Christopher Nolan, Baz Luhrmann, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, and (up till his most recent) Wes Anderson. These are the directors whose every film I have managed to watch.
Let’s tack on Darren Aronofsky to the end of that.
The man is a genius. Even if he’s using the same setup and catastrophic end throughout all his films, he’s doing something different every time, leaving us with a message that is curiously the same and very much different from what we’ve already seen.
But anyway. Let’s just go through his movies, ranked from worst to best…
Weird, weird, weird movie about a Jewish guy searching for the Explicit Name of God, or something like that. The movie is completely and utterly forgettable, and as Aronofsky’s convoluted debut, it bears no resemblance to the quality of the rest of his career.
The Wrestler (2008)
A bit of a sudden ending, but even that is saved by the Bruce Springsteen song “The Wrestler” in the credits. Regardless, this movie is the tale of a wrestler who just about kills himself with his desire to sustain his career, after a near fatal heart attack. The movie is far from perfect, but it’s quite powerful thanks to Mickey Rourke’s riveting performance.
The Fountain (2006)
Visually, this movie feels like it’s surrounding you with its parallel of three stories. And while those stories are interestingly paralleled, they’re unrelated and aren’t given enough substance for us to see how exactly they can be paralleled. Nevertheless, the obsession-into-self-destruction complex that Aronofsky recycles throughout his whole canon is beautifully envisioned here, with a solid performance by Rachel Weisz and a constantly intriguing plot–even if we have no clue what the hell’s going on.
Aside from the “Watchers,” this is an excellent movie. No, it won’t excite those who are most religiously opinionated of the Ark story, but then again, it’s not about the Ark; it’s about Noah, hence the title of this epic. Several outstanding performances among this cast, and Russell Crowe’s transformation from hero into villain is quite thrilling to watch.
Requiem for a Dream (2001)
An intense, haunting, candid view of drug addiction in the lives of four New Yorkers. Cinematography and Clint Mansell’s unforgettable “Lux Æterna” make this even more of an experience. Hands down, a classic.
Black Swan (2010)
An insane and twisted reimagining of Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake”, and at the same time, a highly original masterpiece of its own. Black Swan is Aronofsky’s chef d’oeuvre, with a bold and commanding performance from Natalie Portman (she won an Oscar for this transformation) as a woman who will do absolutely anything as long as it means that she gets to perform as the black swan, and that she performs it perfectly. It’s two hours of pure madness, but wow, what a high achievement it is.