Author Topic: mother!  (Read 1866 times)

jdc

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mother!
« 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
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Junior

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Re: mother!
« Reply #1 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?
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jdc

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Re: mother!
« Reply #2 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.
"Beer. Now there's a temporary solution."  Homer S.
ďThe direct use of physical force is so poor a solution to the problem of limited resources that it is commonly employed only by small children and great nationsĒ - David Friedman

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Re: mother!
« Reply #3 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-
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jdc

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Re: mother!
« Reply #4 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...

"Beer. Now there's a temporary solution."  Homer S.
ďThe direct use of physical force is so poor a solution to the problem of limited resources that it is commonly employed only by small children and great nationsĒ - David Friedman

Junior

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Re: mother!
« Reply #5 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.
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smirnoff

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Re: mother!
« Reply #6 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?

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Re: mother!
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2017, 07:06:16 PM »
It's not a bad comparison. It's unnerving as hell.
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smirnoff

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Re: mother!
« Reply #8 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...

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Re: mother!
« Reply #9 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.
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