Sunday, December 10, 2006

Reeling around The Fountain

I'm still turning The Fountain over. I like it. I like Hugh Jackman in it. I like the movie's swooning ambition, the tactile ways it teleports itself through the centuries. I admire the feverish quality of its overlapping certainties, and the ways Aronofsky wants to both conjure and unlock some essential mysteries here.

But I don't love it yet, or exactly feel it. I think the film organises itself around ideas too high-handedly to flesh them out in human terms, beyond the Cronenberg-worthy sexual imagery. (You're missing out until you've seen Jackman gulp down spunk — sorry, sap — from the Tree of Life.) I can intellectualise this odyssey and make it sound organic but I'm having to do too much of the work myself. The phrase "transcendental kitsch" occurred and kept clogging my thoughts, and my response to Aronofsky's overprocessed visuals, in the late going. I want the movie to be simpler, really: I want fewer pyrotechnics, more of a spare ascent. A honing to a point. Some kind of white-out.

But I'm dying to see it again, and there's one thing in it I genuinely adore. Clint Mansell and Mogwai's music is a thing of wonder: I've had little else playing in the flat for the last two days. I wonder what The Fountain would be without it, actually — a far lesser achievement. (Aronofsky seems to think with his scores.) Mansell's searching cellos, in love with their own melancholy, washed ashore by a tragic tide of expectant violins, will fuel my own obsessions, dreams, and longings for weeks yet. It's not just the soundtrack of the year, but one of the most beautiful I know.
The film: B
The score: A+


Goran said...

I found Aronofsky's previous two films insufferably pretentious, so I was ready to despise The Fountain too. But all the ecstatic praise from perfectly intelligent people is making me confused. Is it possible for me to like an Aronofsky movie? Even if it sounds insufferably pretentious? I do enjoy pretty visuals. But I'm still a bit wary.

Also, I think beautiful, emotive scores are overused in movies recently. The director can't build up an emotional impact on his own so he has to sap it from someone else. Of course, there are directors who use beautiful, emotive music responsibly and very effectively (Malick, Almodovar, Kieslowski etc etc). But a lot of young wankers these days are mistaking other people's pretty music for testament to their own projected genius.

So I'm just curious, does Aronofsky use the pretty music responsibly in The Fountain, or is he exploiting it?

Rebekah said...

you forgot to mention the crowning glory: Rachel Weisz Becomes A Tree. Other than that your review is lovely and I"m sending love from California xx

David S. said...

I adored this movie, because I immediately saw its human qualities. I don't think there is any greater expression of love than slaving over a novel and leaving the final chapter to the love of your life because you are so transcendantly connected that it is inevitable he will know exactly what to write.

I think that is what moved me most about this film: the love. The love between Weisz and Jackman is so perfectly conveyed through every aspect of the film, and I just can't get over it. I've seen it three times now, and each time I am more profoundly affected. I feel silly, though, because I feel like my age is the reason why I love it so much; I feel like my adoration for The Fountain only further reaffirms my naïveté. Regardless, I will always love this film.

Oh, and of course, the music. It is gorgeous. At night, I put the last track on repeat, and I've been doing so for days now. I'm glad that you liked this movie!

tim r said...

@Goran: I'm not sure how to assess whether music is being used "responsibly". Presumably you mean it's irresponsible if there's nothing underneath it, and responsible if there is? But that's just going to come down to an assessment of the film's other qualities, right?
@Rebekah: Hello!
@David: Nice to hear from you!

Nick Davis said...

I think The Fountain is terrific, even if it didn't necessarily retain all of its magic upon second viewing. I had suspected this, given the internal wavering I experienced it after trumpeting my love for it quite loudly on my website and to friends, but it's still an impressively earnest, formally complicatd, and frequently beautiful movie.

I had wondered whether the score would hold up on second immersion, too, since it somehow sounded too forlorn and strangely generic when I came home and listened to the 30-second segments you can hear for free on iTunes. No worries, though: within the architecture of the movie (if not AS the architecture of the movie), it's still a stunner, and now that I've splurged on the CD, I remain a full convert.

PS to Goran: I'm excited to hear what you'll think about The Fountain. I'll say for the record that I admired Pi even though I found it rather limited, and that Requiem for a Dream struck me as arrogant and over-directed, despite the compensations of Jennifer Connelly's performance and some memorable visuals.

Emma said...

I got the score about a week ago, andit's all I've been listening to. It is astounding. My favourite track is Death is the Road to Awe.

TheSnowLeopard said...

I agree with you 100% about the score. It is awesome.