8:00 PM, 5th August, 2001
Director Darren Aronofsky's adaptation of a novel by Hubert Selby Jr. (Last Exit to Brooklyn) represents a natural progression from his debut feature, Pi. Both films offer us haunted protagonists who single-mindedly pursue their obsessions until they're on the brink of madness. Whereas Pi was an intellectual riddle about a genius attempting to determine God's identity mathematically, Requiem is concerned with a deeper human tragedy. Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) is an aimless druggie who, when not hooking up with his aspiring designer girlfriend, Marion (Jennifer Connelly), frequently pawns his mum's TV with the help of pal Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) to score dope. His mother, Sara (Ellen Burstyn), widowed and overweight, gets her only exercise from begrudgingly wheeling the set back home so she can watch her favourite game show. They're all stuck on the same dead-end street until a sudden streak of luck befalls them. Sara is picked to go on TV, and Harry's drug dealing career takes off. But these triumphs merely set the table for impending disaster.
This film is a dazzling multi-media assault, a tale of degradation and shattered lives that will make you feel as though you need a brain enema to cleanse your memory of its most disturbing images. Aronofsky's singularly inventive visual style, combined with one of the year's most chillingly evocative scores by Clint Mansell and the Kronos Quartet, dares you not to look away, lest you miss something potentially extraordinary. Requiem for a Dream is arresting, compelling and frequently flat-out horrifying.
9:41 PM, 5th August, 2001
Well, okay, it's not really a porn film. In fact, the only pornographic thing about it is the title. And even that sounds classy in French - Une Liaison Pornographique. But don't let the proper acting and lack of flesh put you off this film - it's really good.
A woman (Nathalie Baye) finds herself single and takes the opportunity to place an ad in an adult magazine to find a partner for a sexual fantasy she wants to experience... A man (Sergi Lopez) replies. They meet in a Paris caf((eacute)) and retreat into a hotel room where that fantasy is realised. As they recall this liaison from their own perspective we witness the shifts that take place in this relationship, shifts that move it away from the purely physical to encompass the emotional.
The film is framed in flashback so there are no surprises, but watching romance unravel is as painful as it is inevitable and Fonteyne captures it with delicate modesty. Baye and Lopez create fragile, vulnerable characters whose defensive instincts overcome their courage as self doubts and second guesses get in the way of their own honesty, and their performances are rich and nuanced. It's a modest film but rich with observation and unspoken regret, and the texture of their performances bring it to life.