Critics and armchair movie viewers alike fawned over three directors in the 2000s whose films showed very little understanding of how people actually work, interact and live – and tons of flashy plot-twisty nonsense and inappropriate overstylization. Their films emphasize did-I-just-blow-your-mind narminess over any actual cinematic grace. You probably like them. You are wrong. Firstly:
There was a good movie to be had somewhere in The Fountain: a potentially winning romance that would be something like The Notebook meeting David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. But the shocking lack of soul Darren Aronofsky has displayed in his other dour, murky, overly stylized messes suggest it was stumbled upon accidentally. Like Nolan, Aronofsky’s movies are, for the most part, designed to elicit cries of “That’s soooo deep” from frat boys and people who listen to a lot of prog rock. For those of us who aren’t impressed by such cinematic self-gratification, films like Requiem for a Dream come across as hideously pompous. (Aronofsky’s two worst works, the unbelievably pretentious, embarrassingly bad low-budget Pi and the unbelievably pretentious, embarrassingly bad high-budget Black Swan, came on either side of the decade.)
Darren Aronofsky is the worst director of the decade to not get roasted on a regular basis. He has a lot in common with the much-despised M. Night Shyamalan – a bloated sense of self-importance, a tendency to rely heavily on pretty visuals when the storytelling gets weak – but even Shyamalan is capable of decent pacing and doesn’t cynically splatter the screen with tacky, clumsy gratuitous audience-gratification scenes that belong in soft-core porn.