Saturday, September 16, 2017

Mother!


The degree to which viewers will be horrified by Darren Aronofsky's boffo, bloody cringefest fable, Mother!, will correspond directly to how much the viewer fears uncertainty and losing control -- which is to say a pretty good number of us. Few will be able to resist sympathizing with the befuddled and manic "Mother" of the title (Jennifer Lawrence), though her pregnancy isn't introduced until the second act. Before that, she's just manic and frustrated because her poet husband (Javier Bardem) is blocked -- both on paper and, apparently, in bed. One afternoon, a mysterious man (Ed Harris) and his fantastically inappropriate wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) show up at the couple's spacious Victorian-era country home that she's restoring herself, bringing with them all manner of horrors. Again, depending on your level of OCD, you will either find Man and Woman (as they're called in Aronofsky's screenplay) a nightmare or just weird. But shortly after them come their feuding sons (real-life brothers Domhnall and Brian Gleeson) whose bloody battle ends the first act. The film's second half is what some critics are extolling as visionary filmmaking and, to me, it is indeed extraordinary. The mother's descent into hell (actual or psychological) is chaotic and unnerving and mesmerizing and provokes all manner of conjecture about the meaning of her miserable trip. For one, I think Mother! is another of Aronofsky's musings on love and obsession and how easily they are mistaken for each other. But interpretations will surely vary from person to person. Highly recommended.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

It


The Stephen King I've enjoyed most showcases the horrors we do to one another rather than the horrors of the undead -- though those are duly represented. In Andy Muschietti's It, a rag-tag band of pre-pubescent outcasts must contend with their hellish homelives while running from Bill Skarsgard's toothy and voracious sewer rat clown, Pennywise. As the manifestation of many a moppet's nightmares, Pennywise is a fine fiend who finds the group of youngsters, led by the fairly intrepid but mopey Bill (Jaden Lieberher) and the mouthy and vulgar Richie (Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard), in the last reel, formidable foes -- made so by the coldness, abuse, neglect and manipulation they've suffered at the hands of their parents and schoolhouse bullies. And that's really what this delightfully twisted scarefest is about -- facing your fears and kicking their asses. It's not child's play. Recommended.

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