The result of a post-graduate course in something or other no doubt

The mythic maximalism of Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!”
There is a noble (possibly divine), if baroque, purpose behind the kinesthetic density of Araonfsky’s lofty work


This is the credo of the artistic maximalist: more is more. And if there’s one American filmmaker whose talents reveal themselves when stretched out to such spectacles of scaled-up bigness, it’s Darren Aronofsky, whose new film, “Mother!” (stylized “mother!”), might be the most daring, intoxicating, head-shakingly unbelievable, utterly, unashamedly maximalist American motion picture released by a major studio since Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life” in 2011, or even Richard Kelly’s “Southland Tales” more than a decade ago. It is a film of mythic proportion that valiantly strives to do, well, pretty much everything.

Er,, yes….

Aronofsky is not the artist-as-God but the filmmaker-as-Frasier-Crane, frantically conducting his overblown orchestra of violence, sex, cannibalism and swollen biblical metaphor, energized by a deeply felt belief that, sometimes, more is more.

This is either the result of a post-graduate course in critical something or other or a spoof and a damn good one at that. I’m going with the Sokal solution, that use of Frasier is the give away.

10 thoughts on “The result of a post-graduate course in something or other no doubt”

  1. agree Tim..
    “specifically concerned with the monotheistic capital-g God of Judaeo-Christianity” – Yeah a little too, what’s the word?, : tryey?

  2. From Halliwell’s great film guide, first published in 1977:

    ” Another problem besetting the cinema in the sixties was its adoption by verbose and pompous critics who were determined to turn it into serious art. True art is the work of one man, or at least his personal vision; each film is the work of several hundred people. Of these, admittedly the director has the most control, but to assign to him the role of auteur and to ignore the contribution of producer, writer, photographer, composer and editor is arrant nonsense, except possibly in the cases of such as Hitchcock and Kubrick who do control almost every aspect of their output. The new cinema journalism simply encouraged the worst motives of the new breed of film-maker, who came to know that whatever idiocy he perpetrated would be staunchly defended, researched and psychoanalysed by one of these mercenaries in search of a cause. If a character spat on the pavement this would be taken as his final shedding of his working-class upbringing; if he went to bed with a girl it would symbolise his treachery to his own beliefs and his giving in to the snares of Mammon. Listen to a modern critic in the British Film Institute’s Monthly Film Bulletin, once a terse and reliable guide to film trends, on Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: ‘What Scorsese has done, however is to rescue an American cliché from the bland, flat but much more portentous naturalism of such as Harry and Tonto and restore it to an emotional and intellectual complexity through his particular brand of baroque realism.’ Or on Rafelson’s Stay Hungry: ‘What distinguishes him from other film-makers of the “head” generation is both the poetic sureness of his fragmentary, allusive style, and the elliptical observation which prevents his social themes from being spiked too easily on the cultural antithesis of that bygone era.’ Spare us.”

  3. Knowing Me, Knowing Steve

    OTOH, this review is splendid:

    This delusional freak show is two hours of pretentious twaddle that tackles religion, paranoia, lust, rebellion, and a thirst for blood in a circus of grotesque debauchery to prove that being a woman requires emotional sacrifice and physical agony at the cost of everything else in life, including life itself. That may or may not be what Aronofsky had in mind, but it comes as close to a logical interpretation as any of the other lunk-headed ideas I’ve read or heard. The reviews, in which a group of equally pretentious critics frustratingly search for a deeper meaning, are even nuttier than the film itself. Using descriptions like “hermeneutic structure,” “phantasmagoric fantasia,” “cinematic Rorsach test” and “extended scream of existential rage,” they sure know how to leave you laughing.

  4. The movie’s getting absolutely panned by anyone who isn’t so far up his own arse he can lick his tonsils.

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