We’ve been talking a lot about Lars von Trier lately, prompted by the release of Nymphomaniac, and now Criterion Collection has given us one more reason to think about his work: their new special edition of his 1996 masterpiece Breaking the Waves. It’s a key entry in the von Trier filmography, its themes echoing throughout Nymphomaniac and Melancholia, but it takes something big like the Criterion release to warrant a revisit; Breaking the Waves is both a masterful movie and one that’s incredibly difficult to subject yourself to. We’ve looked previously at great books and important albums that are just plain hard to take; here’s a few movies that warrant the same kind of… Read More
There are scenes and images in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah as astonishing as any in recent memory, surrealistic flashes that inspire immediate awe and reverberate long afterwards. And there are moments so goofy and tone-deaf that you wonder if the gifted and visionary filmmaker was asleep at the wheel. It’s as odd and schizophrenic a picture as you’re likely to see in the focus-grouped, play-it-safe moviemaking climate of the moment, and the fact that it exists at all is sort of a (ha ha) miracle. The fact that it takes itself so very seriously will, no doubt, lead its more cynical viewers to dub it an unintentional laugh riot — and you can choose to laugh at it. But you can also choose to wrestle with it, to engage as fully as Aronofsky has. … Read More
In 1991, following his brilliant The Thin Blue Line, director Errol Morris attempted something even harder than getting an innocent man off Death Row: making Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time into an accessible, audience-friendly, major motion picture. The resulting film is, at long last, available on DVD and Blu-ray via Criterion. It’s awfully good — though its in-depth discussions of quantum mechanics and black holes and the Big Bang are bound to make those of us who nodded off in science class feel a bit out of our element. Then again, some movies, with their convoluted storylines or surrealistic imagery or intellectual subject matter, have the unintended side effect of merely spotlighting our intellectual shortcomings. Here are a few others that made us feel just a little… Read More
According to the Book of Genesis, there once lived a 600-year-young patriarch named Noah who saved the world’s animals — including humans — from a titanic flood on a boat handmade from gopher wood.
Interpreted by the 50 artists Darren Aronofsky solicited to contribute to an exhibit supplementing his film Noah, splinters of the biblical story debuted as Fountains of the Deep: Visions of Noah and the Flood at the storefront 462 West Broadway gallery on March 6 to a crowd of common and legendary faces. … Read More
Since the inception of cinema, filmmakers have had a penchant for recreating literary favorites — and our current cinema climate is no different. It seems like every time we turn around there is another book-to-film story preparing to make its way to the big screen. This year will see quite a few films based on books, from Gone Girl to The Giver to the next Coen brothers project, and we’ve outlined most of them for you, below. Which ones will make your must-see… Read More
Well, here’s a filmmaker/studio clash we’d never have seen coming: according to The Hollywood Reporter, Paramount and director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream) are butting heads over Noah, the forthcoming $125 million biblical adaptation starring Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly, and Emma Watson. THR reports that test screenings for a mostly Jewish audience in New York, a Christian audience in Arizona, and a general audience in California have produced vague-sounding “troubling reactions” and “worrisome results,” and it’s “not clear” whether the filmmaker has retained his right to final cut. Why, it’s almost like an idiosyncratic filmmaker tackling a Bible story with a massive budget was a tricky proposition to begin with, eh? … Read More
The Toronto Film Festival, which came to a close recently, wasn’t just the starter pistol for We’re-Not-Saying-It-Yet Season; the long-term value of the festival may well be its place as a launching pad for first-time filmmakers. Twenty-eight films screened in its “Discovery” section, and while we won’t know for some time how many soon-to-be-immortal filmmakers were among its ranks, it’s a good excuse to peruse the history of film and pluck out the debut feature efforts of great directors who knocked us out from their first… Read More