The Movies of Darren Aronofsky

My wife and I finally saw Black Swan the other night and it re-enforced my opinion that Darren Aronofsky is one of the best directors out there.  Like his other work, the movie is full of surreal moments, amazing performances packed with raw emotion, and masterful storytelling.  Natalie Portman shines as the ballerina who goes literally insane as she tries to tap her edgy, seductive side for the dual lead role in Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. There are plenty of hints that Portman's character Nina has had some issues in the past that have started to bubble to the surface under the pressure of her new role. Mila Kunis is outstanding too as Lily, perfectly playing her own duality as friend and foe. Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, and Vincent Cassel round out the rest of the terrific headlining cast. If you missed it in theaters, you should definitely hunt it down now. It's a powerful psychological thriller with some really fine moments.

Ever since I saw Aronofsky's Pi (back when I was working at Valley Media), I knew he was a director to watch, a filmmaker who would go on to bigger and better achievements. That low-budget, black-and-white tale centers on a mathematician named Max who suffers from intense headaches and starts believing that he has discovered the key number that unlocks the universal pattern found in nature. It features many of the signature elements that would be found in Aronofsky's future endeavors -- paranoia, obsession, dark dream-like cinematography, and of course captivating performances that long linger in viewers' memories.

His drama Requiem for a Dream explores the addictions of four characters whose lives are intertwined.  Aronofsky brings out the best performances I've seen from Jared Leto, Jennifer Connolly, Ellen Burstyn, and Marlon Wayans.

He then gave us an epic science fiction story, The Fountain, starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz -- actually, it's an ambitious combination of three stories spanning a thousand years.

My friend Robert previously wrote about Aronofsky's more down-to-earth drama, The Wrestler, in a guest post for my blog.  Again the director manages to draw out the finest in his actors, this time from Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei.

Aronofsky executive-produced another fine film, The Fighter, and is developing Hobgoblin for HBO, a series about magicians battling Hitler during World War II, and his highly anticipated big screen retelling of the biblical Noah's Ark story.

Darren Aronofsky is still in the early stages of his career.  Who knows what other cinematic gems he has in store for all of us in the years to come?