Ari Aster’s Mommy Issues

Ari Aster’s Beau is Afraid tries to be Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche but ends up more Darren Aronofsky’s Mother, an exhausting and unintelligible portrayal of deep psychological damage. There is some very good stuff, including then many 180-degree pans, the match-cut transitions, the blue paint overdose scene and the fantastic animated sequence.

But there is much more of the very bad stuff – countless scenes tediously rendered – and very stupid stuff too, including the inane finale and, yes, the penis monster.

After the stellar work of Hereditary ($10 million budget) and Midsommar ($9 million), this is what Aster does with $25 million? Yikes. What’s next? Courtside seats for the Knicks?

“The Whale” Needs More Eating

There’s been chatter – both negative and positive – around Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. While Brendan Fraser’s performance as the whale-sized man, Charlie, has been praised, the fat-shaming inherent in the story has been reviled. Neither claim is worth much discussion. The real issue with this film is how painfully the stakes for Charlie are established – heart pain while he watches porn – and maintained – more heart pain without the porn – until the climax where he pigs out like a crazy man.

Chowing doubly down

The film would actually have been improved with more of the gross eating scenes. It would at least have been a relief from the clunky story of Charlie reconnecting with his angry teenaged daughter. The only thing worth noting about this film’s narrative is an essay the daughter wrote about Moby Dick proclaiming that the excessive descriptions of the whale are only there to distract the reader from the author’s sad life. And so, yes, gross-eating = whale. And that’s about it.

To the End of the World

The Danish film, Expedition to the End of the World, follows a crew of artists and scientists to the formidable northeastern coast of Greenland. Screenshot (1201)Punctuated by pithy reflections – “So what if Copenhagen and Hamburg are flooded (by global warming)? We can move to Mongolia and Switzerland” – the film provides a landscape on which to reflect. Screenshot (1200)The film could be considered something of a cinematographic Stendhal Syndrome – where one is so overwhelmed by a moment of personal significance as to have a physical reaction – as our inevitable demise is discussed in a sensibility that, although self-deprecating and humorous, is overwhelmingly bleak. thescreamatsothebysIt is a fitting film for these apocalyptic days and offers so much more than the mindless effects of all the super-hero pictures, Noah and Godzilla

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