Ok, so maybe Merrick doesn't see so well...
There was a screening of THE FOUNTAIN last night in Los Angeles.
You know...THIS MOVIE...this creepy ass screensaver?
It's from Darren Aronofsky (PI and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM)...but you probably know that already, too.
BELOW: Two reviews from last night's test screening. THE TOP REVIEW CONTAINS WELL MARKED SPOILERS, the second touches on a few plot points...but is not very spoilery. Both reviewers were floored by what they saw.
I've been anticipating this film for a long time...a very long time...and am now insanely jealous.
The first review is from Mega-Swarm...
AICNers, attention! This is Mega-Swarm, (read my previous early reviews of "Pick of Destiny" and "A Scanner Darkly" archived on this site), with a review of "The Fountain"! They first time test screened it here in LA at the Grove, and I was there to witness it! Let me start by saying I think Darren Aronofsky has made a truly moving film about dealing with mortality. This film grapples with the concepts of existence, being alive, religion, and accepting the death of loved ones around you as well as your own eventuality. Its all told in amazingly filmed psychedelic scenarios, phenomenal music, with unbelievably great performances by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. "The Fountain" is quite simply an amazing cinematic journey.
SPOILER GRAPPLER HAS BEEN FIRED!
SPOILER GRAPPLER HAS LANDED....
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"The Fountain" is first and foremost a love story, as told within a lyrical trippy time travel storyline. There is nothing confusing about the way scenes flow from the past to the present to the future, it is in fact awe inspiring at how everything makes perfect sense. I found myself concerned with the main characters plight, but also becoming reflective in my own thoughts, as the film triggered my mind to think about my own mortality, my fears of the experience of the deaths of my friends, loved ones, and family. "The Fountain's" sure handed liquidy thought process and amazing cinematic flow is something I cannot describe, it must be experienced. "Awe" is a word that is used to describe the feeling of the infinite finality in the film, but it is also something you will feel by the films powerful imagery and Aronofsky's amazing compositions.
One big story beat that I feel can be completely and totally excised with no damage to the movie: The Inquisitor scenes. Cut all of them. They do nothing to move the story logic forward, save showing religious brutality, and they are not needed to move anything along, especially the characters.
Time Travel, as seen how it truly is in reality, all of it inside our minds, our thoughts, while we are alive. Aronofsky's film approaches the idea of love and life wrapped within the story of a mans refusal to accept the fate of his beloved, and his "trip" to discovery of acceptance of both her death and his own. I will argue the case that the future segments do not in fact ever happen, that they are actually a sliver of the present day characters hopes and dreams, and that he eventually meets up with "god" in his future dream-space mind, and accepts his life, his wife's death, and his own eventual death with peace in his heart.
SPOILER GRAPPLER UNHOOKED!
Darren Aronofsky, hats off to you for prevailing and making this film become a reality. I was at the nuart when "Pi" premiered (I won the CD that night), and thought "Requiem" was a shattering piece of filmmaking. When I heard about "The Fountain" film almost six years ago, I was intrigued, and I am happy to say it was worth the wait.
The sound design is masterful, experimenting with sound drops like no other major film I've seen in a while. The shots and designs, back to back symbolism moving between patterns, it is all top notch. Rachel Weisz is filmed so close you can see every pore on her neck breathing. She is the rock that pushes Hugh's character forward, and she does this with grace and an otherworldy beauty.
This is Hugh Jackman's movie! It's his best role he's ever had and he brings everything he's got to it. I'm thankful Brad Pitt was a pussy and bailed on "acting" in this film, so that Hugh could show him what it is to become a character completely. Pitt might have derailed this film timewise (from 2002 to 2006) but he couldn't stop it from existing.
Warner Brothers/Regency, get with it and get this film released this year! It's not even scheduled for release? WTF, grow some balls and act like a real studio and not some cotton candy crap hole! Please, it would be great to see a real film playing in the theaters, instead of watching from afar the slow death of cinema in the form of "She's the Man", "Benchwarmers", and "The Pink Panther". Market this film as a psychedelic love story, and you will find quite more seats being filled upon release.
NOTE: This is not a science fiction film, this is not an action film, so please, sweaty fanboys who need to see explosions and lasers, do yourself a favor and just watch "The Black Hole" again. VINCENT and Maximillian are great, but this film really is for grownups. You won't like it, and you will complain about Hugh Jackman's spaceship as not looking "realistic". This is not a "cyber" film, nor is it a "matrix-type" film, nor is it like anything a genre fan might expect if you try to label this "scifi". This is something new. I can't wait for all of you film lovers out there to experience this movie.
Here's another review, this one from fILMBURST...
I attended a test-screening of "The Fountain" tonight at The Grove in Los Angeles. WOW.
The Fountain is freaking amazing. It's quite unlike anything we've seen before. The story is tremendously ambitious. The VFX are beautiful... very weird but at times breathtaking. The sound and music elements are very intense. This is Darren Aronofsky's most ambitious film yet. It is undoubtedly his best work.
I'll avoid spoilers here... don't worry.
We're first introduced to Hugh Jackman's character in 16th century New Spain. He is a conquistador fighting for the Queen (Rachel Weisz) of Spain. Soon after we meet Hugh's character (Tommy) in outer space, 1000 years in the future. Completely hairless and covered with tattoos, he whispers to the Tree of Life, "We're almost there." It's clear that he is traveling somewhere with the Tree in attempt to save it from dying. Finally we meet Tommy in the present where he's a Neurologist searching to find the cure for cancer, to "stop dying." In each of the three time-periods Hugh's character is working toward saving his love, who in each period is played by Rachel. "The Fountain" is essentially a love story set over 1000 years.
The "future" portion of the movie looks absolutely incredible. Just about all of the scenes in the future take place in outer space. The visual imagery of these scenes look like they're made entirely from VFX. It is all really beautiful to watch.
The "past" portion of the movie takes place in Spain and New Spain (Central America). The shots are very close and intimate, lending to a very raw feel as opposed to epic.
The "present" portion of the movie moves forward most of the plot. Aronofsky doesn't employ much of the shooting/cutting techniques here that he did on his previous two movies. The entire movie is very close and intimate instead of quick and flashy like Requiem for a Dream. The technique here is entirely appropriate for the subject matter and romantic nature of the film.
While the visual aspects of the film aren't "flashy" or "edgy" like one might expect from Darren Aronofsky, not once did I feel underwhelmed by a lack of visual stimulation. As said, the VFX are absolutely incredible, and Matthew Libatique's center-frame composition and a vibrant color palette subtley amount to a beautiful looking film.
Despite how incredible the film LOOKS, the story and acting are what really carry this film. I can't say much else about the story line that wouldn't spoil anything, but like I said it's extremely ambitious... hard to follow at times but it all eventually makes sense. In many ways the story will be open to interpretation. The ending certainly could divide audiences and provoke heated argument. ... And about the acting: Hugh Jackman is freaking unbelievable. He demonstrates such an incredible range. I'd dare call him virtuoso in this performance. Rachel Weisz is great in more of a supporting role. Ellen Burtsyn, however, doesn't quite carry her weight. Perhaps her role didn't provide much of an opportunity, but to me her acting was the one low-point of the film.
Clint Mansell's score was beautiful... haunting, intimate, and where appropriate, weird and intense. It is not a traditional-sounding score by any means. The score is mostly stringed instruments... I'd guess it was performed by the Kronos Quartet again. It does however sound like a "bigger" score than Requiem... here it's embellished by choir, guitars, and heavy drums. The Aronofsky-Mansell collaboration is proving to be the most creative director-composer tandem out there.
"The Fountain" is a tremendous accomplishment. It's Darren Aronofsky's masterstroke. It will certainly divide audiences and the subject matter could indeed turn some viewers away, but for me, it's an amazing movie. It blew me away.