Brooklyn boy wonder
From mathematics and mysteries of creation in Pi, through Hubert Selby and drug addiction in Requiem ForA Dream, to the return of the Dark Knight in Batman V, DARREN ARONOFSKY drops the science on creating shocking masterpieces. Words: Miles Fielder
‘I was expecting this mean guy with a sledgehammer.
: and he turned out to be really sweet.‘ says Darren
Aronofsky of his literary idol Hubert Selby Jr. The young filmmaker from Brooklyn and the old writer from the Bronx have collaborated on the screenplay
adaptation of Selby‘s l978 novel. Requiem For A
then I completely missed
Dream. Aronofsky. though. first met his idol in the early 90s when he sought permission to adapt one of Selby‘s stories for his short film Fortune Cookie. ‘Back
what he was really about.
He‘s been dropping the science: he‘s a teacher. a sensei. a master of life. He‘s filled with love.‘
Seems an odd way to describe the author who‘s infamous for charting disturbing depths of the human psyche (check out Last Exit To Brooklyn and The Room). In Requiem For A Dream people with addictive personalities lose their self respect. morality and ultimately humanity. ‘He writes about the depths
z of humanity. he shows how human we are by showing how much we can collapse.‘ says Aronofsky. ‘The
best compliments I‘ve had for Requiem have been
people telling me how elated they were coming out of
it.‘ Mmm . . . A young man addicted to heroine loses
his arm to an infected puncture wound: to fund her
habit his girlfriend butt fucks another woman at a stag
party; and most disturbing. a loving mother becomes addicted to weight loss pills and loses her flesh. hair i and sanity. ‘Elated’. huh?
'lt's a song for the death of a dream. That's why it gets so extreme.’ Darren Aronofsky
Aronofsky collaborates with literary idol Hubert Selby Jr
It‘s ironic. And unsettling. Aronofsky‘s chatting quite affany about the film's horrific images and we‘re sitting in a plush hotel on the Cote d'Azure during the Cannes Film Festival — I can see the Med over the balcony. ‘People see a lot of sick shit today. especially on the Internet. I guarantee you. in four or five years. any image in this film is going to look light. I hope the emotional impact will still be there. but in terms of the shock value. it‘s really not that cutting edge.‘ I would argue that point.
‘The most disturbing shot is the needle in the open wound.‘ says Aronofsky. ‘There was a lot of debate about that with the studio.‘ In America. security guards were posted at the cinemas where it played. Really. ‘That one shot sums up what the movie is about: how far will we go to deny our existence in the present. and live in the fantasy of a dream. It‘s a song for the death of a dream. That‘s why it gets so extreme.’
Yet there’s no sense of this being an exploitative film. Aronofsky’s one of those cine-literate filmmakers that knows exactly what he‘s doing. He trades off bold stylistic strokes with solid performances from his cast. Aronofsky's patented ‘hip hop montage‘ — manic cuts and repetitions of images which approximate the obsessive nature of addiction — is a shock to the senses. while Hollywood veteran Ellen Burstyn's astonishing turn as the pill popping momma makes for heart-wrenching drama. Thus it‘s mature. never merely sensational filmmaking.
Given the harrowing but controlled content of the film. the prospect of Aronofsky‘s next project. Batman: Year One. is intriguing. After the dreadful camp of Batman And Robin. the fifth film — a prequel to be written by top comic scribe Frank Miller — will explore the origins of the disturbed mind of millionaire Bruce Wayne and his psychotic vigilante alter ego. And as if that isn't enough. Aronofsky's also planning to pick up where Terry Gilliam left off: another comic book adaptation. Alan Moore‘s awesome Watchmen.
Brooklyn boy wonder. indeed.
Requiem For A Dream opens at the GFT, Glasgow and Cameo, Edinburgh on Fri 19 Jan. See review.
Lights, camera, action . . .
ROBERT ALTMAN APPEARS at the Cameo Cinema. Not really, but a short retrospective of his films does. The Hollywood maverick's Hollywood satire The Player opens the season on 21 January, half of a double bill with Come Back To The Five And Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. Other films in the retrospective include Short Cuts, McCabe And Mrs Miller and the brilliantly iconoclastic Raymond Chandler reworking The Long Goodbye (see Film index).
STANLEY KUBRICK APPEARS at the Cameo too. Not really, but a sampler of his films does, tying in With the director's photography exhibition, Still Movmg Pictures, opening at Inverleith House on 27 January The film season opens on 11 February With two rarely screened documentaries, Day Of The Fight and Flying Padre plus KUbrK k's second feature The Killing (see feature and Art listings)
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY has yet to make an appearance this year, but three sixty contemporary arts is screening twenty one-minute films and animations based on Kubrick's science fiction classic at the Cameo beginning at one minute past eight (20:01) on 20 January (20.01). In 2001. The event is called Twenty, Oh One.
SMALL WONDERS, EDINBURGH-BASED Film & Video Access Centre's (FVA) filmmaking scheme, screens its latest films earlier the same day at the FllthUSE’. The films are Paul Hamilton's anti-consumerism tale A Short Film About Shoplifting, Abby Warrilow’s dance film, Cross-Spin, shot on location in a bowling alley, extracts
from Ben Slotover and Paul Elliot’s A
Zero Budget Guide To Film-making plus a selection of shorts. Warrilow wull run a forthcoming class, Dance For Camera, at Dance Base, currently operating out of the Assembly Rooms.
ClNEWORKS, ANOTHER FILM production initiative operating through the Glasgow Media Access Centre and FVA, has put out a call for submissions. Twelve ten-minute projects will be short-listed, of which five will be made and premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in August. Further info from cineworks.co.uk or phone Cordelia Stephens on 0141 553 2620.
18 Jan—1 Feb 2001 THE LIST 27