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?
Cormac McCarthy writes in The Road: Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.
Such is the case with Ari Aster’s films Hereditary and Midsommer. Make no mistake about it, these are both very well made films. Perhaps too much so. It isn’t just the visuals – although sawing off one’s own head is hard to forget – but more so in the music, especially in the majestic, almost comic finale of Midsommer,
I want to forget the images of Dani wailing as her boyfriend is roasted in a bear suit, but that damn music by Bobby Krlic keeps creeping back into my head. It’s that good.
Every once in a while, it occurs to me that I’ve been writing for a long while, over 36 years now, writing my novels and screenplays, short stories and articles, and I have yet to get it anywhere of import, nothing but meaningless articles published in community papers.
It has dawned on me that I might not be that good, that, as much as I pretend to deny my desire for vainglory, I crave it as much as the next. It may also be that my writing is bilgewater (my father’s expression), that I drivel on because I am on immature autopilot.
However, my extreme subjectivity understood, I don’t think so. I believe that I understand what’s in a character’s head, what moments mean something and what others do not, what this experiment of ours, humans that is, might or might not be, and that I can express that in words and phrases. My thoughts burn ahead. (Which might explain why I always get fired.)
Anyway, that’s the trickery inside that pushed me on here, ready to take on the big bloggers like Gala Darling and Heather Armstrong and say, well, you know, I might not know marketing and key words but I do know something about…uh, not so sure what that is, but, fucking hell, I have Zake’s Orchestral Studies Collectanae looping in my head, and that has to be worth something.
Ari Aster’s Midsommer is that rarest of things – a film that refuses to let you be. It is more than a film, a story, a collection of images and sounds, but a place in which you are immersed, to find something real.
Yes, Midsommer is a film with the trappings of horror – ominous music, jump scare tactics, the standard group of unwitting fools and more than enough gruesome imagery – none of which are my thing. No. I don’t like horror.
These elements are rarely implemented in predicable fashion. Rather than focusing on the gruesome images, although there are moments, the atmosphere is the thing.
It boils down to the simplest of questions: What exactly am I watching here ? What the hell is this? What does any of this mean?
It’s not just the captivating imagery, the brooding pace, the sharply rendered dialogue, but the moments dappled into something else, an essential to which there seems no answer.