REQUIEM FOR A DREAM review
And this is where the system breaks down.
This is the film, where the MPAA’s “let us protect the
youth of America” rhetoric and hypocrisy shines
I woke up this morning and went to the Dobie theater
here in Austin and saw a film of absolute brilliance.
A film that when it was over.... I heard a group
exaltation from the critics in attendance. A group
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM received an NC-17 from
the MPAA. Now usually we would see the film split
down the middle and taken to an R so it could be
advertised in family newspapers and so it could play
in malls and so it could make the people that made it
But ARTISAN.. thank God for ARTISAN... They
allowed their balls to drop, and with this film, their
voice changes... matures... Grows up.
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM is filmmaking at it’s
When you read the reviews coming out of Toronto
that appeared on this site, you saw... “I don’t know if
I can say I loved this film, or even that I liked it, but
the movie is powerfully dramatic and even brilliant.”
Well, I can say I loved it. I can say I liked it. And I
can say it was powerfully dramatic and assuredly
brilliant. I am also of the firm belief that if I see a
better film this year I will be ecstatic beyond all
belief, because as of right now.... I’m shakingly
jubilant at having woke up at the ass-crack of dawn to
see a movie in a theater with STEREO and postage
Why do I attack the MPAA at the beginning? Why
do I say the system broke down here? Why does this
film pull back and lay bare the utter hypocrisy of the
Liebermans and the McCains and the Valentis and all
the other little ogres beneath the bridge of our
Because this film should be REQUIRED VIEWING
by every friggin High School kid in the country. It
should be unleashed upon them.
Will it disturb them? Will it shake their fragile little
minds? Will it possibly make a lifestyle change for
Oh God YES. YES YES YES.
This movie is brutal... brutal in the most aggressively
harsh reality moments we have in society.
You theater owners keeping kids out of the film from
attending with their parents..... YOU SHOULD BE
HUNG FROM THE NECK TILL FUCKING DEAD!
Watch the movie in your theater. WATCH IT!
Watch the whole film. Don’t look at a single
moment... take it out of context... and then say, “A 15
year old can’t handle this!”
Darren Aronofsky has made a film that makes use of
everything that Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson,
Danny Boyle, Stephen Soderbergh, David Fincher
and Tom Tykwer have used to redefine ‘cool’
cinema... Every pulse skip.... split screen.... frame
shake.... tracking perspectives.... fisheye
worldviews... trippy music... grand dialogue... And
he’s gone and made a hardcore John Schlesinger
MIDNIGHT COWBOY meets Martin Scorsese
TAXI DRIVER world. This is cool meeting
The movie lulls you into thinking... “Oh yeah baby...
light me up one of them... prep the needle hon....
hand me the blue one... yeeeaaaaaahhhhh” And well,
I don’t want to get specific, but... yeah, it gets rough.
Are you happy with where the characters are at the
end... NO.... should it be different... NO.
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM needs to be the
industry’s banner for reforming the ratings system.
Politicians should see the film and dance to a
This film has an absolute moral center. And I know
for a fact that I’ll see this film at least 10 times before
the end of the year. Not because it is a happy film.
Not because ewwww I love dark stories. I’ll see it
repeatedly because it is just BRILLIANT filmmaking.
This is that painting in that museum that you look into
and wonder how and why the artist decided to use
those brush strokes and that shade and you marvel
that you get to look at it. This is there for you to
examine and take with you.
It is powerful POWERFUL filmmaking.
Now, what is it?
The film is centered around 4 characters played by
Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, Marlon Wayans and
I’ll start with Ellen Burstyn. BEST ACTRESS GOES
TO... Ellen Burstyn. This is not a question, but a
fact. And if that fact doesn’t come to pass, then either
there is an unknown film with a lead female role that
noone has not even heard a whisper about... BUT, I
can not imagine a better performance. I say this
because quite honestly... Ellen Burstyn’s Sara
Goldfarb in REQUIEM FOR A DREAM is one of the
GREAT acting performances in history. This is right
there with Bette Davis’ Baby Jane Hudson from
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE....
Elizabeth Taylor’s Martha from WHO’S AFRAID
OF VIRGINIA WOOLF... Right there... that type of
performance.... that level. In otherwords, this isn’t
just an award winning performance.... but the type of
performance by which others forever judge
Her character begins as your grandmother.... your
mother... Your father or grandfather has died. And
she is, for all intents and purposes... ALONE in this
world. She has her little knitting circle and she has
her game shows. But she isn’t special to anyone, she
isn’t particularly bright... She has a big heart and
noone to share it with.... the heart is cracked, and her
life is ending a bit each day in the coma of retirement.
She gets a call one day. They want her to be on tv.
They want her to be on the show. She’s all excited.
Thrilled. Something is happening to her. She goes to
her closet and pulls out her red dress... the one she
wore at (Jared Leto) Harry’s graduation. She doesn’t
see him much, only when he drops by to steal her tv
to pawn for smack. She puts the dress on, but it
won’t zip up. She’s too fat for it. Some friends
recommend various diets... She settles on the pills...
Now... that takes you about 30 minutes into the film
with this character... My God.. the changes.
Physical, emotional, mental... When her teeth begin
to gnash and grind the chatter... when the
refrigerator... well... when you see her on speed,
dragging back down, speeding back up... the popping
popping popping... It’s brutal. The delusion, the
manic hysteria... “I’m gonna be on tv in my red
Ellen Burstyn.... consider yourself hugged. My god,
BRAVO. Standing ovation. Tears out of the corners
of my eyes and I whistle and clap till my hands hurt.
My lady, you are a national treasure. Bless you.
This role and this performance with live in your
Next, I’ll talk about Jared Leto’s Harry Goldfarb.
This isn’t the Sam Jackson junkie son from JUNGLE
FEVER... this is the white boy delusional soho
junkie. Harry is basically a good person. He was
your basic All-American goodlooking kid.
Somewhere along the way, it went bad. He has the
beautiful girlfriend, Marion Silver (Jennifer
Connelly), and the best friend, Tyrone C Love
(Marlon Wayans). He’s supposed to be our
‘Rent-Boy’ or our ‘Drugstore Cowboy’, but
Aronofsky applies a keen sense of Sir Isaac Newton’s
That which goes up, must come down... to his
character... and he never ever glamorizes down. It’s
brutal... it is Ron Kovic brutal, with no happy up
swing... no ‘magic legs’...
Marlon Wayan’s Tyrone C Love... he’s our cool
connection man... the pal with the line to the shit.
He’s playing the best friend with drug connections.
His character has the least screentime of the 4 I’ve
detailed, but ya know what... Marlon Wayans is in a
movie and he doesn’t suck. Not only that, but he’s
real good. He doesn’t ham it up, he plays it right on.
A strong supporting role.
And then, Jennifer Connelly’s Marion Silver. First,
how long have we collectively been in love with
Jennifer Connelly? Since LABYRINTH in 1986. 14
years now. I saw HOT SPOT and CAREER
OPPORTUNITIES for her. That’s screen love. And
here she is again. The most beautiful woman in
film... just... oh man it’s rough. She’s 364 days older
than me, and I’m still willing to let that slide. After
watching her in this film... I tell ya. There’s just no
way you can call a hooker or a stripper or go to a club
that has those. I mean, physically you’ll be able to,
but when you look at the girls... you’ll think of this
story... of Jennifer Connelly. I really really hope that
she pulls out a supporting nom for this character.
She’s our Jodie Foster/TAXI DRIVER character
except.... she’s our girlfriend... and she’s let down.
By the time you get all the way through this film...
very lean at under 2 hours... you’ll be out of breath.
And then as you are walking into the lobby, the
thought hits you.... This man is directing a BATMAN
YEAR ONE film? Dear lord almighty. Yeah. Boy,
that’ll be a fight we’ll have to make. I can just see it
now, “I don’t want to care for these character, you’re
supposed to make me wanna clap. Where’s the
action?” Sigh. Who knows... maybe we’ll get lucky.
As for this film. It is a towering film. A masterwork.
Significant. Entertaining. Enthralling. Poignant.
Throw more adjectives on up here...
And seriously. If I were Artisan, I’d set up screening
for the Presidential candidates this very moment.
Good... Bad... it would help.
As for the MPAA... Well, you guys and gals are
criminals. The system is broken. This is a film that
MUST be seen, and by forcing a studio of integrity to
release it Non Rated, then bullying the theaters into
enforcing it like it is NC-17... It is a CRIME!
By keeping high schoolers away from this film, you
are possibly endangering them. You see... they can
see TRAINSPOTTING... but this film... this one is
the one that is the antidote for that film. It’s the ph
balance. It’s the opening remarks into a teenage skull
with illustrations and horrifying things that they may
have never seen. This film could be for entire masses
of people a lightbulb that goes off in their skulls that
makes their eyelids finally pull back and see things as
they are and how they’ll turn out.... AND YOU
HYPOCRITES ARE GETTING IN THE WAY OF
Sorry, I’m getting angry. But making this film
unwatchable by High School kids is like banning or
removing from High School libraries, I KNOW WHY
THE CAGED BIRD SINGS. It infuriates me. It
should infuriate you.
High Schoolers. If you are reading this. GET INTO
THE MOVIE. If you must, buy tickets for another
film and sneak into the theater (but have your legal
aged friend or family member buy a ticket for this
film... it’s important that it makes money) playing this
one. It’s important... it’s great.
Aronofsky has just officially become a great