Oh “mother!” Darren Aronofsky’s Lurid Fever Dream

Darren Aronofsky’s first film since 2014’s Noah is, to put it simply, a lot. That’s certainly saying something; this is the director of Requiem for A Dream and Black Swan after all. But mother! makes those films feel like an warm up in a much larger exercise in psychological terror. The marketing campaign for mother! has revolved around keeping direct details about the film’s plot shrouded in secrecy. As the film has played at various film festivals, Aronofsky has moderated Q&A’s and screenings, hyping up the movie’s disturbing and polarizing nature. 

“Sorry for what I’m about to do,” he said on the stage at the Toronto Film Festival, going on to describe the film as “an assault” and “a cruise missile shooting into a wall.” “At the film’s premiere, he told reporters that, “You’re all really going to hate me in about an hour and a half.” 

There’s something to be said about a director wearing the negative press about his film like a badge of honor (Cinemascore revealed yesterday that audience members gave the film a rare F grade). In the case of mother! and Aronofsky, it only adds to my frustrations about the film. As I said, mother! is certainly a lot, and I did find my mouth hanging wide open during some moments, including the ludicrous climax, but not for the reasons the director/writer may have been hoping.

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Give Nicole Kidman A Goddamn Emmy

The 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards are next Sunday, and the category on everyone’s minds is undoubtedly the tightest race: Outstanding Lead Actress in Limited Series or Movie.

This is perhaps the most star studded category at the Emmy’s in recent memory. To give some context on just how stacked this category is, not even Oprah could get in for her acclaimed performance in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (even though the film itself was recognized with a nomination). Instead, Emmy voters decided to recognize both of the leads from Feud: Bette and Joan and Big Little Lies, along with Carrie Coon from Fargo (a sort of makeup for not finding room for her over in the Drama Actress category where she really belonged?) and mainstay Felicity Huffman from American Crime. But once you get past the star power, there is only one true winner here, and that is Kidman.

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All the Colors of Kesha’s Beautiful “Rainbow”

“I got too many people / I got left to prove wrong,” Kesha sings softly on “Bastards,” the first track on her third studio album Rainbow. With just a guitar and a beautiful, raw vocal performance, Kesha lays the album’s mission statement bare in the LP’s opening moments. 

“Been underestimated / My entire life,” she continues in the second verse before declaring “They won’t break my spirit / I won’t let ’em win,” encouraging listeners not to “let the bastards get you down.” It’s a simple message, but one that carries the weight of the world within the story of Kesha Rose Sebert. After languishing in a grim legal battle for the last several years with former producer and mentor Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, who according to the singer/songwriter also sexually and emotionally abused her throughout her career, Rainbow is more than just a comeback album, it’s a musical and personal rebirth. 

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“Praying:” The Magnitude of Kesha’s Return

When Kesha Rose Sebert exploded onto the music scene in 2009, she was something of a wild card. Armed with nothing but the ironic dollar sign in her name (which she has since dropped) and a bunch of glitter, she took the industry by storm. Her inescapable debut single “TiK ToK” would go on to become the second best-selling song of all time and with several successful follow-up singles and a multiplatinum #1 album, she was thrusted into the upper echelon along with Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Katy Perry. By comparison, her image and brand was much less polished; she sang about brushing her teeth with a bottle of jack, and in an interview she casually recounted a time when her vagina was haunted by a ghost. She was a breath of fresh air.

While her party girl aesthetic was hardly new to the world of pop, she sold it in a way that was uniquely her own. She had a deep connection with her fans, affectionately called “animals,” and wrote “We R Who We R” at a time when suicides within the LGBTQ community were making headlines left and right. When she said her mission was to make people just have fun on her short lived reality show, “My Crazy Beautiful Life,” you really believed it. Here was a woman who genuinely wanted to brighten the world with her creativity, and show people that being their true selves was something to be celebrated. But while the party was raging on through the release of her EP Cannibal and follow up album Warrior, something was brewing beneath the surface. Everyone else seemed to be loving the party, except the person that mattered the most: Kesha. 

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“Melodrama:” Lorde’s Stunning Second Chapter

It’s been four, long years since we last heard from Ella Yelich-O’Connor, otherwise known as Lorde, the brilliant singer-songwriter-producer from New Zealand who took over the world with her debut single when she was just 16 years old. So, what has she been up to since you ask? Well according to Melodrama, her second album released yesterday, she’s been partying, but not having all that much fun. 

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Katy Perry’s “Witness” isn’t Bad, But Not All That Good Either

2017 is just not Katy Perry’s year. 

What was expected to be the pop star’s grand return to usher in an era of “purposeful pop” has been a slow motion train wreck, filled with cringeworthy performances and soundbites, bookended with disappointing music. Pair that with a barrage of negative press, and Perry’s fifth studio album, Witness, was starting to look like this year’s ARTPOP, a.k.a. her fall from the top. 

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“Alien: Covenant” Review: In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream

It’s been several years since Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, a film that deserved more critical praise than it received upon arrival.  Marketed as an attempt to lay the groundwork for what would ultimately become the prequel series to the wildly successful Alien and Aliens, Scott’s return to the series he created and then abandoned delivered a story that was not as concerned with its predecessors as some would have liked; rather than jump right into telling the story of how the xenomorphs came to be, he began laying the groundwork for something else entirely. Pivoting away from the horror and action themes that made the original films so popular, Prometheus instead delved into mythology and the origins of humanity, asking and raising many more questions than it answered by the time the credits began rolling. Some were swept away by the tense music, haunting visuals and attempt to breathe back life into an otherwise dead series. Others found themselves disappointed and angered by the gaps left unfilled and questions left unanswered. 

Enter Alien: Covenant, a film that manages to find a happy medium between the grand themes of Prometheus and the outright horror of Alien. Where its predecessor made constant strides to distinguish itself from its source material, Covenant attempts to build a bridge to connect the two, laying the groundwork for Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley to go head to head with the Queen Alien many years later. 

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“Woodshock” Starring Kirsten Dunst Looks Batsh*t Crazy

Kirsten Dunst is one of the most criminally underrated actresses working in Hollywood today. 

Whenever I say that to anyone, their first reaction is to mention Spiderman. As the most high-profile and financially successful project of the actress’ career it’s easy to see why people would start there. But take one look at Dunst’s resumé and you’ll see a career full of eclectic projects; from her incendiary debut in Interview With the Vampire, to the little seen gem The Cat’s Meow all the way to season two of FX’s Fargo (for which the actress was Emmy nominated), she’s always brought her A-game. Her latest film, Woodshock, looks like her most batshit crazy effort yet, and I mean that in the best way possible. 

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Anne Hathaway is Back and Better Than Ever in “Colossal”

If you’re anything like me, you might have been wondering “Where in the world has Anne Hathaway been?” for the last couple of years. 

After the one two punch of her Oscar-winning work in Les Miserables and The Dark Knight Rises, Hathaway took a step into the background. That may have had something to do with the unfair, sexist press coverage she received during the 2012-2013 awards season. It may have also had something to do with her personal life; she got married shortly before she began the press junket for Les Miserables and had a baby a few years later. She was still acting of course; she had a cameo in Don Jon, reprised her voice-over role in Rio 2, starred alongside Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar, headlined The Intern alongside Robert DeNiro and even popped up in the ill-fated Alice Through The Looking Glass. But there was a stark contrast between Hathaway before she won an Oscar, and after. 

Where Hathaway’s post-Oscar roles weren’t exactly the worst roles the actress could have taken, they did little to showcase the full range of her capabilities. But in director/writer Nacho Vigalondo’s black comedy Colossal, Hathaway has found a role that superbly showcases the best of her abilities as a performer. 

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