Darren Aronofsky is one of my favorite filmmakers. It’s been rewarding to watch him develop over the course of his five feature films (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler, and Black Swan) and how he’s matured in approach to certain themes—namely, obsession and death. His latest feature, Noah, should be dripping with these two themes as it’s the story of a man directed by God and willing to let the rest of the world die. While it does provide some intriguing departure from those themes, Noah feels like a series of compromises that soften the impact of the themes as Aronofsky gets bogged down in explanations that feel like excuses, and then struggles to return to the fascinating and complex moral drama at the center of the story. Although he has his frequent collaborators providing the picture with grandeur and majesty, and the filmmaker’s trademark earnestness remains, his style begins to work against him as Noah veers between gritty reality and difficult humanism.
[This is a re-post of my review from the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Stoker opens today in limited release. Click here to find out when the film will be playing near you.]
In Chan-wook Park‘s Stoker, the hunt is more rewarding than the kill. Park has beautifully crafted an unnerving, slow-burn mystery-thriller that delves into a bloodline destined to shed blood. In his English-language debut, Park takes his immaculate yet eerie style, and uses it to enhance a relatively simple tale of a disturbed girl who begins a bizarre and disturbing relationship with her recently-discovered uncle. Through Park’s lens and the tremendous performances of stars Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode, Stoker may not cut deep, but it slashes hard.
Another clip from Park Chan-wook‘s Stoker has been released. In the clip, the newly-widowed Evelyn Stoker (Nicole Kidman) seduces her deceased husband’s brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode), while her daughter India (Mia Wasikowska) looks on. In addition to this new clip, Fox Searchlight has released Clint Mansell‘s terrific score for the film, and you should definitely give it a listen.
Hit the jump to check out the clip and the score. Click here for my review of the film and click here to read about Adam’s visit to the set. Stoker opens in limited release on Friday.
2013 looks to be a pretty packed year for sci-fi, but one of the more innovative/exciting films of the genre from the past decade is certainly director Duncan Jones’ 2009 film Moon. Jones made excellent use of miniature effects to create the lunar landscape on a shockingly small budget ($5 million), and star Sam Rockwell turned in a powerhouse performance as he commands nearly the entirety of the film’s screentime alone/opposite himself.
Moon recently aired on BBC2 and Jones, being the generous and Twitter-friendly person that he is, took it upon himself to offer a live commentary on Twitter while the film aired. The filmmaker offered some fascinating insights into the film, including how they finally convinced Kevin Spacey to voice Gerty and the fact that Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz, The Bourne Ultimatum) was poised to tackle the lead role should Rockwell back out at the last minute. Jones was also joined by some of the film’s technical collaborators on the Tweet commentary as well. Hit the jump for some of the highlights. Obviously, major spoilers for Moon follow.
In not exactly shocking news, longtime collaborator Clint Mansell will be composing Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming biblical epic Noah. Mansell has scored all of Aronofsky’s films to date, so his involvement with Noah was assumed. Nevertheless, speaking at the Marrakech Film Festival (via The Playlist), Aronofsky confirmed that Mansell will be handling music duties:
“We’re about to start [on Noah] and I’m actually getting texts right now and I know it’s from [Mansell], complaining about something. But he’s a genius too and he cares, he puts his heart and soul and his love into everything. And he’s unique – different from everyone else out there working. He’s able to boil down the thematic of a film into a melody, into two or three notes. He captures the whole essence of a film in two or three notes.”
You can hear the next new Mansell score when director Park Chan-wook’s promising drama Stoker hits theaters this coming March. Noah is due out nearly a year later, on March 28, 2014.
Opening on April 1 is Summit Entertainment’s awesome looking sci-fi thriller Source Code. Directed by Duncan Jones (who previously made the incredible Moon), the film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, and Jeffrey Wright. If you aren’t familiar with the film, Gyllenhaal stars as a soldier who wakes up in the body of a stranger on a Chicago commuter train: “he learns he’s part of a government experiment called the ‘Source Code,’ a program that enables him to cross over into another man’s identity in the last 8 minutes of his life.”
Anyway, I recently got to visit Duncan Jones in the edit bay with Peter from /film and Alex from First Showing. While there Jones showed us the first 10 minutes of the film and then we conducted an in depth interview which covered how he got involved in the project, what drew him to this material as his follow up to Moon, how tough is it to promote a movie when the mystery of what’s happening is critical to the story, how he shot on both 35mm and digital and why, the editing process, filming the action, and so much more. Hit the jump to read or listen to the interview, and I’ve also recorded a video blog with Peter about our reaction to the footage and the edit bay visit:
In my profession, there are two very important things you must do: watch movies and keep notes. I did an alright job with the first one, but admittedly fell short on the latter. While last year I was able to confidently provide what I thought were the best kills and quotes, this year I didn’t do a good job with record keeping and so I’ve omitted those categories. Next year I’ll be more meticulous and make it a point to see movie where people get destroyed while saying witty things.
However, I did see enough movies to confidently make a list of the folks I thought were the best actors, directors, and other miscellaneous greats. Hit the jump to check out my picks.
With 2010 coming to a close, and the imminent arrival of an entirely fresh, unexplored, and unpredictable decade of cinema, what better time to start bombarding you with top ten lists of past highlights? We’ve done top ten posters, top ten trailers and top ten Christmas movies (and an alternate Christmas list for those who disagreed with the first).
This time: scores and soundtracks. There is a distinction between the two, but it’s murky, and as more and more films are using a mix of both original scores and pre-existing tracks, who are we to try to keep them separate? Hit the jump for more.
Bad news if you’re a Clint Mansell fan. The composer’s exceptional work for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan has been deemed ineligible for Oscar consideration due to its usage of music from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. While not exactly a surprise, it’s still a shame considering the score’s unique, even complicated structure.
According to Variety, Carter Burwell’s scores for True Grit and The Kids Are All Right (which he composed alongside Nathan Larson and Craig Wedren) and Michael Brook’s work on The Fighter have also been disqualified. Alexandre Desplat’s score for The King’s Speech, however, which recently received a Golden Globe-nomination, has been deemed eligible despite its usage of classical works. Hit the jump for more.
Back in September we reported that The Fountain composer, Clint Mansell, was to score Duncan Jones’ new film, Source Code, a logical choice given the success of their collaboration on Moon. However, there has been a change of plans, as Mansell has an issue with scheduling. Duncan Jones reported on his twitter that:
“unfortunately we weren’t able to work out a schedule so Clint could do the score in the end. He has been a very busy bee.”
In Mansell’s place, Jones has hired Chris Bacon, “a very talented young guy”, who has been working scoring films for some time but is largely unknown. A 70 piece orchestra is recording the soundtrack over the course of three days. Epic. Hit the jump for more.
Great news for those who don’t live in any of the 18 major cities where Black Swan is currently playing. The film, which had a limited release on December 3, will be expanded to more than 1,000 theaters nationwide by December 22 (find out where on Foxsearchlight.com). But at least American moviegoers won’t have to wait until next year, as is the case in France where the movie is set for February 9.
Almost two months ahead of its release, Darren Aronofsky attended a special press screening last night at the MK2 Bibliothèque, on the right bank of the Seine. Flanked by a moderator and translator, the director took the stage at the end to discuss the film, reveal his drunken evening with Natalie Portman and how he has “always wanted to remake Godzilla.” What, you ask? More details after the jump.
Sometimes I wish I got a second viewing of a film before I wrote the review. Black Swan throws so much at you with its layers of symbolism, psychosexual metaphors, and rich thematic undertones. And instead of furiously scribbling notes, I let myself become lost in Matthew Libatique’s gorgeous cinematography, Clint Mansell rich score, and Natalie Portman’s phenomenal performance. I wanted to pick apart and analyze Black Swan but director Darren Aronofsky had to go and create another brilliant movie that I wanted to see again as soon as the end credits began to roll.
Composer Clint Mansell is reuniting with Duncan Jones for the sci-fi thriller Source Code. The two previous worked together on Jones’ wonderful 2009 feature Moon. The news of Mansell’s hiring on Source Code came via Jones’ Twitter: “Have a bloody fantastic bit of Source Code news. Super star Clint Mansell WILL be scoring the film. You have no idea how relieved I am.” I share that relief. Mansell my favorite composer working today. I listen to at least part of his score for The Fountain almost every day. His work on Moon was also gorgeous and I’m excited to hear what he creates for Source Code.
For those who don’t know, Source Code centers on a soldier (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) in an experimental program who must keep re-living a train bombing until he discovers the culprit. The film also stars Vera Farmiga, Michelle Monaghan, and Jeffrey Wright. Source Code is set to open on April 15, 2011.