Archive for the ‘Darren Aronofksy’ Category

The Creator’s Wrath

Noah

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Director: Darren Aronofsky

Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Douglas Booth, Nick Nolte

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Oscar winners Russell Crowe (Gladiator) and Jennifer Connelly team up again after their successful onscreen pairing in Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind, in Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky’s allegorical tale Noah, which has less to do with the bible story and more to do with humanity propensity for destroying the planet.

This visually packed tale of Noah, the ark and the great flood which ensues is inventive, patriarchal and slightly disappointing considering Aronofsky’s reputation for turning out shocking, if not provocative films like Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler and his most successful film yet Black Swan, which earned Natalie Portman a Best Actress Oscar in 2011.

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Russell Crowe looks increasingly perplexed throughout the film of Noah, almost if he knew this cinematic tale might turn out controversially. The script is stilted and not thrashed out properly and even though the film is in 3D, many of the characters are one dimensional. Which is a pity considering that Aronofsky smaller films do focus on flawed characters trying to grapple with their own success or failure.

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British actor Ray Winstone as Tubal-cain and Logan Lerman as Noah’s son Ham stand out in the acting stakes in this version of Noah, while Crowe, Connelly and even Emma Watson come across as pathetic individuals caught up in an event greater than their own destinies, even though their destinies are tied in with the flood which devastated a ravaged earth, thanks to the descendants of Cain, who have wrecked havoc on the planet’s natural resource.

The whole dynamic of the creation narrative rests on  conflict. Adam and Eve enter the Garden of Eden and are confronted by temptation in the form of a serpent. Their children Cain and Abel battle jealousy and envy with Cain killing Abel, leaving a third brother Seth, of which Noah is descended to recover the familial equilibrium. Then the Creators Wrath returns and after a prophesy from Noah’s Grandfather, a wizened Anthony Hopkins that he should build an ark to survive the impending flood, Noah sets his three sons on a mission to complete a gigantic arc to save themselves and a handful of creatures so that a new population can inhabit a cleansed earth. The irony is that Director Aronofsky should not convince big budget Hollywood to give him free reign on an essentially biblical story.

Purists would not be pleased at the cinematic result which is Noah, not to mention that the narrative does not withstand the special effects and somewhere in between the flood, the entire plot is lost. Noah is an overlong allegorical and patriarchal tale with a hint of biblical connotation but is no cinematic masterpiece. Director Aronofsky should return to making small budget shocking films like the psycho sexual ballet thriller, Black Swan. Even Oscar nominated cinematography Matthew Libatique’s trademark sheen is lost on the 3D version of Noah.

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If Noah had been less about visual effects and more about a conceivable plot, then the film would have been vaguely interesting. Even Emma Watson’s (The Bling Ring) turn as Ila, Noah’s eldest son’s girlfriend and mother-to-be is not nearly as captivating. Where is all the sex, debauchery and shock value normally associated with Aronofsky films?  Noah is fascinating, but not fantastic cinema and would be better if left in 2D with a more fleshed out, stimulating narrative. Noah also stars Douglas Booth and unrecognizable Nick Nolte.

2008 Venice Film Festival

2008 Venice International Film Festival Winners

Venice International Film Festival, known as the Biennale di Venezia takes place annually
in late August, early September and is known as the oldest Film Festival in the World.

Winners of the 2008 Venice International Film Festival are as follows: –

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The Golden Lion (Best Film): – The Wrestler directed by Darren Aronofsky

The Silver Lion (Best Director): Aleksei German Jr. for Paper Soldier

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Best Actor: Silvio Orlando – Giovanna’s Father

Best Actress: Dominique Blanc – L’Autre

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venice_International_Film_Festival

 

The Fall of the Swan Queen

Black Swan


Director: Darren Aronofsky

Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder, Sebastian Stan, Patrick Heusinger

Darren Aronofsky’s masterpiece is a taut psychological thriller about a prima ballerina who delves into her dark side, so she can perform the complex role of the Swan Queen in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.  Natalie Portman gives a stunning and frenzied performance as Nina Sayers. As well as the physical demands of playing the lead Ballerina in Swan Lake, Nina is trapped in a claustrophobic and co-dependent relationship with her mother, a wonderfully obsessive performance by Barbara Hershey (Portrait of a Lady).

Whilst rehearsing for the final act, the ballet master a seductive and sadistic Thomas played with relish by Vincent Cassel, taunts Nina and reproaches her continually for not bringing out her dark qualities to dance the antithesis of the White Swan, the Black Swan. The fact that Nina is prone to episodes of self-mutilation smothered by her overbearing mother and is generally an exceptional sexually frustrated and fragile young woman who uses dancing to quench her repressive state, makes Black Swan a highly intoxicating psycho sexual thriller set in the bitchy and uncompromising world of ballet.

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Aronofsky always has his central characters stripped away to the vicious core, from The Wrestler, where in a break-out performance by Mickey Rourke as a washed up Trailer Park, drug-addicted wrestler angling for a comeback to heroin addicts played by Jennifer Connelly and Jared Leto in Coney Island, who resort to extreme methods for their drugs, as detailed in the inventive and shockingly brutal Requiem for a Dream.

Black Swan is no exception, as Portman gives a ground breaking performance of a Ballerina rapidly losing her grip on reality, delving deeper into her own troubled and shattered psychosis to satisfy the dreams of an obsessed mother who compromised her own stage success.

Black Swan is about the rigours of Ballet training along with the mental deterioration of a young woman driven beyond the edge of sanity, surrounded by a gallery of heinous characters from an overbearing mother, a cruel ballet instructor and a tempting rival, Lily played with an unforgiving relish by Milas Kunis slyly plotting to derail Nina’s debut as the Swan Queen.

This is a classic psychological thriller, from the drab and daunting world of the dance studios, filled with giant mirrors reflecting Nina’s inner torment to the dingy apartment shared with her mother, an entire film bathed in black and white with only the occasional gashes of blood to break the diametric colour palette. Watch out for a great cameo performance by Winona Ryder as the broken ballerina Beth who declines as savagely as Nina’s star rises dramatically. Black Swan is a debut etched in blood and director Aronofsky, like in The Wrestler and Requiem for Dream shows this grueling Ballet world in its entire stripped down depravity, with obsessive dancers driven and searching for a depreciating gratification. A far cry from the graceful triumph associated with Ballet exemplified in such films as The Company and Mao’s Last Dancer.

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