Mother! (2017) Review

Mother! (2017)

Directed & Written by Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a young woman whose tranquil life with her husband at their country home is disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious couple.

My Opinion:

Okay, I wasn’t going to go to this since I can’t say I’ve ever exactly loved a Darren Aronofsky movie. But I do like some f*^ked up shit and this looked like it was probably some f*^ked up shit, so… I went after a crappy day at work to “unwind”. So relaxing. 😉 Mainly, I’m annoyed that I paid full price. This is why I only go on cheap day or to a non-chain cheap cinema! One ticket & small nachos? Just under £15. Seriously?! F*^k off! Anyway – I didn’t hate this but should’ve waited for Netflix.

I’m curious where I’d rank this against all the Aronofsky films I’ve seen. Okay – I’m gonna do it! “Favorite” to least favorite (although I love none of them):

The Wrestler
Black Swan
Requiem For A Dream
Mother!
Pi

Well, I guess Mother! is pretty low (and I must admit I remember zero of Pi now other than the ending). I know Aronofsky likes his allegories & his symbolism and all that stuff that people either love or call pretentious bullshit. I think the most annoying thing about Mother! is that it’s just far too blatant this time.

I honestly don’t know what to write about this one. I think it may shock some people but, hey – it’s an Aronofsky film. He still doesn’t come anywhere near David Cronenberg when it comes to f*^ked up shit (I love Cronenberg’s older films). I do kind of love it when people who aren’t full-on movie geeks (like us weirdo bloggers) do zero research into what a movie is about & end up going to something like THIS knowing nothing other than that they like the stars in it or the look of the poster or whatever. I’d love to see their reactions to this one! Mother! is the kind of film you’d recommend to a mainstream movie lover who you hate just to piss them off and make them think you may be a complete psycho for recommending it, therefore hopefully resulting in them never talking to you again. Hmm. I like that description. That should be on the movie’s poster.

For me, I actually didn’t hate Mother! I thought the first half of the movie was pretty good. I liked its atmosphere & the way the floorboards creaked and how this lovely old house felt alive (as it’s meant to feel). It was like a rather straightforward haunted house thriller to begin with. But, of course, it’s an Aronofsky film so it’s nothing of the sort. Lawrence’s slow descent into madness was done well and I do think she’s a very good actress despite the fact that people seem to be growing to dislike her in real life. You really can’t fault her performance here, although Portman did it better in Black Swan (but Portman also had a much better script to work with). Her hair was awesome, too. Although I assume it was a wig? It was super long. I want pretty braids like that. As for Javier Bardem, Ed Harris & Michelle Pfeiffer? A bit weak, to be honest. Well, Pfeiffer was okay (was glad she was in this – I’m a fan). Again, though, I think that’s more the fault of the material they had to work with.

My biggest problem with the film was the f*^ked up shit I was so looking forward to and which took ages to finally happen. The f*^ked up shit is what I was waiting for! It’s like the movie Society – I kind of love it but it’s an AWFUL film. It’s just that last half hour or so that I love. Now that’s some f*^ked up shit! In Mother!, however, I ended up more bored than shocked at the end. And, let’s face it – we all know it’s an allegory so it’s not like these things are actually happening to these characters. Well, it’s actually happening in real life to what Lawrence’s character represents. But… Yeah. I dunno. Maybe Aronofsky thinks he might save the planet with the movie’s message but I think we’re doomed anyway so maybe we are all better off watching fun, mainstream blockbusters with no “hidden” message?!

I’d like this movie more if the crazy ass shit at the end hadn’t gone on and on and on and on. And on. And on. And on. And on. It wasn’t the content itself that bothered me, it was that it felt like that final act would never end. I got out of the movie & wondered if I’d been sat there for three hours and was annoyed I hadn’t checked the length beforehand (it’s only 121 minutes). I’m also still annoyed that I paid full price for this movie and that the cheese that came with the nachos was disgusting.

My Rating: 6/10

Oh! I forgot to add that, as far as pretentious shit goes, at least this movie was better than The Neon Demon. I hated that with a passion. Mother! was just… Meh. Which isn’t what I expected. Also, Clint Mansell didn’t do the score for this Aronofsky film. What a shame – it may have helped. His Requiem For A Dream score is a damn masterpiece. Let’s have a listen…

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Black Swan (2010) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Jia Wei of Film & Nuance. Thanks for the review, Jia Wei! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on Black Swan, IMDB rank 177 out of 250 on 01/01/13…

There are another 15 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

Black Swan: Reveries and desires

Ask me to name a list of movies that have profoundly disturbed me for the longest time and you will find Black Swan gracing the very top; Oh you know because swans are graceful and all. Did you find that funny? Because that’s the only funny thing you’ll see from this review and from the movie. Darren Aronofsky’s dark reverie of a film proliferates ideas of duality, the yin-yang of human nature and it’s inherent dichotomies between good and evil. An opening shot of Black Swan is a memorable dance sequence involving Natalie Portman’ as she performs the Swan Lake where the princess Odette is cursed and transfigured into a swan by the devilish Rothbart. It is hauntingly choreographed by Aronofsky whose brilliance we see throughout the film. What’s particularly symbolic here is how the ‘swan’ persona, which becomes the crucial metaphor throughout the film, is at once both graceful and cursed; A little something to note when interpreting the film. Black Swan is like art that slowly unwraps itself with every deliberate attempt to shock and traumatize, revealing the tragic poise it so gracefully holds.

Aronofsky is definitely the artist who isn’t afraid to show. In fact, his philosophy here is that if he could expose everything, he would. Psychological elements flood the film till the point where truth and reality are bent to fit the style. Potraits would come alive (think sinister version of Harry Potter talking paintings) and mock Nina’s increasingly blurry perception. Hallucinations allow Aronofsky to feed the emotional conflict and mental delusions. Black Swan is not for the faint of heart because around every dark corner lie monsters of the mind.

Black Swan’s methods may be extremely explicit but it’s themes are cuttingly profound. Some call it a passionate melodrama which I think doesn’t do the film justice. Melodrama connotates dragging…the kind of dragging that irritates but sure perhaps it’s also artistic. I beg to differ. For as much as Black Swan has deliberated it’s hypnotic sequences and emotional conflicts, it has also haunted my senses and heightened my anticipation for the tension that would ensure. That alone is enough to dispel the idea that it’s a tedious and melodramatic affair. Yes, it’s hyperactive and yes it’s visually unrestrained but damn, it’s one hell of a movie.

In my view, Friedrich Nietzche’s book on philosophy titled ‘The Birth Of A Tragedy’ is somewhat linked to the film in the sense that Black Swan’s interpretation lie in the way that nature and tragedy are set up to be. To be fair, there will be endless interpretations of the film and mine is just one out of many. But I think that in order to fully appreciate the beauty in what Natalie Portman has portrayed in Nina is essential. It is only through her flaws that I also see her complete beauty and only through the film’s depressing moments do I appreciate the fixed balance dichotomy between light and darkness, desire and repression, id and ego. Black Swan’s entrancing dance sequences relates somewhat to Nietzsche’s notes on greek tragedy and music; Notice how the ballads in the film rise and fall periodically, with crescendos and dimineundos that mirror Nina’s oscillating state of mind. Natalie Portman and her double do well to convey the the polar opposites of effeminate grace and unbridled release that torment Nina during her performances. She battles not her inner demons but her conflicted nature. I read that Aronofsky had many takes and rehearsals for his dance sequences. It’s no wonder that he was able to surface the raging tempest of the mind so well. Everything from flawless acting to musical lyricism to contrasting imageries of black and white pour out in perfect yet painful harmony. As each dance progressively becomes more challenging and demanding, so too do the lines between the black and white swan.

What is more powerful than pleasing the audience? Shocking them. I’m inclined to name a few more films like Under the skin and Mulholland Drive. It might just be my taste but there’s no point shocking someone without telling them why. Though the abovementioned films have got me jumping right out of my seat, Black Swan does it with brutal simplicity. It’s not abstract which is why I like it so so much. You don’t spend time wrecking your head thinking why Nina did this or that and instead are left to mull over the lasting consequences of the character’s actions. Black Swan’s may range from being a psycho-sexual study to a director’s symphonic masterpiece, but in the end, it’s destructive melancholy is a psychedelic look at our unresolved natures.

P.S. This was my second best movie of 2010 behind Inception. The Social Network is third. And The King’s Speech is nowhere to be seen 😉

Requiem For A Dream (2000) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Darren of Movie Reviews 101. Thanks for the review, Darren! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Requiem For A Dream, IMDB rank 73 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writer: Darren Aronofsky, Hubert Selby Jr (Screenplay) Hubert Selby Jr (Book)
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, Christopher McDonald, Louise Lasser

Plot: The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions become stronger.

Verdict: Incredible

Story: We start by seeing the dysfunctional relationship between Harry and his mother Sara by seeing him take her television which seems to be happening on a regular occasion. This happens to help fuel his drug habit, while they keep their relationship together. While the Sara gets a chance to be on her favourite show but is worried about her weight, Harry comes up with an idea to make money by selling more drugs and making a business with his best friend. While both are trying to deal with their addictions their lives take turns for the worse when they releases what is happening.
When I first watched this I was too young to understand what was really going on and never really appreciated it, but now I have re-watched I have to say this is an incredible story of how four people decent into the world of drug and addiction takes over their lives. I like the fact that there was no happy ending for these people because it shows the harsh reality of the drug user and how far they will go. Each of our four characters ends up going in a direction that is heart breaking for some and each ends up showing the real fear what could happen to them. This ends up being hard to watch but because of that we see the real truth behind the problems. (9/10)

Actor Review

Ellen Burstyn: Sara Goldfarb mother to Harry who spends her time watching television and when she gets a chance to be on her favourite show. She ends up taking pills to help her lose weight but in the end she becomes addicted to them causing much more serious issue to her health. Ellen is fantastic in her role and most of her part is just her in her own apartment dealing with the side effects of the drugs.(10/10)

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Jared Leto: Harry Goldfarb young stoner who dreams of making it big by selling drugs, while keeping his girlfriend happy and keeping his drug habit happy. He is a loyal family man who wants to look after his mother the best he can but when things go wrong in the business he takes a chance that will begin to ruin his life forever. Jared gives a great performance and you can clearly see he was ready for a chance to show even more skills in later projects. (9/10)

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Jennifer Connelly: Marion Silver against her parents who have given her everything, she wants to make an impact herself but doesn’t know where to start while her drug habit keeps everything in a dream stage. She enters into the world of selling herself to fix her habit and before long she ends up happy just having her fix. Jennifer gives a great performance that was risky too. (9/10)

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Marlon Wayans: Tyrone C Love Harry’s best friend who helps him come up with the plan to make money. He ends up being the one who gets into trouble and before long he pushes Harry to risk more. Marlon gives a great performance and it is refreshing to see him in a serious role after all the parody roles. (8/10)

Support Cast: Dealers, friends and doctors all play big parts in helping our characters fix their problems but it is the host of Sara show that ends up helping with her downfall.

Director Review: Darren Aronofsky – Brilliant direction from Darren showing that he was always going to go on to make bigger projects but would always struggle to beat this. (10/10)

Drama: Just showing the decent our four characters make during their drug problems is wonderfully put together and you actually start to feel for the characters by the end. (10/10)
Music: Lux Aeterna by Clint Mansell makes a haunting choice for music through the film always indicating something will be happening. (10/10)
Settings: Solid setting showing the busy lives but most of the film is set in apartments. (8/10)
Suggestion: Even though I am going to give this a really high rating I still think it won’t be a lot of people’s cup of tea, it does come off hard to watch and very much in your face. (Try It)

Best Part: Reality of the story.
Worst Part: It will be hard to watch.
Lessons Learned: Don’t do drugs, Jared Leto was always going to be a star.

Believability: The reality that people will get that hooked on the drugs comes off real, but I think how far things go could be seen as too much. (5/10)
Chances of Tears: No (0/10)
Chances of Sequel: No
Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: Ellen Burstyn was nominated for best actress.
Box Office: $7.3 Million
Budget: $4.5 Million
Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

Overall: In your face consequences of drugs

Rating 93%