Review: Mother!

Director: Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Requiem for a Dream, Pi, The Fountain, Noah, Black Swan)
Writer: Darren Aronofsky
Producers: Scott Franklin, Ari Handel
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 121 min.

 

 

My original posting of this review can be found on LetterBoxd

 


If you love your very on-the-nose religious allegories aggressively shoved down your throat for an excruciating two hours, then Mother! is the movie for you! Darren Aronofsky’s latest is a big ol’ parable that’s pretty impossible to miss since instead of wrapping its deeper ideas inside of anything resembling a plot of its own he instead throws it right there on the surface with giant sign posts indicating every little thing that anyone needs for even the most basic viewer to “get it”. Of course it’s also just the kind of obnoxiously “ambitious”, “auteur-driven”, “provocative” feature that will ignite a heavily divisive response with its lovers insisting that the detractors somehow “didn’t get it” even though there’s literally nothing else to it. That’s a big part of the problem. Aronofsky just drowns this beast in his giant allegory (which, yes, could also be an interpretation of the creative process, but isn’t that essentially the same thing? And really there’s too much religion here for it not to be that more than anything), leaving no room for anything else.

Certainly not for even the slightest modicum of character development or dimension, as a talented cast led by Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem is criminally underserved by a script that treats their characters as props rather than actual people with inner lives who the audience are supposed to care for. And yet as the deliriously, infuriatingly chaotic final act rages on there’s this odd pull that the movie suddenly wants us to have an investment in these people, but it did absolutely zero groundwork to get us to that point. Ultimately it did zero work to establish practically anything. It’s well and good to work an allegory like this into something, but you have to actually have something there in the first place to work it into and Aronofsky missed the boat on that one. Even more than that he missed the concept of having it all actually mean anything on a grander scheme. Sure, it’s all about religion, but for what purpose? Why does this movie exist? Beats me.

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Harry Dean Stanton: 1926 – 2017

Possibly the greatest character actor of the past 40 years, the cantankerous stalwart for the smoking, drinking working fellow, Harry Dean Stanton passed on at the venerable age of 91. The actor has approximately 200 film and television credits dating all the way back to the 1950s, so obviously you might fit into one or more of several camps of HDS. There is the dopey working class performances in Red Dawn, and Alien (Rieeeght). There is the creepy, creepy villain rolls in TV’s Big Love series, Seven Psychopaths, and Wild At Heart. The existential drifter, in Paris Texas, and his last major film to come out, 2017’s Lucky. The mentor and father figure, in Pretty in Pink, Repo Man. As a seedy sidekick in Escape From New York and Cockfighter. Or the witness to events in The Straight Story, The Green Mile, The Avengers, Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me, and The Last Temptation of Christ. Or mood-setting troubadour strumming his six string in Cool Hand Luke, Access All Areas and recently in Twin Peaks: The Return.

His lanky frame and ‘I don’t give a fuck’ posture, which was meticulously achieved with committed performances in even the tiniest of parts, made him one of the recognizable faces in film, and he will deeply missed. Of course, Stanton worked right up to the moment of his death and can be seen acting alongside one of his regular collaborators, David Lynch (he is in the bulk of Lynch’s filmography), in John Carroll Lynch’s Lucky as well as in Michael Oblowitz’s Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner picture, Frank & Ava.

Variety has more.

Cinecast Episode 496 – Poverty Porn

Cinecast fans clamoring for a 3+ hour show… you get what you asked for. We have got tons of good stuff to talk about this week! To start it off, Kurt has been badgering Andrew for weeks to catch Good Time (SPOILERS!) and it finally made its way to Minneapolis; it’s dy-no-mite! Next up (not) a side project from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Wind River (SPOILERS!) which very much takes a lot of its cues from director Taylor Sheridan’s other screenplays, Hell or High Water and Sicario is one of the year’s best. Also, Renner and Olsen knock it out of the national park. Lastly, in terms of theatrical releases, a smaller production starring Ben Mendohlson and Rooney Mara that is based off of a two-act play is quite riveting and discussion-worthy. Check out our talk on Una when you get a chance. Oh, and if you haven’t heard, “Game of Thrones” season 7 has ended… in a big way. Due to listener requests, we engage. The Watch List hits every avenue. We’ve got rape fallout in the 50s, angry trucks, multiple Jeff Daniels, multiple Noomi Rapace, snipers and a singing and dancing Roy Scheider… and a lot more.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

We’re now available on Google Play!

 
 

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After the Credits Episode 216: September Preview

He’s baaaaaaaaack!

The crew is back together again!

Colleen, Dale (Letterboxd) and I (Letterboxd) finally managed to align our schedules so that we could all get together to check out what’s coming in September. I just wish there was more to get excited about.

Thankfully, festival season is just around the corner which, hopefully, means, we’ll have more to be excited about as we beging the descent into awards season.

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Trailer: 78/52


Alexander O. Phillipe’s compulsively watchable documentary on the 3 minute show sequence from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is finally getting a commercial release from IFC. And here they have cut a wonderful ‘talking heads’ sans talking heads trailer using the re-staging moments from the film. It pulls you in. And as all the critics quotes (curiously mostly nerd sites over more prestigious outlets) say, it is indeed an excellent examination of cinemas most famous murder. 78 Shots, 52 cuts, aka 78/52 comes to theatres and VOD on Oct. 13, 2017.

Trailer: Blade Runner 2029 – The ACTION Picture


 

The latest advert for Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to cult classic science-fiction-noir Blade Runner, is made for television. With that in mind, I never expected the tradition and history of this film to result in a generic shoot-em-up action picture, but hey, that is how one gets butts in seats. Of course, the trailer also gives more glimpses of the wonder post-urban world that cinematographer Roger Deakins and producer Ridley Scott magnificently deliver.

The internet is ‘freaking out’ and telling people not to watch this, as they embed it in the very-same ‘warning article.’ I am less caring about Spoilers, and more curious as to if this film will indeed be an action picture, and not an atmospheric, thoughtful science fiction film. Knowing Villeneuve (who recently made the nearly-gun-and-explosion-free Arrival, which brimmed with thoughtful sci-fi concepts and sophisticated film grammar, I am expecting the latter in spite of this bit of marketing.

 

Trailer: Five Fingers For Marseilles


 

The Western is alive and kicking. Having been adapted to Southern Europe in the 1960s with a flood gate of Italian and Spanish ‘Spaghetti’ entries, and more recently to northern Europe with 2005’s Belgian Vincent Cassel vehicle, Blueberry, and also this year, Let The Corpses Tan. Australia and New Zealand (The Proposition, Red Hill and Slow West) have gotten into the mix in the 21st century, as has Asia (South Korea’s Kimchi-Western The Good The Bad And The Weird, and the recent Japanese remake of Oscar winner, Unforgiven). Now it is time for the classic American genre to drop its saddle bags in Africa.

Near the colonial town of Marseilles in the rugged Eastern Cape of South Africa, a group of rebellious friends dubbed the Five Fingers use well-placed eggs and slingshots to drive off the oppressive police force. But when the cops seize quick-tempered Tau’s childhood love, Lerato, he goes from throwing eggs to shooting bullets. Scared of capture or worse, Tau flees, returning 20 years later to a town, and friends, transformed by the violence caused that day. With the crooked cops now replaced by a caustic gang, Tau must marshal what remains of the Fingers to once again defend their home.

South Africa’s Five Fingers for Marseilles is burning up with style and intensity. If I were attending TIFF this year (sadly, I am not) it would be high on my list of things to see. The trailer is below.

 

Cinecast Episode 495 – Ocean’s 7-11

Soderbergh makes his triumphant(?) return to the Cinema with an all-star cast of this generation’s hottest stars. Kurt and Andrew and from Matt Gamble all take slightly different stances on 2017’s heist film (and fourth to use John Denver rather pronminently), Logan Lucky. Possibly more of a conversation starter is the upcoming Dave Bautista actioner, written by our friend Nick Dimici, Bushwick; which the boys were lucky enough to catch an early screening of. If your genre of choice is a “editless,” neighborhood rebellion movie with militia men and Brooklyn-ites battling it out, you’re gonna have a hard time finding something better this year. We round it out with some Bava, Ron Howard, Nolan and some batshit insanity from Marlon Brando, et. al. in Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau. We do have about sixty seconds of Game of Thrones talk in there somewhere as well as a look to the weeks ahead with various films coming down the pike.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

We’re now available on Google Play!

 

 
 

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After the Credits Episode 215: Littlest Hobo Media Spew – July

This crew is dangerous

Though it seems TV has been in a light cool-off period, that doesn’t mean we don’t have things to watch.

Though Colleen wasn’t able to regale us with her adventures through Netflix, Dale (Letterboxd) and I (Letterboxd) covered quite nicely, if I do say so myself, by having watched quite a bit of streaming material. Also in the mix: we dig pretty deep into Dunkirk which we had the pleasure of seeing in 70mm.

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