Do you remember fondly back to when shock value cinema was worth watching? I sure do. This whole movement started with a famous rape scene involving Marcellus Wallace in Quentin Tarantino‘s Pulp Fiction, and was graciously furthered by a certain director named Darren Aronofsky, the absolute king of tastefully done shock value endings. A few dogs found their way home along this illustrious career of Aronofsky’s, but these were no-miss clenched jawed classics.
For the sake of brevity, I will skip yawners like Noah (2014), Black Swan (2010) and The Fountain (2006). Instead, let us focus on the absolute winners that remind us of the trailer for Mother!, his latest, and possibly most mysterious, movie.
I was but a mere lad navigating the high school world of anti-establishment causes when I first watched Pi. This 1998 cult classic involves a super-genius played by Sean Gullette (also in Requiem for a Dream) who has a proven theory that patterns emerge in all systems, including the stock market and the universe. Coinciding with the emergence of the hot topic Chaos Theory by other well-known mathematicians, Pi hits you right in the belt buckle. The ending includes brains and a quarter-inch drill bit. Shock value, but tastefully done. You care about what happens by the end of the movie, I promise.
The Wrestler, starring Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei clicked on all steroidal cylinders. I thoroughly enjoyed this exploration into Loserville, population two. If someone felt the need to search out morals in the immoral landscape of strip clubs and pro-wrestling… seek no further. The shock value here is a masterfully done ambiguous finale, which Christopher Nolan should’ve paid attention to before he ended Inception.
I saved the best for last: Requiem for a Dream. A movie that all but a few strong souls can watch more than once. A study of addiction, a glorification of drugs, a message of forlorn ambition. You can’t look away, but your stomach will turn and you will squirm in your seat. Tasteful shock value is exactly what it means. You should be uncomfortable, but at the same time appreciate the art. This beauty is what Aronofsky brings to the screen.
Enter: Mother! We can deduce from this preview that Javier Bardem is a cult leader, perhaps lead vampire, perhaps misunderstood husband. The accomplished Jennifer Lawrence should get to stretch her legs as a confused and terrified wife. Along the way, she’ll get fantastic support from Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris. And, folks, let’s not forget the proven ability of Aronofsky to tantalize your psyche. The juxtaposition of pure acting talent with directorial unrestrained wickedness might just prove to be the winner of 2017.
Mother! opens September 15th.