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PROFILE: Darren Aronofsky

A Life In Movies

This is a post where I’m going to give a film for every year of my life. I got the idea from Red at Anomalous Material (read his post here), who in turn got it from Fandango Groovers. Let’s get started!

1987: Full Metal Jacket

Stanley Kubrick’s penultimate film is undoubtedly one of the best and most well-created war movies in film history. Lee Ermey, Vincent D’Onofrio and Adam Baldwin give the best performances of their career in this fantastic film.

1988: Spoorloos (The Vanishing)

George Sluizer’s flawless adaptation of Tim Krabbe’s fantastic novel The Golden Egg is also one of the most engaging films about kidnapping and the human mind and its reaction to grief. How much would you risk just to find out what happened to that inexplicably missing person, even if you couldn’t change their fate? A shocking ending left me breathless.

1989: Sex, Lies and Videotape

One of the most impressive and shocking debuts from a director is a champion of independant cinema and a film which deeply surprised me and shocked me with its brutally honest treatment of human emotion and relationships. James Spader is fantastic.

1990: Goodfellas

What else could I choose? Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece of gangster cinema is high up on the list of best films of the 90s decade, let alone the year. There’s not much more to say that hasn’t already been said about this Scorsese classic.

1991: The Silence of the Lambs

Jonathan Demme is a filmmaker who doesn’t get nearly enough respect as he should. I very rarely hear people talk about him, despite the fact he directed two of the greatest films ever made: Philadelphia and this. The definitive cat-and-mouse cop vs. criminal thriller, it crossed all boundaries into an area of its own.

1992: Reservoir Dogs

Quentin Tarantino’s first film is probably, all things considered, my favourite heist movie ever made. The dialogue is snappy and excellent, the plot structure is quick and perfectly paced and the acting is stunning, as well as a usual Tarantino soundtrack that is difficult to beat. What’s not to love?

1993: Short Cuts

Simultaneously my introduction to Robert Altman, the first Criterion DVD I ever owned and the beginning of an unending and continuous love of films with multiple storylines (see also, 1999 below), there were so many exciting and engaging elements to this great film.

1994: Three Colours: Red

Because this is such a tricky and expectant year, I thought I’d pick a film that no one else would pick. Kieslowski’s final film, and the conclusion to his fantastic Three Colours trilogy, this brilliant analysis of human behaviour, curiosity and relationships is simply stunning. And let’s not forget the astonishing ending. Watch the whole trilogy. Now. Please.

1995: Se7en

One of the first true thrillers I ever really loved, David Fincher’s famous cop vs. crim psychiatric thriller is gritty, ugly, but brilliant. Great writing, splendid acting and fantastic cinematography (Darius Khondji, we salute you), all lead up to a snappy and shocking ending which in itself demands required viewing.

1996: Fargo

“I guess that was your accomplice, in the woodchipper.” This was the first R-rated film I ever saw, and it has had a huge impact on the way I view films (especially thrillers). The amazing, subtle comedy and witty observations of Minnesotan attitude (“Minnesota Nice”) are key factors in the enjoyability of this clever movie.

1997: Boogie Nights

Paul Thomas Anderson catapulted himself to “big, bright shining star” fame with this two and a half hour long analysis of a rapidly changing industry, the key players involved and the little nuances of a changing time as the seventies became the eighties and everything changed. That’s right.

1998: The Big Lebowski

The second but not the last Coen brothers movie on this list, this endearing, funny story of mistakes, money, White Russians, Shomer Shabbas, Walter Sobchak, The Dude, The Jesus, floor-carpet urination and its unintended consequences, rich men and Mozart’s Requiem, Logjammin’, and of course, bowling is one of the cleverest films in terms of humour, ever made.

1999: Magnolia

If you’ve read my blog, 1999’s spot should be no question. A three hour masterpiece of interconnected storylines held together by stunning writing, flawless direction, a sweeping camera, great acting, epic music, and an ending of biblical proportions, it’s no question why this is my favourite movie of all time.

2000: Dancer in the Dark

Björk is fantastic in her acting debut as Selma, a near-blind woman saving up to save her son from the same hereditary fate. Lars von Trier, ever ready with a tool belt of DV cameras, a colourful imagination and swingin’ tunes, paints a touching, beautiful portrait of a life for the lesser fortunate, and a series of bad accidents which can lead to disaster. Warning, bring your hanky, this will make even the strongest of men cry.

2001: Mulholland Dr.

If someone asked me what the most accessible inaccessible movie ever made, I would complement them on the imagination of their question, and reply quickly with Mulholland Dr. It’s a simple enough storyline of a budding actress who moves to Hollywood and becomes caught up with a woman who can’t remember her past. The story moves along nicely, introducing more characters, and leading up to a finale which completely tricks you and beats any Christopher Nolan ending. Ever.

2002: Irreversible

Following his excellent film I Stand Alone, Gaspar Noe made another risky move, but turned the risk factor up to eleven. Graphic and extended rape and an equally graphic revenge sequence are part of the decoration of this Memento-like masterpiece which concludes with an uneventful but hugely emotional final scene on the grass in the park which is one of my favourite scenes of all time. Le Temps Detruit Tout: Time Destroys Everything.

2003: Oldboy

Quick action, a blindingly clever plot, and live squid consumption are just three of the many exciting and alluring things to be found in this excellent Korean thriller.

2004: Shaun of the Dead

A refreshing comedic break from the seriousness of this decade’s previous choices, Edgar Wright’s clever, observational ode to British humour and lifestyle, not to mention countless Romero zombie movies, is a smart and surprisingly hilarious film. The quick pace and delivery of the dialogue is a typical trait of British comedies (the early films of Guy Ritchie, particularly Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, are brought to mind) and is one of the various clever things which tie this rom-zom-com together.

2005: Caché

One of the strongest, most gripping, shocking and evocative thrillers ever created, Michael Haneke’s Caché is his masterpiece. It is the consequence of a career full of films examining secrets, violence and human behaviour. This film knocks all three out of the park with its spectacular observations of human jealousy and secrecy. Haneke’s directing is stunning, also, with countless stationary shots which continuously trick and deceive the viewer as well as a simple but thought-provoking ending.

2006: Babel

Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu wins us over yet again with the third and final in a trilogy of excellent films examining human behaviour through the usage of multiple storylines. Proceeded by the equally excellent Amores Perros and 21 Grams, it is a beautiful and emotional conclusion to a series of films which have skilfully examined racism and hatred, among other things. Those two are the main focus of this film, which is riveting for the entire run time of 130-ish minutes.

2007: There Will Be Blood

Undeniably and beyond a shadow of a doubt the best film of the decade, all things considered, Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic tale of greed and self-destruction is portrayed through the innocent eyes of Daniel Day-Lewis, whose eyes turn scarily guilty as he plays a man whose inevitable path to pure hatred and selfishness is simultaneously shocking, riveting and absolutely breathtaking. Kudos also goes to Robert Elswit, whose Oscar-winning cinematography is a mighty and deserving feat indeed. I’m finished.

2008: The Wrestler

Darren Aronofsky strikes back after a softer turn with 2006’s The Fountain and reconnects yet again with that inner cycle of human emotion. This time he conveys it through the usage of an awesome Mickey Rourke, whose portrayal of an ageing wrestler is heartbreaking, sympathetic and distancing, all at the same time. Thanks also, Darren A, for the perfect Bruce Springsteen song played in the end credits.

2009: A Serious Man

A film that grows on me even more with each viewing, the Coen brothers’ much-awaited film about Jewish life, existence, meaning and feeling is their most realistic one yet. Each Coen film exists in a warped universe of its own, but this is the first to really be… earthly, for lack of a better word. We look at this film and see the world around us, in a way none of us were expecting. Forget plot, forget excitment, forget fast-pace. This is a film about humanity and the imperfections we all possess, and how, in the end, it never really matters in consideration of the bigger things yet to come.

2010: Black Swan

If The Wrestler was about the inner truths and frustrations of the male psyche, Black Swan deals with the female one. Sense is senseless and sanity is moot in this brutal, explicit tale of jealousy, greed, anger and personality. It’s something Aronofsky does well, and it’s a shame he didn’t get the Oscar. Portman gives her career-best performance, haunted by mirrors wherever she goes and shadowed by a fractured personality. Excellent.

So there it is. A film for each year of my life. Whew. I wonder what 2011’s will be. That remains to be seen, but I think it’s safe to say each of these films is, in my opinion, the best of its respective year. But opinions change, and everyone’s is different. Leave a comment below with what you thought of my choices, and let me know what some of yours are.

Thanks for reading.

magnoliaforever

I, sadly, fear I am afflicted with the same list making compulsion that John Cusack's character had in "High Fidelity"

A blog about the films I watch and how they affect my everyday life. I am an affirmed film “buff,” and watch an average of three films per day, usually. I like to write reviews and present my opinions to those who give a crap, and enjoy hearing their feedback, too. Today I’ve been very busy and haven’t had a chance to watch any films yet (gasp!) but I can assure you I’ll be getting down to it ASAP. I don’t have a particularly large DVD collection (128 and counting…) but I enjoy watching and buying my favourite films. I have a Top 100 Movies list which I regularly update and features films ranging from 1931 to 2010 (the oldest being M and the newest Black Swan).

Because I watch a lot of movies, I like to think I have a respectable point of view on what’s right and wrong in them. I also like to think I have a sense of humour, perhaps too much of one, considering that at one point in my life I considered Caddyshack the greatest comedy ever made (for anyone that’s curious, my favourite comedy is Dr. Strangelove, which is #5 on my Top 100 list.) I’m also a bit of a compulsive list maker, with my own Top 10 opinions of many subjects, usually things to do with Film and TV.

That’s it for this post, so I will see you guys next time.