Darren Aronofsky

Ever since Brazilian director Jose Padilha was confirmed to direct MGM’s long-gestating Robocop reboot, there has been the lingering question as to what would happen to all of the work the original director, Darren Aronofsky, put into the project. Aronofsky was all set to take on Robocop, and had even written a script, but some looming bankruptcy problems with MGM and an otherwise full schedule for Aronofsky put the kibosh on all of that. Well, Crave recently sat down with Padilha to talk about his upcoming Elite Squad 2, and eventually steered the conversation toward the subject of Robocop. When asked about the Aronofsky script, Padilha said, “I haven’t read Aronofsky’s script. Aronofsky is a great director. I love his films. I am very proud because I saw Pi in the opening Sundance screening and I loved it. So Aronofsky’s great. I have my own take on Robocop. I know what his take was and it’s totally different. It’s a different thing, different kind of film, even different period in time so I haven’t read his previous work.” On one hand, that’s kind of disappointing, I would have loved to have seen what a major director like Aronofsky envisioned for this project. On the other hand, I’m much happier about a filmmaker who is enthusiastic about his own vision taking over Robocop rather than having a utility player come in, just pick up the pieces, and do whatever the studio wants.

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News of a RoboCop remake has been bouncing around for literally years, usually with Darren Aronofsky’s name attached in some manner. Recently, the plan for the film has been that Aronofsky would serve in a producer’s role and José Padilha, helmer of 2007’s Elite Squad, would be sitting in the director’s chair. Even more recently, Dutch film site Film1 caught up with the director to have a chat about Elite Squad 2, and at the end even managed to get a quote out of him about how his approach to the material will differ from original RoboCop director Paul Verhoeven’s. Padilha’s comments were posted in some sort of indecipherable moon language, but luckily the gents over at /Film were kind enough to run it through Google translate and have some good old-fashioned English come out the other end. Padilha roughly said, “I love the sharpness and political tone of RoboCop, and I think that such a film is now urgently needed. But I will not repeat what Verhoeven has done so clearly and strongly. Instead I try to make a film that will address topics that Verhoeven untreated. If you are a man changes into a robot, how do you do that? What is the difference between humans and robots developed? What is free will? What does it mean to lose your free will? Those are the issues that I think.” That’s kind of vague, but I guess what Padilha is getting at is that his version of RoboCop will focus […]

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Culture Warrior

We often don’t think of commercials as having authorship, at least not in the same way we think of movies. Commercials are created by advertising companies, by focus groups, by strategists; not by “artists.” But while the purpose of a 30-second ad may on the surface differ from the motive of a feature length film (though not always), both are media assembled through a particular economy of storytelling devices and are made often by a collaborative company of individuals. But commercials don’t often contain credit sequences, and thus the phenomenology of its making is cloaked and the personalities who made it unconsidered. The focus is on the product being sold, not the creative team selling it. So it can be surprising to find out that well-respected, top-tier, artistic filmmakers often direct commercials. Sure, many filmmakers regularly make commercials as a more lucrative and less time-consuming alternative to feature filmmaking, and there are many visual artists who have honed an ability to express their personality in various media forms, but a surprising number of supposedly cinema-specific auteurs make commercials, despite a lack of apparent monetary need or professional benefit. This subject came to my attention recently because of a series of articles on Slate last week by David Haglund about the oeuvre of the Coen brothers that included the filmmaking duo’s commercials in considering their larger cinematic contribution. It’s an interesting way to view a filmmaker’s career, for it forces you to look for their identifying traits and revisited themes via […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news and commentary column that is a little disoriented at the moment. But don’t worry, it will find its way. Oh, there’s a few Michael Bay-related stories to talk about. That’s so much better… With the release of Transformers: Dark of the Moon happening this evening at 9pm or midnight or whatever, there’s been a lot of talk about Michael Bay, the most divisive man in cinema (at the moment). Today brought several must-reads, including GQ’s Oral history of Michael Bay exposé, which chronicles the life and times of the man who demands it all to be awesome. I also enjoyed this defense of Michael Bay piece by Jacob Hall at Movies.com. It’s a delightful look at the internal struggle movie-lovers face when confronted with pure, unfiltered awesome.

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Not too long ago Fox’s supposed filmmaker wish list for “The Wolverine” was leaked. For the most part, it was filled with fairly safe choices. To no great surprise, the studio has decided to go with one of those many easy picks: director James Mangold. While the director hasn’t signed on yet, an offer has gone out and Deadline Fukushima makes it sound like a sure deal. The idea of going from a guy like Darren Aronfosky to Mangold is disheartening and disappointing, but worse switches could happen. He’s a perfectly competent journeyman filmmaker. Walk the Line, Cop Land, Identity, and 3:10 to Yuma are all solid films, and even Knight and Day ain’t too bad. We probably won’t be getting a Wolverine film as ambitious as what Aronofsky would’ve done with the material, but I’d much rather see the director of 3:10 to Yuma than Tokyo Drift take on the Japan storyline. The Wolverine is expected to shoot this fall with the use of Christopher McQuarrie‘s (The Usual Suspects) draft.

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Sad news today for Jiroemon Kimura, the oldest man in the world. Despite being the closest qualified to play the 600-year-old Noah (of Ark), the supercentenarian will not see his dream of acting for Darren Aronofsky come true. According to Vulture, that honor very well may go to the much, much younger Christian Bale. Fortunately, Aronofsky is in talks with one of the few actors working today that could actually find a way to become 600 years old. No doubt it would involve losing 40 pounds, growing a formidable white beard, and giving himself diabetes. Of course this addition would help out on the business side of things (if you care about that), but more importantly, it would combine a hell of an actor with a hall of a director. Two men willing to take chances, working on a Biblical epic where the last antediluvian patriarch, with a direct line to God, builds a giant vessel and marches two of every animal on board. Who says creativity is dead? Here’s hoping that Bale takes the role. He was looking too healthy and normal anyway.

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Ever since acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky unceremoniously dumped The Wolverine as his next project, scholarly people all over the planet have been asking themselves what he would end up doing instead. Suddenly, that situation is a little less unclear, as Deadline Daberath reports the director is close to getting his long gestating project Noah off and running. Several years ago, when talking about possible future projects, Aronofsky described Noah to /Film by saying, “I think it’s really timely because it’s about environmental apocalypse which is the biggest theme, for me, right now for what’s going on on this planet. So I think it’s got these big, big themes that connect with us. Noah was the first environmentalist. He’s a really interesting character. Hopefully they’ll let me make it.” Back then he hadn’t made a bunch of money and acquired a bunch of high profile awards from making Black Swan, so the chances of the studios letting him make a biblical epic didn’t seem quite so plausible. But today, in a post Black Swan world, Aronofsky’s vision suddenly seems a lot more likely to happen. Apparently the filmmaker is looking for $130 million to get the film made, and New Regency is already trying to set themselves up as co-financers of the project. In order to make this proposal a reality, Aronofsky is going to have to find another studio to pick up the rest of New Regency’s financial slack; but that might not be so much of a problem as […]

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Baddass Digest is reporting that both The Mouse and Warners are trying to get Darren Aronofsky on board for big budget projects. For Disney, it’s Maleficent – the new take on Sleeping Beauty that sees Angelina Jolie wearing the horned black cloak. For Warners, it’s Moses – an epic about a Jewish slave in Egypt singing “Let My People….Go.” On the one hand, Aronfosky could be spinning his own fairy tale. On the other, he could be re-imagining a Biblical history. Either way, none of this is a done deal because the studios are undoubtedly talking with other directors (like David Yates for Maleficent), and it’s not like Aronofsky has to choose simply between these two pictures. Thus, the real question becomes: which would you rather see him do? The Moses, The Witch or the None of the Above?

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s probably the last great nightly movie news column you’ll ever read, seeing as tomorrow is the apocalypse. And since it’s the end of days, we’re keeping things simple around here. Just a little trip down relevant street with a few detours along the way. If we don’t see you on the other side, just know that we loved you all. Even you. Tom Cruise feels like the perfect guy to feature on this, the last ever edition of Movie News After Dark. For one, he and the church of Scientology must have something to do with why God hates us. Also, he’s just been confirmed for Horizons, the $100 million dollar sci-fi flick that Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski has set up at Universal. Just when Cruise was starting to do awesome movies again, here comes the apocalypse to ruin it all. Thanks, L. Ron.

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Culture Warrior

Yesterday the Twittersphere (a place where topics are only discussed in rational proportions) was abuzz with the news that Terrence Malick’s long-awaited magnum opus Tree of Life was booed at its Cannes premiere. While the reaction to Malick’s latest will no doubt continue to be at least as divisive and polarized as his previous work has been, for many Malick fans the news of the boos only perpetuated more interest in the film, and for many Malick non-fans the boos signaled an affirmation of what they’ve long-seen as lacking in his work. (Just to clarify, there was also reported applause, counter-applause, and counter-booing at the screening.) Booing at Cannes has a long history, and can even be considered a tradition. It seems that every year some title is booed, and such a event often only creates more buzz around the film. There’s no formula for what happens to a booed film at Cannes: sometimes history proves that the booed film was ahead of its time, sometimes booing either precedes negative critical reactions that follow or reflect the film’s divisiveness during its commercial release. Booed films often win awards. If there is one aspect connecting almost all booed films at Cannes, it’s that the films are challenging. I mean challenging as a descriptor that gives no indication of quality (much like I consider the term “slow”), but films that receive boos at the festival challenge their audiences or the parameters of the medium in one way or another, for better or […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It too slays vampires and zombies. Not in a top hat, mind you, but it slays them nonetheless. It also believes strongly that it will be assassinated (by /Film’s Page 2) while attending a revival of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. “There’s something in the American psyche, we want our presidents to be warriors. We’re giving that to Abraham Lincoln, sort of posthumously in this case.” That’s what Seth Grahame-Smith had to say A in an interview with The New York Times. It’s part of NYT giving the world its first look at Benjamin Walker as Abe Lincoln, the ax-wielding, vampire slaying 16th President of the United States. It’s a neat article that gives away a lot of details about the project, but nothing that you wouldn’t get having read the book.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movie news that wasn’t big enough to get quality real estate on the home page. Or the stuff that everyone else missed. But you won’t miss it! Because it’s all right here! “I think he has a script ready to start of a new film, a Southern. I think it’s really exciting. It’s another new story and a fresh piece of material that he is channeling at the moment.” That’s Uma Thurman, talking about Quentin Tarantino’s next film.

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Since the production would keep Darren Aronofsky out of the country and away from his family for a year, The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that the director will no longer be directing The Wolverine for Fox. It’s up to industry people smarter than I am to figure out whether that’s a political answer or the honest one, but as a movie fan, this is incredibly bittersweet. Aronofsky is a director with a vibrant vision and the brass buttons to make films the way he wants to make them, so seeing him dig his heels into the genre fare of comic book movies felt like seeing Andy Warhol paint a landscape. On the other hand, it would have been a challenge in and of itself to make something so broadly, commercially appealing while still taking chances (if Fox was set to allow him to take any).

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If there’s one thing that’s really great about the Academy Awards it’s the manner in which they decide who gets nominated and, ultimately, who wins for each category. It makes little sense to have directors vote on who did the best acting, or musicians deciding on who had the most splendid photography, or screenwriters deciding who made the best non-scripted picture. Professionals in their field decide on which other professionals in their same field did the most exemplary work to represent their profession.

And thank God, because I can’t imagine how you would define what constitutes great directing. The job encompasses so much that great directing can be equally applied to someone obsessively anal about their “vision” just as much as someone who relies on spontaneity and ad-lib to achieve the best results. It can be applied to someone with incredible photographic technique and an eye for scene setup, and another who seems to have little regard for visual appeal. As the matter of fact, as of last year it no longer even matters whether you have a penis or not.

I absolutely have no clue what constitutes great directing despite having my own opinion, which carries no weight because I’ve never done it in my life. I probably couldn’t direct traffic let alone tell someone to film me doing it from a specific spot and focus on my anxiety in close-up and then cut to a slow-mo clip of me weeping when drivers don’t pay attention to me. If I could do that then maybe I’d have an idea what a great director really does.

Thankfully, I don’t have to as the Best Director is decided upon by others who have been there, done it and conquered it in their own way to acknowledge how difficult it must have been to focus all collaborators’ attention to the right areas at the right times to arrive altogether at the same, desired destination; which is ultimately arriving at a final product they can all be proud of.

Here are this year’s nominees for Best Director:

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With DJ Caruso directing Preacher, it becomes the second cult western literary adaptation to be taken on by an averagely talented, workhorse director (although Caruso doesn’t even come close to Ron Howard’s league). This might be the natural evolution of “geek” properties being co-opted by Hollywood. A decade ago, it was Sam Raimi bringing his Evil Dead prowess to a web-slinging comic of note. Now, the grittier material is getting notice, but middling directors will start earning the paycheck. So it goes. The list of directors who could bring the story of a Texas preacher man whose been imbued with the power of pure goodness and pure evil (and the power to command people to do his bidding) to life is a long one. So is the list of directors better suited than DJ Caruso. Here are just seven of them (ranging from the obvious to the not-so), but feel free to brainstorm more:

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Emotions are running high in Hollywood this morning after the announcement of this year’s Academy Award nominations. Or at least that’s the sort of thing that people say when they talk about the Academy Awards. I don’t know if anybody really takes this kind of stuff seriously or not. Variety has been hard at work getting reactions from as many of the nominees as possible, which may just give us some insight. Joel and Ethan Coen may have given the most sincere response by saying, “Ten seems like an awful lot. We don’t want to take anyone else’s,” but they weren’t the only ones who avoided the word “journey” like 90% of the pack.

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In the most confusing conversation possible, Darren Aronofsky might have revealed that he’s attempting to 1) write and publish a comic book of his Batman story or 2) write and publish a comic book of his Batman story in order to get it made as a movie. That’s pretty bold considering the trilogy crafted by Christopher Nolan and company isn’t even done yet. Hell, it’s not even filming, and if this quote means what some hope it means, Aronofsky is pointing for the fences a bit early on in the process. The money quote:

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this shit late at night, what do you expect?

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Black Swan Movie

Every time Nina Sayers gets near sex, something terrible happens. It is the focal point catalyst for almost every major event of Black Swan – where a character is forced to grow up in the most violent way possible. For a bulk of the film, this character – brought to life by Natalie Portman – is passive about the world around her. Nina’s mother has kept her in a state of arrested development, her boss relegates her to the background as he pleases, and even when she’s given a chance to shine, she is unable to do so because of the psychological barriers she faces. All of those barriers are brought down by sex. A few more are created because of it.

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This year, someone who has never won a DGA award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement will win a DGA award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement. The filed includes three first-time nominees – Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan; Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech; and David O. Russell for The Fighter – as well as two returning nominees – David Fincher for The Social Network (who was previously nominated for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and who has won several commercial directing awards from the DGA) and Christopher Nolan for Inception (who was previously nominated for The Dark Knight and Memento). None of these directors has won the award, which means the Director’s Guild of America’s pattern of celebrating new talent (even talent that’s been around a decade) will continue. In the past 25 years, the DGA has only had 4 repeat winners – Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood and Oliver Stone. With this list of nominees, it’s guaranteed that yet another new name will join their ranks.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
B+


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