No explainer article can fully capture how truly crazy and demented Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!” is to just watch.

MotherPosterIt’s a creation myth! It’s about how men gaslight women! It’s about climate change! It’s a bizarre human comedy! It’s a crazed mix of Luis Bunuel, Rosemary’s Baby, Black Swan and a dash of La La Land! Whatever mother! is, don’t forget those exclamation points.

I’ve already read way too much about Darren Aronofsky’s mother!, and if you’ve seen the film, you know I’m right. It’s best to go in relatively cold. Because every explainer and analysis that tries to paint it as a divine Biblical allegory isn’t wrong, but it never fully captures how flat out, bat shit crazy this movie is. Continue reading “mother!”


Darren Aronofsky’s Bible adaptation is ambitious but is all over the place.

Randy “The Ram” in “The Wrestler” abused himself in the ring just so that he could feel anything. In the end he brought himself to the brink of his strength. Nina Sayers in “Black Swan” tortured her body to achieve perfection and beauty and ultimately found herself battling her psyche.

Darren Aronofsky’s protagonists are conflicted souls, testing their minds, morals and beliefs in pursuit of something nobler. The biblical story of Noah finds his faith in God pit against mankind, forced to choose between innocence, justice and love.

Or at least that’s Aronofsky’s version. “Noah” is Aronofsky’s ambitious interpretation of the Bible tale, and unlike the surreal grittiness found in his previous films, his mix of fantasy and portent is a paradoxical mess. It’s a movie about beauty in which the colors have been sapped from all traces of the Earth. It’s one of human decency in which mankind is depicted as ravenous, ugly, violent, carnivorous or worse, flavorless. It’s a morality tale in which the hero is less given a moral choice as he is driven to madness. It’s a movie about faith, miracles and spirituality, but ostensibly avoids religion or even the mention of the word “God”.

Continue reading “Noah”

The Fountain

It isn’t easy to make a masterpiece, even if your ambitions are in the right place, you’re a talented director with a knack for visual effects and you’ve seen “2001: A Space Odyssey” hundreds of times. “The Fountain” is an extravagant film about immortality, but sadly, it’s not the sort of film that will be remembered for eternity.

“The Fountain” spans thousands of years from the age of a Spanish conquistador raiding the Mayans to a surgeon in present day to a time beyond time or space where a man with a shaved head levitates around a bubble floating in the cosmos as he cares for a dying tree. The man in all three time periods is played by Hugh Jackman, and in each he is bound by a promise of love to his wife. In the present she’s Izzy (Rachel Weisz), a dying writer. In the past she’s Queen Isabella. In the future she’s the tree. Continue reading “The Fountain”

Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler” had its share of sentimental imperfections that for this critic subsequently made it the best movie of 2008. “Black Swan,” a film so wholly different from “The Wrestler’s” gritty documentary realism compared to this film’s psychological phantasms, is Aronofsky’s companion piece to “The Wrestler,” examining the price of performance, pain and perfection.

Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), the demanding instructor and director of a prestigious ballet company in New York, announces forthright that their company will be doing a new take on Tchaikovsky’s classic “Swan Lake” for the opening of the new season. But for those unfamiliar with the story, it may not be initially clear that Aronofsky and the film’s three screenwriters are doing their own adaptation on the ballet, harnessing its dark and morbid undertones beneath the elegant beauty of the dance.

Aronofsky’s opening scene establishes this tone; with Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), the film’s and the new production’s Swan Queen, he stages an enchanting yet ultimately haunting dance of physical talent by Portman, cinematic finesse by cinematographer Matthew Libatique and special effects wizardry.

Watching such a classy performance initially made me wonder how Aronofsky would do directing a musical, but his style is all in the right place for what becomes an almost psychological horror story. Continue reading “Black Swan”

The Wrestler

“The Wrestler” is the story of Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a washed up wrestler from the 80’s. But it is also the story of a stripper with a heart of gold, Mickey Rourke with his amazing comeback to acting, and all of us, focusing on the pain and suffering we endure to be loved and accepted, and it’s absolutely beautiful.

Mickey Rourke plays Randy, and with the pain he’s had to face until now, this story may as well be autobiographical. With that said, Rourke puts his heart and soul into this performance, creating one of the most identifiable characters of the year. Randy is lonely and defeated, and he knows he deserves to be nothing more, but he is so dedicated to the people he loves including his daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood), Cassidy the stripper (Marisa Tomei) and most importantly his fans as “The Ram.” We can’t help but return his kindness. Continue reading “The Wrestler”