Friday, October 19, 2012

The Director's Chair Blog-a-Thon: Darren Aronofsky

Nick over at The Cinematic Katzenjammer is hosting the Director’sChair this month, and this is my first time participating so I’m a little all over the place with it.  The director this month was Darren Aronofsky, which was kind of amazing since I really respond to him as a director, but I had no clue what I wanted to write and where I wanted to take this!
When thinking over the approach I wanted to take to this particular write up, I instantly thought of the one thing that makes me appreciate Aronofsky as such a force of nature; his visual prowess.  The fact remains that you could watch any of Darren’s film on silent and still feel compelled and even engaged by every frame.  You can follow his thought process and his manipulative tones just by watching each frame pass by.  The strength in all of his films can be seen and wholly experienced by pouring ourselves into the live frames.
I’ve personally seen none of Darren’s short films, but I’ve seen all of his feature films.  From ‘Pi’ to ‘Black Swan’, Aronofsky has honed his directorial aggression and created a very respectable resume that shows the range he’s developed and the maturity he’s come into.  Watching ‘Pi’ and then watching ‘Black Swan’ is a remarkable swing because you can see all the raw potential actually translate into something truly breathtaking. 
It may seem odd to say that I feel Aronofsky’s career up to this point (excluding but wholly anticipating the upcoming ‘Noah’) is bookmarked by his least successful efforts (as a whole I can only truly appreciate but not love both ‘Pi’ and ‘Black Swan’) and yet ‘Black Swan’ truly marks the peak of his directorial bravado.  Yes, he’s at the top of his game (even if the script he’s working from is not).
So then it comes to reviewing his work.  I questioned myself here.  I didn’t really want to pick just ONE film, because he’s the rare director for which I’ve actually seen all of his work, but I didn’t want to ramble for so long that this post became tiring.  So that brings me back to my initial paragraph.  When thinking about this particular markup, I thought of the visuals more than anything else.  Darren Aronofsky is a visual director and his films soar in that regard.  Why not use screenshots from the film to evaluate their overall impact?
I’ll give this a try.

Pi (1998) **/*****
A tad pretentious

Unecessarily complex
It made me tired
But then BAM, it was rewardingly WTF
Overall, I looked like this a lot
Requiem for a Dream (2000) *****/*****

Surprisingly intimate
Manic in stylization


Brutally honest

Made me open my eyes

The Fountain (2006) ****/*****

A spiritual experience

Largely ambiguous

Surprisingly claustrophobic in it's expression of ideas

Dripping with style

Thought provoking

The Wrestler (2008) *****/*****

Broader than one would assume

Gritty and daring


Black Swan (2010) ***/*****


Overly theatrical

Effectively alluring

Unashamed of it's childish tones

Felt somewhat constipated

 So there you have it!  I hope it was worth while.  I had fun compiling it!  Can't wait to read what everyone else has come up with!


  1. Fantastic write-up! I consider The Fountain his worst film, but I still haven't seen Pi yet.

    1. Thanks Josh! Pi was just too chaotic for me. It just didn't feel all that purposeful, but it certainly showed the talent that Aronofsky possesses. I really liked The Fountain when I saw it first, but it has faded from me a tad since, thus the four stars as opposed to five. I think it has certain strengths that weren't completely fleshed out and feel somewhat boxed in thanks to a true lack of embelishment.

    2. I've only seen The Fountain once, so I need to rewatch it.

    3. It does better on a repeat viewing, for sure.

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