Something terrible must be infecting the popular critics of today to
make them call The Fountain "out there." What movies have these
people been watching?
I went to see The Fountain with expectations of something bizarre and
phony. Instead, it is a metaphysical love story/rumination on
mortality that stretches the imagination in the way that a film like
"Hero" did. It's a bit of dream like fantasy mixed in so well with
familiar reality that our whole lives seem up for question. This was
not a conventional Hollywood movie, but neither was it an "Ashes of
Time" or "Last Year in Marienbad," two movies which made a lot of
really intelligent people think, "This is brilliant, but what the
hell is going on?"
I thought The Fountain was very accessible, and Hugh Jackman
delivered a very difficult performance (never have I seen a male
character cry so much, and in so many scenes). Maybe the problem is
that the film did not seem to give any definitive answers. It's a
looping, infinite, time-traveling type of movie - it is not linear,
and that is one of its strengths. But for critics - presumably
educated people - to be "confused" by this, or say there was "no
character development" (a critique which seems absurd to me, given
what the movie is about - is this just a cop-out critique used by
people who didn't like it but can't articulate why?) - makes me
really wonder about the state of film criticism today.
Some people did seem to like it. One reviewer, Gabriel Shanks, of
ModFab wrote, "I'm happy to report that Aronofsky's labor of love is
as gorgeous and emotionally cathartic as you've heard; it is also as
overwrought, trite and overbaked. Whether you can accept the naivete
of the premise is up to you; this is a film of images and thought,
not plot. What is astonishing, however, is its singleminded certainty
of its own virtue -- you have to look back to Malick or Kubrick to
find an American filmmaker offering up such a challenging vision to a
mainstream audience without apology."
I feel about The Fountain the way I did about Gangs of New York. A
lot of people hated GoNY because of its over-the-top-ness. I thought
GoNY was messy and a little out of control, but it was also so
sincere and passionate that sitting in the theater watching it on a
giant screen filled me with some hope for the creative process. We
cannot always achieve perfection, but SOMETHING must be said for
breaking free from the box-office-calculating/tested-to-death-by-
audiences style of film making. The Fountain struck me as more
restrained than GoNY (some critics disagree with me on this), but
it's a really powerful story. More importantly, it was meaningful to
me. A movie it reminded me of (also mentioned in Shanks' review) was
Soderbergh's Solaris. Solaris also got mixed/bad reviews, but there
is something really exquisite about it. Maybe it's that it has the
feel of a movie that was made based on what the director wanted, and
not what the director thought the viewers would want.
Well, that was a bit of a rant, and far more than I expected to say.
In a nutshell, I'm disappointed in a lot of critics. Maybe their
brains are made numb by being forced to review movies like Dumb &
Dumber. I take in a goofy comedy or romance once in a while, but I'm
not going to waste my time writing about it and trying to measure its
artistic quality. This is like a food critic having to write about
every hot dog and bag of chips they eat. The mind would not be able
to escape without injury.
Oh, and I am in Finland to visit Santa Claus! No, I'm joking. I'm
accompanying my significant other, who is on a business trip.
I think I'm going to post some of this email on my blog; I am curious
to know what other people think about The Fountain.
Also, I think Oscar time will see one or more of the men from The
Departed nominated. This movie was well-liked. And it is true that
DiCaprio and Damon were very strong. I haven't seen too many new
movies this year, though. The Good Shepherd and The Good German look
On Dec 3, 2006, at 12:33 AM, a_gapey wrote:
Great article on the gestation of The Fountain- thanks for posting
it. I'd also been following this film's progress somewhat tangentally
because I was eagerly anticipating Troy and had read all about
Aronofsky's travails when Brad Pitt "left with the Trojans" :-).
I've been very interested in The Fountain ever since (bring on those
Mayans and conquistadors in outer space!), so your report is very
encouraging because the movie's also been receiving lots of criticism
for being "way out there". Has anyone else seen it?
Queen Mag - what are you doing in Finland? Are you perhaps a reindeer
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