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Filmspotting Message Boards => Movie Talk (Spoiler Edition) => Topic started by: jdc on September 20, 2017, 04:03:26 AM

Title: mother!
Post by: jdc on September 20, 2017, 04:03:26 AM
because there will need to be some discussion on this.  Without having too much of an opinion on how to read it yet, I loved what I just watched.  But it is going to take some processing and reading and now I can listen to the Podcast
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Junior on September 20, 2017, 07:28:27 AM
If people actually see this it'll spark some discussion. It's crazy, yo. In a good way?
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: jdc on September 20, 2017, 11:12:26 AM
If people actually see this it'll spark some discussion. It's crazy, yo. In a good way?

It is crazy and yes, in a good way. I am not exactly sure how to take it, it could be very meta to events in the director's life but I think he has things more together than what you watch. I not sure where to rank it, I would still would put Requiem higher but as far as just a gut reaction impact on first viewing, this feels like one of those rare films that will be hard to let go.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Junior on September 20, 2017, 11:35:58 AM
I spent most of the morning writing a review on my blog. I think you'll be able to tell what I think of it pretty well. If you read it on my blog, there are pretty pictures and links to some of my other relevant reviews plus some other reviews of this movie that I respect. But some people don't like clicking out and to make responding here easier:


Friends, mother! is a trip. Though it touches on a lot of horror elements and is kind of an adaptation of one of the worldís most famous books, it is also unlike anything Iíve seen outside some very old books. Because mother! is really a film-length allegory for much of Christianity, and not only that, but also a critique of that religionís inherent cruelty. The allegory is cemented early on, with versions of Adam (Ed Harris) and Eve (Michelle Pfeiffer) overstaying their welcome in a house newly renovated by a woman (Jennifer Lawrence) and her poet-husband (Javier Bardem). From there on out, each bit of weirdness can, through metaphors both tortured and kind of great, be explained as versions of biblical phenomena. But this isnít an adaptation of the Extreme Teen Bible, this is an atheistís nightmare vision of the foundational horrors in the book and religion.

If mother! works at all, it is because it is made with such assurance by its crafters. Darren Aronofsky has never been a subtle or restrained filmmaker, and his daring and desire for outsized drama propel this movie even in its quieter scenes. He keeps the camera close to Jennifer Lawrence at all times, even uncomfortably so. The attention to her face in the extreme close-ups and  the back of her head in the close-following shots he has used to great effect throughout his filmography allows the audience to not just see what she sees but feel what she feels. When houseguests wonít leave her beautiful but still-damaged house, her anxiety is reflected in the way the camera seems almost unable to keep up with her frantic running around the tight corners of the house, glimpsing the further damage her guests are inflicting. Some audiences will be turned off by the technique, Iím sure, but Iíve always loved how Aronofsky uses the camera to get inside his characters, especially in the body horror duo of The Wrestler and Black Swan. mother! makes it a trio, and what a trio it is. Jennifer Lawrence, like Mickey Rourke and Natalie Portman before her, gives one of her best performances because Aronofsky so expertly captures her embodied horror. Lawrence doesnít say too much in the film, but it is so easy to tell and to feel what she is feeling at every moment of the film.

Itís not just the visuals and acting that create an immersive experience, either. As is typical with Aronofskyís films, the sound plays a crucial role in making the audience feel along with Jennifer Lawrence. There are sharp tings when china crashes to the ground and, later, booming explosions. But Iíd guess thereís just one sound that people will remember from this film. It shouldnít be a surprise that Jennifer Lawrence eventually gives birth to a pretty cute baby, given the movieís title. It happens after an extended sequence of intense noise and violence, and after Lawrenceís birthing screams end the noise drops out of the film. Thereís a preternatural calm as Lawrence and her offspring share some moments of love. But she eventually nods off and her husband takes the baby out to the adoring masses that have colonized the rest of the house. Again, the sounds are different from what weíve heard in the rest of the movie, here theyíre cries of joy instead of shrieks of anger and terror. Lawrence wakes up and yells after her baby, who is getting crowd-surfed through the crowd, baptizing them with its urine. And then the snap happens. Itís disgusting and revolting, a far cry from the kind of lurid entertainment that the other movie prominently featuring child-death this month peddles in. The baby, who you should probably recognized by now as Jesus, is dead in an instant and in that instant the movie will probably lose much of the audience that has stuck with it so far. Itís hard to judge them. I was shocked and Iíve seen things like Martyrs. I canít imagine how it would feel to mothers. Because if that wasnít bad enough, the next sounds you hear are the babyís flesh getting torn off its body and then eaten in a perverse portrayal of the sacrament of communion. So yeah, the sounds in this movie will likely be the most haunting element in a movie full of them. Itís intense.

But to what end? This movie doesnít really work without the allegorical elements. If youíre watching this just as the story of a woman and a man, itís going to be unfulfilling. The unending weird elements are a distraction if they arenít allegorical and just kinda dumb if taken literally. Iíve also seen the movie described as being about Aronofsky and how difficult it probably is to be his wife/girlfriend. Smart people to whom I go for things like this have focused mainly on this element. I think itís a fruitful one, but one that only reaches its full potential when paired with an examination of the biblical allegory that rests at the center of the film and a discussion of the filmís generic elements.

Letís start with the genre stuff. Iíve called this movie body horror and biblically terrifying, and both are, I think, fitting. But the real genre this falls into is the paranoia horror/thriller that Roman Polanski made his calling card. There are hints of Rosemaryís Baby here and there, but itís Repulsion that mother! feels the most like. Lawrenceís performance owes a lot to Catherine Deneuveís portrayal of a person whose madness is reflected in and caused by her surroundings. Aronofskyís techniques are lifted almost wholesale from that filmís claustrophobic and intense camerawork. Where mother! departs from Repulsion is in its treatment of the secondary characters in the film. Where Polanski leaves the question of malicious intent from the outside world open, Aronofsky makes it clear that the people who have taken over Lawrenceís house are there because her husband permits it. This breach of trust causes most of the problems in the film. Though Bardemís intentions early on might be kind even as he ignores Lawrenceís protestations, he continues to be blind to her experience within her own house. She worries that sheíll lose him to his adoring fans, and her fears are justified. His insistence on presenting the child to his followers leads directly to the babyís horrific end. And his urging of Lawrence to forgive the cannibals for their carelessness drives her to an apocalyptic end. The paranoia is not only founded in the reality of the film, it is the center of its critique of relationships and Christianity.

The relationship critique is, shall we say, problematic when viewed on its own, divorced from the paranoia horror aspects or the religious allegory. On a strictly plot basis, this is the story of a woman who is driven to suicide by a man who ignores her at best and uses her in a very real sense at worst. The beginning and ending of the film illustrate that this is not a one-time situation, either. Lawrence is part of a cycle of abuse that shows no sign of stopping. The last shot also clarifies that it isnít necessarily the same woman over who the poet must use over and over again. Any woman will do. His use of women is total, too, as he demands both Lawrenceís offspring and her still-beating heart as a last act of sacrificial love, one which will power the next version of the abusive relationship. This is some pretty terrible stuff, and I think somebody smarter than me needs to examine the implications of Lawrenceís decision to give her love to Bardem so completely even as she recognizes how abusive he can be. I also, however, think that telling the story of an abusive husband in the context of a paranoia horror film is clever, especially when the movie validates all of the paranoia it conjures. Bardem doesnít start as an obvious villain, but by the end his intense creepiness and abusive actions are on full display. At least with Bardemís character, the critique is clear. He is not a good man. He uses his wife as inspiration but does not see her as a real human with real feelings and emotions. All the while, the audience is thrust into Lawrenceís perspective, and we feel her pain and terror with her. Bardemís villainy is tied directly into his role as an artist and the way that it and the fame that surrounds it fuels his abuse.

The only way that I can make sense of the sacrifice that Bardem asks Lawrence to make at the end of the film is as part of the larger religious allegory. Lawrence seems to be the embodiment of the three virtues that are outlined in 1 Corinthians 13:13, ďAnd now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.Ē Weíve seen Lawrence cling to these three and then have to sacrifice them for Bardemís desires. Her faith in his writing drives the scenes that feature just the two of them. But it is not her faith that drives his creation in the second half of the film, it is her body and her faith in him is only repaid by his indifference towards her. The baby, Jesus, is her hope incarnate, but that hope is brutally destroyed and then consumed by strangers who have invaded her home. And just as she starts to exhibit some agency by blowing the house up with everybody in it, Bardem reasserts his control and asks her for her love to restore the house and give him another attempt at creation. Bardem isnít just a creator, he is the Creator. Aronofskyís God is the villain of the film, the monster at the center of the horror film.

Through paranoia horror genre elements and an examination of an abusive relationship wrapped up in a religious allegory, Aronofsky forces us to ask why such a terrifying and destructive story holds such immense sway over our culture. The idea of a man sent to take the sins of the world upon him and then become a sacrifice so that everybody else can get into heaven is nice on the surface, but when shown as a baby who gets killed and then eaten, it becomes a horror film. We see the Bible in a new way. Petty squabbles lead to overwhelming terror and the logic of it all breaks down. The audienceís close relationship to Lawrence through the filming techniques forces it to experience everything she does, and it becomes difficult to see the whole religion as anything other than misogynist and horrific. For believers who ask God ďWhy me?Ē when things go wrong, Aronofskyís answer seems to be an exhortation to examine your beliefs a little more closely to see what your holy book actually says.

Itís a harsh film, then, one that confronts its audience and assaults their senses. Some will be put off by the visual style, some by the plotís massive jumps in severity, and some by its thematic and allegoric intensity. I canít fault anybody for these reactions. One change here or there would have likely tipped me over into intense hatred. But that didnít happen for me. I was fully sucked into this movie. I went with it. If you can, and thatís a big if, itís a rewarding experience both as entertainment and fodder for thought and conversation. Itís a movie I cannot recommend to anybody, but I also want everybody to see it so we can talk about it, even if itís just to share just how crazy it is.

A-
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: jdc on September 20, 2017, 12:20:10 PM
First of all, thanks for a wondeful write up....






But to what end? This movie doesnít really work without the allegorical elements. If youíre watching this just as the story of a woman and a man, itís going to be unfulfilling. The unending weird elements are a distraction if they arenít allegorical and just kinda dumb if taken literally. Iíve also seen the movie described as being about Aronofsky and how difficult it probably is to be his wife/girlfriend. Smart people to whom I go for things like this have focused mainly on this element. I think itís a fruitful one, but one that only reaches its full potential when paired with an examination of the biblical allegory that rests at the center of the film and a discussion of the filmís generic elements.

There certainly is an element here that seems to directly tie to events in Aronofsky's life similar to maybe what Barton Fink is to the Coen Brothers or Antichrist to Von Trier.  But after listening to Aronofsky on the Tim Ferris Podcast, he seems to be much more together in how he dedicates personal time to those around him vs his art, compared to Bardem, who is so wrapped up and self-obsorbed that he could hardly care about his wife enjoying the moment with her child and instead wants to deliver his great achievement to all his adoring fans.

But having read a few stories of events since the film, Aronofsky has since seemed to split with his previous GF and mother of his child and now is in a relationship with Lawerence. Strange how reflective it is to what happens in the film, outside the baby being eaten, of course.  But then, the film except the film was written before those events played out.  Maybe a grand plot???

First of all, thanks for a wondeful write up....





Itís a movie I cannot recommend to anybody, but I also want everybody to see it so we can talk about it, even if itís just to share just how crazy it is.

A-

I am on a warpath trying to get everybody I know to watch it...

Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Junior on September 22, 2017, 07:24:13 AM
First of all, thanks for a wondeful write up....


But to what end? This movie doesnít really work without the allegorical elements. If youíre watching this just as the story of a woman and a man, itís going to be unfulfilling. The unending weird elements are a distraction if they arenít allegorical and just kinda dumb if taken literally. Iíve also seen the movie described as being about Aronofsky and how difficult it probably is to be his wife/girlfriend. Smart people to whom I go for things like this have focused mainly on this element. I think itís a fruitful one, but one that only reaches its full potential when paired with an examination of the biblical allegory that rests at the center of the film and a discussion of the filmís generic elements.

There certainly is an element here that seems to directly tie to events in Aronofsky's life similar to maybe what Barton Fink is to the Coen Brothers or Antichrist to Von Trier.  But after listening to Aronofsky on the Tim Ferris Podcast, he seems to be much more together in how he dedicates personal time to those around him vs his art, compared to Bardem, who is so wrapped up and self-obsorbed that he could hardly care about his wife enjoying the moment with her child and instead wants to deliver his great achievement to all his adoring fans.

But having read a few stories of events since the film, Aronofsky has since seemed to split with his previous GF and mother of his child and now is in a relationship with Lawerence. Strange how reflective it is to what happens in the film, outside the baby being eaten, of course.  But then, the film except the film was written before those events played out.  Maybe a grand plot???

Itís a movie I cannot recommend to anybody, but I also want everybody to see it so we can talk about it, even if itís just to share just how crazy it is.

A-

I am on a warpath trying to get everybody I know to watch it...

I wrote to a friend on Facebook that I think what might be there of Aronofsky's personal life is having Bardem be kind of his worst impulses. I don't think he's a direct translation on screen, but I think he might be a vision of how Aronofsky sees himself at his worst. It's an interesting element, but as you can see from my not including it in my review, kind of the least interesting for me. I also didn't touch at all on the environmental angle, which is what Aronofsky and Lawrence themselves say is the main thrust of the film. I think that one adds a lot to what reading I have of the film so far, but it's kind of out of my area of expertise.

Please let me know how your warpath goes. I've already gotten two comments about people I've warned away by my review, so I think I'm on an opposing warpath, unintentionally.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: smirnoff on September 24, 2017, 06:58:44 PM
The whole movie looks like that scene in Inception where there's a mob approaching and you don't know why yet. You're just like, who are all these people and what do they want?
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Junior on September 24, 2017, 07:06:16 PM
It's not a bad comparison. It's unnerving as hell.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: smirnoff on September 24, 2017, 07:28:42 PM
I guess I shouldn't be skeptical. I've enjoyed everything I've seen of his. I skipped Noah because... really, we gotta make a movie about Noah? But other than that...
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Junior on September 24, 2017, 08:33:33 PM
His Noah is like nothing I've seen before. I think it's a super interesting companion to mother!. The evolution of war sequence in Noah is a prototype of the nightmare sequence that makes up the last half hour of this movie, and both highlight the cruelty inherent in the Bible stories many have sung cute songs about as kids. I think their endings are quite similarly sarcastic, too.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: smirnoff on September 24, 2017, 08:46:10 PM
The thing maybe I'm hesitant about is that Noah and Mother seem to have veered into more metaphoric territory, and the characters are just these vessels for making a point. I haven't seen either film so maybe that's not accurate, but up till now I've enjoyed his films in a pretty straight up way. I identify and empathize with the characters and in the end there is a sort of bittersweet or downright sad resolution.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Junior on September 24, 2017, 09:25:49 PM
Noah is still firmly rooted in the characters, I'd say. Mother! gets much more metaphorical, but I think the central relationship still works and feels quite real, mostly.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: aewade90 on September 27, 2017, 06:52:45 AM
The thing maybe I'm hesitant about is that Noah and Mother seem to have veered into more metaphoric territory, and the characters are just these vessels for making a point. I haven't seen either film so maybe that's not accurate, but up till now I've enjoyed his films in a pretty straight up way. I identify and empathize with the characters and in the end there is a sort of bittersweet or downright sad resolution.

I think mother! is a much more interpretive film than Aronofsky has made before, certainly. I'm going to link my review here - https://letterboxd.com/aewade/film/mother-2017/ - because a) it gets spoiler-y and b) I'm not entirely too sure what this forum's policy on swearing is, and boy howdy do I get a little bit cuss-y in the review. But I can't extricate what I watched on screen from some of the strongest words I can think of, matching the vulgarity of the film's message and overall tone. Nor can I find any other way to express my absolute disdain and disgust for what Aronofsky has created and stated, as an audience member, avid film consumer, occasional "dissect a film at a higher level than 'surface reading'" critic, and Aronofsky fan.

I think the biblical front is facetious and self-serving. I think the faux-feminism/anti-patriarchal window dressing with a thin veneer of mental illness thrown in to undermine both is disgusting. These feelings are only furthered by the fact that Aronofsky uses these as a self insert in a woe-is-me, petty, insolent middle finger to those who dared critique or consume his work at all. mother! is simply outright hostile to audiences, critics, consumers - anyone who interacts with a film past God-Emperor Aronofsky is explicitly shown as beneath him and undeserving of his work.

...but. There's always a 'but'. mother! is a complete failure as a cinematic work, revolting only in it's auteur's wallowing self-pity and attempted shocks using tricks that would even be given second thought by hacks such as Friedberg & Seltzer. But something that is so nakedly a drawn line in the sand, a response to discourse, even if it is a multi-million dollar temper tantrum...well, the definition of "art" is widely varied and argued, but for me, art that stands as confrontational and unafraid is wholly brought in under that umbrella. And goddamn if mother! isn't the boldest artistic statement that's been released in cinemas in the past...ever? The statement is perhaps the most petulant, arrogant, and egotistical reading a film could ever have, and I can't overstate how much I absolutely loathe the film for how it presents it, but I begrudgingly respect it as an artwork.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Junior on September 27, 2017, 07:55:19 AM
I love that review. It's hilarious and got me thinking about the movie in a different way. In my own review (https://benefitsofaclassicaleducation.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/movie-review-mother-2017/), I write about how Him is the artist and Mother is the one who is used and then thrown away once her purpose is served. I think that works. I think your view works, too, where Him is the studio, maybe, and Mother is the true artist. Viewed with that lens, it's hard to see the movie as anything other than a very elaborate "CINECAST! you" (that's what happens when you use the f-word here, btw). Rather than argue about whose interpretation is better, I wonder if you've experienced any other movies that have told you to "CINECAST! off" before, and how your reaction to those might be similar or different. I think the obvious example would be something like Funny Games which critiques the very audience it seeks. Maybe mother! is different because it feels like a response to Noah to you rather than a self-contained thing like Funny Games? I'm genuinely interested in what you think about this. Can a movie criticize its audience without feeling defensive or self-indulgent?

Also welcome! I love it when people dive in with strong opinions. Especially when they're as well-written as yours was!
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on September 27, 2017, 09:21:01 AM
My ambition is now to write something half as intelligent as Junior's review. More on that later.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on September 27, 2017, 09:40:07 AM
The thing maybe I'm hesitant about is that Noah and Mother seem to have veered into more metaphoric territory, and the characters are just these vessels for making a point. I haven't seen either film so maybe that's not accurate, but up till now I've enjoyed his films in a pretty straight up way. I identify and empathize with the characters and in the end there is a sort of bittersweet or downright sad resolution.

I don't see much metaphor in Noah. It is a straightforward story, even though some of its adaptation choices are a bit zany.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on September 27, 2017, 02:08:50 PM
My discombobulated attempt.

mother!
Darren Aronofsky (2017)


I seldom have occasion to regret walking into a movie theatre with no knowledge of the movie whatsoever. Whenever a director in whom I am interested, such as one Darren Aronofsky, releases a movie, I do the utmost to avoid any information about their new work. I already want to watch the film - any further information is spoiling the surprise. There are few exceptions, but let us list some, for fun. I would look up ratings for Brad Bird's next movie, to avoid a new Tomorrowland situation. If a movie I wanted to watch was horror or a light comedy, I would like to know in advance too, to schedule accordingly (horror is for late night, comedy for whenever I need a pickup). mother! is in a different category, one that David Lynch quite possibly reigns. In mother!'s case I might have appreciated some choice insights into the movie so that I would have some faint idea what the gracious gadzooks was going at any point.

It quickly becomes apparent that it is impossible to watch mother! and take its events literally. Between its more magical elements and the impossible turns the story takes, the mystifying behaviour of its characters, any attempt to do so would inevitably prove futile or worse, disastrous. I therefore tried to watch the movie with two to three different interpretations running simultaneously in my head, judging their merits and comparing them to the new events unfolding. Naturally it is almost impossible to stay focused on the movie for too long when you do that, not to mention how draining it is to run three conflicting narratives in your mind simultaneously. I abandoned my theories as they were disproven and picked some new ones along the way, taking care not to get too involved in the dreadful business of thinking.

That mother! is a horror movie was fairly evident from the start, I needed to figure out what kind of horror movie. My first theory, and in all honesty, I kept this one in the back of my mind for most of the movie, was that this was horror directed at introverts ; a gruesome story about ghastly rude people encroaching on Jennifer Lawrence's personal space, breaking things and being loud. The stuff of nightmares, really.

At the same time, all the symbolism and fantastical occurrences must have had some higher meaning. The first scene of the film suggests a cyclical nature to the story that compels one to look for allegory and metaphor. The title of the movie is an important clue to anyone wishing to unveil its hidden meanings, and I shall come back to that later, but in the first third of the film it threw me off course. If a literal child did not exist, could not the house itself, which Lawrence had built back from the ground up, not be a metaphorical one? That reading was later disproven into oblivion, and yet Lawrence's relationship to the house is never elucidated, and remains one of the fundamental questions the viewer must ask.

I will admit that it took me much too long to understand that the allegory was fundamentally about religion. I thought about the nascence of cultures and nations before I got to that idea. For some time, I entertained the notion that the sequence of events that follows Javier Bardem's notoriety was a criticism of postmodernist thought and the leftist postmodern political and cultural movements of the XXth century that descended into armed madness and repression, utopian ideal and all. I still think the idea has some merit for a select few scenes, but it does not fit the rest of the movie as well.

Before I get to the religious interpretation, the most solid alternative narrative I thought of in the movie theatre was one I came across again on the internet. It is almost equally plausible that Bardem should be playing an archetypal artist, a creative force than a religious figure - in many ways, the two are indistinguishable. mother! can be watched as a movie about the experience of being married to, let us say, an artistic genius, and the relationship he entertains with the public. It is not a pretty picture. Whether Bardem is a stand-in for Aronofsky or not is up to debate. If so, he shows remarkable empathy and understanding about the sheer hell the artist's wife must go through. Lawrence sees her entire existence crumble as her husband grows more famous. Her life and her house are torn apart - her marriage, asunder. Everything is sacrificed to the ego of the artist and his delusional project. Aronofsky is extremely critical of the figure yet at the same time there is merit to the accusations of misogyny that have been hurled against him. Lawrence plays a timid creature who rarely displays much agency. She is constantly neglected and dismissed, an object of inspiration ; emphasis on the object.

The reason I do not think that that critique of the movie, which I have egregiously simplified,  is entirely fair, is that mother! is not a misogynistic movie. It is a misanthropic one.

Like a detail in an image you can never unsee, it is impossible not to think of the movie in religious terms once one realizes how perfectly it matches the Bible's top ten hits. Eve and the apple, Cain and Abel, the floodÖit all becomes so obvious it is difficult to think of those scenes in any other terms. And golly, does Aronofsky have things to say about Christianity.

In his view, Yahweh, the Creator - or perhaps I should say the artist-Creator, but the implications are legion and I don't want to get lost in my argument - is not the benevolent god your average Christian would describe, but rather a tyrant who thrives on the adoration it leeches off its worshippers. Bardem preaches a gospel of love whose stench has Nietzsche laughing in his grave for therein lies the moral rot of his world. I hesitate to call the director an atheist because this could just as well be the vision of a believer who has come to hate his god. It is probably the former but it is amusing to think of the film as a disillusioned cry of rage.

Through its lens, the myth of Christianity is a mad bacchanal and its history one of violence and oppression. Humanity invades Creation like a pestilence, claiming it for itself with superior disdain. It is a wretched species that destroys the home it has been given with an amused smirk and twists the words of its God-Poet to fit its pathology. In the name of love wars are waged and the dissimilar persecuted and executed. Accidental gestures are deformed into sick rituals of mortification and sacrifice. Beelzebub may have the face of Dionysus but if the Greek god would not have been at home in the House it is only because even to him this would have been too much, too far.

To understand the movie I find it useful to think of the title. It places Lawrence's maternity at the heart of her identity in the allegory. By contrast, Bardem becomes the Father, what a first year psych student who call the father-architect archetype, the figure that lords over man as he emerges from childhood into a hostile world, a protector but also an autocrat. So Lawrence is Mother in that she is mother to Jesus, a stand-in for Mary, but also the opposite of Yahweh before his followers, which is the most interesting thing about the movie, because the opposite of god is Satan. Is Aronofsky proposing a new antithesis to Elohim or is he equating Satan to womanhood? Is he proposing a benevolent female archetype to trump the malevolent father figure of religion?

That question is only made more complicated when Bardem reveals Lawrence to have been one with his house, thereby equating her with Creation, or at least Creation before Man came into the picture. Humanity is on trial for matricide and Aronofsky finds it guilty. We have not only defiled the soils and befouled the air, we have corrupted the very innocence of nature, as God watched. And he saw that it was good.

His is not simply a crime of neglect. He is also the source of the pathological creeds at the centre of Christianity. His unwillingness to bear judgment, his readiness to always forgive encourage the violence and feed the rot. He fails to nurture and to guide ; Creation is left unprotected and, craving his attention, receiving no leadership, his flock is left to its ruinous devices. In the end Lawrence sees no option but to burn it all, the ultimate solution to humanity's existence. Game over. Play again?

mother! is an unpleasant, upsetting, befuddling, complicated, intricate movie that is hard on the senses. Much of it is noise and chaos. The sound design, coupled with Lawrence's close-ups that make-up for about 90% of it, creates a claustrophobic ambience conducive to being pretty goddamn freaked out for its entire running time. There are few experiences like this, that provide so much to talk about but that are so hard on you and your nerves that you balk at calling the whole thing a good movie. I did not have fun. I did not enjoy myself. Anyone who rewatches this movie to make more sense of it is a masochist of the highest order. And if the movie is generally violent and confusing, there is one particular scene that is going to set the standard for upsetting this year. I am not bothered by such things, but other people will be. I cannot imagine any mother watching this.

Yet, when all is said and done, this is a feat. A feat of technique and acting, of design and artwork, of writing, of vision, of inspiration and the gumption to pull it of. Whatever else it does, mother! does pull it off.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Will on September 27, 2017, 03:48:26 PM
This was too silly to take seriously. I get enjoying this on a surface level, but I can't remember the last time there's been a protagonist as passive as Lawrence's character. It's all to serve Aronofsky's "grand metaphor", but if you have to sacrifice the most basic parts of characterization to get there, why bother? The difference here between Aronofsky and, say, Von Trier is that even in the worst Von Trier films, all of his ideas still start in characterization. Characters drive the themes, the metaphors, the allegories, the allusions, etc. of Von Trier's films. Here, the metaphor dictates just how empathetic Him will be in every other scene. Sometimes he loves and sympathizes with his wife, other times he's cold and brutal with her. No consistent logic. It follows the structure of the metaphorical narrative rather than coming organically from the character. Same with the Mother. She has every opportunity to abandon her husband after the emotional abuse he puts her through with his open arms to the couple and their feuding sons. If the point of the film is that she's just as entranced by Him as His followers, then what are the stakes? If she has no agency whatsoever, then who is she as a character? Nothing - this film isn't about characters, it's about Aronofsky's grandstanding Biblical metaphor.

Once you realize this, once you accept this, you can take mother! for being what it truly is - a silly, campy, dumb horror movie. And as that, it works! I'm surprised anyone takes this seriously. I'm surprised anyone here is thinking deeply about this film. I'm surprised people were shocked or even outraged when the baby's neck snapped.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Teproc on September 27, 2017, 04:04:35 PM
I do share your susprise at the reaction to the baby scene... it seemed pretty obvious that his was Jesus, and we all know where that goes. And the cannibalism bit is something that was very commonly observed about Christianity in its early days, so that tracked too. I mean, it is shocking in a vacuum, but within the context of the movie not so much.

I don't really agree with you that because its characterization is somewhat shallow, that it doesn't deserve attention: not all movies need to work on a character level. Look at 2001: there are no characters there, everyone is just a stand-in for humanity. Not that mother! is as cogent of fascinating as 2001, but it's interesting nonetheless.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Will on September 27, 2017, 04:17:02 PM
I strongly disagree with the assertion that there are no characters in 2001. Hal is a character and a deeply detailed one. David works as a character too. He doesn't say much, but in his actions and especially at the moment when he's unplugging Hal, you get a sense that he does sympathize with Hal just a little bit in his strained actions. Regardless, I don't see that film as a rigid metaphor controlling all of its characters, I see it as more of a poem. A poem can have characters in it, but a poem is more about the feelings and ideas than the characters. Also, since there's no real consensus on what 2001 is ultimately about, you can't say that it's driven by a metaphor since people have reactions that are all over the map with it. mother!, on the other hand, is extremely connected to our world in that metaphorical sense.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Teproc on September 27, 2017, 04:24:11 PM
I'll grant you HAL, but I find it hard to see Dave (and the other humans) as more than stand-ins.

I think there is a consensus on 2001 being about the relationship between humanity and technology, right ? IN what ways and to what point: that there is discussion on, but it's pretty clear what the general idea is, no ?

Mother! is obviously about religion, but what does it have to say about it exactly, and is there a point to linking it to the artistic process, etc. ? I've seen that some apparently have read an environmental message into it, which didn't occur to me at all watching it. I think this is a similar situation, the only difference is that people have less respect for Aronofsky than for Kubrick and are quicker to decide that he doesn't really have anything to say that's interesting. Which is possible, but it doesn't really matter as long as people are able to come up with stuff independtly of whatever intent there might or might not have been there.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Will on September 27, 2017, 04:33:57 PM
Whereas there's a general idea of what 2001 is about (man vs. technology), Mother! is about religion, specifically Christianity. There's no denying this. Want to say it's about the environment? Okay, how does the fighting sons figure into that? You can't pick and choose what you want from a film to support another general interpretation. You have to use all of it. It can have some allusions to being about the environment, but the majority of its allusions do figure into it being a Biblical metaphor which is the dominant metaphor. If Aronofsky wanted the film to be more loosely interpreted, he wouldn't have alluded so heavily to one extremely popular source.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Teproc on September 27, 2017, 04:46:19 PM
I disagree. I think it can have a central idea and have some other stuff going on at the margins, like the artist/muse stuff (and possibly an enviromental message), which isn't saying anything new but gets more interesting precisely because it exists in parallel to the religious stuff.

I suppose this is where my comparison to 2001 falters though, as that is a very focused film, and I think mother! would be less interesting/fun had it been that focused.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: aewade90 on September 27, 2017, 07:57:18 PM
I love that review. It's hilarious and got me thinking about the movie in a different way. In my own review (https://benefitsofaclassicaleducation.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/movie-review-mother-2017/), I write about how Him is the artist and Mother is the one who is used and then thrown away once her purpose is served. I think that works. I think your view works, too, where Him is the studio, maybe, and Mother is the true artist. Viewed with that lens, it's hard to see the movie as anything other than a very elaborate "CINECAST! you" (that's what happens when you use the f-word here, btw). Rather than argue about whose interpretation is better, I wonder if you've experienced any other movies that have told you to "CINECAST! off" before, and how your reaction to those might be similar or different. I think the obvious example would be something like Funny Games which critiques the very audience it seeks. Maybe mother! is different because it feels like a response to Noah to you rather than a self-contained thing like Funny Games? I'm genuinely interested in what you think about this. Can a movie criticize its audience without feeling defensive or self-indulgent?

Also welcome! I love it when people dive in with strong opinions. Especially when they're as well-written as yours was!

Although I'm struggling to think of any films that are critical of audience - and Funny Games is a great example - I definitely can't recall any that held outright disdain. I think Funny Games uses the conventions of cinema and genre to position the audience as implicit conspirators with Peter and Paul (also what happens in Schepisi's The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, to a degree), but Aronofsky explicitly shows audiences as beneath the artist, undeserving of the creation, because any attempt of outsiders' interaction (whether one of criticism or worship, or even industrial interference) destroys the creation. He positions his own self-insert as above the conventions of high or low art, literally elevating himself above the unwashed masses and "rescue" of arthouse when they retreat to the writing room, because any external force brings ruination.

If it hadn't come on the heels of Noah and the reception it gained, it could be read as an endorsement of the issues auteurs face within a studio system - however, if you approach it as Noah being the house (the passion project that only truly came about after Paramount's investment), the disrespect of critics (Harris/Pffeifer), audience, and even the studio (Bardem - focusing on their singular stakes, rather than the whole, and inviting the ruination under a friendly and uncaring guise) it turns it into a much more personal response that, to me, showcases an isolationist pity party. Auteurs that have broken into the modern-day mainstream such as Anderson (both Wes and Paul Thomas), the Coens, Nolan, have found crossover success in terms of both commercial and critical acclaim, and through mother! Aronofsky just seems really, really upset at literally everyone but himself that Noah didn't perform well.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: smirnoff on September 28, 2017, 12:28:47 AM
You've got me convinced aewade90! I'm sure I would hate this now. :)
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Will on September 28, 2017, 01:20:56 AM
I disagree. I think it can have a central idea and have some other stuff going on at the margins, like the artist/muse stuff (and possibly an enviromental message), which isn't saying anything new but gets more interesting precisely because it exists in parallel to the religious stuff.


It's just an addition, it doesn't change the core metaphor which is, if we truly got into it, a putrid one.

This is a film I wished more of the forum's feminists saw as it's important to discuss the thin line this one treads between being a feminist text and an extremely misogynist one, but I understand not seeing it simply because of that as well.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: aewade90 on September 28, 2017, 03:58:55 AM
You've got me convinced aewade90! I'm sure I would hate this now. :)

Haha! That's not to say I don't think it's not worth seeing - the readings have been so varied across so many forums and social medias that it's pretty cool to see. Hell, even in this thread there are what, three entirely differing opinions on the core messages, which is unprecedented for a wide release flick. As much as I disagree with the message, I don't think it's unworthy artistically.

I disagree. I think it can have a central idea and have some other stuff going on at the margins, like the artist/muse stuff (and possibly an enviromental message), which isn't saying anything new but gets more interesting precisely because it exists in parallel to the religious stuff.


It's just an addition, it doesn't change the core metaphor which is, if we truly got into it, a putrid one.

This is a film I wished more of the forum's feminists saw as it's important to discuss the thin line this one treads between being a feminist text and an extremely misogynist one, but I understand not seeing it simply because of that as well.

I don't really see how this could be called feminist in any way. The most basic, surface level text statement is so broad and underbaked, backed up by a comically, sub-Twitter-level discourse entry example of "the nice guy" that Aronofsky complements and completely undermined through the mental illness throughlines. Whenever Mother has any surge of agency, it's immediately undercut through the paranoiac visual motif and self doubt, that is then completely wiped away by dumping a teaspoon of Nesquik into a glass of water that magically makes it all go away (which only serves to compound my loathing for this in my reading where Mother is a stand-in for Aronofsky himself, because that essentially boils them down to half deployed pity devices for himself). Mother and Her's sole interaction alone together surrounds the sexuality of Bardem's Man and conceiving. Her sole moment of agency is in destruction.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Will on September 28, 2017, 04:05:38 PM
It could be feminist for the same reason that there's a feminist argument for most of Von Trier female led films: it shows how women suffer from patriarchy. Yet that same reason is why it can be seen as misogynist: often the image of a beaten woman is so triggering for the female audience that it undercuts the possible feminist intentions from the start.

I am probably with the latter feminists, but I have read defenses of this film from a feminist perspective.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: aewade90 on September 28, 2017, 09:25:05 PM
It could be feminist for the same reason that there's a feminist argument for most of Von Trier female led films: it shows how women suffer from patriarchy. Yet that same reason is why it can be seen as misogynist: often the image of a beaten woman is so triggering for the female audience that it undercuts the possible feminist intentions from the start.

I am probably with the latter feminists, but I have read defenses of this film from a feminist perspective.

If you can link some of those, they'd be awesome to read - I'm always on the look out for decent film writing.

Regarding Von Trier, though; I can't think of any of his feminine leads that are as passive as Mother is in this. Maybe Justine in Melancholia but she still has independent agency that Mother lacks completely, and that's not something that I think is a conscious choice on Aronofsky's behalf.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Junior on September 29, 2017, 08:02:29 AM
AGB: I really don't appreciate the suggestion that there's absolutely nothing to this movie because of its obviousness. I also don't understand how you're "surprised anyone takes this seriously. I'm surprised anyone here is thinking deeply about this film," which you say just after calling it "a silly, campy, dumb horror movie" as if those aren't analyzed and written about over and over again. I've seen plenty of smart film people writing intelligent things about this movie. Heck, the podcast whose forum we're on had positive things to say about it and filled a 20 minute review without even talking much about the back half of the film. I suggest you investigate your own incredulity, or at least show a little tact when disparaging the movie and the people who enjoyed it. It is rarely a useful position to take, and even more rarely a useful one to express.

DH: I thank you, and I appreciate your review as well. I think the horror movie for introverts angle works quite well. That's often a part of the paranoia horror I wrote about, and it always freaks me out pretty well. I guess it's also part of the home invasion thing, but this feels a little more intense for how isolated they are at the film's start and how innocuously the invasions begin. It's interesting that you see some of the devil, or at least demons, in this film. I don't find them anywhere. I've read people interpreting Mother as the fallen angel. I don't see where that goes, exactly, especially once the baby comes into the picture. I find it interesting how none of us particularly went for the environmental stuff, even when that's what Aronofsky and Lawrence explicitly state is the "point" of the movie. I think it works, even with the biblical stuff, because the metaphor is still about neglect and abuse that by all rights should be abhorrent to the religio(n)(ous) but is instead a central part of it. You can see the two brothers fighting as the first despoiling of the natural world. It's all there, it all works.

aewade90: You've convinced me that your reading really works. I don't see it that way myself, but I think you're right that if you do see the film as a response to the response to Noah it becomes deeply troubling. We'll have to wait to see if this was just an outburst or if this'll be a turning point in Aronofsky's career. As much as I like mother!, I want to see him go in another direction next.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Will on September 29, 2017, 03:36:56 PM
AGB: I really don't appreciate the suggestion that there's absolutely nothing to this movie because of its obviousness. I also don't understand how you're "surprised anyone takes this seriously. I'm surprised anyone here is thinking deeply about this film," which you say just after calling it "a silly, campy, dumb horror movie" as if those aren't analyzed and written about over and over again. I've seen plenty of smart film people writing intelligent things about this movie. Heck, the podcast whose forum we're on had positive things to say about it and filled a 20 minute review without even talking much about the back half of the film. I suggest you investigate your own incredulity, or at least show a little tact when disparaging the movie and the people who enjoyed it. It is rarely a useful position to take, and even more rarely a useful one to express.


Me too! That's why I find it shocking. There's nothing here. Smart people aren't right because they're smart. Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris have their share of poorly thought-out reviews/analyses. No one is beyond criticism for their thinking.

I am not here to convince anyone otherwise of their opinion. That's useless. I am here to express my opinion. If you choose to discuss it, fine. But I think it's rather disingenuous to tell me that I cannot be completely honest in my reaction. I am surprised. That incredulity is real. I explained why and you have chosen not to respond to my evidence, but my thesis, which I think is in bad faith. TL; DR for you: this film betrays all logic and characterization for a metaphor. Do you have a response to that?
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Junior on September 29, 2017, 03:58:37 PM
I do. (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=14558.msg876900#msg876900)

I guess my problem with your continued incredulity is that you seem to be ignoring the actual things that people are saying. Like, I get it, you think the film is vapid. But I don't see you tracking anything anybody is saying about the film except to dismiss it outright. It feels like you're standing in an apple orchard, looking for something to eat and unwilling to reach up and grab a snack.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on September 29, 2017, 05:27:59 PM
DH: I thank you, and I appreciate your review as well. I think the horror movie for introverts angle works quite well. That's often a part of the paranoia horror I wrote about, and it always freaks me out pretty well. I guess it's also part of the home invasion thing, but this feels a little more intense for how isolated they are at the film's start and how innocuously the invasions begin. It's interesting that you see some of the devil, or at least demons, in this film. I don't find them anywhere. I've read people interpreting Mother as the fallen angel. I don't see where that goes, exactly, especially once the baby comes into the picture. I find it interesting how none of us particularly went for the environmental stuff, even when that's what Aronofsky and Lawrence explicitly state is the "point" of the movie. I think it works, even with the biblical stuff, because the metaphor is still about neglect and abuse that by all rights should be abhorrent to the religio(n)(ous) but is instead a central part of it. You can see the two brothers fighting as the first despoiling of the natural world. It's all there, it all works.

Oh, I think it is an easy step to take from the ending of my review to the environmental stuff. If humanity is spoiling Creation that could be taken to mean that we're litterally spoiling the Earth with our pollution. I didn't want to confine the message to that thought, because I didn't know about that authorial intent, and because I think it is more interesting if it is more open than that.

I don't know where the Lucifer-Lawrence identification can lead either, or rather, I don't see what you can say when you start going down that part. I think it works best if you see it as Aronofsky substituting the devil with a nurturing feminine archetype as the opposite of Yahweh, the narcissist, tyrannical male Creator. It's Aro. putting the Bible upside down.

I meant to reply more directly to your own review in proper terms but I haven't found the time yet. Will try to this weekend.

Question: You don't mention this in your review I think, what did you think of the constant use of close-ups?

(Also, I would love to read a piece linking this to Silence somehow.)

I guess my problem with your continued incredulity is that you seem to be ignoring the actual things that people are saying. Like, I get it, you think the film is vapid. But I don't see you tracking anything anybody is saying about the film except to dismiss it outright. It feels like you're standing in an apple orchard, looking for something to eat and unwilling to reach up and grab a snack.

What Junior said.

I would be incredulous if people starting universally praising Jurassic World but mother! is the easiest case of solving ę Why are people talking about that movie? Ľ ever. Even if you don't like it there's loads to dissect.

Now, where was that apple?
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: aewade90 on September 29, 2017, 08:40:08 PM
AGB: I really don't appreciate the suggestion that there's absolutely nothing to this movie because of its obviousness. I also don't understand how you're "surprised anyone takes this seriously. I'm surprised anyone here is thinking deeply about this film," which you say just after calling it "a silly, campy, dumb horror movie" as if those aren't analyzed and written about over and over again. I've seen plenty of smart film people writing intelligent things about this movie. Heck, the podcast whose forum we're on had positive things to say about it and filled a 20 minute review without even talking much about the back half of the film. I suggest you investigate your own incredulity, or at least show a little tact when disparaging the movie and the people who enjoyed it. It is rarely a useful position to take, and even more rarely a useful one to express.


Me too! That's why I find it shocking. There's nothing here. Smart people aren't right because they're smart. Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris have their share of poorly thought-out reviews/analyses. No one is beyond criticism for their thinking.

I am not here to convince anyone otherwise of their opinion. That's useless. I am here to express my opinion. If you choose to discuss it, fine. But I think it's rather disingenuous to tell me that I cannot be completely honest in my reaction. I am surprised. That incredulity is real. I explained why and you have chosen not to respond to my evidence, but my thesis, which I think is in bad faith. TL; DR for you: this film betrays all logic and characterization for a metaphor. Do you have a response to that?

I don't know about a total lack of logic - I think there's an undercurrent there, at least enough to loosely link it to allow for interpretation. I think it has a lot in common with modern surrealism (and certainly helps with a plot association of "a woman in trouble" a la Lynch) and that has an inherent openness with it.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Will on September 30, 2017, 04:42:46 AM
I do. (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=14558.msg876900#msg876900)


I don't see how your review is a response to anything I wrote. All you do is explain why the allegory/metaphorical narrative is important to you in detail. You don't ever truly respond to the idea that the characters are 100% at the service of this allegory, which robs them of all logic or actual depth which is what I assert.

Then again, I don't think we are even on this same page:

Mother! gets much more metaphorical, but I think the central relationship still works and feels quite real, mostly.

I don't feel I know a single person who would agree with this statement. That is not a joke, that is not exaggeration. The relationship doesn't feel real at all. It feels so very heightened for the purpose of the plot. 


I guess my problem with your continued incredulity is that you seem to be ignoring the actual things that people are saying. Like, I get it, you think the film is vapid. But I don't see you tracking anything anybody is saying about the film except to dismiss it outright. It feels like you're standing in an apple orchard, looking for something to eat and unwilling to reach up and grab a snack.

I didn't call you or DH out in my review at all. If you read my following comments, it's not just the reviews I've read on this forum but elsewhere as well. It feels like you're suggesting the only way anyone can discuss their problems with the movie is in response to the raves already posted beforehand.

In other words, maybe you're projecting onto me that I am looking for something to eat. Maybe I just like strolling through apple orchards. Maybe I like to buy apples that were already picked and washed.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Will on September 30, 2017, 04:44:55 AM

I would be incredulous if people starting universally praising Jurassic World but mother! is the easiest case of solving ę Why are people talking about that movie? Ľ ever. Even if you don't like it there's loads to dissect.

Now, where was that apple?

Jurassic World > mother!
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 02, 2017, 04:05:35 AM
Two things.

It took me some internet talk to realise that the women at the beginning and the end of the movie were not Jennifer Lawrence. When I saw the last shot I had some impression it could not be her but I ultimately decided it was. Anyone else get confused? Am I at least right that they look alike?

Does anyone have any theories about the orange powder Lawrence is constantly drinking?
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: jdc on October 02, 2017, 05:19:00 AM
They look alike but are different. He has a type

No idea on the orange powder
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 02, 2017, 05:30:59 AM

I would be incredulous if people starting universally praising Jurassic World but mother! is the easiest case of solving ę Why are people talking about that movie? Ľ ever. Even if you don't like it there's loads to dissect.

Now, where was that apple?

Jurassic World > mother!

Are you saying they're both terrible but mother!'s worse or do you actually like JW? This is bananas anyway but I'd like to know.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: smirnoff on October 02, 2017, 10:26:32 PM
Quote
Does anyone have any theories about the orange powder Lawrence is constantly drinking?

Orange Powder.... Tang.... Pootie Tang.... mother! is an homage to Pootie Tang!
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 03, 2017, 03:55:16 AM
I don't know what that is but I am sure it makes sense.

Have you watched the movie yet 'noff?
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 03, 2017, 07:58:39 AM
You've got me convinced aewade90! I'm sure I would hate this now. :)

You're not going to watch it then?

@aewade: I think your reading of the movie is too closed. It is completely fair to read it that way, but as I read you I get the feeling your saying that Aronofsky's CINECAST! you to the public is the only thing in the movie. You don't ackowledge the other possible interpretations at all, which is a bit too extreme. I mean, are you that sure the only intent of the film is to tell you to bugger off? Don't you see other messages in there that are worth comenting on or making a movie about?

@AGB: Do characters need to be strongly built when 90% of the impetus for the movie is a metaphor? Maybe Mother's character doesn't make sense, but she's straight out of the Bible, and I am not sure Aronofsky believes that thing makes much sense either. She's not a character as much as a representation in service of a particular message. Maybe the ending of the movie is a criticism of the sickly Christian dogma of worship and self-sacrifice.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Junior on October 03, 2017, 10:21:29 AM
I do. (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=14558.msg876900#msg876900)


I don't see how your review is a response to anything I wrote. All you do is explain why the allegory/metaphorical narrative is important to you in detail. You don't ever truly respond to the idea that the characters are 100% at the service of this allegory, which robs them of all logic or actual depth which is what I assert.

Then again, I don't think we are even on this same page:

Mother! gets much more metaphorical, but I think the central relationship still works and feels quite real, mostly.

I don't feel I know a single person who would agree with this statement. That is not a joke, that is not exaggeration. The relationship doesn't feel real at all. It feels so very heightened for the purpose of the plot. 


I guess my problem with your continued incredulity is that you seem to be ignoring the actual things that people are saying. Like, I get it, you think the film is vapid. But I don't see you tracking anything anybody is saying about the film except to dismiss it outright. It feels like you're standing in an apple orchard, looking for something to eat and unwilling to reach up and grab a snack.

I didn't call you or DH out in my review at all. If you read my following comments, it's not just the reviews I've read on this forum but elsewhere as well. It feels like you're suggesting the only way anyone can discuss their problems with the movie is in response to the raves already posted beforehand.

In other words, maybe you're projecting onto me that I am looking for something to eat. Maybe I just like strolling through apple orchards. Maybe I like to buy apples that were already picked and washed.

My review isn't a response to anything you wrote. I wrote it before you wrote anything. I'm pretty sure I ain't a time traveler, don't know if you are or not. What my review is, however, is an explanation for the various layers I saw in the film and how they interacted from my understanding. One of those layers is the kind of plot level stuff with the artist and his muse/enabler, in which I wrote about how it seemed to me like a pretty believable thing, even if it is heightened to absurd levels.

Hi, I'm a single person who would agree with the statement I made. Nice to meet you.

I don't think you really have to do anything in your responses. I just think it's kind of disingenuous of you to state that the idea that anybody would take the film seriously is ridiculous. Whether you intended it or not, it denigrates anybody who does take the film seriously to the level of idiots grasping at straws. That's where I have problems with what you wrote. If you wanna say, "I didn't get a single thing out of this film," have a blast. If you wanna say, "I don't understand how anybody can get anything out of this film" when there's already several examples of people doing that (and doing it differently at that!), it feels like a dismissal of us as people, critics, and fellow forumites.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Will on October 03, 2017, 04:41:04 PM
People project ideas on films they love all the time. Art isn't a thing you can just project ideas on because you feel like. You have to have evidence from the work of art that supports your interpretation. My comment is explicitly about that. Your review only seems to congratulate the film for making an allegory instead of actually investigating what that allegory is about or how it works.

I still stand by the basic idea of my sentence. If your main complaint is if I could have wrote it in a more polite way, maybe I could've figured a better way. But I felt then and a bit now that it would filter out the honesty of my reaction.

Quote
Hi, I'm a single person who would agree with the statement I made. Nice to meet you.

There's so much emotional abuse in the relationship and the mother shows that she's willing to fight back at so many times. Then incredibly illogical things happen. She doesn't escape or go with her husband. Not because she doesn't want to, she can't, because this about an allegory, not her characterization. She wants to voice her problems with her husband (and does), but then decides to have sex with him instead, forgetting everything that came before because this is about an allegory, not her characterization. He cares about her and her problems with him except when he doesn't... because this is about an allegory, not his characterization. He only stops caring for her when it's convenient for the allegory. Nothing about his character makes any sense. Why does he get mad when the crystal breaks when the couple has been blatantly mistreating his wife in front of him the entire time? Because the crystal is a more important macguffin in the allegory, not his wife.

Quote
Hi, I'm a single person who would agree with the statement I made. Nice to meet you.

Let's take it at a purely relationship level:

If the film is all about a woman suffering the erratic abuse of her husband, why is she given any agency at all? Where's the commentary on these kind of relationships? Why isn't she given any scene of escape? Why doesn't she actually physically fight back?

I hate to answer my own questions, but I don't see any other answers than "because that doesn't fit into the allegory". So we are forced to watch a woman being neglected, emotionally and physically abused all in service of this important allegory. I don't see any value in a film ONLY having an allegory, especially if it must require the sacrifice of character to get to it.

SPIRITED AWAY is an allegory for the modernization of Japan. Many crazy things happen, but all of them makes sense to the character and the logic of that film's universe. They're all justified. I didn't feel the justification here. All I see you doing is congratulating the movie for having an allegory, but an allegory has to work in tandem with other parts of the narrative to actually have significant cultural value.

If you don't want to have a conversation, don't assume that I didn't read your review when I wrote mine. Yes, it's not a response to my comment. If you knew that, then why did you link me to your review saying "I do" to a request of a response to a particular part of my comment?
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: saltine on October 03, 2017, 05:47:36 PM
Hey, guys, stepping in here to say keep it civil. I'm reading and loving the comments when they are about the film and responses to the film. Let's continue in that vein, please. 

ALSO, please don't let this digress into that "what is art" dead horse thread. That's just boring.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 03, 2017, 05:52:00 PM
What is art?
Maybe define it
Maybe refine it
Some more

bam bam barabam babababam...
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: saltine on October 03, 2017, 05:53:57 PM
OK, I'm bored.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 03, 2017, 05:58:02 PM
Sorry, I couldn't fine a rhyme about not doing it.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: aewade90 on October 03, 2017, 07:21:56 PM

@aewade: I think your reading of the movie is too closed. It is completely fair to read it that way, but as I read you I get the feeling your saying that Aronofsky's CINECAST! you to the public is the only thing in the movie. You don't ackowledge the other possible interpretations at all, which is a bit too extreme. I mean, are you that sure the only intent of the film is to tell you to bugger off? Don't you see other messages in there that are worth comenting on or making a movie about?


It's not that I don't acknowledge them - as mentioned I do believe it's Aronofsky's most interpretative work - but it just comes across so strongly that is plows through any other metaphors, to me. The way that Aronofsky has been positioned within external media and the way that he himself has participated in that discourse makes it really hard for me to see it any other way. That's not to say that for example the biblical positioning of the text isn't invalid, but that intersects with the personal-destroyed-art reading to a fault. Aronofsky's "CINECAST! you" isn't the only thing, but to me, it was the loudest and most resounding.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Will on October 03, 2017, 07:49:58 PM
Hey, guys, stepping in here to say keep it civil.

Point me to where I'm being uncivil, please.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: jdc on October 03, 2017, 07:58:08 PM
She didn't say you weren't, only asking that everybody keeps it civil.  When the discussion starts wondering off the movie and to how to interpret and discuss Art, it really goes downhill fast.  Hence the beating a dead horse discussion. There is a thread around (or at least there used to be) where that discussion is more suited as it will have little to do with this film
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: saltine on October 03, 2017, 08:10:28 PM
Thanks, jdc.  Exactly my point.

And, I am Admin of this forum and I will step in when I please to put things back on track.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on October 03, 2017, 09:37:22 PM
I'm gonna catch up on my thread in the morning but boy is this film absolutely rife with possible interpretations. Perhaps it's been discussed here, but I think the most effective one for me is the idea of artist/muse attempting to co-create something and unleash it to the world.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: smirnoff on October 03, 2017, 11:13:20 PM
Have you watched the movie yet 'noff?

Me no. If it turns up on Netflix one day I may give it ten mintues, see what it's about. I will say, it's something of a let down not to have a new Clint Mansell score to look forward to. Till now that's always been a big part of what an Aronofsky film is for me.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: jdc on October 03, 2017, 11:23:53 PM
If you give it 10 mins then you will likely be turned off. It needs to at least get through the crust 30 or 40 mins
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: smirnoff on October 03, 2017, 11:30:52 PM
I'll be quite happy to see the whole thing through if I find it intriguing. :)
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 04, 2017, 02:21:30 AM
You know, there used to be lots more dead horses laying around that the admins had to collect and send into the dead horse recycle pile. I guess we've gotten better at keeping our horses alive and fresh. I miss the smell though.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Will on October 04, 2017, 08:23:04 PM
It's just a shame because now the discussion that I put work into is now deemed dead  (as goes the unspoken rules of this forum) when a moderator/admin walks in order to "keep it civil" even though nothing uncivil was apparently said at the time.

It's just a shame.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: MartinTeller on October 04, 2017, 11:09:23 PM
It felt like it was on the verge of uncivil to me. There was a palpable condescension in your posts. You weren't just criticizing the film, you were criticizing people who like the film, and that's not pleasant for anyone. You're not new to the internet, you know what you were doing. Acting incredulous that anyone likes XYZ has loooong been understood to mean "you're dumb if you like XYZ". Your reactions can be respectful and still be "honest". No one is stopping you from making any points, you (and everyone else) are just being asked to be civil about it. The only way the discussion is "dead" is if you're unable to do that.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Will on October 05, 2017, 04:53:41 AM
It felt like it was on the verge of uncivil to me. There was a palpable condescension in your posts. You weren't just criticizing the film, you were criticizing people who like the film, and that's not pleasant for anyone. You're not new to the internet, you know what you were doing. Acting incredulous that anyone likes XYZ has loooong been understood to mean "you're dumb if you like XYZ". Your reactions can be respectful and still be "honest". No one is stopping you from making any points, you (and everyone else) are just being asked to be civil about it. The only way the discussion is "dead" is if you're unable to do that.

Thank you for your input. I will try to be more polite in my future posts.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: oldkid on October 05, 2017, 01:10:56 PM
Now that that's cleared up, you are all wrong and stupid.  ;)

Actually, you are all right, in that I think that mother! is complex and is playing with multiple metaphors at a time, trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) to keep a number of balls in the air.

We have the world metaphor in which mother restores the world after the last destruction and it is taken apart by pieces before her.

We have the Artist backdrop which shows his unintentional abuse of his wife because he's so focused on making Change.

We have the big-picture-of-the-Bible metaphor which has  dying Adam, Eve with her "fruit" (lemons, not apples), Cain and Abel, sin, covetousness, Scripture, a God trying to tell everyone to be nice to each other, mark of Cain, religiosity, Jesus, sacrifice, adoration, with everyone ignoring the context around them.

We have Bardem representing, in turns, a husband, God, an artist, an idealist, an abuser, a priest, a mediator, a shaman, a repentant recluse and more.

There are so many interesting details, often coming from themes Aronofsky covered in other films.  The schizophrenic nature of the artist (Black Swan), using color to cover up pain (Requiem), obsession (all of them).  Not everything fits neatly into a single overall metaphor, there are a lot of details that I think we can spend years drawing out.  I love the dream-like structure, the playing around with time, the blood disappearing and reappearing, the fact that the house both has an oil heater and a wood stove and multiple hearts.  So much to think about.

But all of the details miss the main point, in my opinion.  The central focus is the point of view.  The film is constantly going back and forth between what Lawrence sees and how she responds.  She is supposed to lend us her emotions, her perspective. Lots happens, lots of people come and go, lots of right and wrong, but the point is that we are to be seeing it all through the eyes of a mother, a nurturer.   Unlike Bardem, who is focused on his work and is overjoyed by anyone who appreciates his work, past or present, Lawrence wants to create a context in which love can flourish.  She wants to protect their relationship, create a "setting" in which intimacy and care can grow. 

Think of how the events would look from Bardem's point of view.  Frustration and relief of being able to create, a wife who is stifling him, people who are part of the process of inspiration, conception as being the eye-opening event of his life, the welcoming of adoration and how that turns bad with him being the inspiration of all sorts of evil until everything is destroyed and he has the opportunity to begin again founded on his dead wife's love.

But that's the story we always hear, the story of the artist, of the Creator, of the wide-eyed wonder of the inspired.

This story is told from the point of view of the Nurturer, the nest-builder, the consort.  In ancient myth, creation was always accomplished by Heaven (male) and Earth (female).  An alternative Yahwist religion is hinted at in the Bible in which God had a consort called Asherah (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah).  In Proverbs, the female Wisdom assisted God in the creation and sustaining of the world.

Wisdom in Proverbs continually calls out to humanity, telling them to pay attention to her:
"I, Wisdom, dwell with prudence,
    and useful knowledge I have.
Pride, arrogance, the evil way,
    and the perverse mouth I hate.
Mine are counsel and advice;
    Mine is strength; I am understanding."

Even so, mother! is calling us to re-examine all of humanity from the perspective of female Wisdom, of learning to nurture, to love, to restore.  To set aside covetousness-- the desire and demand of what does not belong to you-- and pride-- the taking of authority that was never given, especially when one harms "lesser" people on the way there. 

Like Jesus, this film is calling one to look at the way of the nurturer and to see it as the true path.  But it also recognizes that the path of the nurturer is the path of self-sacrifice.  The Creator changes by inspiration and making new things; the Nurturer changes by self-sacrificial love.  And you cannot have one without the other.  But people often overlook the Nurturer and the sacrifice as unnecessary idiocy, not realizing that it is the real story.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Josh on October 06, 2017, 12:48:04 PM
The central focus is the point of view.

I like this reading, the only catch is it requires ignoring the film's bookends, which are explicitly from Bardem's POV. Here is where my reservations lie with mother!, as much as I enjoyed it. The movie isn't willing to fully commit to its "feminine" perspective.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 06, 2017, 01:13:25 PM
I thought the crystal Even breaks was the Apple. It is after breaking it that the couple is expelled from the upstairs office, ie. Eden.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: oldkid on October 06, 2017, 08:52:40 PM
I thought the crystal Even breaks was the Apple. It is after breaking it that the couple is expelled from the upstairs office, ie. Eden.

Good reading.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: 1SO on October 08, 2017, 11:52:50 PM
Seen it!

Coming off of its current reputation and my knowledge of Aronofsky's work, I didn't have too strong a reaction one way or the other. I was more divisive within myself over moments where the director starts to lose the film in the chaos. It first happened when the two sons entered. Up to there I could still believe what was happening without having to take it as allegory, but when one son kills the other that went bye bye. The next leap was at the wake and that damn couple who wouldn't stay off the counter. By the time Kristen Wiig is executing people you're either with it or you're not, and that's before the crack of the neck, which is where I imagine most people say "that's enough", though Aronofsky hammers that horror in deeper seconds later.

In the end, I'm left with one lingering question. Was that Rachel Weisz in the opening shot, or at least a digital creation that's meant to deliberately look like Rachel Weisz? That opening, reflected by the ending negates any objection Aronofsky might have about people relating the film to his past and current (and future?) relationship.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 09, 2017, 04:12:14 AM
What was the opening shot? The first time I remember seeing a woman is when Lawrence gets recreated.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Teproc on October 09, 2017, 04:23:28 AM
What was the opening shot? The first time I remember seeing a woman is when Lawrence gets recreated.

We see the face of a woman (whom I assumed to be Lawrence but it appears I was wrong) in a fire, a shot which is repeated towards the end, with yet another actress... I think, I'm terrible with faces, so that whole thing flew over my head I thought it was Lawrence with some wonky CGI making her look weird both times.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 09, 2017, 04:32:08 AM
Yeah, I thought it was Lawrence too.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: 1SO on October 09, 2017, 10:04:53 AM
Had to do some digging. Looks like somebody took this with their phone, but here...

(https://imgur.com/iIysHc8.jpg)

That looks like Rachel Weisz. I see no resemblance to Jenifer Lawrence


Also, when Ed Harris is throwing up, Javier Bardem covers and injury on Harris' back. Is that meant to be where the rib was taken to create Eve (Michelle Pfeiffer)?
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: Sandy on October 09, 2017, 10:17:31 AM
I read that it was Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse. She's credited as "foremother."

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1436204/
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 09, 2017, 10:32:43 AM
Yes, that is the rib wound. I don't know what the thing that escapes from the toilet into the plumbery later is though.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: 1SO on October 09, 2017, 12:01:00 PM
I read that it was Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse. She's credited as "foremother."

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1436204/

The look is so uncanny (and little like Labrosse's IMDB photos.) I wonder if this is like Guy Henry playing Peter Cushing playing Tarkin in Rogue One. I just think Aronofsky had the power to make the first woman look nothing like his ex, but instead opted to stoke the fires of discussion by making her look more like her.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: oldkid on October 11, 2017, 03:02:29 AM
I was musing as to whether Michelle Pfeiffer was Eve or Adam's other wife, Lilith, who is more sexual and independent than Eve.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 11, 2017, 03:31:52 AM
Eve - Lilith doesn't appear in the Bible. She is an ancient mythological figure one can find in the Talmud, among other texts, but not in the Old Testament.

Also, Lilith doesn't eat the Apple. And she isn't born of a rib. And Cain and Abel aren't her children. The metaphor wouldn't work if Pfeiffer was Lilith.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: jdc on October 11, 2017, 08:56:21 AM
Eve - Lilith doesn't appear in the Bible. She is an ancient mythological figure

Much like the Bible;)

Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 11, 2017, 09:18:41 AM
By historical standards, the Bible is the obnoxious upstart of mythologies.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: oldkid on October 12, 2017, 02:38:55 PM
Is this supposed to be strictly biblical?

However, it is true that Cain and Abel weren't Lilith's children. 
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 13, 2017, 03:05:54 AM
I don't see anything in the movie indicating we should look to other sources than the Bible where the religious interpretation is concerned.

Perhaps Pfeiffer's sexuality and general obnoxiousness are a critique of Aronofsky's view on how the Bible treats women, particularly the archetypal Eve.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: jdc on October 13, 2017, 04:41:29 AM
Is this supposed to be strictly biblical?

However, it is true that Cain and Abel weren't Lilith's children.

I've never read the good book, so not sure if I would say strictly biblical. I am sure it takes many liberties but I thought it was primarily biblical at its core with some interesting side themes layered on top.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: oldkid on October 13, 2017, 06:04:10 PM
I don't see anything in the movie indicating we should look to other sources than the Bible where the religious interpretation is concerned.

Perhaps Pfeiffer's sexuality and general obnoxiousness are a critique of Aronofsky's view on how the Bible treats women, particularly the archetypal Eve.

I saw nothing in the movie that required that we limit it to the Bible.

Eve is treated in the Bible as innocent and gullible.  I think that you are mixing up the lousy interpretation of fundamentalist Christians with the ancient text, which is distinct.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 13, 2017, 06:35:36 PM
I was saying Aronofsky makes Eve that way because for him that is how the Bible treats women, and Eve is basically the only biblical female character we get in the movie. She stands in for all the temptresses and agents of chaos and sin.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: oldkid on October 13, 2017, 06:54:38 PM
I was saying Aronofsky makes Eve that way because for him that is how the Bible treats women, and Eve is basically the only biblical female character we get in the movie. She stands in for all the temptresses and agents of chaos and sin.

I certainly see that Pfeiffer's character has these characteristics.  That's just not biblical Eve.  The ancient Jews wanted a female character that represented this, and so they invented Lilith.  That's where my confusion comes from.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 16, 2017, 06:39:05 AM
You may not read biblical Eve that way, but Aronofsky may read women in the Bible like that. Not to mention how misogynistic most denominations are.
Title: Re: mother!
Post by: oldkid on October 16, 2017, 09:46:52 PM
That's the thing.  I totally get this film as a statement about Christianity or about the three major Yahwistic religions.  But a simple reading of the Bible doesn't get that.  I think it has more to do with humanity than the text of the Bible.