Palimpsest  

Go Back   Palimpsest > Reviews > Film Reviews

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 28th Jan 2007, 21:35   #1
John Self
Administrator
suffers from smallness of vision
 
John Self's Avatar
 
Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
Location: Belfast
Posts: 15,939
Default The Fountain

I loved Darren Aronofsky's previous film, Requiem for a Dream, but the delay of six years in making the follow-up, The Fountain, suggests some creative difficulties. Still, he's managed to fit a story covering a thousand years last just over an hour and a half. Sadly, the notices are not great. Philip French in The Observer writes:

Quote:
If Venus makes a bad case for mortality, Darren Aronofsky's third film as writer-director, The Fountain, makes an even worse one for immortality. This confused, nearly-indescribable film stars Hugh Jackman as Tomas, a conquistador in 16th-century Mexico, a present-day American scientist called Tommy Creo (cryogenics, geddit?) and a 26th-century astronaut, all searching for eternal life. Coming after the impressive Pi and Requiem for a Dream and costing 10 times as much as the two put together, this is a serious setback. The key line, spoken by a Mayan priest, is 'Death is the road to awe', and this movie truly puts the 'awe' into awful.
I'll still go to see it, mind. I'm a glutton for punishment like that.
__________________
Reading Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate | Asylum | Book List
John Self is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th Jan 2007, 10:38   #2
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,735
Default Re: The Fountain

I want to see this because I heard that whilst some reviews were awful, some people really liked it and understood what it was trying to do, even if it didn't succeed brilliantly at it. It was also mentioned in a discussion on 'space opera' on Radio 4 the other night, in the context of describing a story arc that searches for meaning across time.
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th Jan 2007, 11:52   #3
John Self
Administrator
suffers from smallness of vision
 
John Self's Avatar
 
Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
Location: Belfast
Posts: 15,939
Default Re: The Fountain

The Guardian review suggested it might have a central conceit similar to amner's least favourite film of the year so far, Identity. Which is a bit of a worry.
__________________
Reading Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate | Asylum | Book List
John Self is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th Jan 2007, 11:54   #4
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,735
Default Re: The Fountain

Oh dear.
I do remember what he said about that one.
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th Jan 2007, 15:39   #5
Daveybot
Senior Palimpsester
has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Daveybot's Avatar
 
Join Date: 1 Sep 2005
Location: Edinburgh, UK
Posts: 3,288
Default Re: The Fountain

I'm intreagued by this one too. Doctor Kermode says it's a little bit like What Dreams May Come, if you remember that. It was the odiously sticky and drawn-out sentimental gush-fest with Robin Williams in.

...Staggeringly beautiful though, it must be said.

I have my fingers crossed for a good-un, even if just because I loved Pi so darn much.
Daveybot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11th May 2007, 14:46   #6
Noumenon
Senior Palimpsester

has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Noumenon's Avatar
 
Join Date: 13 Jul 2006
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 3,786
Default Re: The Fountain

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daveybot View Post
Doctor Kermode says it's a little bit like What Dreams May Come, if you remember that. It was the odiously sticky and drawn-out sentimental gush-fest with Robin Williams in.

...Staggeringly beautiful though, it must be said.
He makes a good point does the Doctor. I on the other hand employ laborious metaly - sorry, simiphor - largely to entertain myself, because The Fountain didn't really manage to. I will give it another go at some point and it is worth watching, but no-one should go into this expecting Aronofsky's best work.

The Fountain is better than WDMC, but it's hardly what you'd call a good film. Fantastic to look at and fantastically ambitious, no doubt, but at the same time it is seriously overblown and yet somehow a little boring. It's basically the same story, told over and over but all chopped up and rearranged. I found most of the events somewhat obvious, probably because by the time the most significant version of Plot Point A (or B or C) came around, I'd already seen two other versions of it and basically knew what was going to happen. Not the best way to dazzle a viewer.

Dialogue robs me of potential surprises when Line X preceeds only a pedantic actualisation of the same concept. "That chicken is going to lay an egg," says the farmer. Ten minutes later the farmer's wife may be eating an omlet, but she won't be doing so in shock. If the farmer had said "Life and death will join us this day," then the chicken laid her egg, then the farmer's wife soft-boiled and ate it but, while casually remarking to her husband how precient his statement actually was, she choked to death on a toast soldier - wow, we'll all say, how precient was that? Here we get "In ancient times people used to go clog dancing" - but we've already seen a huge ackman clog dancing in the future! How does the subsequent big reveal of our hero buying clogs in the present day story lead to anything but an "oh, alright then" moment? Answer simple: it doesn't.

Then there is the unclear nature of what is happening generally. Is one, or more, of these stories intended to be an experience of fiction within another, which is itself "the film's reality"? Are all three meant to be real, or all three unreal? Is one, or more, of them meant to be both real and a fiction (which could be quite interesting and clever if you ask me, but please don't)? I dunno. What I will say is, like WDMC, this is a gorgeous looking film. Slow moving, shorter than it feels, featuring capable rather than inspired performances and ultimately navel gazing rather than star - but quite lovely as a spectacle. It maybe, possibly, should have been very interesting, but it fell short and that's a shame.

Any money says the DVD will have a "Chronological Version" feature, and the interesting question will be, Should the Conquistador's tale appear first, or in the middle? It could be that there are two equally valid alternatives to the chosen structure and I would be interested in trying both, though I don't think either would prove "better".
Noumenon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th Aug 2007, 12:04   #7
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,735
Default Re: The Fountain

I came to this, aware of the love it/loathe it opinions that had divided critics but your review, Nou, seems to suggest there is a tenable mid-way position. I thought it was fantastic. It was working out its story-telling in three threads that overlapped in themes in so many different ways I couldn't really count them all. Over all was an arching attempt to explore the oneness of existence, which finds its form in the duality and endless cycle of birth and death, love and loss. Tommy's lab slides complement each other and become one new thing if laid on top of each other, lovers become one, Tom the space traveller consumes the Tree and becomes one with it; death gives way to life. The innumerable nods to this might seem overwhelming or obscuring to some viewers but it was exactly the kind of thing I like: the brain stem as a form of tree; the various tunnels (including the birth canal) and journeys throughout the film to light (the one criticism being that it was incredibly hard to see the action on the dark screen in the first seven minutes of the film, something that Aronovsky has actually complained about concerning the DVD version), the conceptual moment as the ecosphere is consumed by the nebula.

For me, a sci-fi movie that went beyond the usual conventions, a film that did some thinking, and wasn't necessarily about plot, which is why I didn't mind the repeated themes across the three timelines. Not a love story, not a time-travel story (as some reviews had it); not even necessarily a reincarnation story (although like Nou, I think it can work as one *as well as* two stories written by an inhabitant of the middle plot: both and works for me with this film).

½
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th Aug 2007, 15:33   #8
Noumenon
Senior Palimpsester

has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Noumenon's Avatar
 
Join Date: 13 Jul 2006
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 3,786
Default Re: The Fountain

I think I'm going to watch this again, like I said. I am pleased that you liked it Col - as you say, a film driven by ideas rather than just plot, which is too rare these days. On the subject of which...
Noumenon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th Jan 2008, 23:11   #9
John Self
Administrator
suffers from smallness of vision
 
John Self's Avatar
 
Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
Location: Belfast
Posts: 15,939
Default Re: The Fountain

From my Filmlist:

The Fountain (DVD) Ridiculously self-indulgent, adolescent multi-dimensional fantasy starring Hugh Jackman (looking oddly like Robert Carlyle) and director's wife Rachel Weisz, who presumably couldn't get out of it. Then again, Brad Pitt did get out of it, but went on to make Ocean's Thirteen, so who's the dummy here? At the same time the whole thing is so relentlessly committed to itself, and beautiful to look at, that it's impossible not to admire it a little; I loved how everything throughout, from an operating theatre to the Tree of Life floating through a nebula, was lit in the same shades of graphite and gold. A failure, probably, but such an interesting one that I am glad Aronofsky is still getting money to make films in a world dominated by Judd Apatow. The closing scenes are up there with 2001: A Space Odyssey for barking mad codas. "Death is an illness, like any other. And there's a cure. And I will find it." Contains some vivisection.

PS - Just read Col's account above and love it!
__________________
Reading Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate | Asylum | Book List
John Self is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th Jan 2008, 23:17   #10
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,735
Default Re: The Fountain

Your rating suggests there is a mid-way appreciation between love and hate - I'm glad you got something from it. I think I wholly forgive the self-indulgence of the thing, for its creativity, an attempt to do something different with narrative. I'm not a film expert so I don't really know how innovative some of its concepts were, but I recall it as 'brave' in a good way: it takes chances, and for me, they worked.
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
[as yet untitled] - chapter 4 - by Jerkass Palimpsest_Features Features 9 4th Mar 2007 0:11


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 20:17.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.