Darren Aronofsky

Russell Crowe in Noah

“Let me tell you a story.” Beloved filmmaker Darren Aronofsky’s much-hyped Noah didn’t exactly deliver the goods when it finally hit the big screen earlier this season, but the feature did boast some eye-popping scenes and settings that were very nearly worth the price of admission. They built a whole ark, for goodness’ sake! And there’s at least one other thing Aronofsky nailed when it came to creating his own cinematic world – the actual creation of the world, at least as told through his own camera lens (and lots and lots of special effects). Protozoa Pictures has now made the extraordinarily awesome “Creation” clip live (yes, it’s about the creation of the world, but no, you don’t need to be a Biblical devotee or a Christian to enjoy it), and the good people of /Film were smart enough to find it and share. Let’s sit back and soak in the glory of the very first story ever told (even though it happens to hit Noah in, well, its middle, after the flood has washed away nearly everything in existence).

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Black Swan

You can call Darren Aronofsky many things, but what you can’t call him is unambitious. From a stylized depiction of a mathematician’s gradual descent into madness to a story of one man’s love and loss that traverses across a millennium to an unrelenting journey into the life-or-death stakes of the perfect ballet performance, Aronosky’s work has tackled an array of subjects that all bear his stamp: a pursuit of perfection shared unmistakably between himself and his characters. Even when the reach of his ambitions has exceeded his grasp, Aronofsky has always made films that bear the mark of a director unwilling to compromise, for better or worse. His latest, Noah, no doubt represents his most enterprising reach yet. At once an epic Hollywood spectacle and a fable updated to deal with fears of an impending environmental apocalypse, Noah is a strange and enticing combination of big budget studio fodder and bewildering yet beautiful gestures of visionary auteurism. So here’s some free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the guy who made 3.14159 cool again.

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Russell Crowe in

Darren Aronofsky’s big budget Bible epic, Noah, finally hits theaters today, and although the film is packed with some major surprises (those of you familiar with the Curse of Ham are going to be quite put out), there’s one twist that most of its audience will never see coming – because it’s totally absent from the film’s marketing campaign.  A twist?, you might wonder, why would a marketing campaign include a twist? Oh, only because that twist is actually the existence of an actual pack of supporting characters (not just one, not two, not even three, but a whole pack) that are ripped from the film’s traditional source material (you know, the Bible) and play a major part in some of the film’s biggest bits of action (from building the ark to battling the baddies). So why can’t you find them in any official still, trailer, or teaser? Spoilers ahead.

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Russell Crowe in Noah movie

If you were raised by parents who even loosely identified as practitioners of a Western religion, then chances are you were brought up being told some version of the Noah story. You know the one—God becomes upset with the wickedness of man, decides to flood the Earth and wipe everything out so that he can start over, Noah is tasked with building a giant boat that can save a male and female from every species of animal, and then, wickedness wiped out, Noah’s family and all of the critters are encouraged to be fruitful and multiply. It’s a good story for kids. It sends the message that if you don’t behave morally, the world will punish you, it involves a bunch of furry creatures, and it’s easy to summarize. Which is why Darren Aronofsky is kind of taking a risk by turning it into a big budget, epic adventure film. Not only do most people think of the Noah story as existing within the realm of childhood fairy tale, but those who are devout are likely to bristle at the idea of having one of their sacred stories blown up and turned into Hollywood fare, and those who don’t respond well to religion aren’t likely to look forward to reliving their early days sitting through Sunday School lectures. There’s good news here for all of these potential whiners though, because Noah is far too dark and complex to be confused for a childhood fairy tale, it takes great pains to […]

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Darren Aronofsky THE FOUNTAIN

The Fountain and Noah are, in some ways, companion pieces. Director Darren Aronofsky‘s 2006 sci-fi mini epic is a movie about facing death. Its character must accept the singular rule of the universe: everyone dies. Noah focuses on the one man who has to allow almost everyone to perish, but like The Fountain, it still deals with a man accepting his destiny, no mattew how dire it may seem. Some claim Aronofsky’s latest will divide audiences and critics, but it likely won’t match the polarized response The Fountain received, a movie that was downright hated by some. To this day that remains a shame because it’s Aronofsky’s most emotional, complex, and rewarding film. The main problem with Aronofsky’s films in general is that, no matter how good they may be, they’re pretty surface-level dramas. Black Swan, as fun as it is, spells out its themes again and again, never leaving room for much interpretation. The Fountain does that too, but what it says sticks with you in a way his other films don’t. With Aronofsky’s other efforts you get the same film you saw on first viewing, but that’s not the case with The Fountain.  Aronfosky’s commentary for the film validates this belief. He doesn’t breakdown what it all means, but instead chooses to focus on the making-of and the kind of details that make his film grow richer on repeat viewings.

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Noah Crowe 1

The trailer for Darren Aronofsky‘s Noah has arrived, bringing with it Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, and two of every creature on the Earth. But not all those other people panicking on land — screw them. It’s the story, of course, of the age-old biblical tale of Noah’s ark; in the Old Testament, God decides that he’s had enough with the world and its people’s sinning ways, so he calls upon Noah with a very specific task — build a massive ark big enough to fit himself, his family and two of every animal. All those outside the boat will be washed away with the sins of the world by a devastating, unfathomable flood. Needless to say, Aronofsky’s vision of the Great Flood is a crashing, gargantuan force that makes that wave that swallowed the Statue of Liberty in the Day After Tomorrow look like some prime surfing territory.

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IMG_6307.CR2

We see so many interchangeable spy movies get made every year that the news there’s another one on the docket generally gets glossed over with little attention paid to it. But put Darren Aronofsky’s name down as director next to pretty much any prospective film project, and suddenly it becomes something everyone is interested in. He’s just that good. This seems to be exactly what’s happening with a new project Fox is putting together called Red Sparrow. An adaptation of a spy novel of the same name by author Jason Matthews, Red Sparrow at first sounds like one of a million similar spy novels that are probably in some stage of development to become Hollywood movies right now, but with a report from Deadline that Aronofsky has just entered early negotiations to make it his followup to Noah, suddenly it becomes something to keep an eye on. Suddenly it’s not just another spy novel being made into a movie, it’s the next Darren Aronofsky movie.

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Noah Crowe 1

Who knew sackcloth and ashes could look so great? Apparently Darren Aronosfky (or at least costume designer Michael Wilkinson). Recognizing that the bulk of the connection hear comes from Russell Crowe, these first images from the Black Swan director’s Biblical epic Noah feel a lot like we’re heading back into Ridley Scott Robin Hood territory. It’s also partially because these pictures (via The Film Stage) are close-ups on the actors without much discernible background beyond “a forest somewhere.” Obviously the films will be nothing like each other, and it’s interesting to see Noah and his family in something other than impossibly clean togas as is the artistic norm, but the likeness popped right out. Is it just me?

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Christopher Nolan at Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival is one of the largest independent fests in the country, but it probably has the best reputation for launching filmmaking careers and being the only thing in January that will be remembered around Oscar time 13 months later. It’s debatable just how “indie” it is — especially with studio shingles routinely picking up audience favorites for distribution — but it’s difficult to deny the raw directorial power that’s moved through Park City over the years. Names like Christopher Nolan, Kevin Smith, The Coen Brothers and Steven Soderbergh can count themselves amongst the Sundance ranks, but there are many, many more. In that (independent) spirit, here’s a double-size list of tips (for fans and filmmakers alike) from 12 directors who made a name at Sundance.

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Noah Aronofsky Ark

Looming large over the landscape, the ark that Noah (Russell Crowe) and his family will use to save themselves (and by proxy, humanity) was made of an old material called “wood” instead of the preferred material called “pixels.” Darren Aronofsky‘s decision to go big for the floating home is something to celebrate even if it exhausted those in charge of production, set, art and the local logging industry. The movie will no doubt involve some CGI, but this Herculean undertaking proves an odd kind of old school dedication to delivering something breathtaking in-camera. Plus, if you open the lid, your face melts off. The epic Noah is set for theaters March 28, 2014, so we have a ways to go before we see this beauty in all its sea-worthy glory, but even in still form, it inspires a bit of awe and the believability that it can hold two of every animal except unicorns. Hyperbolic internet writers, it’s okay to use the phrase “awesome” in this instance. [Vulture]

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Everyone knows how much the movie-making world relies on trends. If one studio has a superhero movie that hits, suddenly everyone has to have their own superhero movie. If one movie featuring a bow and arrow toting protagonist scores big at the box office, suddenly a flood of Hollywood’s top names find themselves having to take archery lessons. Savvy producers are the ones who are always on the lookout for what the next big trend is going to be. So, now that we’ve gotten through a whole summer of William Tell wannabes, what’s the next big trend that’s going to hit theaters? If Darren Aronofsky or Will Smith are able to bring in the bucks with either of their brewing projects, it might be adaptations of bible stories. The first bit of biblical news floating around today comes from a Tweet sent out directly by Aronofsky himself (via Vulture). Yesterday the Black Swan director took to his Twitter account and sent the following message out to his followers, “I dreamt about this since I was 13. And now it’s a reality. Genesis 6:14 #noah.” Of course, seeing as he’s currently at work making a Russell Crowe-starring adaptation of the story of Noah, it doesn’t take much detective work to figure out that the image of a gigantic wooden structure in mid-construction accompanying his words must be the Ark that’s being built for the film. Yeah, that’s right, CG be damned – Aronofsky is going practical with his giant wooden boat.

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While it’s seeming more and more possible that Darren Aronofsky won’t make the wish of flood enthusiasts everywhere come true by casting someone to play a giant wave or two (or three, or four…) in his Noah, he’s making up for that hideous oversight with a stellar cast that so far includes Russell Crowe, Saoirse Ronan, Douglas Booth, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone, and (probably) Jennifer Connolly – a litany of talents that he’s just rounded out with no less than Sir Anthony Hopkins. Aronofsky himself announced the news this morning via his Twitter, in a tweet that reads: “i’m honored to be working with the great sir anthony hopkins. we just added him to the stellar cast of ‪#Noah‬. ‪#methuselahlives‬” Methuselah lives! Hurray! Wait, who is Methuselah again?

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With casting news for Darren Aronofsky‘s Noah slowly trickling out like a leaky faucet, we’ve long joked about the continued rumors that Russell Crowe’s Noah was going to be getting a nemesis that wasn’t just the giant, world-destroying flood that history has taught us is his main nemesis. Proving that a flood of Biblical proportions just isn’t enough to even possibly sink Crowe, Deadline Aspen reports that Ray Winstone has been offered the role of Noah’s human villain. Little is known about the part beyond the basic description that he will somehow come up against Crowe, and that Aronofsky was gunning for actors who possess “grit and size” for the role. He was also reportedly looking at Val Kilmer, which might signal that the filmmaker was also looking for that indefinable batshit lunacy that Kilmer can pull off so well. Winstone does certainly have grit and size on his side, coupled with raw talent and what some people like to refer to as gravitas. He was last seen in Snow White and the Huntsman, but for pure Winstone-ness, look no further than something like the gloriously unhinged 44 Inch Chest (or The Departed, The Proposition, or Edge of Darkness – the dude is a badass everywhere).

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Darren Aronofsky‘s epic Noah continues to fill out, with Deadline Woodland Hills now reporting that Emma Watson is in talks to come on board the project as the love interest, Ila, of one of Noah’s (Russell Crowe) sons. The outlet reports that Ila will develop “a close relationship” with Douglas Booth‘s character, Shem. There’s a bit of confusion here, as Deadline’s post about the casting (which we reported earlier this week) indicated that Logan Lerman‘s Ham would be the one receiving a love interest, and this news says that it will in fact be Booth who will get the girl. Weirdly enough, this might not be a case of Deadline screwing up which son is which – different versions of the Noah story actually mix up the order of the sons (there’s even another one, Japheth), and that could certainly be a part of the problem. And that’s about as far as my lapsed Catholicism can take me on this one. The film is still in need of both a wife and a nemesis for Noah.

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Science fiction has long been considered by some experts to be a lesser genre than traditional dramas and character studies. Because it lends itself so easily to exploitation, science fiction isn’t always given the respect it deserves. Sure, it tends to be a box office winner, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of the all-time domestic grossing films fit easily in that genre (with at least two more – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Shrek 2 – marginally related as genre films). Still, some still consider science fiction something not to be taken seriously. It is for this reason that “legitimate” film directors might shy away from science fiction in lieu of more important or significant projects. However, many directors got their start or their earliest fame from working in science fiction and other allegedly exploitative and pulp genres. This week’s release of Prometheus reminds us that even though Ridley Scott has directed historical epics (Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven), military action films (Black Hawk Down), crime thrillers (American Gangster) and straight dramas (Thelma & Louise), he got his start in science fiction with Alien and Blade Runner. Scott isn’t the only director to begin a successful career in science fiction. Here are seven other directors who started out or received some of their earliest success in this genre.

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Darren Aronofsky‘s Biblical epic Noah has been through enough chatter over the years to sink even the heartiest of souls, so it’s high time the filmmaker buckled down and began casting the rest of the film’s roles beyond just Russell Crowe as Noah. Just in the interest of getting this ship on the water and all. Deadline Las Vegas reports that Logan Lerman and Douglas Booth are now on board to play Noah’s sons. Lerman will be the oldest, Ham, with Booth taking on the younger role of Shem. This means we’re still in need of some feminine wiles – the boys need a mom and Noah needs a wife (Jennifer Connelly continues to be the name that comes up most often when it comes to this particular role), and Ham apparently gets a love interest (supposedly a “great role” for an up-and-coming young actress). The outlet also reports that, despite earlier chatter, Liam Neeson will not be playing Noah’s “nemesis” in the film. I never really pictured him as raging floodwaters either. That role is also still up for grabs.

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As we all know, George Washington tried desperately to become a professional wrestler and world-class ballet dancer, so it makes sense that the General-turned-President would be the focus of a future Darren Aronofsky project. The director has attached himself to The General – a biopic with a script from Adam Cooper and Bill Collage (Tower Heist, Accepted). According to Variety, the director is shopping the project to Paramount (as contractually obligated) but if they pass, he’ll be taking it around town. Then, after they see the town, they’ll start taking meetings with studio executives. Why they’re stealing the name from a brilliant Buster Keaton Civil War adventure is unclear. However, it sounds like a solid enough idea. Cooper and Collage must be showing off a different side for Aronofsky to get on board like this, but it’s high time that we get a dirty-handed version of Washington. After all, if Abraham Lincoln can hunt vampires and FDR can be an American Badass, why not make Washington an unironic hero with blood on his hands? If you’re unfamiliar with our first President, learn about him here:

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There have been reports about director Darren Aronofsky trying to get a movie about the biblical tale of Noah off the ground for a while now. At one point he even had Christian Bale interested in taking on the title role of the boat building messenger of God, but his schedule didn’t allow for that to ever happen. The movie itself looks like it’s ready to get off the ground though, only instead of Batman as Noah, Aronofsky is going to have to settle for a gladiator. Deadline Daberath reports that the deals are done, and this movie is ready to set sail with Russell Crowe as its star. This will be the first film Aronofsky has directed since his seriously well received movie about killer ballerinas (or at least that’s what Billy Crystal told me), Black Swan. When talking about his interest in this project, Aronofsky said, ”Since I was a kid, I have been moved and inspired by the story of Noah and his family’s journey. The imaginations of countless generations have sparked to this epic story of faith. It’s my hope that I can present a window into Noah’s passion and perseverance for the silver screen.” Reportedly, Aronofsky sees this as epic in scope and wants to spend somewhere around $130m on it. It’s going to be the first project stemming from Arnon Milchan’s new vision for New Regency, which entails a return to making edgy movies like L.A. Confidential, Heat, and Fight Club. That all sounds […]

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Before he taught Mickey Rourke how to wrestle or Natalie Portman how to Adagio, Darren Aronofsky was showing Jared Leto how to shoot up. Requiem For a Dream was the director’s second feature film – Pi came out in 1998 – and his position as an auteur began to grow from there. Some consider Requiem Aronofsky’s best film. Regardless if you find it engaging or grotesque, there’s no denying the man’s direction on the film is something to be appreciated. Even studied. So let’s take a few minutes and hear what Aronofsky had to say about Requiem For a Dream. There’s bound to be wonderful anecdotes about the director skipping with Marlon Wayans down the Coney Island boardwalk or buying ice cream in the Central Park with Jennifer Connelly. Surely this commentary can’t include anything too serious. The movie has a giant refrigerator that dances and sings. It may be gnashing and screaming, but it’s all how you look at it, right? Anyway, let’s get into it. The uppers are about to kick in, anyway.

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Awesome Camera Rigs

It’s hard to get excited about something as technical as that thing that makes cameras not fall down on film sets, especially these days, when you can make a successful film without even going through the effort of picking up a camera at all. Even if you are shooting a live action film, thanks to the realism of CGI, computers are now able to put a lens wherever you need it to be – this is why I think we need to take a second to celebrate some of the hard working pieces of lightweight metal that were behind a few of the more bitchin’ shots out there. These rigs got the shot done, computers be damned!

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