Thursday, October 07, 2010

In The End It's All Nice

There are more striking images than you could count in Darren Aronofsky's Requiem For A Dream - love it or hate it (and I know a lot of people hate it but I just can't even comprehend that position) you've gotta give it credit for going for it. It goooooes for it. With only Pi under his belt Aronofsky still had something to prove back in 2000 (and I think he's done just fine backing it up in the years since, don't you?), and so this thing's amped up to one hundred and fifty percent. And yet it all works gloriously, detailing with precisely modulated chaos the disintegration of four folks in the grips of various addictions and demons.

So when Nathaniel asked us to pick our favorite shot for his "Hit Me With You best Shot" series for the 10th anniversary of the film, it was a less modulated chaos that met my mind's eye. I skipped and skittered through the entire film - there's Marion at the end of the dock! There's Harry dragging that TV set over the planks of the Coney Island boardwalk. There's the camera swirling over Tyrone's slick sex session, looking somehow womb-like. But most of all there's Sarah Goldfarb, one of the greatest film characters ever put on screen, writ with by Ellen Burstyn in a performance of terrifying commitment and power. If I were to crown a king and queen of The Aughts, it'd be Sarah and Daniel Plainview - what a pair!

Somehow they're defining, from a certain angle.

Anyway the first shot of Sarah that I always think of is this one, because it astonishes me. The color of it, the movement, everything. Gorgeous and haunting.

But I've given that shot love before, and I wanted to go for something new today. So from there I thought of the time-lapse sequence where we see Sarah, hopping on her speed pills, cleans her entire apartment as the daylight changes color through the windows with the passing of an entire day and the camera pans along following her in super-speed. It's an astonishing way to show her manic state that steps aside from the quick cuts for a moment - those edited sequences of pill, eye, coffee, sip, etc. - while not losing any of that crazed energy. And technically it's a single shot.

On the DVD for Requiem I remember there being a lot of talk in one of the behind-the-scenes docs about what an arduous task getting this shot was. Timing everything just right with the camera's movement, the change of light from morning to afternoon to night, and of course poor Ellen churning through the entire set having to scrub everything. She scrubbed the floor! She swept cobwebs out of corners! She vacuumed! And still no Oscar. Blasphemy.

for a bunch more chatter on Requiem.
And be excited! Be be excited!


Taffy said...

The first thing I thought when I saw this film was that is was fantastic, a great film and I never want to see it again!

Matty said...

Absolutely agree Taffy. Watched it, loved it, bought it. It sits proudly on my shelf with my other horror movies, and i have never watched it again...well except for the opening credits to hear that wonderful score

Joel said...

I'm so happy with your king and queen of the aughts. Could not agree more! Two of the best performances. Ever.