DVD Review: Requiem For A Dream

Time to dive into Darren Aronofsky’s twisted and powerful “Requiem for a Dream”.

Requiem for a Dream is a 2000 drama film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Hubert Selby, Jr., with whom Aronofsky wrote the screenplay. Burstyn was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.


LOWDOWN:
Requiem for a Dream exposes four paralleled individuals and their menacing addiction to heroin, cocaine, and diet pills (speed). Taking place in Brooklyn amidst the waning Coney Island, the drugs are very easily obtained and keep each main character in its cycle of dependence. The protagonist Harry Goldfarb is your typical heroin junky with an ambitious plan of “Getting off hard knocks,” with help from his cocaine crazed girlfriend Marion and his long time friend Tyrone. Meanwhile his widowed mother is obsessed with the glamor of television and eventually finds her way to a dietitian who pushes her into the cycle of drug induced enslavement.

REVIEW:
The look of the film is extremely stylized, but justifiably so. Aronofsky uses surreal imagery as a vehicle for realism, something that really works when done well, and done well it was. By using a combination of slow and fast motion shots, extreme close-ups and more edits than you can shake a stick at, Aronofsky successfully brings the audience into the world and mind of someone with a drug problem. The audience visually experiences first-hand what it is like to be ‘scared’ or ‘high’ – all this in 3rd person; all this in the comfort of the theatre chair.

Of course, all of this effort would be in vain if it didn’t mean anything at the end. The film leads the audience down a spiral of addiction until the grand finale, which features a montage of graphically intense scenes and images with more edits per second than any film. The pacing at the end, when compared to earlier parts of the movie, was so fast I started to find it hard to keep up, and literally took my breath away as the credits came up. All in all, the effect was amazing, and something that I have not personally experienced when watching any film before.

At times, the film seemed more like an acid trip than a feature film. A cry for help is clearly felt throughout the film, from its innocent and promising start, to its hauntingly chilling conclusion. The one scene that really blew me away was the scene where Marion (played by Jennifer Connelley) had just sold her body off for a bag of heroin…As she walks out the door of the apartment, along the corridor, into the elevator, down to the street: one can’t help but feel the characters disgust with herself, filthy to the core, what it must feel like at…”ZERO”(rock bottom). The acting performances, especially by both Ellyn Burstyn and Marlon Wayans are simply breakthrough performances that earned critical acclaim across the board.

As the title indicates, “Requiem for a Dream” does not contain a happy ending. It is in no way optimistic, and only gives the audience faint pieces of hope and happiness. However, It does show what desperate people are willing to do, and how desperation will change someone’s life to its entirety. It is in the recognition of desperation where hope lies.

OVERALL:

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5 templar crosses out of 5


“Requiem for a Dream” is not a movie for everyone. It is the essence of independent filmmaking, a daring, engrossing, artful film that stays with you long after you leave the theater. Hollywood bubblegum this ain’t.

TRAILER:

CREDITS:
Ellen Burstyn as Sara Goldfarb
Jared Leto as Harry Goldfarb
Jennifer Connelly as Marion Silver
Marlon Wayans as Tyrone C. Love
Christopher McDonald as Tappy Tibbons
Mark Margolis as Mr. Rabinowitz
Louise Lasser as Ada
Marcia Jean Kurtz as Rae
Sean Gullette as Arnold the shrink
Keith David as Big Tim
Dylan Baker as Southern Doctor
Ajay Naidu as Mailman
Ben Shenkman as Dr. Spencer
Hubert Selby, Jr. as Laughing Guard
Darren Aronofsky as Visitor (Uncredited)

Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Produced by Eric Watson, Palmer West
Screenplay by Darren Aronofsky, Hubert Selby, Jr.
Based on Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby, Jr.

-Eric Chacón
Follow me on Twitter @CaptxCrunch
-Brian Lansangan
Follow me on Twitter @MrSnugglenutz84

DVD Review: Battle Royale

This week’s selection of  ╬D  Recommendation is the epic Japanese Thriller “Battle Royale”, and this is worth a watch…this completely puts “The Hunger Games” to shame.

LOWDOWN:

“Battle Royale” is a 2000 Japanese thriller film, adapted from the 1999 novel of the same name by Koushun Takami. It is the final film directed by Kinji Fukasaku, was written to screenplay by his son Kenta Fukasaku, and stars Takeshi Kitano.

The film tells the story of Shuya Nanahara, a high-school student struggling with the death of his father who is forced by the government to compete in a deadly game, where the students must kill each other in order to win. The film aroused both domestic and international controversy, and was either banned outright or deliberately excluded from distribution in several countries

REVIEW:
The cast in this film is chock full of Japanese Stars. Kitano Takeshi (Kitano) plays the teacher that basically plays the ringleader. If you have watched spike TV, you have seen him before. This is the actor that plays as “Vic Ramono” on MXC. The rest of the cast is comprised of Japanese teen pop idols. Most notably, the gorgeous Chiaki Kuriyama (Chigusa). You probably know her too. She was Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill Vol 1. Ando Masanobu (Kiriyama) plays the most menacing villain I have ever seen.

Asside from the classic Japanese blood sprays and the amount of ammo some of the guns put out, there is great attention to detail in this film. From what I have read, since the author (Kinji Fukasaku) of the original book directed the film, everything is kept true to the book as close as possible. Every time a student dies, their names appear on the screen in the order they died. Inside the main building, there is huge system of screens that show who is dead and what not. Anyway, that screen is exact on the names as well as the ‘danger zone’ map. I had to look twice to realize that. That is damn good editing right there.

Battle Royale is a film that has affected many, many people. There are rabid fans of Battle Royale and there are even more people that hate it. Let me tell you why. Battle Royale is a film that exercises its right to explore an idea. Many films have great ideas but most are poorly realized. Battle Royale is simply an awesome movie about one of the most hypothetically traumatic things that could ever happen to teenagers. For those that don’t know, the film focuses on what happens when a group of high school students are sent to an abandoned island to kill each other. What brings such a bizarre idea to fruition includes civil unrest, teenage anxiety, and a nation literally terrorized by their youth. It’s set in Japan and though it is just a movie it still hit pretty close to reality due to current problems with Japanese youth. In fact, the film was poorly received by the government who feared that the release of the film would incite riots and other such acts of mayhem by the same youth which it focused on. The problem is the same the world around. Young people are much more volatile than they ever were say 20-30 years ago and Battle Royale captures the essence of the horror that today’s youth would face going into such a circumstance. Friends kill other friends and bullies all to survive. At the same time they get to live out those videogames that they loved to play at home.

The problem is that there can be only one survivor of this island massacre, this only adds extra pressure to the already unprepared children who have to fight for their lives. What is truly shocking is that the actors and actresses who have been selected to portray these teens are around the same ages of their characters. They aren’t the aging 20-30 somethings that just happen to look young; they are literally teenagers. This flick has some serious bite! It’s such a great comment on how we are living in the 21st century in a time when frequently the fear for a country comes from within rather than outside forces.

There are no easy or mindless deaths in Battle Royale. The violent scenes make the point that violence and death are not cool or funny. This is not Kill Bill; every character in Battle Royale has value as a living, breathing human being. It may sound corny to say that the movie is an emotional roller-coaster ride, but it truly is – having dared to give us three dimensional people who bleed when they are cut, the Director sometimes further dares to cruelly follow scenes of tragedy with jarring moments of biting, dark and sarcastic wit.

If this was an American movie, the class would be played by people in their twenties and thirties. Two or three of the students would be given a lot of screen time and the rest would be faceless cannon fodder. Five seconds after the opening titles, you would know who was going to survive. Despite its odd premise, Battle Royale seems closer to reality because its teenagers really are teenagers and it allows no comforting certainties about who lives or dies.

The true genius of Battle Royale lies in the talented playing of the entire cast. Although young, not one of them strikes a dud note and the script gives almost all of the students a chance to shine at some point. The fight scenes are not staged in the style of ‘Enter The Dragon’ – the kids are not weapons experts or Karate champions. We see them kill each other but we are not invited to hate them – they are, after all, children and they are scared and desperate. Even a student who takes to killing with apparent relish deserves our sympathy.

OVERALL:
“Battle Royale” is one of the most controversial and challenging movies ever made.The film is very gory and violent,but it’s also witty,satirical and thought provoking.The concept of “Battle Royale” is pretty simple.The act of Battle Royale decrees that once a year a class of 9th graders is chosen at random,stranded on a small island,and armed with random weapons.The kids are also outfitted with strange necklaces that monitor their locations and life functions,and explode if more than one student is alive at the end of 72 hours.The kids are forced to become savage killers,and the movie provides them with interesting personalities and human reactions to the horrible situation in which they find themselves.The acting is brilliant and the violence is horrific and merciless.The film is very exciting and well-photographed.A masterpiece that needs to be seen by every true movie fan everywhere.

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5 templar crosses out of 5
MUST WATCH…like right now…WATCH IT

TRAILER:


TEMPLAR NOTE:

Criticized by Japanese politicians when it was first released in 2000, the movie became a huge hit at home and in much of Asia, spawning a popular manga series, inspiring a sequel and generating memorabilia from costumes to card games and action figures.

The film was a mainstream domestic blockbuster, becoming one of the ten highest grossing films in Japan and was released in 22 countries worldwide. It received global audience and critical acclaim and is often regarded as one of Japan’s most famous films, as well as one of Fukasaku’s best films.