Stand It Like a Man and Give Some Back: Darren Aronofsky Explains Why The Fountain Flopped
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Stand It Like a Man and Give Some Back: Darren Aronofsky Explains Why The Fountain Flopped

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trade News | December 11, 2012 | Comments ()


Normally Darren Aronofsky speaks words that make me think, or at the very least creates films with those qualities. In a recent interview though, Aronofsky demonstrated that even the most insightful of storytellers can have a shallow and petty side by shoving his head so far up his own ass that he could probably taste the cud his last hamburger chewed on the day it went down the chute.

Aronofsky exploded into this rant in an interview with The Playlist:

"Not only did she attack the film, she attacked me. People in social media attack you for everything you've done, that happens all the time. But a critic should be focused on what's at hand, not attack someone's career and say their past films are overrated and say they have no ability. She clearly had an issue with me as a person and what I was putting out there as my stories. So that bothered me. And so probably if I ever met her, it wouldn't be a good day."

I don't know, I'd say that a critic's place is exactly to argue such things as the fact that your other films are overrated or making a case that you have no ability. Hell, I don't even agree with those statements about Aronofsky, but I sure think they are well within the territory of the critic.

But as is always necessary, let's go to the tape and check what the offensive text of the review actually was. Leslie Felperin argued in Variety that the film "shows onscreen all the wear and tear of a personal project that has suffered from production fits and starts and reportedly has been cut down from a longer running time to a still tedious and repetitious hour and a half."

Seriously, that still has Aronofsky bitching in interviews six years later? Lighten up Francis. I trust that he's never been on the Internet, because that is about the most polite bad review I've ever read. It's certainly more polite than many I've written. Actually, I'm pretty sure that Felperin is being nicer than I've been in many positive reviews of movies I liked. Hell, our own Dan Carlson, in his overall very positive review of The Fountain did acknowledge that "the film still feels like it's skating on the surface instead of plumbing any kind of emotional depths for the answers to life's big questions."

Watch it Dan, if you ever run into Aronofsky at a convention, he's going to cut your face.

And as a mandatory embed, everyday I'm more convinced that the world would be a better place if Al Swearengen gave this speech to every cocksucker every damned day:

(source: Blastr)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Kip Hackman

    I think that speech would suffice just coming from parents/mentors every day. Al Swearengen doesn't actually have to be there, he's a busy man.

  • So why did the Fountain flop again?

  • yocean

    This kind of hate filled smearing, through selective misquote to construct drama, and misconduct of the Aronofsky hating lady are the reasons why "critic" was the worst possible insult Didi and Gogo can throw at each other in Becket's Waiting for Godot. I usually like your pieces, even though I don't agree with a lot of them but you fucked up on this one sir.

    Oh, did that hurt? Stand it like a man and give some back.

  • Idle Primate

    His comment hardly seemed like a rant and doesn't seem to be in response to the carefully selected quote you provided. I see in the comments that someone found some other quotes from the same review that do seem pretty inflammatory and point toward some real vitriol from the reviewer rAther than any straight up looking at the film in context of the directors other work. So my hunch was right. You cherry picked both your quotes and then exaggerated as much as possible.

    If you have an axe to grind about the director, there were more honest ways and more valid critical ways to do it. This is nothing more than crude yellow smear. Maybe you are more suited to politics than film criticism.

  • Idle Primate

    Also your article has no relationship to your headline. Good thing you're just fucking around on pajiba and this wasn't a high school essay

  • Wembley

    I don't remember hearing about this movie before this. Maybe publicity was an issue?

  • Cryogenic Husk

    Yo, Steven Lloyd Wilson, "by shoving his head so far up his own ass that he could probably taste the cud his last hamburger chewed on the day it went down the chute."

    Did you have fun writing that tasty little "zinger"? This writing is incredibly sophomoric.

    And Aronofsky EXPLODED you say? He totally exploded - like a volcano? You used the word "exploded". The previous sentence is a statement, but also a reminder. You used that word, however in no way shape or form did anything in Aronofsky's quote look like, sound like, give the impression of, or inflect the act of exploding. But it was a nice try to add some of that extra sizzle to the story (when I say "story" I mean your pot-stirring, much ado about nothing yawn-fest that's a thinly veiled attempt at creating drama when there was none - as further pointed out by Robert below who provided the rest of the quote you-I'm sure coincidently-omitted *insert sarcasm here*, because said quote counters your whole grudge spree via "slow day at the news office" write-up [<-almost an article!]).

  • Mrs. Julien

    Again, we are plagued by the lack of a sarcasm font.

  • googergieger

    He couldn't find a way to rip off Satoshi Kon?


  • James

    The Fountain is to me a more serious Speed Racer. A Beautiful Disaster made with a lot of love and care.

  • Utopian

    The Fountain is a fantastic film. One of my favorites, honestly. But aside from that point, you didn't include the key parts of the critic's "review" in your story, so therefore your argument is invalid.

  • Tina

    Nothing like a good STRIPES reference. Love, love, love Warren Oates.

  • Fredo

    First of all, damn you for not finishing up Deadwood proper, HBO!

    And I LOVE The Fountain. I find it to be a great and personal story. But that's the problem: it is a personal story by Aronofsky and it's likely it's his one movie that he wishes he had another chance to make.

  • Jen

    I totally disagree that bringing past work into a film review is OK. Review a film based on its own merit period. When I watched THE WRESTLER in loved it. I didn't shit on it because I was still thinking how much I hated THE FOUNTAIN

  • Here are the rest of the offensive comments from the review that happen before that comment on the film itself:

    "Overpraised for the then-hip, now-dated use of pseudo-science in 'Pi,' and for the visual excess he deployed in the grungy 'Requiem,' helmer Aronofsky has been attached to and then detached from various big-budget studio projects over the last few years, including 'Batman Begins' and 'The Watchman.'"

    She stated, retroactively, that his first two films were terrible and suggested he's a bad director because he left big budget studio projects. None of this has anything to do with The Fountain other than her projection that she feels all these poor choices and films weighed down so heavily that they doomed The Fountain. She created a strawman and giddily burnt him to the ground because she didn't like the film.

  • Zz

    Thank you for including this. Nice to know Steven is excluding info to make his point which is that he simply hates Aronofski.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    There are worse movies... Heavens Gate, My Stepmother is an Alien, ... Bicentennial Man... don't even get me started on Bicentennial Man! @$&%*&^ HULK SMASH!!!

  • lonolove

    I don't know...looking over a director's past work is being part of a critic, but being unable to fairly judge the work at hand on it's own standalone merit is kind of shitty (unless the director is somehow tying his films into the same universe like Tarantino). Don't use each review as a retrospective on everything I've done, just comment on what I've just shown you!

    Obviously each critic has an opinion or bias (it's their goddamn job, man!) but why would anyone read your reviews if you let a previous negative experience color your new ones? No one can surprise you, change your opinion, or put out a work that is so vastly different that it does hold any comparison to past work?

    I get Arronofsky's overall sentiment, even if he made a douche of himself in print for attacking this woman (whose review was hardly scathing).

  • lowercase_ryan

    oh god Swearengen was so good. Damn Deadwood, I miss you.

  • KatSings

    I know I'm in the minority, but I love The Fountain. I thought it was beautiful and moving.

    That being said, you are right. That's a pretty tame and professional criticism, and this many years after the fact, he needs to accept that a lot of people thought that film was a fail and just move on.

  • Ian Fay

    The Fountain is Cloud Atlas without people standing there explicitly explaining the themes and plot every 20 minutes.

    It's also one of the most visually stunning movies I've ever seen, done on a tiny budget, with almost no CGI.

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