Darren Aronofsky
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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Darren Aronofsky debuted with Pi (1998), a black and white, low-budget expressionistic metaphysical thriller and character study of paranoia and madness. After healing from blindness, Max found himself to be a brilliant mathematician, a living calculator. Believing that mathematics is the language of nature and that there is a mathematical pattern behing everything, Max has set out to find the pattern that controls the stock market. He lives a lonely life (he carefully avoids meeting people on the stairs, a friendly neighbor tries in vain to socialize), in an apartment whose main feature is a home-made computer. Since he recovered his sight, Max is subject to painful migraine fits (for which he takes pills and shots). During one such fit he sees the door being shaken until it breaks open.
Max plays "go" with an older mathematician, Sol, who is worried by his intense rationality.
After talking with a Jewish friend who is studying the cabala, Max finds the solution to the mystery of the stock market (he hears the neighbor moan during an orgasm as he types frantically on the computer's keyboards). Alas, he doesn't realize it until later, when his friend/mentor tells him of a 216-digit pattern he discovered studying "pi". His flaky machine did print a string of 216 digits, but Max threw it away thinking it useless. The following day he realizes that the string helps predict stock market prices. The computer has crashed and he cannot find the piece of paper. His Jewish friend, the numerologist, Lenny, tells him that he is investigating a 216-digit pattern in the Torah (believing that the Torah is a code sent from God and may contain God's name). His mentor warns Max in vain that he is moving away from science.
A woman, Marcy, representing some powerful financial interests is trying to recruit him, but he does not want her money. She even offers him a top-secret computer part.
Max is still affected by those terrifying migraines, that seem to be getting worse rather than better, as are the associated hallucinations: Max finds a pulsing brain in a subway station. He wakes up in a subway car, blood running down from his nose.
Max is still trying to fix his computer, while the pretty neighbor is still trying to seduce him with food. Eventually, he makes a Faustian bargain with Marcy and asks her to deliver the electronic part. That fixes the computer and, after another mental black-out, Max can finally write down the sequence of digits. Another fit makes him collapse. When he wakes up, he is surrounded by the pretty girl (who is helping him recover) and by the landlady (who wants him to move out). Max kicks everybody out, even the pretty neighbor, then shaves his head and marks the spot that hurts him.
Max talks to Sol. Sol believes that, just before crashing, a computer becomes conscious, but refuses to attribute any meaning to that string of digits. They get angry and Max leaves. Max feels that he is being followed in the subway and he is soon cornered in a street by Marcy and her men. He gave them only part of the code: now they want the rest of it. They point a gun at him, but Lenny shows up just in time to rescue him. Lenny takes Max into a car, but not to save him: Lenny and his men also want the code. Chased by the ruthless financiers and by the Jewish sect, Max has become ever more suspicious of everyone. Now Max seeks shelter in Sol, but Sol has died of a stroke. Sol left behing a piece of paper with the magic string and the pieces of "go" laid in a spiral (Max has reached the conclusion that the entire universe is organized along spirals).
In a fit of anger, Max destroys his computer, burns the number, grabs a power drill, and drills a hole in his skull...
However, in the last scene he is sitting on a bench in a park, and playing with a little girl.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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Requiem for a Dream (2000), based on a novel by Hubert Selby Jr, is a nightmare of a film that follows the nightmares of the four protagonists: Harry, his mother, his friend Tyrone and his girlfriend Marion. The film gets more and more sinister, more and more apocalyptic, as it follows their endeavours to achieve their dreams. The film is not so much a sequence of failures as one gigantic failure that the director analyzes in deeper and deeper detail. The film is not so much a sequence of delusions and one gigantic sense of desperation that grows and grows and doesn't seem to know limits. That is what makes so horrific. But the real assett of the film is the directing technique, the neurotic cut-ups and split screens and whatever else. There is hardly a scene that does not evoke neurosis with a barrage of acrobatic cinematic tricks. Aronofsky overlaps slow-motion and fast-motion, pastes together a rapid-fire of frames, unleashes an onslaught of imaginative montage.

A tv show. An old lady is watching it. A young man tries to take the television set from her. The mom, Sara, locks herself in another room while her son, Harry, takes the tv set and leaves. His buddy Tyrone is waiting downstairs and helps him go sell the tv set. They use the money to buy drugs, that they enjoy in a miserable studio where they also play dance music like disc jockeys. Harry and Tyrone are also small-time drug dealers who live day by day. Sara is used to Harry's cruel behavior: she is a widow who has nothing else left than this son and is willing to forgive him all the time. Her only passtime is sit by the sidewalk with the other elderly ladies.
Harry's girlfriend Marion is from a wealthy family but prefers their lifestyle. Her family would like to see her marry the dumb and cold businessman Arnold, but she avoids them. Harry and Tyrone plan to use a profitable load of drugs to change life.
In the meantime, Sara has learned that she is being considered as a contestant in the tv show. This generates a lot of commotion among her friends. She suddenly feels like a protagonist. She becomes obsessed with wearing the red dress that her husband loved so much. Since she is overweight, she needs to get on a diet.
The kids succeed in selling the drugs and Harry is suddenly wealthy. He visits his mother and gives her a present: a new tv set. But he also learns that she is taking very dangerous pills, that basically amount to drugs, and warns her that she could die of them. Sara doesn't listen: she is too excited that she is losing weight and that she will be able to wear her red dress at the tv show. She found a reason to live. Harry feels guilty living her alone, but drives back to the studio, where he invariably sniffs cocaine and shoots himself heroin in the company of buddy and girlfriend.
Tyrone gets arrested when he gets involved in a shootout between two gangs. Sara is beginning to have hallucinations: the refrigerator (full of real food) seems alive and the tv show is already showing her in the red dress. Harry asks Marion to help them raise the money they need to buy more drugs. Marion can borrow it only from her old fiance`, which means sleeping with him. By now, Sara lives in a permanent trance. The kids lose the money when the police interrupts the sale. Sara has a fantastic nightmare (one of the best scenes of the film and one of the best psychoanalytical scenes in the history of cinema), following which she believes she has to appear on tv. Having completely lost her mind, she makes it to the tv studio where she is arrested and delivered to a hospital.
Harry and Tyrone have found another chance to get rich again and are driving south. The hole in Harry's arm is developing an infection and is beginning to hurt. To fight the pain, Harry can't think of anything better than shooting heroin right into that hole.
Alone at home and desperate because she doesn't know how to return the money she borrowed from Arnold, Marion accepts to prostitute herself. She visits a black customer and gives him a blow job. Tyrone decides to stop at a hospital. Harry is immediately hospitalized and Tyrone gets arrested. They both end up in a prison. Marion, in the meantime, feeling that Harry has abandoned her, accepts to attend a party that is an orgy and where she is forced to undress and make lesbian love in front of all the guests.
Sara is subjected to cures that fail to restore her mental health. Eventually the doctors decide to administer her electroshocks that devastate her mind.
Tyrone works in the prison. The doctors have to cut Harry's arm. Sara ends up in a mental institution. Marion is a prostitute.
The stories interweave and never completely merge. At the end they are even less united than they were at the beginning. The four protagonists have lost each other, apparently forever, and they are all losers.
All four are heroes, because all four trying to avoid their inevitable, stereotyped destiny: Sara has to die alone because she is getting old, Marion has to become a prostitute because she is living with junkies, Tyrone has to spend the rest of his life in jail because he has joined organized crime, and Harry has to lose both women because he has not respected either. But Aronofsky does not treat them like heroes: he treats them like sexy cinematic objects.
Aronofsky shows no mercy for his characters. On the contrary, he is a voyeur who enjoys seeing them sink lower and lower, chronicling their degradation. His clinical portraits are each an onslaught of humane feelings. The narrative gets more and more disconnected as the degradation proceeds. The escalating abjection is matched by a crescendo of counterpoint.
Aronofsky is not only interested in the milieu of drug traffickers, he is interested in representing the progressive loss of control by drug users. He equates this to the progressive loss of control by two women who are let down by Harry: their broken dreams are a form of addiction, that eventually lead them to an equal loss of control and destruction of their personality.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Erika Sofi)

Requiem for a Dream (2000), tratto da un racconto di Hubert Selby Jr, e' l'incubo di un film che mostra gli incubi di quattro personaggi: Harry, sua madre, il suo amico Tyrone e la sua fidanzata Marion. Il film diventa sempre piu' sinistro, sempre piu' apocalittico, a mano a mano che racconta dello sforzo dei personaggi per realizzare i loro sogni. Il film non e' soltanto una sequenza di fallimenti che danno vita a un fallimento piu' grande che il regista analizza nel piu' piccolo dettaglio. Il film non e' neanche soltanto una sequenza di delusioni o un crescendo di un senso di disperazione che sembra non conoscere limiti. Questo e' cio' che lo rende terrificante. Tuttavia il vero pregio del film e' la tecnica usata nella regia, il montaggio neurotico, immagini spezzate e quant'altro.Vi e' soltanto una scena che non evoca neurosi, eseguita con un susseguirsi di acrobatici trucchi cinematografici. Aronofsky sovrappone scene al rallentatore a scene accelerate, mescola insieme una successione di fotogrammi, va all'attacco con un montaggio originale.

Uno show tv. Un'anziana donna lo sta guardando. Un giovane cerca di portarle via il televisore. La madre, Sara, si chiude in un'altra stanza mentre suo figlio, Harry, prende il televisore e se ne va. Il suo amico Tyrone lo aspetta in fondo alle scale e lo aiuta a vendere il televisore. Il denaro che guadagnano serve loro per comperare la droga, con la quale si divertono in un misero studio dove suonano anche dance music come disc jockeys. Harry e Tyrone sono anche spacciatori a tempo perso che vivono alla giornata. Sara e' abituata alla crudelta' di Harry: e' una vedova a cui non rimane niente oltre al figlio e alla volonta' di perdonarlo ogni volta. Il suo unico passatempo e' sedersi vicino al marciapiedi in compagnia di altre anziane donne.
La fidanzata di Harry, Marion, proviene da una famiglia benestante ma preferisce il loro stile di vita. La sua famiglia vorrebbe che si sposasse con Arnold, un uomo d'affari stupido e freddo, ma lei si rifiuta. Harry e Tyrone pensano di utilizzare un proficuo carico di droga per dare una svolta alla loro vita.
Nel frattempo, Sara ha capito di essere considerata un concorrente nello show tv.Questo genera la commozione dei suoi amici. Si sente subito protagonista. Diventa ossessionata da un vestito rosso che suo marito amava tanto. Dal momento che e' in sovrappeso, si si mette a dieta.
I ragazzi riscono a vendere la droga e Harry diventa subito buono. Va a trovare sua madre e le porta un regalo: un televisore nuovo. Ma si accorge che la madre sta prendendo delle pillole pericolose, come delle droghe, e l'avverte che potrebbero ucciderla. Sara non lo ascolta: e' talmente eccitata per il fatto che sta dimagrando e che presto potra' indossare il vestito rosso allo show tv. Ha trovato una ragione di vita. Harry si sente in colpa mentre la lascia sola, ma torna allo studio, dove inevitabilmente sniffa cocaina e si fa di eroina insieme all'amico e della fidanzata.
Tyrone viene arrestato dopo essere stato coinvolto in una sparatoria tra due gang. Sara comincia a soffrire di allucinazioni: il frigorifero (pieno di cibo) sembra animarsi e si e' vista nello show tv con il vestito rosso . Harry chiede a Marion di aiutarlo a trovare il denaro che serve loro per comperare piu' droga. Marion puo' chiederlo in prestito al suo ex fidanzato, il che significa che dovra' passare la notte con lui. Per il momento, Sara vive in uno stato di trance permanente. I ragazzi perdono il denaro quando la polizia interrompe loro la vendita. Sara ha un incubo incredibile (una delle migliori scene del film e una delle piu' belle scene psicoanalitiche della storia del cinema), nel quale crede di dover apparire in tv. Avendo perso completamente la testa, si dirige verso lo studio dove viene arrestata e ricoverata in ospedale.
Harry e Tyrone hanno escogitato il modo per guadagnare nuovamente soldi e si dirigono a sud. La ferita alla mano di Harry comincia a fare infezione e a farsi dolorosa. Per alleviare il dolore, ad Harry non rimane altro che iniettarsi l'eroina direttamente dentro la ferita.
Rimasta sola a casa e disperata perch‚ non sa come restituire il denaro imprestatole da Arnold, Marion accetta di prostituirsi. Va a trovare un cliente di colore e gli fa un servizietto. Tyrone decide di fermarsi ad un ospedale. Harry viene immediatamente ricoverato in ospedale e Tyrone viene arrestato. Entrambi finiscono in prigione. Marion, nel frattempo, sapendo che Harry l'ha abbandonata, accetta di partecipare ad un party, un'orgia, nella quale viene obbligata a spogliarsi e ad avere rapporti lesbici davanti a tutti gli invitati.
Sara e' sottoposta a cure che falliscono nel tentativo di ripristinare la sua salute mentale. Alla fine i medici decidono di sottoporla a sedute di elettroshock devastanti per la sua mente.
Tyrone lavora in prigione. I medici hanno amputato la mano di Harry. Sara finisce in una clinica psichiatrica. Marion diventa una prostituta.
Le storie si intrecciano e non si mescolano mai completamente. Alla fine esse sono anche meno unite di quanto non lo erano all'inizio. I quattro personaggi si sono persi a vicenda, apparentemente per sempre, e sono tutti perdenti.
Tutti e quattro sono eroi, perch‚ tutti tentano di contrastare il loro inevitabile destino, stereotipato: Sara morir… sola perch‚ sta diventando vecchia, Marion comincera' a prostituirsi perche' vive con dei tossicodipendenti, Tyrone passera' il resto della sua vita in galera in quanto membro del crimine organizzato e Harry perdera' entrambe le donne perch‚ non ha avuto rispetto per loro. Tuttavia Aronofsky non li considera eroi: ma come affascinanti oggetti cinematografici .
Aronofsky non mostra alcuna pieta' per i suoi personaggi. Al contrario, e' un voyeur che si diverte a vederli affondare sempre piu' verso il basso, facendo la cronaca del loro degrado. I suoi quadri clinici sono ognuno un attacco di sentimenti umani. La narrazione diventa sempre piu' sconnessa a mano a mano che il degrado aumenta. L'escalation di abiezione e' accompagnata da un crescendo di contrappunto.
A Aronofsky non interessa l'ambito dei trafficanti di droga, ma rappresentare la prograssiva perdita di controllo dei tossicodipendenti. La mette sullo stesso piano della perdita di controllo da parte delle due donne abbandonate da Harry: i loro sogni spezzati sono una forma di dipendenza, che alla fine le porta a un'uguale perdita di controllo e distruzione delle loro personalita'.
Black Swan (2010) is a psychological thriller about a frigid woman whose mental life straddles the border between reality and hallucination, in the vein of Polanski's Rosemary's Baby. The trigger for the woman's altered state of mind is the devotion to her favorite art, which comes at the expense of her own life, first in terms of living as a recluse with her mom and then in terms of the physical sacrifice of her body. Lina is a young beautiful and frigid dancer who seems to live only for the ballet. She lives alone with her mom, who is her only friend and supporter. Lina has mysterious scars in her back. Her great chance comes when the company decides to stage a new production of the Swan. A cruel choreographer has to choose who will be the Swan Queen. Lina is the perfect dancer for the white swan, but the choreographer has doubts that she can also play the black swan, which requires passion and not only technique. He tells her that he chose someone else, then tries to kiss her and she bites him. It turns out he chose her. She locks herself in a bathroom and calls her mom to share the news. When she walks out, she finds the word "whore" written on the mirror. At home her mom has prepared a cake, which Lina doesn't want but then eats because her mom resents the refusal. The choreographer throws a party to celebrate a senior dancer, Beth, who is retiring. Beth laughs when the choreographer announces that Lina will be the Swan Queen. A drunk Beth later calls Lina a whore. The choreographer asks Lina embarrassing questions about her sexual life and Lina behaves like a virgin. His advice for her is to masturbate. At home her mom sees that Lina's back is covered with scratches and forcefully clips her fingernails. In bed she touches herself but then gets disgusted of what she is doing. Beth has a terrible accident and the choreographer thinks she did it on purpose. The choreographer is still not happy with her performance: too stiff, too frigid. When everybody has left, he kisses her and touches her: he seduces her but then stops, explaining that she is the one who needs to be the seducer. He was just teaching her about passion. At home Lina touches heself whiletaking a bath. Suddenly she sees blood: she has been scratching her back again. She frantically clips her nails, causing her fingers to bleed to. Day after day the choreographer keeps torturing her, as if he wanted to change her inner persona, turning her from an angel into a demon. Her mother heard of the choreographer's reputation and warns Lina against him. Her mom made some mistake that compromised her career and has to do with sex and with Lina's birth. One of the dancers, Lily, tries to befriend Lina, but it turns out Lily is close to the choreographer. Lily takes her out to a club and offers her drugs. It is obvious Lina has never done drugs. Lily is out to corrupt her. She introduces her to men. They dryg her and make her dance. She takes Lily home and has sex with her in her room while her terrified mother is outside. Lina has her first orgasm. She wakes up in the morning alone. Lily is gone. Lina is late for work and her mom did not wake her up. Lily claims that they did not sleep together, that it was just a fantasy of Lina's. At the same time the choreographer picks Lily as Lina's alternate. Lina begs him to pick someone else. Late at night she catches them having sex backstage.
It is the eve of the premiere. Lina runs away traumatized. She goes to the hospital to visit the crippled Beth, who grabs a knife and starts hitting herself frantically. Lina runs away but in the elevator realizes that the knife is in her hand... At home she collapses. Her mom tries to stop her from going to the performance. The ballet is clearly destroying her. When Lina shows up for the big perofrmance, the choreograher tells her that he has decided to pick Lily but then lets Lina dance. Lina sees Lily in a provoking sexual gesture. Lina at first falls badly while doing the white swan. When she goes to her room, she finds Lily who is getting ready to replace her for the black swan. Lina and Lily fight like cats and crash against the mirror. Lina grabs a shard of glass and kills Lily, then drags her body in the bathroom and steals her costume. Lina dances the black swan with a master performance that gets a standing ovation from the audience and a smile from the choreographer. Lina backstage even kisses the choreographer passionately, as if to show that she is a different person now. Back in her room to change for the finale, Lina opens the door to... Lily, who has comes to congratulate her. Lina is puzzled: she checks the bathroom and realizes that there is no corpse. It all happened in her imagination, but it did the job of changing her into the black swan. There is however blood in her white-swan costume. Lina has hurt herself, not Lily... She cries, realizing that she is living a life of hallucinations. She reenters the stage as the white swan while bleeding. Her mom is sitting in the front row with tears of pride, but Lina is dying. When the choreographer runs to congratulate her, Lina is lying in a pool of blood but with a smile in her face. The film ends with a prolonged standing ovation.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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