There was a point I remember having loved the films of Darren Aronofsky, and back then I remembered not liking The Fountain much. But now I’ve only found his films to be strenuous experiences aside from The Wrestler, and with all of this in mind I was not especially compelled to give The Fountain another go. To say the least, I’ve only found myself warming up to The Fountain more on rewatch, because it seems to be a case where Aronofsky is both maintaining his own style and telling a story that I’m not even sure can be repeated in the same manner. Aronofsky had always been a director who appears to do so much for the eyes yet his narratives are not quite the same level, oftentimes to the most excruciating results (Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan), but The Fountain is a story that only feels right being as showy as it is, it’s Aronofsky at his most expressive.
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I’ve soured on Darren Aronofsky heavily over the years: I remember when I first saw Requiem for a Dream and initially I thought that it was an emotionally draining experience and now it only ever manages to ring me as exploitative of its own characters’ misery at the hands of an agreeable message. But this was not something I found to be exclusive towards said film, because Black Swan, which may very well be his worst film yet, only manages to rub me in the wrong way for similar reasons. But for the many shortcomings of Requiem for a Dream, it never felt condescending in the way that Black Swan was, among many reasons it has only ever managed to leave such a bitter taste in my mouth. It seems so insistent that perfection leads to equally perfect art, and it’s a product so explicitly mechanical its own message only falls down upon itself and the one thought that came to my mind after finishing up read: “this is why I hate Darren Aronofsky.”
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As far as my own opinions of Darren Aronofsky have gone, I think it’s clear enough that I’m not a fan. I like only two of his films (The Fountain and The Wrestler) whereas the rest seem so drenched in showing off how distinctive they are to the point the experience would become agonizing. And it was among many reasons I greatly disliked Black Swan because oftentimes Aronofsky isn’t hiding narrative choices that often resemble better works under a layer of weirdness that ultimately adds up to nothing. But what exactly does one get if they can imagine all the worst qualities of Black Swan cranked up to the maximum? The final result of that is Mother!, because it almost feels like being pummelled by everything about him as a director that continuously has annoyed me.
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To the Bone, another Netflix original film with Lily Collins (after Okja) presents yet another frustrating case on their own behalf. It’s easy enough for me to say that Netflix’s original features never have been particularly great ones at that, and after breaking away through Bong Joon-ho’s Okja, we’re left with Marti Noxon’s To the Bone. This semi-autobiographical portrait of anorexia makes clear its good intentions, but there’s a Hallmark-esque feeling it leaves behind that only leaves me feeling cold. Sure, it’s better made and better written than films that anything from said catalogue but at the same time it was also what I feared it would be, something that has an eating disorder placed in the center only to be sidelined in the name of a story that has already been told several times before. Suddenly, all my interest has faded away.
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I knew nothing about My Life as a Zucchini up until it received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature, and when I finally got a chance to see it for myself, to say I was touched by this simple tale would only undersell it. I had already felt inside that something inside the story that it had been telling resonated with me, having grown up alienated from people around me, and finding it even more difficult to connect with family members. I knew this would be the sort of animated film for me, but I didn’t love it nearly as much as I was hoping. Yet to say I wasn’t moved would be a lie; this simple tale does within only a little over an hour what other animated films somehow can’t do within two hours. It carries the sort of heart and soul missing from many animated movies these days, even a live-action melodrama can’t find itself matching up.
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Stephen King’s It has always been a difficult novel to adapt to another medium as proven by the original miniseries which has only begun to show how terribly it has aged over the years (I haven’t been able to make it through the miniseries after reading the novel for myself and finding it absolutely fantastic). The notion that a feature film based entirely on the first half of the novel would have indicated some promise but at the same time I was skeptical because Andy Muschietti hasn’t impressed me with his prior directorial effort, Mama. But it wouldn’t be fair to expect a film that gets down to what the novel had achieved, so on its own ground I enjoyed what Muschietti had made here, despite obvious room for improvement.
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After Starlet and Tangerine, Sean Baker has only shown himself to be one of the most intriguing voices of his own generation. Knowing virtually nothing about The Florida Project other than the fact he was directing it, along with the casting of Willem Dafoe only got me all the more excited to see it and quickly enough I was swept away by the experience. But to say the least, The Florida Project was a film that hit home more than I would have expected, blending the childhood wonder with the harsh nature of the adult world – creating a beautiful portrait of an Americana lifestyle. But within how small it is it still speaks much greater volumes, something that Sean Baker has already proven with his previous directorial efforts.
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I’m not even sure why this movie needed to be two hours long, that’s just one thing on my mind the moment I finished The Big Sick. On the other hand, knowing how personal of a tale this was for Kumail Nanjiani to tell, I already knew that I was in for something sweet. As expected of a Sundance drama it’d be rather cutesy (perhaps maybe a bit too much), but I was ultimately won over despite the occasional qualm. What could already make itself out to be any other conventional romantic comedy proves to be something sweeter and incredibly thoughtful, maybe that was all it needed to be in order to hit every mark in which it does with ease.
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I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched Step Brothers before I got into movies, for I’d always come out laughing at the silliness shown inside of a concept that revolves around 40-year-old man children still trying to acquire normal lives for themselves. But I was worried what coming back to Step Brothers for my first time in so long would do to my own opinion for my own taste in films has only grown within the many years, although to my own delight it didn’t only hold up. I’ve only found myself laughing even more from watching Step Brothers than I could remember having done so years back. And I’m not always a fan of Will Ferrell in the meantime, but with watching him in Adam McKay movies he makes this silliness work so perfectly, and that’s what I’ve always loved about Step Brothers, the manner in which it embraces how silly it is without pretending to be more.
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It still amazes me how within so little, Sidney Lumet has managed to create something nearly as mind blowing as 12 Angry Men – because what Lumet was able to do in a single room many other filmmakers can’t seem to capture within an entire city. But among many more things that one can come to say about 12 Angry Men, the most obvious comes to mind: it’s one of the best American films of the 1950’s, let alone all time. Because there’s a great sense of tension that can be felt just from being inside of a room because of how tight it remains all throughout, for it only leaves a feeling of being drained, even the smaller actions feel so big. Among many reasons that 12 Angry Men is one of the best films of the 1950’s, let alone all time – they only begin to shine from there. But many of these reasons are already covered in many better ways, and maybe at most all I can ever do is repeat them.
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