Requiem for a Dream

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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Aural Fixation - Large

I had the opportunity to see one of my favorite composers perform selections of his work live a few weeks back, and to say it was a magical evening would be an understatement. But before I went completely over the moon (pun!) from the experience, I was given the opportunity to speak with the man himself about the evening, what led him decide to bring his scores to the stage and his process as one of the industry’s most successful and innovative composers. Keep reading for my interview with composer Clint Mansell (Moon, Black Swan, Requiem For a Dream) and keep your eyes (and ears) peeled as it sounds like these live performances may just be the start of a whole new way of experience film scores.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Los Angeles’ Largo at the Cornet is a small venue where even the last row in the house is a good seat. There is no preferential treatment here, no seats sectioned off for “special” guests. In previous trips, I did the non-spoken eye move indicating that the two seats in my row were open to a tall man in a baseball cap (who I later realized was Rainn Wilson) proving that everyone here is equal, we have all gathered for the same reason and that unspoken knowledge makes the link between each person in the room (at least for those few hours) palpable. The man of the hour this particular night even pointed out that while he had put him on the guest list, he was not sure Moon director Duncan Jones had actually made it out only to have Jones confirm his presence by shouting, “I’m right here, mate!” from only a few seats down from me. This layout gives the sense of an intimate and unique experience that makes you feel like the artist is performing from the couch in your living room. There are no backstage passes here or over inflated egos, just a group of people who have come together for a common interest, and on this night it was the music of Clint Mansell.

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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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Alec Baldwin: Coffee is for Closers

Monologues are to actors what analogies are to bullshit writers who have no idea how to start their list article about monologues. What I mean is that every actor should have a really good understanding on how to perform a monologue – at least I assume so considering that they are the most common tools for auditioning for a part. To someone like myself, who couldn’t act even if Hitler’s death depended on it, I really have no idea what goes into a monologue – however I do know what comes out of a good one. So when I judge the talent of these I’m really just judging how effective they seemed to be, not necessarily the amount of artistic effort that was put into it. Simply put, these are some terrific monologues.

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Today People Magazine unveiled their annual “Sexiest Man Alive” winner, crushing the hopes and dreams of thousands of starving beautiful men who thought, maybe just this once, they could have been a contender (better luck next year boys). While Bradley Cooper is a tasty, if not boring, morsel of man, as far as I know he has yet to perform in a movie sex scene. Making him completely of no interest to me in regards to this column. Please correct me if I’m wrong in the comments, as I will for sure need to brush up on my Bradley Cooper sexy-time if it does exist. But enough about my personal disappointment in People Magazine’s cornering of the Sexiest Man Alive market, for today is also the day before the night before the opening of the fourth movie in the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn: Part I. Now this little tween fantasy is definitely of interest to me for more than its loose definition of what constitutes child pornography. I have (like almost all women in need of a good train wreck) annually paid good money to the Summit gods for the Twilight experience, and this Friday will be no different. Fans of the sparkly vampire series have (im)patiently waited through the first three films for two Breaking Dawn scenes, one completely contingent on the other. If the press tour mumblings of the film’s stars are anything to believe, Twi-hards should already prepare themselves for some hot and heavy action during Bella […]

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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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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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Whether you’re trying to avoid the releases this week or augment them with even more movie, Your Alternate Box Office offers some options for movies that would play perfectly alongside of (or instead of) the stuff studios are shoving into the megaplex this weekend. This week features a foul-mouthed alien, proof that taking pills making you better, Matthew McConaughey refusing to leave his vehicle to practice law, and a schlubby wrestling coach.

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decade_cinematicjourney

Paul Sileo reviews the decade in film in his own special way, by chronicling his own journey from wayward moviegoer to engaged movie blogger, one film at a time.

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