Monday, September 18, 2017


Remember what I was just saying about screen addiction and my brain turning to mush?  Yeah... I'm going to come off like a pretentious douchebag, but I fear for the movie-going public of America if all of the 1-star reviews for Darren Aronofsky's mother! on IMDB are any indication.  Because so many people (including some in our screening) didn't seem to get the movie on any level, I'm going to ignore the surface-level story and talk about it as the metaphor that it is instead.  Although I'm confident that my old cast of regular readers here would be able to understand what's going on as the movie unfolds, I'm going to ensure it.  I wouldn't consider anything I'm about to say a spoiler.  These aren't twists; this is simply the context you need to understand to make sense of the movie.  Otherwise, you will find it hard to get any enjoyment out of it.

mother! tells the complete history of the Earth in microcosm, using various Biblical allusions to help mark the passage of time.  Don't worry, you don't need to be steeped in too much Biblical knowledge -- a basic understanding of the stories of Adam & Eve and Jesus are all that is needed.  God (Javier Bardem) is living in blissful tranquility with his wife, Mother Earth (Jennifer Lawrence).  They're all alone on Earth (their enormous house), and it's Mother Earth's job to build and maintain their domain ("building a paradise" as she says).  God is portrayed as a poet, who's had one great success in his career (Creation), but now has writer's block.  He begins to have a new idea when suddenly Man (Ed Harris) comes to the door; this is Adam.  I have confidence that you can take the rest from here.

The reason none of the above is a spoiler is because just playing "Spot the Metaphor" isn't what the movie is about.  There are a few different ways to read mother!, which I'll leave as an exercise to the viewer since that's where all the fun lies, but I tend to fall in line with Aronofsky's preferred reading.  You can watch his short Q & A from the screening at the Toronto Film Festival, if you want to know what that is.

I am a huge fan of Darren Aronofsky.  There's a reason that Meaghan and I chose him as the first director in the Decker Director Series.  I like to be entertained as much as the next person, but very few people today are able to use the Hollywood machine to create multi-layered movies that take some actual work to tease apart and fully understand.  We all need to be challenged sometimes, and Aronofsky consistently does this.

mother! is a fantastic movie.  Much like The Fountain, I can understand why it isn't for everyone... but it should be.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Decker Director Series

Back in the summer of 2014, Meaghan and I started a weekly event series with some friends.  Here's how it works:
  • Pick a movie director who's made at least three feature-length films.
  • Put that director's movies in order chronologically and make a weekly viewing schedule.
  • For each week, pick a potluck dinner theme that corresponds to that week's movie or director in some way.
  • Get together with friends, eat good food, and watch good movies.
  • Repeat.
Three years later, we're still going strong.  So far, we've watched all of the movies of Darren Aronofsky, Sofia Coppola, Lenny Abrahamson, Frank Darabont, Ridley Scott, Ben Stiller, Ang Lee, Sarah Polley, David Lean, and Lynne Ramsay.  We're currently working on both Hayao Miyazaki and Woody Allen.

If any of our directors puts out a new movie after we've completed their filmography, we organize a "field trip" to see it in theaters, usually on opening weekend.  I'm bringing all of this up now because the director that we started this whole thing with, Darren Aronofsky, has a new movie in theaters this weekend, mother!  We're going to check it out this afternoon, so hopefully I'll be able to put some words together about it tonight or tomorrow.  It's supposedly a pretty difficult film; I'm looking forward to exercising my brain with it.

If you have any suggestions for directors we should check out in the future, or want to share some fun things you've been doing with your friends, feel free to comment.

My Brain is Turning to Mush

I don't know if it's the fact that I'm getting older (I've now survived 38 years on the planet) or the constant exposure to screens in my life or the overwhelming disposability and superficiality of nearly everything in this world, but I can feel my ability to think creatively or critically slowly beginning to slip away.  I've tried my best to combat the cell phone addiction that's rampaged across this country over the last ten years, but even I have a smart phone now.  Don't worry; it's not that smart.  Even so, I find myself checking all the usual suspects like Facebook and Twitter once a day despite there not being anything particularly new or useful to be found on any of them.  It's a world of information and entertainment overload, only hardly any of the information matters.

Ironically, my solution for all of this is to re-open the Amber Tower for business.  Sorry in advance for overloading you instead, dear readers, but there's something about the act of putting words together in a coherent fashion that does something for your brain that nothing else can.  Even if no one's still watching for updates on this blog or ever reads what I have to say, it'll be good for me and that's what I need right now.