Let’s face it: Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is not the best nor the worst movie of the year, or the decade, or of all of movie history. It’s an average piece of art from a filmmaker who, after making Noah in 2014, has used another narrative from the Bible, i.e. the Garden of Eden, mixed it with ecological concerns, and made a mildly interesting story out of it. The main problem I have with mother! is its lack of surprise for all of its two hours. Once you get that the Jennifer Lawrence character is some kind of Eve and ecological earth mother whose universe is the house she lives in, the rest sort of falls into place. The movie has only three kinds of scenes: Lawrence’s point of view, Lawrence in the frame, or shots over her shoulder. It’s the earth mother’s story and how her realm gets invaded by careless, selfish humans. She has built that house herself and will never leave it – the porch is as far as she will go. She can feel the house’s beating heart getting poisoned by unwanted intruders. The invasion is gradual, but unstoppable, and you know well before the end that we will be back at the beginning, where the house is in flames, with the earth mother dying in it, and her husband placing a diamond on its little altar so that the house can heal again. And so on. Continue reading
Top Ten lists are among the ten worst things. They’re facile and reductive, they’re lazy journalism, and still for some odd reason they’re so tempting that I tend to check them out, only to come away annoyed, both with the list and with myself for having been lured in.
So without much further ado and completely unaware of the contradiction, here’s a Top Ten list for you to look at!
Tune in for the very first A Damn Fine Cup of Culture podcast as Mege and Matt discuss Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, as well as a bit of chat about Paul Verhoeven’s Elle and Matt Reeves’ War for the Planet of the Apes. Expect mild spoilers, references to Wonder Woman and a bit of Michael Bay mockery – everything that’s needed for a hot, steaming, tasty cup of culture! Continue reading
… and we change with the times.
What’s that you say, though? Didn’t we change just recently? You may very well say that, but let’s face it, sometimes it takes a change to get the grey matter going, and then, over the next couple of months, it comes up with a new, better change.
Why is it better, you say? Because it involves coffee.
As this blog as much as the many BILLY shelves in my living room stacked with DVDs and Blu-rays can confirm, these days my main media are probably film and TV. However, when I was young, and well into my 20s, I was very much a librophile first and foremost, which is also what determined much of my education and my early professional path. And while he wasn’t there when I got started on a lifelong love of books pretty much as soon as I learned how to read, Stephen King was probably the first writer I obsessed over.
I don’t know when I last read one of King’s novels, but it’s definitely been at least ten years. I don’t much feel the need to return to his world, to visit our old haunts in Castle Rock and Derry. Although it may sound arrogant or pretentious, I’d say I’ve outgrown him – but, and perhaps more importantly, I’d also say that I grew up as a reader in the company of Stephen King.
On the outside, Julia Ducournau’s Raw seems like an endurance test. There are reports of audience members fainting and vomiting, interrupted screenings and official complaints. And all of these people have seen the R-rated version, not the original, unreleased NC-17 version. During the show I was in, a guy left twice, his girlfriend stayed on, but all three of us fidgeted and squirmed more than once. Yes, Raw is hard to watch, but once you think you can cope with the blood and guts, you will find one of the best-told horror flicks in a long time. Like Lady Macbeth last week, Raw is a feature debut in a double sense: Julia Ducournau directed her own feature-length screenplay, and Garance Marillier, who plays the main role of Justine, is a newcomer. (SPOILERS AHEAD) Continue reading
Reader, we are not in Jane Austen country anymore. Any Austen adaptation must end in a marriage, whereas Lady Macbeth starts with one, not a happy affair, and it gets worse from here on out. The source of this story is, of course, that famous Scottish play, and then there is Nikolai Leskov’s novella Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District from 1865, which is said to be loosely based on a real crime. William Oldroyd’s movie, from a screenplay by Alice Birch, could have approached the character of Lady Macbeth from one of those angles. Instead, the movie shows us a young bride called Katherine who initially does not object to be married to a wealthy nobleman who resides in a bleak, solitary country estate. The troubles start during their wedding night: the husband is a gruff alcoholic and under his father’s thumb. He orders her to undress and face the wall, and then he puts out the light and goes to sleep. She discovers that he is impotent and wants to keep her indoors. The mood of the movie has more in common with Wuthering Heights than any Merchant-Ivory movie. Continue reading