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HTF REVIEW: The Fountain



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#1 of 70 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted May 11 2007 - 01:55 AM

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The Fountain

Directed By: Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn

Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#2 of 70 OFFLINE   Brett_M

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Posted May 11 2007 - 02:17 AM

Great review. I missed this theatrically and have it at #1 on my Netflix queue.
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#3 of 70 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H

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Posted May 11 2007 - 02:44 AM

I'm going to buy this blind. I have always found Aronofsky's films absorbing, and would recommend Pi to anyone and give a reserved recommendation of Requien for a Dream, since it is not for everyone.
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#4 of 70 OFFLINE   Bryant Trew

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Posted May 11 2007 - 09:38 AM

This film is like a painting. A beautiful, but mostly incoherent painting. You also need to be aware that the studio pulled the plug and then relit the project. My gut feeling is that this screwed the process up.
Matrix Reloaded isn't deep at all. It's a simple, rehashed concept dressed up in fancy words and designer outfits...

Real World: "I'm hungry as hell, so I'm going to run my ass down to Micky D's to get me a burger and fries."

Matrix 2: "I need sustenance, ergo, move I shall expeditiously...

#5 of 70 OFFLINE   Sam Davatchi

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Posted May 11 2007 - 10:42 AM

I said it in the other HD thread.
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#6 of 70 OFFLINE   BarryS

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Posted May 11 2007 - 04:22 PM

I loved this movie. It's one of the most beautiful, stunning movies I've seen in a long time. It must be flippin' amazing in HD.

#7 of 70 OFFLINE   Aaron Reynolds

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Posted May 11 2007 - 05:13 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryant Trew
You also need to be aware that the studio pulled the plug and then relit the project. My gut feeling is that this screwed the process up.

They didn't relight it -- he turned it into a comic book, and then couldn't get it out of his head and move on to another movie, so he re-wrote it on a much smaller scale and made it as an indie.

There's a fantastic article in Wired on the film's tortured production history -- it should be available on their website.

I loved it, though it's a little silly at times. I never found it incoherent, though -- I thought it made perfect sense.

I also appreciated that it told its story in only an hour and a half. Had it been three hours long it would have been miserable.

#8 of 70 OFFLINE   Bryant Trew

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Posted May 12 2007 - 02:56 AM

Quote:
They didn't relight it -- he turned it into a comic book, and then couldn't get it out of his head and move on to another movie, so he re-wrote it on a much smaller scale and made it as an indie.

What a tragedy.
Matrix Reloaded isn't deep at all. It's a simple, rehashed concept dressed up in fancy words and designer outfits...

Real World: "I'm hungry as hell, so I'm going to run my ass down to Micky D's to get me a burger and fries."

Matrix 2: "I need sustenance, ergo, move I shall expeditiously...

#9 of 70 OFFLINE   Aaron Reynolds

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Posted May 12 2007 - 09:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryant Trew
What a tragedy.

Well, I don't know that it is one -- my impression from the Wired article was that he had kind of an epiphany, that he hadn't needed to rely on a studio for Pi or for Requiem For A Dream, so why should he rely on them now and tolerate their interference? He also seemed frustrated with Brad Pitt, who started off loving the script and then at the last minute wanted a number of changes that ultimately torpedoed the first production. (And pardon me if my recollections are off -- I read the article back when the film came out, which was at least five months ago.)

Sure, it would have been something else to see a massive Conquistador battle and a gigantic pyramid, but overall I don't think that the film suffers from the battle only involving a dozen men or the pyramid only being seen at night and mostly in close-up shots. Then again, I haven't read the comic to see what the original vision was for the changed sequences.

I do think that being forced to rethink the effects has radically improved the film -- where before there was a multimillion dollar digital effects budget, in the finished film most of the effects were created in the real world with old-fashioned or downright weird techniques, and the effect on a big screen was absolutely stupendous. The meteor shower that is actually super close-up photography of spices suspended in water with the microscope lens being pushed towards them is breathtaking and beautiful and absolutely different from anything I've ever seen on a big screen. (There is digital work, but the images were almost entirely created out here in the analog realm and then overlaid onto each other digitally.)

I wonder what I would think of a studio financed The Fountain, starring and produced by Brad Pitt and chock full of spectacular, state-of-the-art digital effects. I'll never know, because it never got made. But I know that I love the independently financed one starring Hugh Jackman with crazy microphotography special effects. For me, there's no tragedy here because the resulting film was one of the best movies I've seen in the last ten years.

edit: and I completely agree with your sig about The Matrix Reloaded. Posted Image

#10 of 70 OFFLINE   Chuck Mayer

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Posted May 12 2007 - 10:16 AM

I completely disagree with your sig about TMR (discussed at length in the proper threads), but I'm not surprised at your reaction to The Fountain.

I found it remarkably coherent for a 96 minute film with a scope as large as humanly possible. My #1 film of 2006.
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#11 of 70 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted May 12 2007 - 10:21 AM

It does not really qualify as an independent film since he made the movie for Warner Brothers with their money.

It was a significantly smaller budget than the original conception, and they presumably gave him a longer leash than if he had been working with a larger budget. Besides scaling back the concept, part of the $40 million reduction came from Jackman and Weisz agreeing to work for substantially less than their normal asking fee, which was a lot less than Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were originally slated to make.

Regards,
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#12 of 70 OFFLINE   BarryS

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Posted May 12 2007 - 12:03 PM

Quote:
But I know that I love the independently financed one starring Hugh Jackman with crazy microphotography special effects. For me, there's no tragedy here because the resulting film was one of the best movies I've seen in the last ten years.

Yes, I think the film benefits from being smaller-scale and lower budget. Aronofsky was forced to be creative rather than make another CGI-bloated effects movie.

#13 of 70 ONLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted May 12 2007 - 03:43 PM

This was one of the few films I saw twice theatrically, which made me appreciate it more on the subsequent viewing. I look forward to owning the HD DVD, too bad the price gets bumped due to it being a dual HD/SD disc. The Fountain review thread by HTFers late last year.
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#14 of 70 OFFLINE   Aaron Reynolds

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Posted May 13 2007 - 04:01 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken_McAlinden
It does not really qualify as an independent film since he made the movie for Warner Brothers with their money.

I don't fully know the specifics of what went down in the end regarding rights, but I do know that he had to make the film with Warner because they still owned the property. Plus, the majority of the reported budget was actually spent on pre-production on the unmade original version -- more was spent on that then what was spent on the second version of the film.

In the Wired interview, they say the effect budget was something like $150,000!

#15 of 70 OFFLINE   Bryant Trew

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Posted May 13 2007 - 04:50 AM

Quote:
I completely disagree with your sig about TMR (discussed at length in the proper threads), but I'm not surprised at your reaction to The Fountain.

I swear, it just cracks me up how Matrix fans are compelled to insult anyone who believes that the 2nd and 3rd films were complete trash. I actually enjoyed the Fountain despite the fact that it is by far DA's worst film. Unlike Matrix 2 and 3, I still see this as very worthy art, and I actually don't feel the need to understand it. It was a good experience, and I'll probably still buy it on HD. It was beautiful, well acted and had great feeling. The Matrix 2 and 3 simply were sequels gone mad and bad. Proof positive that a big sfx budget does not an intelligent film make. You won't find me obsessing over how many jewels were in the Queen's scepter, or whether or not there was a budhist monk standing in the shadow of the tree of life. Sometimes incoherence can be a good thing, and in others it is just a plain disaster.
Matrix Reloaded isn't deep at all. It's a simple, rehashed concept dressed up in fancy words and designer outfits...

Real World: "I'm hungry as hell, so I'm going to run my ass down to Micky D's to get me a burger and fries."

Matrix 2: "I need sustenance, ergo, move I shall expeditiously...

#16 of 70 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted May 13 2007 - 06:02 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Reynolds
I don't fully know the specifics of what went down in the end regarding rights, but I do know that he had to make the film with Warner because they still owned the property. Plus, the majority of the reported budget was actually spent on pre-production on the unmade original version -- more was spent on that then what was spent on the second version of the film.
Not quite true. A reported $10 million of the budgeted $75 million was spent when the original was shut down. $35 million was subsequently spent on the actually produced version, not counting marketing. My point was simply that while the film as produced and released was modestly budgeted, it was still made with the money of a major studio.

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#17 of 70 OFFLINE   Chuck Mayer

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Posted May 13 2007 - 09:16 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryant Trew
I swear, it just cracks me up how Matrix fans are compelled to insult anyone who believes that the 2nd and 3rd films were complete trash.

...

You won't find me obsessing over how many jewels were in the Queen's scepter, or whether or not there was a budhist monk standing in the shadow of the tree of life. Sometimes incoherence can be a good thing, and in others it is just a plain disaster.

Not anyone, Bryant. I make a special dispensation to take a dig at you.

...

And not a soul among us discussed such trivialities in The Fountain discussion thread. That was hardly a point of contention.
Hey buddy...did you just see a real bright light?

#18 of 70 OFFLINE   Bill GrandPre

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Posted May 15 2007 - 12:44 PM

I've had two copies freeze up at the same spot.

It's about 10 seconds into chapter 5, it stutters and skips and freezes. I returned the first copy that did it and got a second one and it does it again.

That's usually a sign that it's the player that's doing it but upon having the second copy do it I tried it in another player and it skipped at the same point.
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#19 of 70 OFFLINE   Michael:M

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Posted May 15 2007 - 02:36 PM

I'm with Chuck on TMR and The Fountain. Best film of '06.

Saw a note on IMDB that the film had been "re-edited" to be PG-13; wasn't it R when theatrically released? Anyone know what changes were made?

I just watched the extras on the disc. Some neat nuggets to be gleaned from a lot of handheld personal camcorder footage. I wish the film had done better, because it really deserves a full BTS treatment.

Funny little bit: filming a scene where Jackman's conquistador gives a dramatic line, then whirls and leaves the scene...Aranofsky says something along the lines of,"Just like Batman. Who says I didn't film Batman?" Posted Image

For those who have not seen this film...watch it. It's a beautiful, moving, profoundly simple and simply profound story. It has a very basic theme or point, but is lovingly and wonderfully dressed in thematic and visual layers.
"Life began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between." - Diane Ackerman

#20 of 70 OFFLINE   Aaron Reynolds

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Posted May 15 2007 - 04:56 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael:M
Saw a note on IMDB that the film had been "re-edited" to be PG-13; wasn't it R when theatrically released? Anyone know what changes were made?

Maybe the imdb page has been changed since you saw it -- what it says now is
Quote:
Originally Posted by IMDB
The MPAA originally rated this film R. It was reduced to PG-13 on appeal.

...which means that they didn't recut the film, they appealed the ruling and the MPAA backed down and agreed to a PG-13 without any changes. Steven Speilberg successfully appealed the R ratings for Jaws and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (and Gremlins? Don't remember for sure) back in the pre-PG-13 days and they were reduced to PG without cuts to the films.


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