Tag Archives: Javier Bardem

Mother! (2017)

15 Sep

Move over Lars von Trier, there is a new provocateur in town.

Darren Aronofsky‘s latest film Mother makes a return to the psychological horror the director made a name of himself for with Black Swan, Piand most notably Requiem for a Dream.  Never one for subtlety, Aronofsky enters full-bore, envelope-pushing mode here and, in turn, creates one of the most ambitious and boldest films to be produced by a major studio this decade.

Playing the role of Mother and Him respectively, Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem are a seemingly happy couple living in a remote countryside house so he can focus on his poetry. From the film’s opening moments however, we realize that the couple isn’t quite as happy together as they ought to be. He has an empty frustration sustained from a lack of creative inspiration and Mother seems disillusioned and dissatisfied with the lack of romance in the relationship. This is where the mysterious doctor (Ed Harris, whose character is referred to simply as Man) makes an appearance and becomes the first in a series of unwelcome visitors.

The series of narrative events that follow seem to ping-pong between a haunted house mystery, domestic melodrama, psychological thriller, and allegorical horrorshow that escalates to madness as the film progresses. Aronofsky is a master at diving deep into the headspace of his characters (often with disturbingly nihilistic results) and we witness the chaotic events unfold from Mother’s point of view without missing a beat. Scenes are beautifully shot by frequent Aronofsky collaborator Matt Libatique and stitched together by editor Andrew Weisblum. The film seems to take on a time and space of its own making; events don’t necessarily flow from one to the next as much as they seem to be taking place all at once simultaneously – or perhaps not even occurring at all. It’s obvious that Aronofsky is trying to provoke the hell out of his audience, and he has a masterful knowledge of film language to do just that with tremendous effect. As with any great piece of cinema, every aspect of the frame and beyond works in conjunction with the whole of the story to accomplish a specific vision. Here, Aronofsky’s goal is to deliver a tour de force of Mother’s ever-changing perspective to the audience in a brazen, unrelinquished fashion.

Bottom Line: Mother! is an unflinching allegorical nightmare running on all cylinders and a masterful showcase for Aronofsky’s audacious and unapologetic vision.   

Rating: 10/10 

Film recipe: Dogville + Repulsion + copious amounts of chaos, nihilism, misogyny, and anxiety

 

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Skyfall (2012)

10 Nov

Bond is back and he is better than ever before.  Daniel Craig once again takes on the 007 persona in this latest addition to the James Bond franchise.  Sam Mendes, of American Beauty fame, directed Skyfall and he does a great job commanding both the action and characters in the film.

In Skyfall, a cyberterrorist has been plotting a serious of attacks against Britain’s MI6 headquarters, specifically directed against the organization’s leader, M. Bond, who has been presumed dead, must prepare himself to enter the field again against a new type of terrorist.  It basically boils down to old school training and gunfighting versus  new school gadgetry and computer hacking.

Javier Bardem, mostly known for his spine-chilling performance in 2007’s No Country For Old Men, plays Silva, the film’s villain, and once again he plays his role with perfection.  Seeing Bardem here somehow reaffirmed my thoughts on he deserved his oscar from No Country, as Bardem is an incredibly versatile and adaptable to any role. He never takes the limelight away from the film’s real star, who is this case, is Judi Dench for her portrayal of M.

Her usually-unsympathetic character somehow provides the film’s real emotion, as well as contrasting with Craig’s character as Bond, who is as cool and classy as ever.

The film, though not flawless, is one of the year’s best action movies.  The action sequences are a visual spectacle to witness and somehow maintain their realism while being completely over-the-top.  The opening scene in particular becomes a tumbling rush of energy when Bond takes control of a tractor and begins rolling over cars like they are soda cans, all the while chasing the bad guy on a speeding train of course.

Looking back there are few pacing issues with Skyfall; some scenes go on for a bit too long, or we expect dialogue when there is nothing but silence.  I also had an issue with one of Bond’s new toys, (a gun that can only fire in the hands of 007), but perhaps I’m just being nit-picky. Overall, Skyfall is a great tribute to the old-school Bond films of the past while setting the stage for the new-school Bond films of the future (and I have a funny feeling this won’t be the last time we see Craig as 007).

 

Rating: 7/10