Darren Aronofsky has made a number of controversial movies, but none has been so polarizing as 2017’s Mother! — a film that had critics and filmgoers dividing into camps based on whether they thought the film was a brilliant biblical parable or a trainwreck carrying some neat ideas. The film begins with a married couple, known only as Him (Javier Bardem) and Mother (Jennifer Lawrence), living in a secluded house. Him is a poet, trying to compose his next work, and Mother tends the house. Their life seems routine, until Man (Ed Harris) arrives, eager to meet Him, and takes up residence in their house. Soon, Man’s wife, Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), comes as well, and then more strangers follow in her wake. As their house swells with uninvited guests, Mother struggles to maintain her composure. As that relatively simple explanation of the premise might suggest, Mother! is a strange film, an increasingly tense, frightening drama that makes heavy use of allegory.
‘THE ELEPHANT MAN’
David Lynch’s second feature film, 1980’s The Elephant Man, is a remarkably straightforward film in the director’s surreal oeuvre, a film distinct for its lack of strangeness. The film tells the story of Joseph Merrick (John Hurt), a man afflicted with severe deformities throughout his body. A surgeon named Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) finds Merrick while visiting a freak show in Victorian London, and takes him to London Hospital. As Treves gets to know Merrick, he finds him to be an intelligent, soulful man, and Merrick soon attracts visitors from London’s upper classes. Although Lynch is associated with the nightmarish visuals and mercurial plots of films like Mulholland Drive, The Elephant Man employs a light touch, letting Merrick’s quest for dignity, and the stellar performances by Hurt and Hopkins, stand center stage.
Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise was an unlikely film to spawn a trilogy, focusing as it does on one mundane, emotional night between two lovers. With the sequels, however, Linklater — and stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy — have crafted a remarkable, decades-long tale of love and aging. The third film, Before Midnight, opens nine years after Before Sunset, with Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) married, traveling Greece with their two daughters. It’s an idyllic setting, and as in the first two films, Jesse and Celine spend much of the film talking, with themselves and others, about subjects great and small. Unlike the first two films, however, Before Midnight is no longer about two people deciding to be together; they already are, and the film explores the sacrifices and impositions required of their marriage, and the passage of time. Jesse mourns his relationship with his American son, whom he rarely sees, while Celine wonders if her career has any meaning. Shot in Linklater’s restrained style, letting the characters and dialogue take center stage, Before Midnight is an honest exploration of what it means to grow old with someone else.
Tonya Harding is one of the most notorious figures in sports history. Once a shining star in the world of figure skating, she transformed into a villain after her ex-husband and bodyguard conspired to injure her rival, Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver), a conspiracy many believed Harding had a hand in. I, Tonya follows Harding (Margot Robbie) from her sad childhood to her rise as a figure skater, to her eventual fall.
What elevates the film above most biopics, however, is its willingness to play with reality; I, Tonya filters events through the perspectives of its characters, leaving the audience questioning whether Harding is simply a misunderstood person with some flaws, or a devious villain. Robbie’s standout performance — and that of Allison Janney, who plays Harding’s mother — is simply the foundation that supports the entire endeavor…..Read More>>>