Monday, July 2, 2012

951. Requiem for a Dream (2000)


Running Time: 102 minutes
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky
Written By: Hubert Selby Jr., Darren Aronofsky, from novel by Hubert Selby Jr.
Main Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, Christopher McDonald
Click here to view the trailer

A DOUBLE SHOT OF ARONOFSKY: 2 of 2

"Requiem for a Dream" is set in Brooklyn, New York, in the shadows of Coney Island and follows the lives of it's four main characters: Harry Goldfarb (Leto), his mother, Sara (Burstyn), his girlfriend, Marion (Connelly) and his best friend, Ty (Wayans). When the film begins, Harry is visiting his mother, but not for any nice reason, but rather, to steal her television so that he can pawn it for money, so that he can fuel his heroine addiction. In fact, he, Ty and Marion are all addicted to drugs and their drugs of choice range from heroine to marijuana to cocaine. Ty has dreams of becoming a big time drug dealer and along with Harry's assistance, the two make it happen, racking up a shoe box full of cash and making enough money to buy their piece of the American dream. Harry plans to help Marion open up a clothing store and Ty knows that if his mother were alive, she'd be proud of the businessman he's become...at least he thinks so.  Meanwhile, Sara Goldfarb receives a phone call telling her that she is going to be chosen to appear on television. Sara, gullible as can be, uses this reason to go on a diet, so that she can fit into the red dress that she wore to Harry's graduation. Sara tries hard, but she can't seem to stick to a diet of no sugar and no butter, so she goes to a doctor and is prescribed diet pills, which she becomes addicted to.


SPOILER ALERT!

On my initial post for this blog, way back on September 11, 2009 at 2:44 in the morning, I wrote the following:

"I am of the opinion that "Requiem for A Dream" is a very overated mess. But I have the balls to tell those movies that to their faces. I don't stand quivering and say "Yes, Requiem was good, I enjoyed it!", just to get a pat on the head and fit in with the rest of the crowd."

Prior to last night, I had seen "Requiem for a Dream" approximately five times, the first one being at the insistence of my older brother, a reliable source in the field of movie recommendations, up to that point. I remember watching it for the first time and wondering what in the world my brother saw in this pathetic mess of a film. The editing was insane, the subject matter wasn't appealing and the whole thing was a gloomy mess. Other than those few feeble reasons, I didn't have any others. All I knew was that I didn't like it and that was that. I rated it a '1/10' on IMDB and continued on my merry way.

There's a particular episode of "Seinfeld" where George Costanza states that he keeps going to restaurants and ordering pesto because he feels like he's supposed to like it. But every time he orders it, he's unsatisfied and left still hungry. That was like me with "Requiem", I was always unsatisfied with my own opinion, I wanted to like this picture. I kept trying and every time, I hated it! I kept thinking that this should be something that was right up my alley. I always hated films that spun their entire plot around just to provide the audience with a happy ending and "Requiem" doesn't do that. Darren Aronofsky was being mentioned in the same conversation with guys like Christopher Nolan and David Fincher, a new crop of director's dropped on Hollywood and making films that film aficionados could enjoy. I enjoyed the work of Nolan, Fincher and the other remarkable director's that emerged around the same time as Aronofsky, but I detested Aronofsky and his recent offering about drug addiction.


HOWEVER.....

I've stated before, and it's never been a more relevant statement than it is today, that this book and watching all of the films contained within, will change your tastes. It will give you perspective, it will help you separate the remarkable from the unremarkable, the good from the bad, the unique from the bland. It will completely cleanse your entire film palate and push the "reset" button on what you like and what you don't. I guess I'll just come out with it....I loved "Requiem for a Dream" this time around. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it was near perfection. The editing, the same editing that I used to call insane and too off putting, was what really made the film standout. It made the film ultra unique and provided moments that were intense, erratic (like the mind of a drug addled person) and down right frightening. The final sequence, in which we see bits and pieces from everyone's current situations, was ultra bizarre and sometimes scary. There's a particular shot, in which we see Marion, being forced to participate in a sex show in exchange for drugs, tandem masturbating with another woman. We see her face, a contorted picture of agony, shame and embarrassment, money hanging from from her mouth, shoved in by a male onlooker. It only shows up on the screen for a split second, but it's a split second that says so much and an image that has been burned into my head.


When I used to watch "Requiem", I was always able to, at least, feel sympathy for the character of Sara. She was goaded into believing she'd be on television and prescribed addicting diet pills by a doctor. She wasn't intentionally being a drug abuser, but rather she really didn't realize what she was doing. However, this time around the entire cast of characters caused my heart to break, especially Marion, robbed of the American dream, minus her boyfriend, forced to sell her body in exchange for money or drugs. Perhaps Aronofsky saw these characters existing in real life and instead of ignoring them, chose to explore what their story was. It's a safe bet that we've all encountered people, within society, that we've labeled as "crazy", yet how many of us have stopped to wonder how they got that way. We've all seen women who carelessly sell their bodies for drugs or drug money and labeled them as "crack whores", but have we ever stopped to really wonder about their situation.

It may take some time to warm up to, but at this point in my life I can easily, highly recommend "Requiem for a Dream". It's a movie that nears perfection, with it's bizarre style, it's erratic editing, it's powerful performances and it's unusual direction from a director who wasn't afraid to tell his story and tell it in his own way. With the revelations that "Pi" and "Requiem for a Dream" are both remarkable films, Aronofsky jumps to near the front of the line on my all-time favorite director's list and honestly, I wouldn't have minded if THE BOOK had included his entire catalog, as there are things to love about all of his movies.

RATING: 8.5/10  *Pssss* It's actually probably a '10/10', but I'm not brave enough to make the leap from 1 to 10 that fast, so we'll leave it where it stands.

MOVIES WATCHED: 493
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 508

July 2, 2012  7:17pm

2 comments:

  1. I'm glad to see you came around on this. It definitely seems like something you'd like. Just finished watching it for the first time myself and thought it was amazing. The visuals and soundtrack were perfect. I really connected with all of the characters. Still, it was missing a little something for me to include it in my all time favorites. I'm not sure what that would be exactly, but maybe it had been a little too built up for me by other people, or maybe just that my dog kept bothering me every 15-20 minutes, so I couldn't fully immerse myself. I'd like to rewatch it someday at night with the dog asleep to see if this can make the jump to the next level.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also have a dog who has, on occasion, tried to destroy my movie watching activities. My wife's pretty good about keeping him in line though, when I need a little peace.

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