lift herself out of the disparity she’s in.  Then she meets a bouncer at a club, falls in love with him, but he can’t allow himself to love a crack addict.  If there is a second season, she would descend into madness and half of the series would appear to take place in the middle ages.

Cross Between: Requiem for a Dream, Breaking Bad, and The Wrestler.

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