3/21/2018

Mind tease?


 mother! by Aronofsky

Maybe it’s because I am studying Michael Haneke at the moment, or maybe it’s just the gut reaction coming from deep within: I just saw and hated mother! by Aronofsky. 

It’s painful to acknowledge since I am a huge fan of “Requiem for a dream” and “Pi”.  (In my workshops I frequently analyse Requiem as an example of superb filmmaking and often point to Aronofsky as an almost genius of cinema.)  Yet his latest I found so pretentious, so boring and so irritating that it matches only my reaction to the Hostel series.  

While Hostels were in my opinion correctly labeled “torture porn”, the biblical/philosophical efforts  of Aronofsky (already Noah was borderline unwatchable) I would call “mythological porn”, or maybe a more apt term would be “pseudo-depth teaser” or “pseudo - profundity porn”, or just "mind tease".  I am actually searching for a term that would hook sexual “teaser” - as in cock-teaser- to the same mechanism of arousal without fulfillment in the realm of intellect.  So far no apt term comes to mind.

On the other hand porn detonates the focused, stripped down gratification of desire, the delivery that vulgarities and cheapens that which is being delivered.  In case of mother! it’s not that we are given stripped down nitty-gritty of the mythological and religious.  That wouldn’t be bad, whatsoever.  Instead, we are faced with many unclear, tired suggestions and references to the act of creation, creativity, love and biblical mythology.  The problem with all that lumped together is that the film being so specific by its nature can’t handle too many abstract statements dressed in concrete images and sounds.  And they are always specific, hence the dificulties with philosophizing on the screen.

One abstract statement stretched into a full movie could probably work in the hands of a very gifted technician and the technique for each shot and each scene in mother! is impassive, the actress is phenomenal and all that.  But when the metaphors start overlapping and film history references start pushing against each other all I can perceive is the barrage of bad taste, lack of originality, confusion of the story teller and intellectual gibberish.

If the film is supposed to be also about an artist, price of talent, fame and abuse of those around him it does not advance beyond cliche and grotesque.  A satire?  Maybe, but then why so absurd, primitive and surface based?  Isn't Aronofsky taking himself too seriously?  Doesn't he need a strong producer to slap him around?

Haneke says that “reduction is the most important tool of an artist.”  He quotes Brecht that “it’s simplicity that is most difficult” and then comments “it’s much more difficult to be simple than to be complicated.”

With all due respect to Blake, profound on the screen does not come from excess.