Taking a Look Back at the Films of Darren Aronofsky on His 45th Birthday

Darren Aronofsky once said, “I’m Godless. I’ve had to make my God, and my God is narrative filmmaking.” And in the church of cinema, for many, the 45-year-old director ranks high on the list of worship. As one of the most psychologically enticing and visually minded filmmakers working today, he creates haunting worlds full of desperate and passionate characters clinging to intangible ideals. As intelligent as he is artistic, Aronofsky’s films come alive through his wonderful knowledge of how to tell a story through dialogue and images, but also characterized by the his ear for music and the help of composer Clint Mansell.

And as today marks the 45th birthday of Aronofsky and his famous petit mustache, let’s take a look back on some of his best work with behind-the-scenes clips and favorites from his amazing soundtracks.

Behind the Scenes: Requiem for a Dream

Aronofsky’s nerve-wracking and chilling sophomore feature about the mutual existence of addiction and psychosis and how love crumbs in its wake. Brilliantly directed, shot, edited, acted, and scored, the film takes us through four leading characters as they fall prey to delusion and reckless desperation. With music that feeds its way through your veins, there are few films who possess such cohesion of sight and sound. Ellen Burstyn was nominated for an Academy Award for her frightening performance as a amphetamine-addicted, lonely older women who becomes obsessed with the idea of appearing on a daytime talk show.

Soundtrack: Requiem for a Dream

Behind the Scenes: Black Swan

Aronofsky’s beautifully dark and sensual psycho-erotic horror thriller. Revolving around a production of Techaikovsky’s Swan Lake, the haunting doppleganger tale is told through a ballet dancer who loses her mind after gaining the lead role of the delicate White Swan. Aronfsky saw the film as a companion to The Wrestler, both surrounding demanding physical performances in various forms of art.  The film won Natalie Portman a Golden Globe and Academy Award with nominations for Best Director, Editing, Cinematography, and Best Picture.

Soundtrack: Black Swan

Behind the Scenes: The Wrestler

Aronofsky’s gritty and painful film of desperation and redemption. A deeply moving portrait of a man at his last end, the film tells the story of an aging wrestler attempting to cling to his past success and failing health while trying to mend a stain relationship with his daughter. Mickey Rourke took home a Golden Globe for his immersive performance as did Bruce Springsteen for his heartbreaking original song.

Soundtrack: The Wrestler

Behind the Scenes: The Fountain

Aronofsky’s romantic fantasy drama that serves as an amalgam of history, religion, and science fiction. Compromising of three story lines, we see the actors play different sets of characters entwined in themes of love and mortality. The visually stunning and hallucinatory film that spans over a thousand years won Clint Mansell a Golden Globe nomination for his stunning and encompassing score.

Soundtrack: The Fountain

Soundtrack: Pi

Aronofsky’s surrealist debut feature, the psychological black and white thriller first introduced him to audiences as visual and narrative force. Centering around a man whose obsessive pursuit of an idea leads him into a spiral of self-destructive behavior, paranoia carries the film as he searches for a key number that will unlock the universal patterns found in nature. The film won Aronofsky a Gotham, Independent Spirit, and Sundance award.

Mickey Rourke Takes Back ‘Passion Play’ Comments, But Is He Wrong?

Congratulations to the folks at Vulture, who lucked upon a crabby Mickey Rourke at a recent party for Scream 4, where the actor called his new film, Passion Play, “terrible” and questioned the talents of his costar, Megan Fox. The comments caused such a stir that Rourke was forced to reach out to Vulture and apologize, a rare feat indeed. Don’t forget that Rourke’s career went dark after the actor refused to play the Hollywood game (rule number one: don’t say what’s really on your mind), and now that he’s enjoying his second chance, he’s trying hard not to muck it up. Anyway, Passion Play already screened at Toronto, and Mickey Rourke isn’t the only one who thinks it sucks.

Rope of Silicon: “I have no idea why this film was ever made…Passion Play is a bunch of silliness that plays out for 91 minutes and then disappears never to be heard from again.”

JoBlo: “Frankly, the best thing for everyone involved with PASSION PLAY would be for this film to never see the light of day. They should accept the loss and burn the negative, as there’s no way this will be even remotely successful if and when it comes out. It’s just such a disastrously bad film that the only way it can possibly work is as an unintentional comedy.”

The Hollywood Reporter: “If the degree of laughter at the wrong moments and the number of walkouts at the Toronto International Film Festival are any indication, the film will appeal only to the most fondly indulgent.”

The Playlist: “Sophomoric, pedestrian and hokey beyond words, Mitch Glazer’s excruciating romantic fairytale “Passion Play” is a cliche-riddled, risible and utterly painful experience that boasts hallmark sentiments and TV movie-of-the-week sensibilities mixed in a disastrous attempt to make a love story about unearned redemption.”

So to answer the question posed in the title of this post: Nope.

Afternoon Links: Catherine Zeta Jones Seeks Mental Help. Coachella Set Times Announced

● Catherine Zeta-Jones has entered a mental clinic for Bipolar disorder. Finally, someone who can admit it! [People] ● Mickey Rourke has gone on record saying his new movie with Megan Fox is “terrible.” Mikey Rourke has also gone on record saying “water is liquid.” [Vulture] ● Kobe Bryant: Fierce competitor or raging homophobe? The Lakers star has sort of apologized for hurling an anti-gay slur at a referee last night. [TMZ]

● The Coachella set times are here, and all we have to say is, Poor you, bands who have to play the same time as Kanye. [Coachella] ● Bret Easton Ellis took to his Twitter to compare Glee to a “puddle of HIV.” Apology coming in 5… 4… 3… 2… [Bret Easton Ellis/Twitter] ● Seann William Scott is out of rehab, which finally answers the question that’s been keeping us up at night: “When is Seann William Scott getting out of rehab?” [US]

A Look Back at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival

Another year of The Toronto International Film Festival has wrapped, and gone with it are the extended 4 am last calls (Toronto’s last call normally arrives at cruel 2 a.m.), celebrities, and the unique energy that is bestowed upon the city which Steve Martin once referred to on 30 Rock as being “just like New York but without all the stuff.”

The pre-festival buzz this year was how the new TIFF headquarters, the Bell Lightbox, located farther south in the entertainment district, was going to steal the thunder from the usually chicer hub further uptown known as Yorkville. As the festival kicked off, everyone quickly learned of more parties happening downtown, closer to the King West strip, but it didn’t stop fans from stalking out the usual celeb-stacked hotels like the Four Seasons up in Yorkville.

Just north of the main Yorkville strip, a condo showroom for PEARS on the Avenue was taken over for five days to serve as TORO After Dark, a late-night lounge for VIP and celebrities. The space hosted a number of events including a preview exhibition of RED, The New York Times Canadian photo archive as curated by Caitlin Cronenberg (daughter of director David). “I was trying to pick images that are what Canadians are all about, interesting stories and cool artistic visions. That’s sort of our thing and people don’t necessarily think of that immediately when they think of Canada. I wanted to make sure the pictures were really interesting and that they had a story behind them and our country is more than they think we are,” Cronenberg explained.

The same space hosted the Artists for Peace and Justice Fundraiser hosted by Paul Haggis, Maria Bello, James Franco and AnnaLynne McCord, to assist children through education in Haiti. One of the moving moments of the evening was when McCord made her appeal to potential donors in the room by recalling her trip to Haiti, and choked up as she described when she “saw a girl licking a puddle for water.”

On a night which had no particular scheduled programming at TORO After Dark, Paul Haggis and Josh Brolin stopped by for a low-key drink, and were joined by Javier Bardem shortly after, in a space that had less than 40 guests.

At the swanky Hazelton hotel, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) held it’s bash for their late show host, George Stroumboulopoulos, where Chromeo and Rory Them Finest DJ-ed throughout the night.

Down on the King West strip, Brassaii was transformed to the YouTube Lounge and hosted private parties for Zach Galifianakis’ It’s Kind of a Funny Story which also featured an amazing ice cream sundae bar, and Emma Roberts was spotted on some steps wearing a furry white jacket.

As fun as the parties are, many stars make the obligatory appearance for only a few minutes. More pre and post film dinners with casts, crews and VIPs in intimate settings have emerged. Giorgio Armani Cosmetics hosted an exclusive 10th anniversary dinner with Sam Worthington and Eva Mendes during the film festival at the Nikki Beach pop-up at C Lounge, where Reza Zaimeche, International Face Designer for Giorgio Armani Cosmetics, unveiled their latest ad campaign featuring Megan Fox. In between courses, Mendes spotted jewelry designer Shay Lowe wearing one of her signature creations, and was seen exiting the dinner carrying the statement necklace, fresh off Lowe’s neck.

Mendes isn’t the only one who made off with a sparkly gift. TIFF has not quite reached the same level of swag as Sundance, but celebrities and talent are still inundated with freebies.

The CBC hosted a Made In Canada Lounge where celebrities including Will Farrell, Ryan Phillippe and Zach Galifianakis stopped by to check out items from Canadian brands including the Hudson’s Bay Company, Roots, Canada Goose and Red Canoe, before taping a segment for George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. Snacks scattered throughout the lounge were mainly items that can’t be found outside of Canada, such as Lay’s Ketchup Chips, Caesars (like a Bloody Mary but with Clamato) and red velvet whoopie pies by Bobbette & Belle.

Spotted at the IT Lounge was Paul Haggis picking up a Kobo eReader, Martin Sheen picking up a few Baker Street Pecan Pie Cheesecakes, and Catherine Deneuve checking out Goody hair accessories.

Over at the Fresh Goods Tastemakers Lounge, Charlotte Rampling picked up a leather coin purse from Jessica Jensen, while Abigail Breslin picked up a pair of foldable flats from Damn Heels. Breslin, Colin Firth, Ed Norton, Freida Pinto and Jay Baruchel all autographed Mattel board games to be auctioned off until October 1st in support of the SickKids Foundation.

Mickey Rourke Does His Best Kiefer Sutherland in New Commerical

While Mickey Rourke’s new commercial for the Dutch, alcohol-free beer Bavaria makes for a highly enjoyable fifty six seconds, we can’t help but think it was, or it least could have been, written for the only other man on the planet who would be as, if not more appropriate for a spot like this. Sadly, Kiefer Sutherland must have been wrapping 24 that night. After all, it’s Sutherland who’s known to partake in booze-induced calamities whilst overseas. See such classics as diving into a hotel lobby Christmas tree in London, or the more recent getting tossed from a strip club in London. We know Rourke has the reputation of a rule-breaking badass, but really, the whole thing feels more like a persona than the real deal.

Links: D’Angelo’s Botched Blow Job; Scientology Remains Terrifying, “Kafkaesque”

● Washed up soul singer and one-time walking six pack D’Angelo was driving around with $12,000 in his car before getting arrested for soliciting oral sex from an undercover cop. Where did D’Angelo get $12,000? [Daily Swarm] ● If a Joel Madden DJs the Oscars and no one is around to hear it, is Nicole Richie still famous? [People] ● Even the Oscars had a “Kanye moment” — and no, James Cameron did not make one of the best films of all-time… “of all-time!” [Salon]

● Inside Scientology things aren’t all Tom Cruise and John Travolta and Will Smith and Beck bro love parties. It’s far more “Kafkaesque.” [NYT] ● A word to the wise: If you’re getting your butt “enhanced” with injections, use a trained professional or you’ll end up looking like J.Lo today, instead of Jenny from the Block. [NYP] ● No one should miss this news: Mickey Rourke claims to have slept with 14 women in one night, with no mention of money or a film crew. [Page Six]

Links: Linda Hamilton Flips on James Cameron; Mickey Rourke Flips for Megan Fox

● Joe Simpson is developing a sitcom for Nickelodeon based on his experiences as a career-driven Svengali who masterminds the rise of his two untalented daughters as a psychologist raising two daughters. [Us Weekly] ● James Cameron’s other ex, Linda Hamilton—aka Sarah Connor—lays into the king of the world. [Daily Mail] ● New Meme: Snooki crashing your vacation, Avatar, 90210 and every place else. [Urlesque, Urlesque]

● Mickey Rourke says Megan Fox is “probably the best young actress I’ve ever worked with,” proving, once again, he’s not all that credible.[EW] ● Blurring the line between fact and fiction, Mad Men’s Bryan Batt, who played the closeted, art director Sal, will be creating a custom love-seat for Playboy. [Vulture] ● The Feds are selling jewelry Anne Hathaway received from her con-man ex boyfriend, including “two Rolex watches, a five-strand, pearl-beaded necklace, two rings and a Louis Vuitton box.” [NYPost]

Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox and 7 Other Pairs We Never Want to See Have Sex

Supposedly there was a time when Mickey Rourke was desirable to women. It was allegedly the mid-1980s and he was a budding star, constantly depicting bad boy bruisers in films like 9½ Weeks, Angel Heart and The Pope of Greenwich Village. He ended up ruining the whole heartthrob thing with a mix of booze and boxing, and now, between the leathery skin, sloppy pimp outfits and ratty highlighted hair, he’s a hearty combo of creepy and gross. (He also called his dead chihuahua the love of his life.) All of which makes news that he’ll play opposite the uncomfortably sexual lip-licker Megan Fox in a new film all the more unsettling.

Passion Play stars Rourke as a beleaguered jazz trumpeter and Fox as a sideshow carnival beauty who he takes a liking to. The movie title has the word “passion” in it and we all know what that means, or at least our gag reflexes do. Bill Murray plays a gangster hoping to sunder the pair’s romance, and though he’s cast as the villain, his cause seems just for the good of humanity and our poor eyes. After all, can you imagine any two actors you’d like to watch in a sex scene less than Mickey Rourke and Megan Fox? Actually, come to think of it, we can name seven…

Nic Cage and Julia Roberts image While it is possible that Nic Cage is a super self-aware lunatic genius, immersed as deeply in his campy disasters (The Wicker Man, Knowing) as in his campy victories (Adaptation, Bad Lieutenant), he still has an eerie aura. His wry grin and menacing teeth make up the mouth of a demon and seeing him suck face with the juicy lips of America’s most annoying sweetheart Julia Roberts sounds like a scene from the first circle of hell.

Clint Eastwood and Sophia Loren image Let’s be serious: old sex is gross sex, almost always — and these two have the skin of desert iguanas. Or worn baseball mitts. Credit where credit is due, though; they’ve both stuck around in a respectable way like few of their peers and Loren even managed to stay hot through a lot of it. But now they’re gruffer than comely and despite their seemingly eternal presence at award shows, there’s nothing that could make friction between this duo of tired baggy flesh appealing.

Jeremy Piven and Tina Fey image It’s not that they’re unattractive. Piven is diminutive but has a certain swagger — just ask January Jones — and everyone with a functional IQ has a crush on Tina Fey (especially other women!), but could there be a more obnoxious pair? Would they ever shut up? There’s no turnoff like a bigmouth in bed — two is sexy like Susan Boyle.

Val Kilmer and Mo’Nique image Kilmer, like Rourke, had a rebellious charm back in the day — a rugged cockiness and an enigmatic persona, too. But eventually mysterious becomes bizarre and the magic becomes madness. Oh, and he became more bloated than Luke Wilson in those AT&T commercials. Mo’Nique, meanwhile, wrecked any semblance of sex appeal she had in her brutal Golden Globe winning performance in Precious. Upon contact with Kilmer, the universe might melt.

Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates image Remember when Kathy Bates bared her breasts in About Schmidt? Yeah, we tried repress that memory, too, but just admit what you saw. Then imagine they did the deed on screen. Now stop crying.

Paul Giamatti and Tilda Swinton image Talented actors, to be sure! But they just look so strange. If movie-style alien ambassadors ever landed in Los Angeles, and we didn’t want to startle them with our distinct humanness, we’d do well to send Giamatti and Swinton to greet their native people. Imagine them touching each other. No? Didn’t think so.

Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg image It’s about time for another headline-making gay movie romance, all these years after Jake and Heath in Brokeback Mountain. But the reigning princes of pubescent self-doubt and un-sexy stammering should never meet in the bedroom. Eisenberg was passable at undressing Mopey McMopeface in Adventureland and the virtues of the Michael Cera sex scene has been analyzed at length. But if they ever touched each other, the world’s men might go permanently limp in unison.

5 Pop Cultural Predictions for 2010

Megan Fox and Mickey Rourke Will “Date”: Sorry Brian Austin Green, but part of the perils of dating Hollywood’s blowup doll du jour is accepting that each of her roles brings with it the possibility of hooking up with a costar that is more successful (i.e. more desirable) than yourself. See: Mickey Rourke. The two “rebels” are currently in pre-production on Passion Play, their film where Fox plays an angel who is saved by a broken down piece of trumpet-playing meat (Rourke). Like her (and everyone’s) role model Angelina Jolie, Fox has been linked to costars before, namely Shia Labeouf, and everyone remembers Rourke’s non-romance with his much younger costar from The Wrestler, Evan Rachel Wood. Expect the “just friends” label brandied about at premieres and junkets, but in Mickey’s mind, the two of them were already banging the second he saw her dressed up as a giant raisin on that rerun of Hope & Faith.

Nicolas Cage Will Become the Poster Boy for Movies About Witchcraft and Revenge: Things Nicolas Cage is already the poster boy for: awkward hair , nepotism, and buying things. But despite these pitfalls, Cage remains deeply employable. In 2010, Nicolas Cage will star in Season of the Witch and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, movies that will either involve him being a witch or trying to kill one. He’ll also star in The Hungry Rabbit Jumps and Drive Angry, movies that will either involve him seeking revenge for the death of his wife or the death of his daughter. We’d chalk this up to coincidence, but since Nicolas Cage acts in more movies than we see, it’s strictly a numbers game.

Tiger Woods Will Redeem Himself on the Late Show with David Letterman: Many are saying that Tiger Woods missed his chance of claiming his sex scandal as his own, meaning it now belongs to the press, and that an interview at this point would be useless. Not so. There is still one couch which can provide salvation, and it resides inside the Ed Sullivan Theater. Tiger’s last appearance on the Late Show was in 2009 during the NBA finals, and he needs to make a return appearance asap. Since the scandal erupted, Letterman has been forced to dredge up his own infidelities so that he can poke fun at Tiger, and the result has been personal, self-deprecating humor that no other late night host can match. Like Hugh Grant did in 1995, Tiger can come clean in front of the country with a fellow philanderer — someone who knows exactly what he’s going through. The result would be nothing short of television history.

Christian Bale Will Win His First Oscar: Technically, this victory will come in 2011, but The Fighter comes out next year, so we’re including it. If you’ve seen the disturbing photos, you’ll know that not since The Machinist has Bale traveled so far down the method spiral. He’s once again shed massive amounts of weight and muscle, and now even his hair is thinning for the role Dickie Eklund, a drug addicted boxing trainer. Directed by David O. Russell, the film costars Oscar nominees Amy Adams and Mark Wahlberg. Following this performance he’ll join them, finally shedding the title as Greatest Actor Never to be Nominated.

Padma Lakshmi Will Give Birth: The Top Chef host, who’s been pregnant for a couple of months now, will most likely give birth sometime in the new year. Call it a hunch.