Posts Tagged ‘Javier Bardem’

Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem

“MOTHER!” My rating: C 

121 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Darren Aronofsky is a master filmmaker whose grasp of movie technology and cinema’s esthetic possibilities has few equals.

But  you’ve got to wonder about his choice of subject matter.

There are moments of pure genius on display in “mother!”,  along with a sustained depiction of madness to equal anything ever seen on the screen.

But they are in the service of an eschatological puzzle that will leave most audience members scratching their heads.  The movie is clever to a fault, but at the risk of emotionally alienating all but the most die-hard theological geeks.

You know we’re in the world of heavy-duty (if not pretentious) metaphor when all the characters are denied names and identified in the credits as Mother, Him, Man, Woman, Younger Brother, etc.

Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in a remote, formerly splendid country home with her husband, the considerably older Him (Javier Bardem). Him is a novelist with a bad case of writer’s block; he can’t make the ideas flow and it’s making him pathetic and cranky.

Mother, meanwhile, busies herself with restoring the old mansion, a job she has taken on singlehandedly.

Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris

Their isolated lives are interrupted by Man (Ed Harris), who claims to be a physician doing research nearby. He’s been misinformed that Mother and Him are running a b&b.  When Him learns that Man is a big fan of his writing, he invites the visitor to move into a guest room.

Mother isn’t thrilled, and is even more upset when Man’s wife, Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), shows up as well.  They are the guests from hell:  smoking, drinking, acting like they own the joint and making out like horny teens. This part of “mother!”, at least, is wickedly funny.

Woman is a nosy meddler who wants to know the nature of her hosts’ sex lives and presses Mother for an explanation of their childless state.

Mother pleads with her husband to evict the interlopers, but his ego is desperate for their fawning praise. Moreover, Man appears to be dying of lung cancer. What kind of person would toss him out?

The first half of the film climaxes with a murder.

In its wake Him finds inspiration, writes a new novel and impregnates Mother.

All seems copacetic until the night thousands of Him’s fans descend upon the house and begin a riot, holding orgiastic ceremonies, stripping the house for souvenirs and, eventually, turning their attention to the infant  Mother delivers in the midst of these cabalistic reveries. (Shades of “Rosemary’s Baby”!) (more…)

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Ben Affleck, Olga Kuylenko...falling in love in France

Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko…falling in love in France

“TO THE WONDER” My rating: C (Opens May 3 at the Tivoli)

112 minutes | MPAA rating: R

There’s a temptation to write off “To the Wonder” as a dead-on satiric parody of a Terrence Malick film.

Except that it is a Terrence Malick film.

And since I don’t think Malick is making fun of himself, we are left to struggle with just what  this admittedly talented but hugely exasperating filmmaker is up to.

Hell, maybe he’s just perverse.

“To the Wonder” embraces all the elements that irritated people with his previous film, “The Tree of Life” (which I count as one of the great movies of the last decade) and jettisons all the good stuff.

The film may be the ultimate statement in Malick’s war on narrative. It’s visually poetic, yeah — like an artsy fartsy TV commercial where you can never figure out what they’re selling — but also emotionally empty. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the movie is throwing a hearty “fuck you” into our faces.

I’m going to assume Malick is not just giving us the finger here, that he has attempted to make a real piece of art, and that he has failed.

Happens to everyone. Now how about a plot next time?

Here’s what we can say with certainty. “To the Wonder” is about an American man (Ben Affleck) who on a trip to France falls in love with a young woman (Olga Kurylenko) and brings her and her young daughter back to live with him in the U.S.

Except that he resides in a treeless, flat, irony-free tract-home subdivision outside Bartlesville, OK. It’s a neighborhood hemmed in on one side by high-tension power lines and on the other by an Interstate. There’s an oil well in the back yard.

Hmmmm…let’s see.  Paris…or Oklahoma?  Gosh, it’s such a tough call.

It’s enough to make you think this woman hasn’t got a brain in her head. (more…)

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