Qt3 Movie Podcast: Mother

Finally an answer to the burning question “How will Aronofsky top Noah?”

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2017/09/18/qt3-movie-podcast-mother/

FYI: It’s not JLawr at the very beginning.

Damn. I didn’t even think about that.

Is this one of the ones where I should wait until after seeing the film to listen to the podcast?

Yay, Tom was let out of the cupboard. Much better.

Really? But still her at the end again. Would’ve been awesome if first burner was Weisz.

I think you should watch the movie first. If you like the movie or don’t like it, I do think it’s best viewed knowing as little as possible about it.

You were right about Lawrence and Aronofsky being a couple.

Aronofsky’s cinematographer was Matthew Libatique, not Raphael Liberatore. Raphaël was a game writing freelancer we worked with, not a cinematographer.

About the “running discussion,” we discuss movies with each other when we have both been taken out of the movie and have no investment. We don’t do it in crowded theaters, but we were like five rows away from the next person in the theater we saw it in - there weren’t many people there. Because of the kind of movies we see and when we see them, we are in sparsely populated theaters a lot.

@Kelly_Wand: I did NOT hate The Lobster. I just walked out of it. Big difference.

I don’t know if this is the right place for this, and I should mention that at this time I have not yet listened to the podcast, though I intend to rectify that. But I feel like Aronofsky is the most off-putting director I’ve ever encountered.

Going back to Pi, which I recall was sold to me as a work of genius by a girl I was dating at the time, though it struck e as simultaneously shallow and pretentious. But I kept that to myself as mine seemed to be the minority opinion and, outside of Qt3, I don’t usually go around picking those kind of fights.

Then I somehow got roped into seeing Requiem for a Dream. I’ll say no more about this movie other than, if I could unsee it, I would.

Last, so far, was The Fountain. Let me say first of all, I didn’t hate this. It was very pretty. But still struck me as, well, pretentious. I should clarify what I mean by that - I get the impression that the film seems to be saying something Aronofsky feels is important, weighty. But you pare away a lot of the extraneous stuff (like the Spanish dude and bald guy) and you’ve got a fairly simple story. One as old as time, you might say. And not an especially interesting one, on its own.

Anyway, I haven’t seen the Wrestler, which everyone tells me is pretty good. But fool me once, blah blah blah. I’m intrigued by the idea of Noah, but, again. Anyway I just kind of wanted to get this off my chest - I won’t be seeing this movie because I am not in the market for what Aronofsky is selling. I’ll not call him overrated because who the hell am I? OK, I’ll see myself out.

Asking for Kelly’s license and registration made me crack up.

A couple to my right left the theater before it even started getting weird.

[quote=“Brooski, post:9, topic:131618”]
@Kelly_Wand: I did NOT hate The Lobster. I just walked out of it. Big difference.[/quote]

You did a Jodorowsky and walked out with love.

So, right when Ed Harris shows up?

A QT3 movie podcast I actually have to listen to…I can’t wait to see how much Tom hates this movie!

I sent this email to the 3x3 prior to the podcast and Tom asked me afterward to post it. Since there haven’t been any posts in a while, here it us. Just my opinion, but it’s a strong one. I will put it all under a spoiler tag.

“I said to Hank Williams, how lonely does it get? / Hank Williams hasn’t answered yet / but I hear him coughing all night long / about a hundred floors above me in the tower of song”

Leonard Cohen, may God rest his Canadian soul, wrote that about singing, but I can see Darren Aronofsky looking about a hundred floors up in the tower of film to watch Andrei Tarkovskii make a movie about burning down your house. I was going to try to write something that kept my opinion of the movie in doubt as long as possible before I disclosed it, but OMG, this was hella bad. What’s even worse is I can see all the old Aronofsky in there, just polluted and sick. Autocorrect just changed “sick” to “suck” right there. You go, Apple. Holy Christ (I’ll get to that later), what did he think he was doing? I am going to come clean: I was afraid to see this movie, because I dislike horror. And that’s because I am the wussiest horror film watcher ever. I am scared by everything. I was even scared by the It trailer. And I was scared by the, I dunno, first 20 minutes of this movie. Creepy! But that’s not much of an achievement, because that’s pretty much every competent horror movie. It’s scary until the movie explains why ghosts exist, or that Hell is full so all dead people go to the Internet. And then it just becomes dumb, because I know the Internet is not full of dead people. (The slowly crashing plane into the ruined city, though…)

Aronofsky tries to end-run this by never giving you an actual explanation, but the explanation is just the symbolism: artists are supremely self-centered because they are ultimately sustained by the adulation of their audience. The end. You could have just written this on a handbill and given it to me when I walked into the theater, skipped the movie, and let me spend the rest of the ticket price on beer. (This is Portland, all the theaters have beer.) Why did I watch this? Not for the characters: nobody was even remotely interesting, or had any kind of development. Not for the story: there wasn’t one. Not for the cinematography: it was dull and derivative. Michelle Pfeiffer had the single best line in the movie: “This is all just setting.” You should have told Darren that, baby!

You feel like Aronofsky just thought that it would be somehow transgressive to show someone’s house get trashed by an escalating set of horrifying circumstances. But there was nothing horrifying about them. Remember how I said I was the wussiest horror watcher ever? Well, I was cowering in my seat, afraid of the next jump-scare. (btw, this had 1/3 of the elements of a rogue-like, because no way did Aronofsky earn the right to jump-scare me 2 minutes in, unless he thinks he earned it from previous movies. That’s meta-progression!) But when the sons came in and started going on about the will, I sat up and watched the whole rest of the movie without a shred of discomfort. The tone had become absurdist, and there is nothing scary about absurdism. And then it became crazier and crazier. But it wasn’t like the Nazi pigs attacking the Muppet Show-watching family in American Werewolf in London, because this violence served no purpose except its building its own crescendo. You knew things would just escalate and escalate, because that’s how the movie seemed to be built.

This isn’t unlike Pi or Requiem for a Dream - both of those films have violence or depredation that steadily escalate until they are out of control. But they are anchored to characters, who develop, and who have recognizable human motivations. At the point that Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris break the sacred crystal, and then have sex and refuse to leave the house, you realize that no one is acting like an actual human, so who knows if any of it is actually happening? My wife and I had a running discussion during the film as to whether whoever the lead actress was (Jennifer something - is it Anderson?) was insane and thus this was all a sucker punch. (We also speculated that she was on drugs, and that the “formula” she kept in the bathroom that she drank was making her hallucinate, but then she poured it out - so now was she having withdrawal symptoms?) But you couldn’t tell, because there was no reliable narrator. In both Pi and Requiem, everyone started to lose touch with reality to various degrees, but your reliable narrator was Aronofsky himself. How detached from reality a given character had become was sometimes debatable (especially in Pi) but there were always landmarks. Here, it might as well be a fantasy movie, and eventually becomes one. Is Jennifer Lawrence (her name just came to me) going insane? Who cares. I get the point: Javier Bardem is Narcissus, the self-involved artiste, who will sacrifice his muse not for his art, but for himself. Whoa it’s like Bosnia with barbed wire and detention camps! No, it’s a movie set and nothing on it has any connection to anything I believe represents something I care about. I hope all the actors got paid and everything, though. I guess I care about that.

I can’t think of anything else I was gonna say oh wait no the Christ thing! Ok look here: Aronofsky is super anti-Christian. Thank God he lives in America and hates Jesus and not in India and hates Vishnu or in Bangladesh and hates Mohammed, but fine - good for him. I’m sure he feels really transgressive with the eating the body of the baby Jesus or whatever. Please. Andres Serrano already put a crucifix in a pee tank, Darren. But let’s follow your Jesus symbolism - does it offer anything new? How can we interpret it? Remember, Jesus willingly gave his life for Man, but that baby was less than a day old. He can’t give consent. So what am I supposed to take from this, Darren? Javier Bardem is a perverted God of Abraham, ordering the death of his own son and then actually carrying it out? Does this get me any further than the original “self-centered artist” idea? Yeah, because cannibal dead baby parts! I am so bored right now I am actually yawning.

I learned from my mother way back in kindergarten when she was trying to explain literary theory to me (no joke) that ideas expressed through characters are literature, but if you take out the characters and just use words, that’s philosophy. Or at least that’s what I remember from my kindergarten litcrit lessons. Don’t blame my mom for any misremembering on my part. I’ve used this shorthand to good effect, though, and my corollary to the world of film (with which I was unfamiliar as a six-year-old) is that if your movie is just a bunch of visual symbols, you could have just written your idea out for me and saved me the trouble. Movies need to tell stories, just like literature does. This one did not.

The last movie I saw before this was Columbus. OMG what a contrast. That was a great movie. This was contemptible garbage.

Epic.

-Tom