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Aronofsky’s Own Private Apocalypse

Ever since the approach of 2012, the once-predicted date of the Rapture, we’ve been deluged with apocalypse movies. But only writer-director Darren Aronofsky, that famously big-scale thinker, has displayed the temerity to tackle the mother lode of apocalypse stories. I wrote about his Noah in my latest Word and Film essay. An excerpt:

Really, “Noah” works so well because it is such a personal take on this biblical story. All of Aronofsky’s favorite themes — the fine line between soothsaying and madness; the intersection of spirit and science; the wretched state of humanity; the potential meaninglessness of our existences — are writ large here. And to project our trepidations and obsessions upon the fate of the entire world is the ultimate Hollywood endeavor, which explains the proliferation of all these apocalypse movies. (That, and the satisfaction we secretly feel when our fears are realized.) “Noah” is the origin apocalypse movie, and in making it Aronofsky has called all of our bluffs.

Sparkly Pink Bows and Arrows

Divergent’s high box-office numbers, sparkly pink weaponry, Disney’s smash hit Frozen, the unprecedented role model that is Katniss Everdeen: I’m obsessed with the rise of girl-positive YA in America’s moviehouses. An excerpt from my latest Word and Film essay:

Divergent, the adaptation released last week of the bestselling dystopian YA novel, is no great shakes. It is faithful enough to the book – capturing protagonist Tris’ radicalization in a post-war Chicago divided into factions based upon personality traits – but doesn’t work well unto itself.  The big news is it performed like gangbusters anyway, especially for box office-inhospitable March. Chalk up the success partly to the power of Shailene Woodley, whose high-octane earnestness proves ideal for Tris’ evolution from wallflower to warrior. But the strong numbers may stem from something even more significant. The fact that “Divergent” received justifiably tepid reviews but is still soaring with audiences tells us female-empowering YA films have a built-in base now. We are in the dawn of a new cinema genre, one in which girls kick ass.” 

Of Apatow, Dunham, Girls, and the Godfather

In my latest Word and Film essay, I anticipate this weekend’s Girls season finale, and explore how Lena Dunham fits into Judd Apatown. An excerpt:

“The severity of the editing and swift tone changes in “Girls”–a sunny “Hard Days Night” cemetery caper followed by a darkly shot throwdown–do not cater to audiences so much as lead them, building upon a devil-may-carefulness that Apatow himself introduced in his first TV ventures. But Dunham takes it further. There’s a steeliness in her show that is inconceivable in the “family values”-laden, endearingly compensatory, slightly slobbering world of Apatow’s directorial efforts. (His confessed love for self-help books shows in good and bad ways.) She presents the denouement of Hannah’s book editor’s death but not of her grandmother’s; the abrupt evacuation of Adam’s sister; and a shakedown in which the Girls rip each other to shreds with terrifying accuracy. What’s more, none of these events are referenced again by characters otherwise well-acquainted with navel-gazing. There’s an incontinuity at hand that feels both deliberate and brutal. When coupled with all those nitpicking confessionals delivered in uptalk, it speaks of a generational callousness that is stunningly observed.”

For more, including a bevy of Godfather references, go here, Sirenaders!

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy