“You Give, And You Give, And You Give. It’s Just Never Enough…”
Encapsulating in human form the very definition of divisive, Darren Aronofsky for me is the idealistic, brave and shit-hot filmmaker needed within the midst of summer blockbusters and endless unwarranted sequels in the current climate of cinema, and whilst many understandably lift their nose at the thought of anything with the Brooklyn born movie-maker’s recognisable touch, there is an unparalleled level of talent within a man who in my eyes rarely puts a foot wrong. Whether it be the depraved, nihilistic portrayal of addiction within Requiem for a Dream, the depiction of regret and sorrow within The Wrestler, or indeed the Argento inspired ripeness of Black Swan, Aronofsky holds no standards for a crowd-pleasing cop-outs and that alone has resulted in widespread appeal for his movies, particularly mother!, Aronofsky’s latest feature which for all its’ lack of publicity and reportedly inflammatory subject matter still manages to secure a wide release across the UK. Challenging, subversive, oppressive and surreal, Aronofsky’s latest transcends the realm of cinema itself and leaves you in a state of prolonged shock as soon as the final credits roll, and whilst many are guaranteed to loathe the sadistic and ripe arty nature of the film’s final product, mother! is an experience of an ilk similar to the likes of Funny Games and Kill List by being a film so terribly haunting and tough, the execution of such simply has to be rapturously applauded.
Set wholly within the confines of the winding home of Jennifer Lawrence’s “mother” and Javier Bardem’s writer’s block ridden “him”, Aronofsky’s narrative twists between home invasion horror, jet-black comedy, Lynch-style surrealism and a Dogville-style societal commentary, and whilst the underlying story is undoubtedly based upon writings drawn from Christianity and the sacred texts within the Bible, the twisted nature of Aronofsky’s storytelling offers much more than just one simple way to manoeuver through the ambiguity and the three-act structure, with each act after the next increasing in tension and shock value as the movie progresses through to its’ ultimate conclusion. With the camera solely fixed on the subjective view of Lawrence, with all but a few minor shots either directly focusing on her face or over her shoulder, the Oscar winning actresses performance is absolutely mesmerising, conveying a rafter of facial expressions and emotions as the narrative forces her to compliment the downward spiral of horror which transcends upon the screen and a performance which evoked the spirit of Nicole Kidman in Lars Von Trier’s Dogville and Mia Farrow’s iconic role in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, a movie of which directly influences mother! in it’s rollercoaster ride of a final act, one which comes extremely close to dive bombing the movie altogether in its’ sheer jaw-dropping extravagance.
With Bardem on usual form as the somewhat ciphered, unknown quantity, and both Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer reminding everyone of their raw and unquestionable talent, Aronofsky throws the remainder of his cast around and around in order to suit his narrative endgame, with jarring inclusions from the likes of Domhnall Gleeson and Kristen Wiig seeming so surreal it almost cripples the way in which you as a viewer should be embracing the movie, particularly in regard to its’ ever-wandering tone. If you head to in to a screening of mother! wanting a jump-scare ridden horror, you are bound to leave extremely disappointed, and whilst there is undoubtedly elements of genre-literate exploitation aplenty, with the film evoking everything from the likes of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me in terms of its’ hateful depiction of the human existence to the social commentary extremity evident within Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust, Aronofsky’s latest is not a film to be enjoyed, instead it is the type of movie you digest, mull over and decide to what to make of it after three glasses of whisky and a trip to a puppy farm to combat the oppressive shock your mind is layered in after exiting the auditorium. mother! gave me nightmares, and not many films manage to bury that deep within the confines of my psyche but it goes to show how much of an astonishing, messed-up cinematic achievement Aronofsky has managed to create in a cinematic environment when risks are so rarely eaten up.
Overall Score: 9/10
“Find Jack Sparrow For Me And Relay A Message From Captain Salazar. Tell Him: Death Will Come Straight For Him…”
Praise be and grab your rum of choice, it is indeed that time once again. After believing that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise had sailed its’ last sail with On Stranger Tides, a third sequel to Curse of the Black Pearl, Disney’s flagship theme park based series swiftly returns this week with Salazar’s Revenge or perhaps, Dead Men Tell No Tales, depending on where exactly you will be spending your hard earned cash in order to witness the newest CGI orgy of famous actors dressing up like second year university students hitting the town and pretending to act serious when shouting “arghhh” and battling invisible, digitally created cannon fodder, all of whom are eager for disposal by death. Holding my frightfully cynical tone for a moment, the release of Salazar’s Revenge might controversially be the film which reinvents my opinion of the gargantuan series, and even with expectations as low as the depths of the pacific ocean, the addition of Norwegian directorial pair Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg alongside the ever reliable presence of Javier Bardem is a cause for cautious optimism, particular with the latter’s ability to carry off a damn fine villain when necessary. Inevitably, Salazar’s Revenge instead is yet just another CGI-fuelled bore-fest, one which trades set pieces for narrative and acting ability for budget costs within a skin peeling two hours which confirms the series has indeed sunk to the depths of mediocrity without any sign of resuscitation aboard.
Whilst the film centrally is based around the retrieval of a mysterious object which breaks every and any curse laced upon the many characters within the Pirates universe, Salazar’s Revenge also has to try and squeeze in the titular character’s quest for violent justice, with Javier Bardem’s CGI-masked villain setting his sights on the figure of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, a Captain Jack Sparrow who has seemingly worsened in every subsequent movie, resulting in a performance which has increasingly become a caricature of itself in an almost cringe-like fashion. With a script which is laced with cheesy and ear-grating dialogue, Depp has finally managed to confirm that his time in the spotlight as the world’s worst pirate must finally come to some sort of a dignified end, and whilst the inclusion of Orlando Bloom and a completely silent Keira Knightley could leave some fans jumping for joy, the return of their respective characters adds absolutely nothing to the overall enjoyment of the movie. Alongside some terrible sound editing and a complete lack of threat, Salazar’s Revenge is unsurprisingly a meaningless, dull affair, one which continues the woeful track record of blockbusters this year and a film which rivals David Beckham for worst cameo of the year so far. I mean, Paul McCartney, what are you thinking?
Overall Score: 3/10
Ever since the release of the teaser trailer, I was hooked. Checking back at IMDB on a regular basis to see any information about a release date, turns out you guys in America received it before us in the UK, I was only mildly peeved but then I remembered that we got Iron Man 3 and Thor so…yeah. HA!…
Anyway, after all the hype, I noticed a low score for it on IMDB and fairly mixed reviews. Trying to keep positive, we hurried to the release, only to come out wondering what on earth just happened. (Update – I just watched Prometheus and I’m just as confused). From what I can fathom, The Counsellor is about a partnership between “Counsellor” (Fassbender) and Reiner (Javier Bardem) who have expanded Reiner’s already booming drug business. Something goes wrong and their cartel connections decide to go around killing them. In terms of realism, the outcome is no where near what would typically happen. Portraying everyone as philosophical, highly educated players doesn’t really aid the movie in any form. If you do any research into these topics, the majority of the players have crawled from the bottom and lacked a lot of support and wouldn’t experience such literature.
So, the film’s story didn’t make sense and the cinematography reflects this. It shows a higher interest in the way the movie looks rather than flows. You jump from America to Europe, with not so much as a warning. Time apparently passed rather rapidly but you struggle to get to grips with the lay of the land. Visually, the movie is gorgeous. The blood, gore and shit (yes. Shit.) looks real and the crap certainly made me gag once or twice while the chopping off of the dudes head was epic. The focus and lighting on screen were beautiful and lavish set pieces really push the representation of being young and rich. Yet, there was many continuity errors throughout and they would stick out obtusely like a whore at a dinner party.
One of the redeeming factors for the film is its scripts. Even when they are being philosophical, what they are saying is strong and really resonates (even when factually wrong at points). A personal favourite is even in the trailer and said by Westray (Brad Pitt), “If your definition of a friend is someone who will die for you, you don’t have any friends” – It’s phrases like this that pop up continually throughout the movie and really pose moral questions in a thriller. It just doesn’t fit into the perimeters of the movie, which if the story was stronger, perhaps it could have really flourished. but then you have the screen play reering it’s head and pissing on the parade. We have scenes that are so obscure, not even Tarrintino would think of it. Malkina (Cameron Diaz) has sex with a Ferrari. You may be asking how, turns out rubbing your junk over the windscreen while doing the splits constitutes sex. I think the quote best describes it, “It was like one of those bottom feeders, sucked to the glass”.
Swiftly moving on, my final attack is at the acting. With A-listers everywhere, top quality acting is supposed to be insured, but we do have Penelope Cruz who only gets jobs because she’s willing to go that step further (sex talk with Fassbender and a weird ass opening scene of him, shall we say – “munching the rug”). Personally, I’ve never been keen on her as she lacks a lot of emotion and I can’t see the sexual attraction of many. My favourite was Brad Pitt, typically he gets a lot of grief for a few bad moves over the years but recently, he has stepped up his game (E.g – World War Z). Being given a cowboy middleman to play, you can’t expect much from him but he oozes with swagger. The minor mannerisms make his character, from the way he puts his hat on too the way he talk. It’s brilliant. At the end of the movie, Fassbender looks like he’s been on a children’s TV show and got gunked, spluttering snot everywhere without a care in the world. It’s almost cringe worthy then he did so well up to this breakdown. Javiers accent is killer and fits the role he plays as a psycho business man. With an accent like that, I feel he can play a criminal any day, just look at Skyfall! (I guess it helps that he can act too). Oh, let’s not forget Diaz who plays a psycho gold digging bitch with a wealth of knowledge and some cheetahs that fuck off when they get bored. Yeah, she played it fairly well, but I think many people could do it.
In total, the film was really weak. Most likely a flop or just about breaking even in the long run. Probably will be showing on BBC 1 at midnight in 10 years and ITV in 5. So, if you don’t fancy paying for it, it’s not long too wait. The movie deserves a 6/10. Putting my critical head on, you really do feel let down coming out of the movie when you haven’t had it explained to you. There’s very little excitement and you would think that a movie of this scale wouldn’t have so many cock-ups throughout.