I think it’s safe to say that Darren Aronofsky is one of my favorite working filmmakers. I truly believe he’s getting better with every film, more confident, more limber as an artist. With his new film, “Black Swan,” he’s made a bold and original movie that will launch him to a new level of respect, a film that transcends genre, and I knew that when we sat down to talk, I wanted more than the typical five minutes you get at a junket.
The result is this expansive, relaxed conversation that took place at the W Hotel a few weekends ago. You’ll see another one a little later in the week with Natalie Portman, but we wanted to kick the week off with Aronofsky himself.
I think “Pi” is a great debut film. It’s brash, it’s edgy, it’s cheap, it has a voice, and it’s hard to pin down. Basically, Aronofsky announced from the start that he didn’t plan to chase the big obvious down-the-middle career, and his follow-up film “Requiem For A Dream” was a throw-down. It’s one of the few films I’ve ever seen that I heartily recommend for any serious film fan, but which I will never watch again. It’s just too much to take. It’s overwhelming. I found my one theatrical viewing of the film to be a punishment almost beyond what I could take. It’s incredibly skillful, and it made me reassess him.
I spent a lot of time and energy writing about “The Fountain” during its long and winding road to the screen, and I really love the finished film. It feels to me like something Aronofsky had to say, had to make, had to accomplish, and every choice he made on that film and every lesson he learned from his own experience and from the reactions to it were part of the energy that drove his next film, “The Wrestler.” I picked that as my favorite film of 2008 in one of my first articles here at HitFix, and I love that it’s the first of Aronofsky’s films that invited a revisit. I wanted to spend time with Rourke in that film again.
That seemed like a turning point for the filmmaker, and with “Black Swan,” he’s made another exponential jump, telling a difficult story in a difficult way but making it tactile, personal, enveloping. I’ve heard and read and made comparison to “Suspiria” and “The Tenant” and “The Fly” and “The Red Shoes” and Dostoevsky and “Fight Club,” and I think it’s fine to offer up some shorthand, but the truth is, he’s made something that is uniquely his, and it’s exciting to get a guy to sit down to discuss a film like this at the moment it’s coming out. I think time is going to be kind to “Black Swan,” and this is going to be a film we return to and discuss and digest and share.
Hopefully you can enjoy this without us spoiling the film for you. I think we manage to talk around story points in such a way that it is an inclusive interview, one that will simply offer you more context when you do see the movie. And if you’ve seen it already, I think Aronofsky speaks eloquently to both the process and intent of the picture.
He also spends some time talking about “The Wolverine,” but I know none of you are interested in comics, so it’s hardly worth mentioning. Ahem.
“Black Swan” opens December 3 in limited release, and should continue rolling out into the New Year.