AICN WORLD EXCLUSIVE!! MORIARTY Takes Plunge In THE FOUNTAIN!! Aronofsky SCRIPT REVIEW!!
Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.
So we’re in a weird spot with this film right now.
I keep getting reports about its demise, some as recent as this weekend. Alan Horn didn’t help, complicating things with his seemingly-contradictory comments about the film the other day. He suggested that the film had the plug pulled when it became more expensive than $60 million, but he also talked about how it was rescued by partnering up with New Regency when Village Roadshow fell out. People are convinced, writing me daily, telling me that it’s not going to happen now.
But I’ve heard from sources close to the film, people who are in direct contact with Protozoa Pictures, Aronofsky’s company, who assure me that the film is going to happen this fall, and that everything is proceeding apace. Because there is still such a strong chance that the film is happening, I want to tread very lightly as I discuss the really odd and wonderful script for this film by Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel. I don’t want to ruin the experience for you if there’s even the slightest chance of you seeing it in a theater. I pray I get to sit in a dark room next Christmas and see that Warner Bros. logo come up, followed by the New Regency logo, followed by the sight of the jungles of Mexico in the year 1535.
I’m talking fingers and toes crossed, rub the rabbit’s foot, an extra lap around the rosary beads type praying, too. I want to see this movie. It’s important to Darren Aronofsky’s development as a filmmaker, and to science-fiction as a genre. I can see Aronofsky’s influences here, and it’s one of the first post-MATRIX projects I’ve seen with a voice that seems totally different than THE MATRIX, interested in totally different things.
THE FOUNTAIN is about love and death and the nature of this frail and precious matter we are made of. It is an epic that is concerned only with the personal impact of its incredible events. It is not about saving the world, but it is about how we will all eventually be saved.
Act one of the script is what would conventionally pass for act three in anyone else’s script. It’s grandly scaled, mind-blowing, and ambitious. We see the resolution of two separate journeys, a thousand years apart, both of them focused on the same goal: salvation from the slavery that all flesh suffers to death. In 1535, Spanish conquistadors and a priest all travel under the guidance of CAPTAIN TOMAS VERDE (Brad Pitt), in search of something mysterious deep in the heart of a Mayan jungle. In the year 2500, another Tom (also Brad Pitt) makes an even more dangerous and mystical journey. He travels with a precious cargo of enormous power, haunted by dreams of the Mayan jungle and by the ghost of a lost love. We see each of these journeys build to and then reach a crucial and seemingly final place, each of them intercut so as to illustrate fine points about the other. There’s a really beautiful sequence on the outside of Tom’s spacecraft and a terrifying moment on the steps of the temple, and on a moment of epiphany, we are transported to the year 2003.
Starting just under 30 pages into the script, act two is far more rooted in an emotional reality that we recognize. It’s set right now. TOMMY VERDE (again... Brad Pitt) works as a surgical researcher, part of a team working on advanced cancer theory. His supervisor LILLIAN (Ellen Burstyn) knows he’s brilliant and make leaps of logic that somehow turn out to be right, but she is concerned that he is obsessed.
You see, Tommy’s wife IZZI (Cate Blanchett) is dying. And in one of those cosmic jokes that makes you want to laugh until you scream, she’s dying of cancer. And there’s not a goddamn thing Tommy can do about it.
There is a dull ache that begins almost immediately in this section of the script, a hum of low dread underneath everything. Tommy and Izzy both are just waiting. They pretend they’re living. They pretend that they have hope and that they can make plans and that there’s a future to believe in, but it’s a cover. They’re waiting for Izzi to die, and they both know it. Tommy is dying in his own way as he watches her fade. He can’t help Izzi physically, and it leaves him unable to help her spiritually. Izzi’s on a journey to peace that Tommy can’t join her on, and it causes terrible silence between them.
I’ve seen some speculation in our Talk Backs, impassioned and well-argued, that this film has to be about The Fountain of Youth. It’s not. I don’t want to give away the key mythological symbol that Aronofsky has built his film around, but I can say that it’s not the Fountain of Youth. It’s something even older, even more basic. It’s also a giant McGuffin. If you focus on what the thing is that lies in the heart of that Mayan temple... the thing in the cargo bay of the spaceship en route to a distant nebula... then you miss the import of it. This is science-fiction used to dissect the natures of our own hearts. We have a basic fear of our own flesh that we wrestle with over the course of our lives. You don’t have it as a child. You are fearless. You are immortal and you know it.
Then someone corrects you. Either a relative dies or a pet or, worst of all, a parent. And you learn that not only does death exist, but that it is the end of all of us. There is no one who is allowed to slip through unscathed. Life is a process of accumulating scars, both large and small, until one of them finally kills you. Knowing that... believing that... is part of the process of maturation. We each of us make our own agreement with Death and that understanding that allows us to go on living. Some people embrace the life they have and wrench whatever sweetness from it that they can. Some people wither away in fear. And some people fight, spending their whole lives trying to find some loophole, some way to cheat the system.
In THE FOUNTAIN, we are given characters, each a mirror of another, each a product of the time and place they live, all of them dealing with Death in their own way. For example, what if you were Tommy? What if you developed a drug using a rare botanical extract and discovered that you might well have unlocked the key to turning time back and holding off Death indefinitely, if not forever? If you knew the time your wife had on Earth was limited, would you proceed with caution and go through every prescribed level of FDA testing before making this potential breakthrough available to her?
Or would you throw caution to the wind? Would you break the rules to save her life, even if you knew there was a chance you might be wrong?
One of the reasons this middle section of the script works so well is because Aronofsky has painted a convincing portrait of a couple in love. In those rare moments when Tommy forgets to be depressed, he and Izzy are quite beautiful together, sweet and funny and perfectly matched. He takes her to an exibit of Mayan relics at one point, and there’s a great sense of play between them. These two people know each other the way lovers do, and that means they have the potential to hurt each other casually and well. They know all the soft spots worth poking. Izzi fights dirty, using Tommy enormous love for her to bully him in conversations. Because she’s resigned to her fate and he isn’t, she’s stronger. She doesn’t reopen the wound with each fresh reminder.
Izzi is a writer, and her biggest gift to Tommy is a book that she’s almost finished. The last chapter is the only thing missing, and she leaves it in his care to do so. Tommy protests that he’s not a writer, but he’s missing the point. Izzi mentions something at the exhibit about the Mayan idea that death is an act of creation, and there is a transcendence to that notion that I find quite surprising in a mainstream studio picture. As we watch the national media debate the importance of “Under God” to our Pledge of Allegiance and once again argue about the role of religious language in our daily lives, it doesn’t seem like the easiest box-office road to go, crafting a film that dares to not only be serious about spiritual issues, but also inclusive. Aronofsky isn’t writing about whether or not religion is right or true. He’s writing about the greater questions, the ones that religions exist to try and answer. This isn’t an event film, full of explosions and special effects for the sake of it. This is a personal story, featuring characters that are designed to challenge both actors and audiences. Long stretches of this depend on the ability of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett to keep us engrossed without the aid of anything else. This isn’t like REQUIEM FOR A DREAM or PI, built on overdrive. Pages go by, made up of quiet conversations, tearful late night exchanges in sterile rooms.
And when the script shifts gears again, around page 70, the full demented range of Aronofksy’s ambitious vision finally becomes clear, and THE FOUNTAIN becomes something that you’ll either love or hate, the kind of SF film that fans always claim no studio would ever make.
Izzi’s book and the film itself fold into one another, and Tommy is either dragged into a vision of the past, or a memory of it, and we see what led to the conclusions of act one. Another love story is laid out, this one more heated and dangerous than the one between Tommy and Izzi, but also played by Pitt and Blanchett. They’ve got their work cut out for them here. There are remarkable tonal shifts between the various times, and it’s like three movies, all of them addressing the same ideas, all whipped into this fractured but somehow coherent whole.
Aronofsky saves a few sucker punches for the home stretch, and there’s one sequence in particular that made me both furious and heartsick at the same time. There is a cruelty to it that is totally appropriate to the story being told. It’s about perception. What one person sees as tragic timing, a horrible matter of missed minutes, another person might view as a desired step, an evolutionary jump. And its only when someone shifts their own perceptions that they are suddenly given the gift of real knowledge... set free and made powerful and given up in sacrifice all at once. Bringing the last 20 pages of this script to life will push Aronofsky further than he has ever been pushed as a filmmaker so far, and I am dying to see him try. This is one of those cases where a filmmaker has set up something terrifying for themselves, a high-wire act that will require them to work at the top of their game in order to bring to life what was written. There are echoes of Frank Miller’s magnificent and underrated RONIN here, and I hope Aronofsky is able to create a visual palette that will fully realize the remarkable visions he’s described. I know this film is going to cost some major coin, but it’s not excessive. There are very few FX sequences, and what there is on the page is all part of the thematic fabric of the story. This is not spectacle for the sake of it. Far from it. This is a filmmaker who is daring to use the paint and the brushes in a way we haven’t seen so far. Warner Bros. can’t make a decision about either this or a new BATMAN/SUPERMAN film... this isn’t that kind of picture, and it never will be. This is like JFK. This is like UNFORGIVEN. This is the type of film you make because it is good for your corporate soul. Read the script again before you decide whether or not you can afford the film. There’s a message here about giving back in order to get, a message you might take to heart.
Once you do, you’ll realize there’s no way you CAN’T afford this film.
Let us all experience the road to awe.
Come on, Warner Bros... have no fear.
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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July 8, 2002, 7:11 p.m. CST
Will they at least tell us what's in the briefcase this time?
July 8, 2002, 7:18 p.m. CST
by Wee Willie
..because it doesn't have a lot of big FX sequences. They'll point to A.I. and say "People don't want to see serious Sci Fi". Remember back in the late 60's, early 70's when Hollywood tried to make a few serious sci fi pictures? All that went out the window when Star Wars came along. I'd love to see this film, but I fear I may not.
July 8, 2002, 7:44 p.m. CST
by Billy Talent
So we've already suffered through 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture', '2010', 'Contact' and 'Mission to Mars' and 'The Cell', we've marvelled at 'Alien' and 'A.I.', 'Solaris' is coming out at Christmas, and now you say there's another '2001' remake on the way? This time from a student filmmaker with no patience for research? Where do I sign up?
July 8, 2002, 7:47 p.m. CST
Aronofsky is one of those guys who has just started writing his book but is filling it with such marvelous, amazing, mind fucking shit that I just tremble at the thought of what the hell he's gonna do next. David Fincher has accepted his role as a Hollywood Director and is ok with using his amazing skills with a story that doesnt deserve it (Panic Room). So I'm thrilled to know that Aronofsky's next is as interesting as this sounds. Here's to creativity in hollywood! And to Warner Brothers for even concieving not making this. A big middle finger from me to you.
July 8, 2002, 7:50 p.m. CST
I read Moriarty's review a couple of times, and I still don't get what the hell this movie is all about. To be honest, the general public these days doesn't really give a rat's ass about philisophical SF mumbo-jumbo. No wonder Warner's is shaking in their boots about this movie. People tend to get blinded by auteurs such as Aronofsky and think they can't do no wrong.
July 8, 2002, 8:18 p.m. CST
.....but alas its follywood were talkin about here. Guess I better not get my hopes up too high. I look forward to hearing about a definate greenlite on this baby.......M
July 8, 2002, 8:35 p.m. CST
All Warners has to do is throw in a climactic star battle, add a few cool looking helmets, and maybe have the Blanchett charcter turn out to be the evil overlord who is trying to overthrow the universe. Or maybe she's really a ghost. See? Presto, problem solved!
July 8, 2002, 8:49 p.m. CST
July 8, 2002, 9 p.m. CST
I do hope this film is eventually made. It might have to take a more commercial shape for Hollywood to put the money out, but it will get made, considering the "Stars" already committed to the project! $60 Million is jack! I mean, give me a freaking break! If Disney can put out $70 mill for "Bad Company," which was just plain BAD, and bombed as well, Fox puts out $45 Million for "High Crimes," and Sony puts out over $40Mill for "Enough," all of which were terrible and bombed at the theatres, then WB should simply cough up the dough for this. You've got star power - Pitt will bring in the women (and some of the men), and Blanchett will bring in the men (and some of the women). Aronofsky's name alone will bring in the Indies, and the arthouse crowd. With the right marketing, this could all work out well for everyone involved! Thanks for the update Mori!
July 8, 2002, 9:21 p.m. CST
by Bari Umenema
This movie is not based on an old Hanna Barbera cartoon nor is it based on a comic book nor is it a readily marketable franchise so odds are it's not going to get made at Warner Bros. They sold their soul when they merged with AOL and rented their soul out to Ted Turner long before the merger. This is now a studio that exists purely to sell lunch boxes and beach towels and action figures. The movies they make and release must help further that goal. That's why Alan Horn is unsure as to whether or not to make the Fountain. It's too sophisticated for his new corporate taste.
July 8, 2002, 9:32 p.m. CST
by Cutter's Way
...regardless of how hard he tries to bury his vacuity under fancy camera rigs, split screens, careening frame rates, and fish eye lenses. Whenever Aronofsky finishes his demo reel, maybe he might turn into a good director and make a real movie. As it stands, the story may be compelling, but Aronofsky'll just fuck it up.
July 8, 2002, 9:53 p.m. CST
"Req. For A Dream" is way strung out, but its a great piece of filmmaking - Aronofosky will probably not make a film that everyone can enioy, but its gonna be good cinema, whatever it is. BTW - to the TBer who said "Donnie Darko" was financed by people just happy to make back their money.....USA Films? You better believe USA films wants their money back...I dont know if they got it with Donnie, but I;m sure they'll take it out of some other filmmakers ass if they didnt.....
July 8, 2002, 10:02 p.m. CST
This sounds fantastic. If it doesn't get made, well, at least I'll have some idea of the opportunity lost. I don't think Aronofsky's ambition exceeds his talent at all. If you listen to his commentaries for Pi and Requiem for a Dream, you'll see that he executed with precision and pretty much accomplished what he wanted to accomplish. I think this kid can do it. I pray that the studios will let him.
July 8, 2002, 10:04 p.m. CST
Warner Bros. is shaking in their boots because they don't get it---this is EXACTLY why they should throw as much money as possible at Aranofsky's vision. They should just give the man his money, as much time as he needs, whatever it takes...and just stand back and let him do his job. Pitt and Blanchett, if they aren't already working at scale, should cut their salaries and opt for a back -end deal. The problem with big studios is that they muck around with genius too much, trying to "dumb down" great scripts into servicable scripts so that the idiot movie-going public that makes crap like "Scooby-Doo" hits, will be able to follow "The Fountain." Well, screw 'em! This movie sounds incredible, and I hope come September Warner Bros. will have the money in line and they can begin filming. Count me in!
July 8, 2002, 10:50 p.m. CST
Man, this one must have been tough to pitch.
July 8, 2002, 10:59 p.m. CST
along with blinding technique. Some may paint him as a one-trick pony or just fast-cuts & effects. Shallow way of looking at his work methinks. The drama might have been PROCESSED in REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, but the pieces were still SOULFUL. That's why you felt pathos through the veneer of technique. After watching that film, I could see him making MY DINNER WITH ANDRE if he wanted to. The sky is the limit. Now if Warners would just give him some rope.......
July 8, 2002, 11:06 p.m. CST
Whoooo waaaants toooo liiiiive - forevaaaah?! (Oooooh) Whoooooo dares toooo liiiiiiiiiive - FOREVAAAAAH?!! WHEN LOVE MUST DIE!!! Thought the talkback needed that.
July 9, 2002, 12:42 a.m. CST
This sounds absolutely awesome and i want it to get made so bad
July 9, 2002, 12:45 a.m. CST
by Sod Off Baldric
If even HALF of this makes it to the screen, I think I would be happy. This movie sounds incredible. Between this and Kill Bill, I'm getting excited for late 2002/early 2003. Wheee!
July 9, 2002, 12:46 a.m. CST
by Cutter's Way
You might want to look "veneer" up in the ol' dictionary, because I don't think you're making your point, but mine. Anyhoo, I did not feel any pathos towards anybody except those who fell for Requiem's faux-lurid cavalcade of safe depravity disguised as a "morality tale". Drug addiction isn't as melodramatic and directly apocalyptic as Requiem suggests - it's phlegmatic and boring. Aronofsky, like his bigger budget counterpart Michael Bay, makes trailers for movies that don't exist rather than the movies themselves. Films that describe life as something other than a tragic music video will impact an audience to a greater degree because people can relate to them (instead of merely enduring them). Aronofsky films cannot do this yet - he's trying to hard to impress an audience, to get their attention. Getting an audience's attention should not be the desired end result, it should be the starting line. A filmmaker's maturity is revealed when he does something to earn that attention. Watch "THE WILD BUNCH" by Sam Peckinpah to catch what I'm trying to get at.
July 9, 2002, 12:53 a.m. CST
This is essentially an overlong thank-you note. I'd just like to say "Wow." But I'll elaborate. Moriarty, dude, you have been consistently presenting us webheads with scoops virtually all of us want to hear. I respect Harry and everything he's done for this site, and he's given us huge scoops as well (the 'Daredevil' script review, the visit to New Zealand, etc.) and he has undeservedly taken a lot of criticism in stride as of late, so I won't knock him; but over the last couple of months, you've brought us the script review of 'Solaris,' critiqued the scripts of 'Suspect Zero,' 'X2' and 'The Fountain,' and given us level-headed assessments of 'Scooby-Doo,' 'Road to Perdition' and 'Minority Report,' among other things. I visit this website almost daily, and you truly deserve props right now in terms of providing information of value time and time again. I don't know how you do it, nor who you are, but you've helped make this website one of the preeminent information hotspots as far as movies are concerned. I won't debate your credentials as a critic, but you've been extremely equivocal and analytical in your reviews, and people on this site should follow your example more often. I don't know if it's that L.A. connection or what, but keep up the good work, man. Cheers. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> As for 'The Fountain,' I really hope this movie gets made. I can reasonably understand why Warner Brothers wouldn't want to take a risk on a big-budget movie like this, but Aronofsky is a good filmmaker, and I think that he and the public in general are being sold short in this situation. This could end up escalating into a $100 million dollar commercial flop, and possibly even a critical one as well; but the last expensive, potentially esoteric sci-fi flick that Warner Brothers took a chance on grossed $520 million worldwide (I think) and has spawned two sequels, so I'll see how this plays out.
July 9, 2002, 1:37 a.m. CST
Warner Brothers, what do you want me to do? Do you want me to tell all my friends to see The Fountain? Tell all my friends and family? Everyone I know? Everyone I happen to come within yelling distance of? What's it gonna take for you guys to make this movie? Cuz I think I need it. Sad, sad, sad. But true. Aronofsky does have soul. This movie sounds like that soul attempting to fly. Don't make me wax poetic in an awful way.
July 9, 2002, 2:02 a.m. CST
by heywood jablomie
His movies are an unread film geek's notion of "brainy." Ixnay this and give the money to the Coens' TO THE WHITE SEA instead.
July 9, 2002, 2:04 a.m. CST
How much did Minority Report just make in one weekend? =D
July 9, 2002, 2:23 a.m. CST
by Son Of Batboy
That alone is worth a few laughs. But really is there a reason they play multiple roles? Didn't quite get that in the review. Sounds like a Peter Sellers or Alec Guiness movie. And will someone tell Cate Blancett to stop squinting all the damn time!!! Looks like she's facing the sun. Someone grab her a couple of those Clockwork Orange doodads and pry her eyes the fuck open.
July 9, 2002, 3:11 a.m. CST
Pitt as a scientist -- I can buy it...I'll buy pretty much anything to see him and Cate Blanchett and Ellen Burstyn together in a sci-fi/fantasy movie directed by Darren Aronofsky. If you don't like Aronofsky's style, fine, but I really don't see how people could deny that the kid has got potential coming out the wazoo. In just two movies he's shown that if he's got at least one thing, he's got guts. And I think it's pretty obvious that he has a lot more than just guts, but some film fans seem to want to deny themselves the pleasure of actually rooting for a new director to grow. They point at the auteurs of old and say that we'll never have that again, so screw it all. Or worse, they point to fairly good yet safe films as the model by which movies should be made. I like the Coen Bros. a lot. That said, not many of their recent movies approach the emotional resonance and daring of Pi or Requiem for a Dream. That's because the Coen boys have a completely different style -- they are more subtle and they have more experience and their perspective is different. We should be wanting more Coen Bros. AND Aronofsky movies and no more Nichael Bay movies, no more Joel Schumacher movies, no more Roland Emmerich movies. I read Moriarty's words here, and I simply don't understand how any serious film buff could not see the POSSIBILITY for something great here. Maybe if all you care about is convention and entertainment. I'm well aware that this movie could turn out wretched. On paper, Sphere probably sounded like a decent high concept sci-fi film, and we all know how terrible it managed to be -- a clunky, badly executed, and horribly miscast rip-off of Solaris. But I believe in this film. I want to see The Fountain more than any other upcoming movie that I've heard about. And I'm a huge LotR fan. But I have enough respect for film as an artistic medium to realize that The Fountain could be an important landmark on cinema's canvas.
July 9, 2002, 8 a.m. CST
by Aronld Scazziger
I'm there opening day for any Aronofsky motion picture
July 9, 2002, 8:28 a.m. CST
to get this the hell away from Warner Brothers. "The Matrix" notwithstanding, they stay away from high concept stuff unless there's a sign ahead of time that it might make money (i.e. "Contact" was based on a Pulitzer Prize winning novel and directed by Oscar winner Zemeckis). But, by and large, WB pussyfoots when it comes to the good shit. I don't know the history of this project, in terms of where it was developed but, I see it that "The Fountain" needs to go to Dreamworks YESTERDAY! Something tells me that a company run by the most successful filmmaker of all time (also known for some solid sci-fi of his own) would be a little more receptive to a project like this. I know that every studio is guilty of churning out pap but it seems like WB is the king of that. And the day they can justify spending $50 million on "MURDER BY NUMBERS" (!!!!!!), then I'll hear what they have to say about $60 million being too much for "The Fountain."
July 9, 2002, 9:50 a.m. CST
OK, I've read the script preview and it sounds remarkably similar to a book by Alan Garner called 'Red Shift'; three different stories, set hundreds of years apart, yet bound together by love, death, science-fiction, and a mysterious ancient artifact; Oh, and the lead character is called Tom. Whatever the film turns out to be like, this book is incredible. Although stocked in the 'childrens books' section, this has to be the most violent childrens book ever, including a gang-rape scene, several beheadings, a 'hobbling' scene, oh and of course a tormented Roman Legionary/Berserker!! Unforgettably mind-blowing. (Just pointing it out before people start dishing out oscars...)
July 9, 2002, 10:52 a.m. CST
Thanks for your assesment of Aranofsky's talent. Your withering criticism of his abilities really makes me look up to you. Honest. It does. Considering that the director's output consists of two independent films about unconventional subject matter, maybe you should cut the guy some slack and go back to mooning over your film school professor.
July 9, 2002, 11:45 a.m. CST
by Cutter's Way
Your pathetic attempt at sarcasm makes me look down upon you. Honest. It does. Crazy loners (Pi) and junkies(Requiem)- very unconventional, nobody makes films about that. Right? Now that you've shown what a slobbering mongoloid you are you can go back to mooning your GED instructor through the drive through window at Jack in the Box.
July 9, 2002, 12:07 p.m. CST
I have to disagree with that assessment of Requiem. Addiction is EXACTLY that melodramatic and apocalyptic... from the inside. That's the genius of the film. Instead of trying for a blow-by-blow narrative it drags you kicking and screaming into a mindset you'd rather not have seen the world through, if you had the choice.
July 9, 2002, 12:22 p.m. CST
The most shocking moment of Requiem isn't what Connelly's character did for her smack at the end, or even the way Aranofsky shot it- it was her smiling on the couch afterwards. The fact that you don't like Aranofsky's tricks doesn't mean that he isn't capable of putting them aside when he needs to- that single shot, Connelly lying down on the couch, cradling her little parcel and smiling, proves it. I'm not going to blast you for not digging Aranofsky- the ending of Pi aside, his two films so far have been pretty damn bleak, and his style is extreme. But I'm quite confident that forty years from now his work will be looked at with the same regard as that of Kubrick or Scorsese or Kurosawa- master storytellers who didn't sacrifice substance for style.
July 9, 2002, 12:24 p.m. CST
I have conversations in splitscreen for no apparent narrative reason. A small quibble: why didn't Jared Leto's character just shoot up in another vein? You'd have to be a fucking idiot to continually inject heroin into one spot, and not expect it to go septic. Cutter's Way, your assessment of Aronofsky's work completely mirrors my own. Far from finding his directorial style involving, it alienates me from the characters, reminds me that I'm watching a film. Whatever. The Fountain sounds good, but I'd rather it was directed by someone with a less obvious love for their own cleverness.
July 9, 2002, 12:28 p.m. CST
by Cutter's Way
The events that happen to the protagonists in Requiem are explicitly external, not internal. Getting your arm severed, butt-fucked for businessmen, or brain-fried in a mental ward are decidedly external consequences directly related to the characters drug abuse. Not typical, which Requiem didn't have to be, but also not believable. Different strokes for different folks, though. You guys have Aronofsky, I have John Sayles. You can't convince me about what you perceive to be Aronofsky's genius and I can't convince you about what I perceive to be Aronofsky's vacuity. Long live cinema.
July 9, 2002, 12:39 p.m. CST
by Cutter's Way
Exactly. Any good junkie knows to move on before a vein collapses and gets infected. Hell, there are people who'll shoot up in their neck or groin to keep their shit fucked up. Good handle, Rain Dog. Tom Waits not only kicks arse but his name is also a gramatically correct sentence.
July 9, 2002, 1:15 p.m. CST
I guess I'll just continue in defense of a filmmaker who isn't mind-numbingly pedestrian like the majority of American filmmakers today. wendigofett's post is pretty ludicrous...yeah, Requiem was "universally pissed on," that explains the 79% FRESH rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the numerous acting accolades for Ellen Burstyn. That aside, why shouldn't a young filmmaker try to use every technique at hand to tell the story in the best way he knows how? Every so-called "gimmick" that Aronofsky uses is firmly rooted in the purpose of serving his tone poem narrative and is also consistently used in his film as part of a cohesive conceptual whole. Gimmicks are tricks just for the sake of being tricks. Anyone with half a brain can see the reasoning and artistic focus behind the techniques that Aronofsky uses. And Aronofsky uses a lot of different techniques, as any exciting artist should. I won't bother going into too many specific examples, but hip-hop montages reinforce the ritualistic patterns of addiction and different chromatic and compositional styles delineate the stark three act structure of Requiem. There is so much more, and for the simpleton who can't see the rhyme or reason, there are plenty of Aronofsky interviews and commentaries which elucidate his process of conceptualization and execution. Maybe a person isn't a simpleton, maybe a person just does not care for Aronofsky's bold, abstract strokes. Fine. But I think that implying his style is not married to any form of substance...well, I think that is a supposition which is woefully inaccurate, and pretty obviously so. Sam Peckinpah did not earn anything more with The Wild Bunch than Aronofsky had earned Requiem for a Dream. Peckinpah was a young director at the time who was coming out of doing mostly television projects. His slow-motion, ballet-styled violence in The Wild Bunch has no more base than the split screen and rhythm montages of Aronofsky. This is what directors with ideas and bravura do. All the great directors mined the technique of their art in search of "shocking" or enthralling ways of evoking the most resonance and permanence from their images. For in film, it is images that should drive home the themes. If you don't like Aronofsky, I understand. I don't particularly care for Soderbergh at all...but I try to respect some of his work because I can see that at least he's trying (I won't include Ocean's 11 or Erin Brockovich in that respect, though). I hope his Solaris is good. I have many reservations about it...it's based on a book upon which we already have a Tarkovsky film, George Clooney doesn't seem right for the part, etc. But I still hope that it is good. As film buffs, we should be rooting for guys like Aronofsky and Nolan and Jonze and David O. Russell and Fincher and James Gray. These guys are the new breed...and they've got great movies in them. I don't care how obscure or unwatchable The Fountain may turn out to be...I'd rather support a film that at least tries for something more than fork over a cent for movies with CGI dogs or Steve Irwin. I won't even get into Pi, but I certainly think it is one of the best movies that I have ever seen made on that kind of budget. I can't understand the ridicule of the ending...the conclusion of Pi is simply the logical conlusion to the internal struggle that Aronofsky progressively constructed with his film. Aronofksy won the Director's Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and I certainly think that he earned it. Just because a filmmaker is young, just because a filmmaker has independent spirit...that justifies belittling his movies as if he doesn't know what he's doing? If I told you that you must like Aronofsky, I'd be a film Nazi. I'd laugh at myself if I told you that you had to respect most of the American directors out there today...the majority have proven themselves to be minions to the avarice of certain corporations and Hollywood studions. But to recognize that Aronofsky is trying and at least respect that much of him...I don't think that's too much to ask. That respect can end if Aronofsky sells his soul and agrees to direct an Alf movie or anything written by Akiva Goldsman. But hey, do what you like, I guess. It's still a free country.
July 9, 2002, 2:32 p.m. CST
by Lt. Torello
Do drugs, lose a limb. Do drugs, become a black man's whore. Do drugs, become stalked by kitchen appliances. Is anyone else terrified this pretensious, self-impressed jackoff is gonna get his hands on Batman: Year One?
July 9, 2002, 2:54 p.m. CST
Well, I love both Aranofsky and Sayles, so yay me. And yes, the effects of the abuse are external- so what? Films aren't real life, that one especially. What is real about the film (to be fair, that should be 'what felt real to me') was the emotional impact of it. It isn't 'what it's like to be a junkie', it's 'how it feels to be a junkie'. The 'reality' of the events in Requiem is as truthful as the 'reality' of the events in just about any Lynch film, or the 'reality' of the connections revealed at the end of Lone Star.
July 9, 2002, 2:56 p.m. CST
darren aronofsky is cool. Batman Year One would actually be interesting to see, because the graphic novel was crap. He'd only make it better. I actually read it after hearing so much about it, but was really disappointed. Frank Miller is a hack who uses visual style and brooding characters because it's "cool". I can't see anyone feeling connected with the cruel characters displayed in that book. They thrive on violence because someone(Miller) who was probably a misunderstood nerd can't comprehend any other emotion than his own pent up anger. We all see enough violence on the news and the newspaper so why put it in entertainment? Let's all go back to the big musicals with dancing and smiling faces and love and success. Leave the rest of the garbage where it belongs. oh... and don't knock Steve Irwin. The man is a genius and will remove any thought of Yahoo Serious or Paul Hogan from our minds.
July 9, 2002, 3:24 p.m. CST
I recently (July 4th after the big ewxplosions) watched the director's cut of Reqium For A Dream with 2 people that had never seen it in any form - they sat speechless the whole time (except when the pizza was delivered). It was the third time for me (once in the theater, once when I bought the DVD...it's not a film you can watch once a week, ya know?) and I was struck this time by how beatiful it is. It's depressing as all get out, true. But if you pay attention to how it was filmed, the tones and colors. How it was shot, the angles effects. How it was edited (really fuckin' well). And most importantly, how the story is laid out before you, it's just freakin' amazingly beautiful and it gives me a clear vision of how insanely awesome The Fountain COULD be. Of course for this to happen WB will have to back it, Aranofsky will have to go a step above Requiem, and Pitt and Blanchett will have to turn in Oscar worthy performances. Can all this happen, I hope so, because the script sounds truly original. To be honest though, I have to say Blanchett sounds like the weak link. I think that Pitt is one of the best actors working and has yet to come close to his potential, but we shall see...
July 9, 2002, 3:48 p.m. CST
She's only like the best young English-speaking actress working right now! I guess that's just my opinion...but, on the other hand, she doesn't really have that much competition. At any rate, I think she would be great in an Aronofsky movie. I also think Pitt would be great in an Aronofsky movie. They seem like ideal Aronofsky players.
July 9, 2002, 4:07 p.m. CST
Hmmm. . .lot of discussion about Aronofsky here. I guess I lie somewhere in the middle, although I do think his stories are a little more subtle than some people give him credit for. By the way, those who rebuke the Aronofsky-haters by saying the guy has guts? It must of taken some guts to diss the man on a website like this, where prententious people and faux-erudite student filmmakers just geek out over the guy. I don't think anybody's going to accuse his heretofore released pictures of being challenging, but he definitely does have potential as far as storytelling is concerned, and this project may provide him a chance to step up his ability and experience as a filmmaker. I never accused his films of being "brainy" because they're potentially esoteric; 'Pi' was screened at my workplace and 85% of the people who saw it "got it;" at least more than WendigoFett did, anyway. Still, while Aronofsky can come across as a little self-righteous in terms of heavy and intellectual moviemaking, he definitely has the potential to shell out something great, and a movie like this gives him the opportunity to do so. Perhaps it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for him as a filmmaker if minutae in this movie are screened for Hollywood sensibilities. By the way, I liked 'Pi' better than 'Requiem For a Dream.' Does that make me a moron, as well? Nobody respects anybody else's opinion anymore if it differs with theirs. Yeesh.
July 9, 2002, 9:13 p.m. CST
by Don Pedro
Pi and Requiem for a Dream. Brilliant, visionary, gutsy movies unlike anything Hollywood has ever turned out. By all means Hollywood should let this guy make any movie he wants at any time. The Fountain will be magnificent and will be hugely successful. Can't wait. Aronofsky's the man.
July 9, 2002, 10:28 p.m. CST
Yes, Aronofsky uses a lot of repetition in both of his films. That's because repetition suited the stories that he was trying to tell. Repetition was one of the ways in which he illustrated addiction and character behavior cycles. That was part of what I meant when I said "tone poem narrative." But I was also referring to the atmosphere of pure pathos that Aronofsky was trying to create using narrative minimalism, symbolism, visceral presentation, etc... Forgive me for using a "lofty, pretentious term" instead of just saying, "Dude, I love Aronofsky, the way he repeats shots over and over again in order to emphasize stuff...dope, man." I didn't feel such a description adequately described or encapsulated the approach that Aronofsky takes with his narratives. If that makes me a pretentious snob, so be it. I can fully understand why someone would dislike Aronofsky's movies to date. A director with a distinct style always polarizes people. I don't think anyone here is claiming that Aronofsky is up there with Kurosawa or Kubrick or Bergman or Truffaut...such comment would indeed be brash. But it's certainly not wrong or foolish to hope for another Kubrick.
July 10, 2002, 1:18 a.m. CST
by Neil MacAuley
I hate the self-righteous tone that Moriarty launches into in the middle of every good review he writes. Ever notice how he does this? This is a completely obvious, classic example of his innappropriate, smug self-righteousness that completely jars the reader out of one of his reviews. I can just picture him SMIRKING as he locks on to the theme of a story (like it's a huge skill to have, gimme a break; if something's well-written the theme should be clear) and he WAXES POETIC about how TRUE it is to REAL LIFE and oh how beautifully he can capture this life lesson with his own 'trying reeeaaaalllly hard to make it as a writer' monologue. </br>*********I mean, anyone, please, reread this section and tell me it's not completely ridiculous, condescending, and out of place in a script review of a S.F. film: "We have a basic fear of our own flesh that we wrestle with over the course of our lives. You don
July 10, 2002, 3:30 a.m. CST
I did read Anton's post, and he said that he was confident that in the future Aronofsky's work would be regarded with respect that other greats have received. Sure, that's a bold presumption, but it's not exactly the same as stating Aronofsky is Kubrick right here and now. Most of the great directors didn't make great films right off the bat, but usually their early films showed great promise. If I seemed offended by your criticism of my use of the term "tone poem narrative," I wasn't, I was simply trying to clarify the usage. You say you are treating me with condescension because that is how I have treated others in this Talkback. I have not tried to be condescending, I have simply tried to offer valid points for my argument. However, I realize that I slipped up and was condescending at times in my longer post... if only because I was slightly peeved at perhaps sarcastic posts along the lines of "Take money away from this movie and give it to Superman vs. Batman." Sarcastic or not, such posts are only worthy of condescension. So be condescending to me, I really don't care. You say that you hope this project will be good and you see the potential...well, that's all I was asking for. I enjoy debating movies, however, so I continued with my support for Aronofsky's first two films. You say you understand the reasoning of Aronofsky's film. Right, then it is simply a matter of you disliking the consequences of his means. I guess there is no point in arguing that. I firmly believe that there are numerous objective standards by which the quality of films can be judged. Sure, everyone has an opinion, but an opinion that says Shannon Tweed's No Contest is a film of more artistic merit than Citizen Kane ... well, that opinion is wrong. However, there comes a point where a subjective taste for aesthetics and form enters the mix, and the lines of criteria can not be as clearly drawn. I too love 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is one of my favorite movies. I'm excited about Aronofsky's The Fountain because it has the potential to reach for some of the same heights, but it in a totally different way because Aronofsky is a totally different type of director compared to Kubrick. I think one has a right to be a little condescending when in response to comments that are careless and thoughtless. Your comments were not so, and my misguided termperament was not directed at you.
July 10, 2002, 11:57 a.m. CST
I almost disqualified myself from this TB when I realized I'd misspelled Aronofsky's name in a post... But wasp covered the ground pretty well. I can think of very few directing debuts that hit me harder than the Pi/Requiem double bill (the only one that comes to mind is Laughton's Night of the Hunter- and he never made another film), so if my expectations as to where his career might go are through the roof, so be it.
July 10, 2002, 5:18 p.m. CST
that sounds like a great idea for a film. i hope it does get made. however, one thing bothers me...i remember reading somewhere that the action scenes in this movie would blow away THE MATRIX. now if thats true...then the doofuses at Warner Bros. are gonna market this film as FIGHT CLUB meets THE MATRIX. watch and see...then the public will get an emotinal and thoughtful work of genius instead of lots of cool action and they'll be pissed. then THE FOUTAIN will tank at the box office and Warners will deciede that they don't need daren aronfronsky and he'll go the way of ridley scott...making unpopular fluff for a few years only to come back strong with a GLADIATOR. hey, i'm bored.
July 10, 2002, 11:04 p.m. CST
I didn't say that I don't care about what you say to me. I said I don't care if you decide to be condescending to me. I don't really know why anyone should care about a little condescension on Talk Backs that are usually at least fifty percent stupidity anyways. Oh well, the Talk Back for this topic hasn't turned out too badly yet. If it's something like a Star Wars Talk Back, though, watch out. Those things could be used to dehumanize people.
July 11, 2002, 11:10 a.m. CST
Shade: I meant to bring it up earlier but forgot- I wouldn't call the addiction montages in Requiem merely 'cutting and pasting' from Pi. Sure it's the same basic technique, but dammit it WORKS, so why shouldn't he re-use it? The montages in Pi weren't about addiction anyway, so he's already used the same basic bit in two films to convey two different messages- hardly a carbon copy. Also, earlier you said something like 'the technique has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer'. I don't buy that one for a second. It's no less subtle than an establishing shot (which is essentially what it is from an emotional perspective) and if it's so obvious, why didn't anyone think to use it before?
July 11, 2002, 11:14 a.m. CST
I'm sorry, I though this was a TalkBack on Ain't It Cool News. You know, that site focused on discussing THE FUTURE when it comes to films? I didn't make those comparisons lightly, nor am I going to back down in my belief that Aronofsky will hit those kinds of highs (ouch, bad pun). I don't make statements like that about, say, Fincher or either of the Magnificent Andersons (Wes and PT). Not that I don't love their films or think that they won't continue to do great, challenging work, but Aronofsky for whatever reason hits me harder.
July 11, 2002, 12:33 p.m. CST
July 11, 2002, 6:47 p.m. CST
by Neil MacAuley
P.I. is on IFC, I was just watching it; and I'm reminded that Aronofsky's quick-cut montage of the guy popping the pills is straight out of BOOGIE NIGHTS. Four quick shots: pop the cap off the bottle, pills in hand, pop pills in mouth, pop cap back on pill bottle. Julianne Moore does this early on in Boogie Nights. And that came out before Pi, right? (and of course he uses it throughout Requiem, also) Not saying Aronofsky isn't talented -- Pi is a GREAT first film, one of the best indies of the 90s (and that's a huge achievement, but he deserves it) -- but I just thought that this should be pointed out. Every filmmaker borrows techniques (like P.T.A. ripping the "steadicam at the party shot" from Scorsese; hey, if it's used really well and has some original content in there and the film is good, then I'm fine with a director borrowing some tiny bits; everything was pretty much done on film by Citizen Kane anyway, if you know your film history).
July 12, 2002, 2:33 a.m. CST
... if aronovsky is to mori what del toro is to harry. i don't know what to think because the script hasn't been so much reviewed as it has simply been praised. we've been told so little. jettison the "no spoilers" policy for script reviews, please. anyone who is interested in scripts obviously wants to know how the whole thing pans out or they'd just wait for the movie to open. it's hard for me to support it based on what we've been told about the first and second "acts". neither really impress me, but if it all comes together in the end then maybe it could be quite good. go one. tell us. what happens? none the less, this is a compelling talkback thread if for no other reason than folks on both sides of the debate are actually making some interesting points (for a change). the guy who said we should be supporting this newish "breed" of directors is right on the money. we don't have to like what they do, but we should encourage them, because they're the only ones who will give us a hope of seeing something that might be interesting and won't be part of some burger-schilling franchise or vanity project. i also believe this is the first time in the new millennium that someone has played the "tone poem" card. well done. hilarious. oh. and requiem... the rythm of that film was quite something. and worth watching for that alone.
July 29, 2002, 12:12 p.m. CST
first off, please don't flame, but i believe aronofsky will play a huge role in the future of film making. why? because he caters to a middle film audience. he blends style with substance. you wanna see just style go rent gummo. but i just find it hard to believe that people were not at all effected by ellen burstyn's sara. and through that i connected with harry, then to marion and so on. people may not like his style and call it repetitive but nobody can deny the performances in the film and aronofsky must be somewhat credited with eliciting these. now, his style. yes it is repetitive and i think he should have saved the hip hop montages for requiem only or at least used them fewer times in pi, but i think his style is original. he may not be as established as other directors but i just can't related to some of these hard-core indie fans. don't get me wrong i love indies and rarely see a hollywood movie but sometimes sad to say, they are not as accesible to me as other films. right back to the style. aronofsky is like a painter. he has a style. painters studied other painters and are INFLUENCED. that does not mean they make a carbon copy and say look its original but there will be traces of other artists. and lastly, for all you idiots critizing aronofsky for having harry shoot in the same vein and always making stories about drugs. requiem was based on a novel by hubert selby jr. and the only change i found was marions last name and coney island. so aronofsky did not sit down after seeing trainspotting and say hmmm i think ill write a drug story. nevertheless, aronofsky is a talnted filmmaker and in my opinion one of the best.
Sept. 2, 2002, 10:42 a.m. CST
hi, i'm spanish (that's why my english is so poor)...o.k i put in the warner bros message board a petition por not to stop "the fountain" proyect...i suppose that this petition isn't useful, but i want to express my ......desires? ideas?...(it's hard to write in englsh!!!)...and if you want to help me (or better if you want to beg fot not to stopping "the fountain") maybe you can join me in the warner bros movies message board?. more...if you are in another message boards or forums of pages of cinema, sci-fi, comics....you can put a petition of help like this????...i can't do that because i haven't got internet at home and i must pay for every second i've been conected! thank you very much!!!! and again, sorry for my english, i hope you can understand me...:( bye.
May 3, 2006, 10:17 a.m. CST
July 13, 2006, 6:43 a.m. CST
so there :p
July 24, 2006, 3:01 p.m. CST
you're very clever. Here's a cookie ;)
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