Blog Archives

PROFILE: Darren Aronofsky

Five Great Original Film Scores I Love

When music occurs in film, as we all know, it’s either soundtrack or score. I think more focus is put on the soundtrack than one of the most important parts of the film, the score. It represents the mood and feeling of the movie, and can carry all the emotions without even speaking a word.

Magnolia by Jon Brion

In my favourite movie of all time, I could list hundreds of reasons why I love it as much as I do, but one of the top ten would have to be Jon Brion’s fantastic score. I bought the CD a few months back, and it’s been playing over and over almost non-stop. It’s easy to miss it while watching the movie, but every time I watch it now that music is in my mind; I notice it, and it affects me. It’s an almost perfect score, for a perfect movie.

American Beauty by Thomas Newman

Thomas Newman’s score to Sam Mendes’ breakthrough feature manages to be consistently soft, even when it’s in its angriest mood. The complex layer of disputing emotions conveyed through the music track the path of the characters as they are pulled along a storyline of uprising and downfall. An incredibly original, poignant and affecting score that’s enough to put a tear in your eye every time:

Mulholland Dr. by Angelo Badalamenti

The film’s reliance on music is extraordinary, and even though not all of it is composed by Badalamenti, much of it including the terrific ‘Love Theme’ is. It’s incredibly sad, moving music that lulls the viewer into the same dreamlike state of frightening dystopian disorder that Lynch does with his film. Listen to it for yourself:

Requiem for a Dream by Clint Mansell

Arguably the most well known score on this list, Clint Mansell’s score, while being overused in various advertisements and television programs, consists of much more than just the popularised, searing Lux Aeterna. The downward path of drug abuse portrayed in the film and it’s effect owes a lot to the music, which subliminally makes it seem more horrifying and disturbing, if that were indeed possible. Check out this piece from the score, which is nowhere near as appreciated as it should be:

The Fountain by Clint Mansell

The second album from Clint Mansell also features some of his best, most underrated work as a composer. While the film itself was rather disappointing and conflicted among critics, the score is an inarguable success. The track ‘Death is the Road to Awe’ is one of the ten best pieces of musical score I have ever heard, and it’s not the only one worth mentioning. So much of the album is pure brilliance.

Those are my picks. I could list more, but this is plenty of listening material for you guys for now. Hopefully you can find the time to listen to some of the tracks above… there are many more on YouTube. If there’s anything you’d like to add, leave a comment below.

I Love Ya Frances McDormand, but EMILY WATSON WAS ROBBED! And Five Other Best Actress Travesties

A recent re-watch of Lars von Trier’s fantastic Breaking the Waves starring Emily Watson in a lifechanging, career-best role prompted the question, “How the Hell did Frances McDormand win the Oscar over her?” Don’t get me wrong, I love Fargo, and I thought McDormand was brilliant in her role, but when you compare it to Watson, it’s nothing. So, before I write a list of five other Best Actress choices that IMO were completely wrong, I invite you to vote in a poll, the second poll I’ve posted in two days. If you haven’t seen both films, don’t vote. Watch them. Particularly Breaking the Waves, which I’m planning to make the next Weekly Movie Challenge movie which I’ll post in a few days. But if you’ve seen ’em both, then tell me, who was better? McDormand, or Watson?

Thanks for voting, and if you didn’t, go watch both movies!

Now, for five Best Actress Oscars awarded to the wrong person:

1960: Elizabeth Taylor (Butterfield Eight) over Shirley MacLaine (The Apartment):

Okay, we all know Liz Taylor was a fantastic actress, and I’m not denying it, but in this particular instance MacLaine played her respective role in Billy Wilder’s masterpiece a million times better than Taylor ever could. She carried the right mood of sadness, regret and melancholy. Terrific when contrasted against Jack Lemmon’s infinitely optimistic lead role.

1976: Faye Dunaway (Network) over Liv Ullmann (Face to Face):

First of all: Network is one of my favourite movies of all time, and talking of Lumet, I prefer it to 12 Angry Men. But Dunaway was merely a supporting role in comparison to the huge, lumbering force that was Peter Finch. Not insulting Dunaway at all. And Ullmann was so deserving of an Oscar ever since Persona, so it was great to see her nominated, and she was fantastic in Face to Face, and giving her the Oscar for that might’ve been a decent atonement for the Persona, Shame and Cries and Whispers snubs.

1980: Sissy Spacek (Coal Miner’s Daughter) over Mary Tyler Moore (Ordinary People):

I’m sorry to say it, but I can’t stand either of these actresses. Moore is annoying, and Spacek has struck me as freaky ever since Carrie, but you’ve got to admit Moore’s turn as the ignorant, possibly uncaring, self-occupied mother in Ordinary People, a brilliant film is much more powerful, is a fantastic example of talent in Hollywood, a performance no-one expected.

1987: Cher (Moonstruck) over all the other nominees:

Just kidding. This one doesn’t count. Or does it?

2000: Julia Roberts (Erin Brock0vich) over Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream):

This is probably the one I feel most strongly about. Burstyn was fantastic; at the top of her game in a role that was MADE for her. She went through Hell to make the movie, and sacrificed a lot of sanity by really sinking her teeth into a heartbreaking role, and all Julia Roberts did was promote feminism and sue a lot of people (not that that’s bad, it’s just not as good as what Burstyn did.)

2001: Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball) over Naomi Watts (Mulholland Dr.) [not nominated]

I don’t know if this one counts because Watts was never actually nominated, but her performance as the angelic Betty (whose darker side is revealed in the film’s powerhouse finale, one of the best twists of all time) is one of my favourites of the decade. It’s nothing short of fantastic, and why she wasn’t even nominated is beyond me?

Agree? Disagree? What other actresses do you think were snubbed/ignored, or wrongly chosen for the Oscar? Let me know down below in the comments. Thanks for reading.

10 Movies That Are Extremely Uncomfortable to Watch with Family

Every fortnight, me and a group of friends have a Movie Night. We go to my friend Stephen’s house. He has a large study which he has converted into a “theatre room” over a long period of time. He is also an avid collector of Criterion Collection DVDs (He has 60-something. I have 5.) We’ve been doing this thing for about six months now, going through all his Criterion movies, and last night we watched the Lars von Trier “horror” movie Antichrist.

Stephen and I were the only two present who had seen the film before. Also in attendance was my girlfriend Ashley, and four other mutual friends who had not seen it and had very little idea of what to expect. I told Ashley (who dealt with the on-screen “happenings” rather well, considering…) that it was a sexually-explicit, often mistaken as misogynistic festival of violence and gore. She was at first optimistic, saying she hadn’t seen a good horror movie in ages. The optimism didn’t last once the film reached the third act. She was unable to watch some parts, and I can well understand why.

Antichrist is not the sort of film you want to watch with someone you hold close or even respect. And I can imagine watching it with actual family would be even worse (my mother would vomit, my dad would laugh). So, without further ado, here are ten movies that (I imagine) would be extremely uncomfortable to watch with family, and since I don’t often actually rank lists, I’m going to make this one a count down from ten.

10: Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Darren Aronofsky’s hellish drug drama turns downright terrifying in its drawn-out, brutally punctuated third act. Scenes of Ellen Burstyn being incessantly electrocuted and Jennifer Connelly losing all dignity at a drug-fuelled sex party are enough to make anyone squirm in their seat.

9: Funny Games (1997)

Who really wants to see two men mercilessly break all conventional horror movie rules to draw out torture and eventual murder upon a young couple and their son during the long 100 minutes of this typical Haneke thriller? I know I don’t, and certainly not with family.

8: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1990)

In a horrific home-invasion scene brutally replayed on a home video camera, we see two psychopathic killers at their worst, most disgustingly inhumane attitude. And as if that weren’t enough, an overly depressing, nihilistic ending combined with countless scenes of unmotivated violence punctuate a brilliant reality.

7: Man Bites Dog (1992)

In one of the most unconventional horror films ever made (and one of my personal favourites, he-he-hee), a camera crew follow a serial killer around, documenting his rapes and murders (including the sickeningly slow death of an elderly woman from cardiac arrest) and eventually getting involved in them. A horror film which comically delights in some of the most disgusting acts, Man Bites Dog is grotesque but brilliant.

6: Audition (1999)

This one actually happened. I saw Audition at a young age with my Dad, and the next day we decided to play a prank on my mum. We told her it was a romantic comedy about a man who tries to audition the perfect girlfriend. We completely left out the brutal amputation and torture in the third act, and let her discover that herself…

5: A Serbian Film (2009)

One of the most gratuitously graphic films I have ever seen, A Serbian Film has it all. Kids watching porn, graphic oral sex, rape, paedophilia, facial cumshots, implied rape of an infant, and the gouging of eyes with an erect penis, among many other atrocities. Just perfect for a night in with the family, right?

4: Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Two years ago, I broke up with a girlfriend who was a vegetarian when she told me she was in another relationship. I was very angry and immature at the time. I contemplated sending her a downloaded DVD of this disgusting animal snuff film in the mail at one point, though thankfully I refrained from doing so. It’s notorious, repulsive, excessive and bloody. Not for the faint of heart, or anyone with an emotional attachment to turtles.

3: Irreversible (2002)

Gaspar Noe’s 2002 masterpiece may be controversial and filled to the brim with excessive, gratuitous violence but it is nevertheless a serious work of art, as demonstrated in the horrifyingly beautiful final scene. However, that is no reason to watch this with anyone you value in any way.

2: Salo, or: The 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s almost unendurable, 2-hour festival of disturbing violence, rape, sex, and general mistreatment of human beings may be a hateful metaphor for fascism, but that certainly doesn’t make it any easier to watch whatsoever.

1: Happiness (1998)

Some will debate this film at the position of number one, but I put it here because, a) it is the most honest of the films on the list, which makes it scarier, and b) it is a disturbing film about family, perfect for a list of movies that are uncomfortable to watch with family. Who wants to see their mum peering curiously at their dad while watching Dylan Baker masturbate to pictures of kids? It’s an awkward, paranoid moment no-one wants to encounter, and makes the movie all the more uncomfortable.

So, those’re my picks. Let me know, was there anything I missed out?

Leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.

100 Things I Love About the Movies

Recently, John at The Droid You’re Looking For made a sequel to his hugely successful “100 Things I Love About the Movies” post, and being a fan of both posts, I’ve decided it’s about time I did my own. It was a very inspirational and thoughtful post, and if you read it yourself it might just make you want to do one of the same. For now, here’s mine:

1: Hi-hi-hi there, at last we meet.

2: The shaking fence in Evil Dead.

3: A rape depicted through the clever usage of a silent movie in Pedro Almodovar’s Talk to Her.

4: Qantas never crashed.

5: Whatever you want, Leo Getz.

6: The stunning ending to Lars von Trier’s Dogville.

7: Dave. Stop, Dave. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it.

8: The best movie cut of all history in Lawrence of Arabia.

9: The theme that plays when we see the man with the Harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West.

10: Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me…

11: The abrupt ending of Bonnie and Clyde.

12: I’m a star. I’m a star, I’m a star, I’m a star. I’m a big bright shining star. That’s right.

13: The final perfect five minutes of Irreversible…

14: …and how The King’s Speech stole the music!

15: Ellen Burstyn’s monologue in Requiem for a Dream.

16: The hand emerging from the water in Deliverance.

17: The final half-hour of Audition.

18: Jimmy Schtewart.

19: The emotion and raw energy with which Kirk Douglas delivers this line in Paths of Glory: “I apologise to you, sir, for not informing you sooner that you’re a degenerate, sadistic old man, and you can go to Hell before I apologise to you now or ever again!”

20: John C. Reilly shining his flashlight into the camera in Magnolia.

21: Blood Simple to True Grit and everything in between.

22: Hello… Hello, Dimitri? I… I can’t hear, could you turn the music down? That’s great, you’re coming through fine. I’m coming through fine, too, am I? I agree with you, it’s great to be fine. Now then, Dimitri. One of our generals… he went a little funny in the head… you know, funny. And he went and did a silly thing.

23: Tracking shots. All of them.

24: The Monty Python movies (“I fart in your general direction!”)

25: Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit crushing game shows, stuffing junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life.

26: Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar.

27: Steve Martin in The Jerk.

28: Isabella Rossellini begging Kyle MacLachlan in Blue Velvet (“Hit me!”).

29: In Heaven… everything is fine.

30: Did You Know You Can Use Old Motor Oil to Fertilise Your Lawn?

31: That lucky occasion when you come across a really, really good TV movie (Indictment: The McMartin Trial)

32: Get away from her, you BITCH!

33: I am Death. I have long walked at your side.

34: The most striking and disturbing use of colour in any film, that of Sven Nykvist’s brilliant cinematography in Ingmar Bergman’s fantastic Cries and Whispers.

35: NOT LOVELY, LOVELY LUDWIG VAAAANNNN!!!!

36: The slow-paced and slightly comic final duel in Barry Lyndon.

37: The deadly silent arrival of Martin Sheen into Colonel Kurtz new jungle home, rudely interrupted by an obviously high Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now.

38: The first six or so minutes of Persona.

39: This is my rifle, this is my gun. This is for fighting, this is for fun.

40: The haunting piano music that plays throughout the latter half of Kubrick’s fantastic Eyes Wide Shut.

41: A surprise cameo from the greatest stand-up comedian of all time in a non-comedy role in Lost Highway.

42: Tom Cruise’s finest hour:

43: The perfect opening shot of Apocalypse Now.

44: Bernard Herrman’s shrieking violins.

45: Black and White movies in the era of Colour.

46: The nameless dystopian city in David Fincher’s Se7en.

47: Uncomfortably casual nudity in Short Cuts.

48: Marge Gunderson.

49: Nobody fucks with the Jesus.

50: Bring Out the Gimp.

51: Norma Desmond’s delusions of grandeur.

52: The drug deal scene in Boogie Nights.

53: I only got two things in this world: my balls and my word. And I don’t break em for nobody.

54: Robert Downey, Jr. in Natural Born Killers.

55: The “train going into the tunnel” at the very end of North by Northwest, a clever albeit overused sexual metaphor.

56: Ricky Gervais. Always. Always.

57: A movie set entirely within one room (i.e. Buried)

58: Rob Brydon’s cameo in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

59: Nothing’s wrong with it, Tommy. It’s tip top. I’m just not sure about the colour.

60: I am Jack’s _____ ______.

61: Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, oh, and while we’re at it…

62: 80s high school movies. All of them.

63: The epilogue of Pink Flamingos.

64: Clerks. ‘Nuff said.

65: Try getting a reservation at Dorsia now, you fucking stupid bastard!

66: Silencio.

67: Earn this. Earn it.

68: The final shot of the rat at the end of The Departed.

69: Extended Director’s Cuts.

70: I’m mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!

71: The inability of Jack Lemmon to be able to watch Grand Hotel in The Apartment.

72: Memorable last lines in Billy Wilder movies.

73: We’re a loving couple that doesn’t touch.

74: Sunday nights, where I put aside a few hours to rewatch one of my favourite movies, no matter what it is or how many times I’ve seen it.

75: The creepy hidden camera shots in Michael Haneke’s Cache.

76: Amelie’s strange games with random people in the film of the same name.

77: Go round mums, deal with Phillip, grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint and wait for all this to blow over.

78: Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure: “In the water, I’m a very skinny lady.”

79: Sidney Lumet. Rest in Peace.

80: The final shocking moments of Planet of the Apes.

81: The meaning of Roger O. Thornhill’s middle initial.

82: Martin Scorsese’s cameo in Taxi Driver.

83: Gregory Peck’s powerful courtroom monologue in To Kill A Mockingbird…

84: …and the uniquely different but still subtly similar version presented by a suprisingly good Matthew McConaughey in A Time to Kill.

85: Dustin Hoffman’s moving turn as Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy…

86: …and the eerie subtle similarities between Jon Voight’s character in the same movie and Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights.

87: Mr. Jingles.

88: I just wanted to hold the little baby.

89: You mean the man who inserted rubber fist in my anus was a homosexual?

90: The stunning revelation at the end of Spoorloos (The Vanishing).

91: How quickly a director can take my interest, and how stunningly tight their grip remains on me within the shortest of times, and how it can last seemingly forever, as evidenced by my recent delve into the films of Ingmar Bergman.

92: Hit Girl.

93: Bill Murray waking up to the same nauseatingly repetitive jingle every morning in Groundhog Day.

94: Reese Witherspoon humiliating a disfigured Kiefer Sutherland in Freeway.

95: The little bit of low-budget masterpiece that was Sex, Lies and Videotape.

96: Dogme 95.

97: The Criterion Collection.

98: The little things in movies that so few directors really think to care about.

99: How movies affect my everyday life, the way I do things, the little idiosyncrasies that people rarely notice, and how I think and perceive things.

100: “I’m finished.”

The Seven Best Original Film Score Tracks by Clint Mansell

Clint Mansell is a film score composer whose compositions for films such as Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain have made him famous. He is formerly of the British punk rock band Pop Will Eat Itself, but when his good friend Darren Aronofsky asked him to compose the soundtrack for his film Pi, he began a memorable and successful foray into original film scores. Here are the seven best pieces (that I’ve heard) of composition by him for films.

7: Ghosts (VOCAL REMIX), Requiem for a Dream

This is a remix version of the original RFAD track. What makes this special is the addition of vocals, sung by none other than Clint Mansell himself.

6: Ghosts of Things to Come, Requiem for a Dream

This is the original version of the previous track. I know it may seem pointless to include them both, but I couldn’t leave either one of them out. I just love the simplicity of this track; how it seems like nothing special, but still manages to evoke emotion.

5: Together We Will Live Forever, The Fountain

Saddening, heartbreaking, depressing and tearjerking, this wonderfully emotional track truly shines as among Mansell’s best, and helps to demonstrate the variety of different musical techniques he can use, from loud and blasting electricity such as in #4, to this simple, quiet piano theme.

4: Pi r 2, Pi

This terrific drum-and-bass opening to Darren Aronofsky’s thought-provoking debut Pi was made with a music video as well. This song really sums up the quick thinking and insanity in the main character’s mind in the great film.

3: Welcome to Lunar Industries, Moon

Mansell has proved he is good at simple and effective piano themes, and this may be one of the most exceptional. The strings, as usual, are a more than welcome and perfectly decent accompaniment.

2: Lux Aeterna, Requiem for a Dream

Just because it’s been heard a million times and become annoyingly tiresome doesn’t make this track any less brilliant than it was the first time. This is the original version, with those haunting strings and sombre mournings for the darkness of the past and the inescapable Hell that will be the future. Close your eyes and listen to this at full volume. Please.

1: Death is the Road To Awe, The Fountain

This is it. This a hectic, pulsing, triumphant mixture of harmful strings and horrible memories. Even if you have not seen the film, as I hadn’t when I first heard this track, you can feel the emotion in it. A classic.

Thanks for reading and listening.

The 10 Best Films of the Decade (2000-2009)

Before I begin this list, I would like to quickly note that most people consider the last “decade” to include 2010 (well, a large number of my friends do). This is correct, except when you consider that, technically looking at the Gregorian calendar, the “decade” began on January 1, 2001. Most people struggle to accept this and include 2000. Because I don’t want to confuse people, I’m including the year 2000, too, but 2010 movies don’t count. That’s a different list entirely. So anyway, let’s count them down, the Ten Best Films of the Decade.

10: Hot Fuzz (2007)

 

Edgar Wright’s follow-up to the smash-hit Shaun of the Dead has since become known as one of the best cop movies ever made. In my opinion, the best. Simon Pegg is hilarious as Sgt. Nicholas Angle Angel, a tough, experienced cop who we can easily see is good at his job, from his determined strut in the first take to guns blazing in the final half hour. He is good at his job. Too good. So good, he’s making everyone else on the force look bad, so he’s being transfered to the countryside before he can say “still a bit stiff.” In the town of Sanford, things seem to be uneventful and normal, but in reality there is trouble brewing. He is teamed up with Danny (Nick Frost), an obese but determined police officer who despite his poor fence jumping skills nonetheless enjoys his job and dreams of the action he sees in Michael Bay movies. As usual, Edgar Wright hits the mark, employing the same tactics he used in his previous film, and expanding his imagination in ways we could never have thought possible. Well done!

9: A Serious Man (2009)

One of the most honest, true and… well, serious movies of the decade is one of the Coen brothers’ best, even better than their Best Picture winner No Country for Old Men. Revealing the true way of life of many people, and discussing life’s problems and how we deal with them in an interesting way, the Coens provide a thought-provoking analysis of suburban existence, like a Jewish American Beauty, whilst still staying flat, grounded, and keeping the humour dry. Witty acting performances from a cast of mostly unknowns as well as superb cinematography, music and overall presentation are all factors in the undeniable greatness of this modern classic, which must be viewed more than once. Stuhlbarg is excellent in his leading role and the Coens prove that even after twenty-five years of filmmaking, they still have the golden touch for originality, subtle humour and truthful observations of real humanity.

8: Requiem for a Dream (2000)

A controversial choice for some, but there is no way I could exclude this masterpiece from Darren Aronofsky. It’s a dodgy film with my friends: some like it, some hate it, some love it, some despise it. I am one of those who love it, and its not just for the way it tells its terrific story. Well, actually, it is. I’ve written an article about the music used in this movie, but I’ll sum it up by saying it works amazingly. The cinematography by skilled Oscar-nominated Matthew Libatique is top-class. Aronofsky knows how to set the mood, too, and this is another category where the music comes in. The film might seem a little too fast-paced for some, but the fast pace works effectively because these people are on drugs which make their lives fast-paced. There are so many ways in which Aronofsky communicates to the viewer what it feels like to be on drugs. At first, everything is fine, but quickly, things begin to go awfully wrong. I can’t easily think of anything scarier than the penultimate ‘meltdown’ scene, with God only knows how many cuts and music so awfully terrifying that we feel like we are in the Hell that drug abuse must be. And the final scene, oh! What a work of art! If ever a movie scene has made you cry, this has to be it. Requiem is a terrifically depressing film, but it must be seen.

7: Amelie (2001)

It has gained an enormous following and earned great fame, and rightly so. Jeunet’s La fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulain (did I get that right?) is a masterpiece. It is a very funny film, and almost all the laughs are just observations of contemporary life and how disturbingly easy it is to shake things up. That’s what the eponymous Amelie (Audrey Tatou) does. She sees the people around her, all with their own separate, different lives, and decides to change them. The results are arguably some of the most amusing consequences we could’ve hoped for. Amelie herself is searching for love, a love that when found, she is reluctant to accept. She is an intriguing character and Tatou plays her with grace, skill and knowledge. Whether she is helping or hindering the situations of her acquaintances, she is either way changing their lives, in some cases forever. Jeunet is clever, and inserts his vision into this engaging, thought-provoking film.

6: Amores Perros (2000)

A fatal car crash is the one intersection between three completely different, but thematically harmonious lives in this amazing, beautiful film from Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu (21 Grams, Babel). His two later films (just mentioned) also share some of the emotions and the general message that different people can affect the lives of others. 21 Grams featured a car crash, too, and Babel dealt with racism in a visceral, ugly way which stems from this original film. The three stories told all involve dogs (the title translates roughly to “Love’s a Bitch”) and they play key characters in the lives of the characters. A man enters his mutt into dangerous illegal dogfights to save up money and run away with his girlfriend. A vain supermodel is put in a wheelchair and cannot save her small dog who is trapped under the apartment. A strange, loitering man walks with many dogs across the street, observing. But via a car crash, all three lives change. The story is brutal, but brilliant. It is filled with emotion, and left me on the verge of tears at its end. This movie must be seen. The best foreign film of the decade.

5: American Psycho (2000)

“Try getting a reservation at Dorsia now, you f**king stupid bastard!” So screams Christian Bale’s chilling, unforgettable serial killer in the first half of this sick, twisted, brilliant thriller. He is talking to Paul Allen (Jared Leto), a business rival, as he murders him brutally with an axe in a darkly comic, disturbing scene. Patrick Bateman has since become a well-known name in the annals of movie psychopaths, and is in my opinion, equivalent to Hannibal Lecter or Darth Vader… in fact, perhaps even scarier. Bateman speaks bluntly and hatefully of the people around him, and indulges in violence, sex and drugs often. Murder is his way of releasing energy, and he does it in various sickening ways, such as his “rampage” toward the end. He says earlier on that he believes his “mask of sanity is about to slip,” and slip is what it does. He murders, both creatively and plain disgustingly, as we are frequently introduced to a darker, scarier side of the shark-in-a-suit image we’re so often greeted with in movies. The business card scene is a funny and interesting scene in which Bateman and his colleagues compare business cards, and Bateman is angered when he is intimidated by those of his acquaintences. Everything in this movie is something that can set off Bateman into a killing spree. We are shown a true glimpse into the mind, body and soul of a serial killer. And it is marvellous.

4: INLAND EMPIRE (2006)

I’ve already reviewed this film here, but I’ll say a couple of sentences: Laura Dern is brilliant in her role as a disorientated and confused actress plagued by the curse of a film in which she is starring. A magnificent, epic masterpiece, but not for everyone.

3: Caché (2004)

 

Michael Haneke has always been one of my favourite directors. From Benny’s Video to Funny Games to The Piano Teacher and now, to this, a film which betters all its predecessors and completely changes the way we look at surveillance in movies and surveillance in general. The English title of this Cannes smash-hit is Hidden, which refers to various things in the film, most perceptively the concept of the hidden camera which films the outdoor surroundings of a wealthy family’s apartment. The camera sits stationary, filming their house as various people pass by in cars and on cycles, and as the family man (Daniel Auteuil) leaves and comes home from work. He is disturbed by the tapes, as is his wife (Juliette Binoche), but he believes that he knows who is responsible. The film is slow-paced and uneventful, but these tactics work brilliantly in making the movie the masterpiece that it is. There are some shots in which barely anything happen (the opening and closing shots come to mind), but these shots are pivotal to watch carefully and think about afterwards. The film asks a barrage of questions and will leave the viewer thinking for days afterwards. Any film that can do this (yes, Inception counts) is worthy of my favouritism (usually), and this film towers above the rest. A must-see.

2: Mulholland Dr. (2001)

I’ve already reviewed this film here, but I’ll say a couple of short sentences: Mulholland Dr. is David Lynch’s masterpiece. The director has made so many great films (including Lost Highway, which I’m proud to announce I finally get!) but MD really sums them all up: dreams. It’s about dreams. It’s clever, manipulative, thought-provoking and engaging, everything a Lynch film should be, and more. The scene where Rebekah Del Rio sings Roy Orbison’s Crying in Spanish is forever engrained in my memory for so many reasons.

1: There Will Be Blood (2007)

“If you have a milkshake, and I have a straw…” I think you know where this is going. Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood is, simply put, the greatest film of the decade. He tells a breathtaking epic of a tale in which a great oil tyrant, to put it lightly (Daniel Day-Lewis) attempts to rob his friends and enemies and turn everyone away from him. He descends on a power-hungry trip of madness, murder and sick glee. He is terrifying and brilliant. Meanwhile, Anderson stands behind the screen examining and telling a tale he’s really been waiting his whole career to tell. I’m probably overusing the hyperboles, and this probably isn’t my favourite Anderson movie (if you’ve read my posts, you should know what that is), but the film is worthy of the excitement I hope I’m giving you about it. I was careful about watching this because it was a long movie about oil, but boy! Was I proven wrong! All the films on this list need to be seen, but There Will Be Blood is undoubtedly and arguably the best.

Honourable Mentions (in no particular order): No Country for Old Men, Sideways, Little Miss Sunshine, Shutter Island, Memento, Irreversible, The Departed, Shaun of the Dead, Donnie Darko, Traffic, Dancer in the Dark, Borat, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The White Ribbon, Inglourious Basterds, and countless others.

Thanks for reading.

The “Requiem for a Dream” Soundtrack: Overused and Underappreciated

Requiem for a Dream. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, it’s likely you’ve heard the title spoken before. It’s a dramatic horror film directed by Darren Aronofksy (Black Swan) that trails the adventures of four characters whose lives are forever altered by the presence of drugs and drug abuse. The movie is brilliant. It features some great shots, many of which use cameras mounted to the actors, a terrific pacing, excellent character development and a strong script. But another large factor in what makes the film what it is is the original score, composed by Clint Mansell, formerly of the pop-techno band Pop Will Eat Itself.

This was the second film score Mansell composed (after Pi, another film directed by Aronofsky), and this time he managed to conjure up an ingenious and iconic creation. The film’s main musical pieces were performed in no small part by the Kronos Quartet, a string quartet who harmoniously played some of the most well known parts of Mansell’s music.

The film’s main track, “Lux Aeterna” has been popularly remixed and used variously in several locations, from advertisements to trailers. Due to this, people have grown tired of it and it has lessened in popularity. I think this is tremendously unfair, since the film score as a whole (including Lux Aeterna) is a brilliant, clever work of art. And so, I am going to quickly analyse and review all the most notable of the 33 tracks:

1: Summer Overture (2:35)

The first track, from its blaring and stunning opening to its abrupt conclusion, is the perfect beginning. The instruments played by the quartet (two violins, a viola and a cello) are brilliantly triumphant. It works as a kicking beat, and plays along at a perfect rate.

2: Party (0:28)

3: Coney Island Dreaming (1:04)

A dreamlike state of drug-induced utopia.

4: Party (0:36)

5: Chocolate Charms (0:25)

6: Ghosts of Things to Come (1:33)

A moment of beautiful clarity where everything is fine, with shadows of the darkness around the corner.

7: Dreams (0:44)

8: Tense (0:37)

9: Dr. Pill (0:42)

10: High on Life (0:11)

11: Ghosts (1:21)

A much darker version of #6.

12: Crimin’ & Dealin’ (1:44)

An interesting techno pop track as the drug business is introduced.

13: Hope Overture (2:31)

The second of many variations of the main theme. This version has much more hip hop/pop elements, and the strings have quite a smooth edge.

14: Tense (0:28)

15: Bialy & Lox Conga (0:45)

An upbeat conga dance which is very out-of-place with the rest of the tracks. I dislike this, but still it manages to have an effect.

16: Cleaning Apartment (1:25)

The beginning of the second third of the album is a sharp bang and the main theme.

17: Ghosts-Falling (1:11)

Again, a darker and more intense version of #6.

18: Dreams (1:02)

19: Arnold (2:35)

There is a dark and scary sense of foreboding in this quite track.

20: Marion Barfs (2:22)

Another version of the main theme.

21: Supermarket Sweep (2:14)

An edgier and cooler version of #12.

22: Dreams (0:32)

23: Sara Goldfarb Has Left the Building (1:17)

Like track #19 before it, this track has a scary and intense feel to it, which builds to a crescendo as it progresses. The album is certainly getting darker.

24: Bugs Got a Devilish Grin Conga (0:57)

An unnecessary repeat of #15.

25: Winter Overture (0:19)

A short and sharp version of the main theme which is quick but effective.

26: Southern Hospitality (1:23)

A continuous, scary beat plays throughout this short track.

27: Fear (2:26)

A scary moodiness and various jumpy beats are doubtlessly going to shock but work very well.

28: Full Tense (1:04)

This quiet but moody piano theme has played twice already at least, but it never worked as well as it does here.

29: The Beginning of the End (4:28)

The longest track on the album is really just an assortment of samples of various scary beats. The abruptness of the beats works very well, however.

30: Ghosts of a Future Lost (1:50)

When played alongside the scene in which it appears, this track (like #32 after it) is likely to bring a tear to your eye.

31: Meltdown (3:55)

If you wanna be really scared, play this track. It is full of tension before finally its terrifying beat plays, striking the heart full of fear. It’s appropriate though, when you consider the scene in which it appears.

32: Lux Aeterna (3:54)

This is the main theme. Not the ridiculous, stupid Lord of the Rings remix. This is the original. And it works. It is terrifying, and sad. It’s the best track on the album, undoubtedly, and it works on so many levels, especially its repeat epilogue.

33: Coney Island Low (2:13)

This is nothing more than the sounds of waves and the ocean along the shore of Coney Island, and it serves no purpose other than to let the audience meditate for a minute and think about what they’ve just heard. It’s necessary.

So there you have it. The best tracks, with a short summary. You might ask, why must I do this? Does anyone really care? Probably not, but I decided to do this because I want more people to see the movie and hear the soundtrack. It’s beautiful, and like so many people, I feel I must share what I’ve experienced. I’m not advertising, I’m simply sharing my opinion.

Thanks.