Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Fountain: no spoilers

To his credit, Mr. Aronofsky does not explain too much, and “The Fountain” leaves a tantalizing sense of puzzlement in its wake. Parsing its logic and arguing about its premises will be among the main activities of the small, devoted cult of admirers that is likely to gather around this movie, protecting it from the derision of the uninitiated.

I am a devoted admirer, but I don't want to protect "The Fountain" from the derision of the uninitiated. Although some movie critics don't seem to have tried very hard to understand it. It's like when The Matrix came out and some critics talked about the action taking place in various dimensions. Sorry, morons. If you can't grasp the concept that the Matrix is a program, not an alternate dimension, then you're too culturally ignorant to be paid to critique movies.

I didn't really want to talk to anyone afterwards, either. I just wanted some time to take it in....If you expect to have this completely spoon-fed to you, you may leave the theater disappointed....If someone dismisses this film with a cursory "weird," my guess is they weren't even trying to pay attention.

Similarly, some critics can't seem to get anything out of The Fountain because no one has pre-chewed it and regurgitated it for them. Trying and not liking it is fine; it's the people who are paid to try but clearly didn't that piss me off. And you know, just as I was composing that sentence, I realized that there is a great deal of chewing and regurgitation in movie criticism. A movie like The Matrix will come out and be critically reviled because many critics are just too damn dumb to get it. Then later it gets put on "Best of" lists and glowingly eulogized by the same people who once damned it. Either they finally found someone with some cerebral activity to explain it to them, or they sensed the zeitgeist and decided to play along whether they really got it or not.

There you have it: "The Fountain," a film that defies description, summation, expectation or any other -tion. Exquisitely beautiful and almost unbearably sad, it is also -- no way around this -- truly strange. However strange you think it is, it's stranger....This is one outlandish film, and many viewers will hate it. Hate. It. ... It's nevertheless a transcendent work of art, a vision of undying love that finds hope in grief, epiphany in death and life in the loss of Eden.

I won't go into details now, because I can't rebut some of the more obvious lunacy surrounding the movie without saying something about what really is going on. Of course you see parts of this movie and think, "What the fuck?" It's that kind of movie. The pleasure is in figuring it out. I don't think the movie is endlessly deep, but there's plenty there to ponder.

Imagine the last 10 minutes of “2001: A Space Odyssey” stretched to feature length. But I can’t stop thinking about it, a good indication that this beautiful, frustrating film is tapping into something I can’t put my finger on.

But anyway, to return to the beginning and to my main point: I don't want to protect "The Fountain" from criticism (of the informed, non-stupid variety, anyway). What I want is someone to talk about the movie with. My head has been resonating from it for almost a week now. I've done plenty of taking it in. Now I need to do some letting out.

It's not the best movie of the year like I'd hoped, but it's certainly the best post-movie discussion of the year.

See, I want a piece of that. If you've got some to spare, gimme a taste.

My new favorite quote about a movie:
Director Darren Aronofsky recently made an appearance at an L.A. press screening and confessed it was best “just to let [The Fountain] do you.”

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn you - there are so many movies I want to see that are coming out whilst I'm in Argentina. I'll gladly discuss this movie with you after I see it when I get back. BTW, the two best new movies I've seen recently are "Stranger Than Fiction" and "Science of Sleep".


7:12 PM  

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