Wednesday, June 03, 2009

473 - Play It Again #18 - Requiem for a Dream

Chris Youde is a local celebrity of sorts, at least if you're in my age range. It's a rare occasion where I run into someone in the Cedar Valley who doesn't know him, who hasn't gone to one of his shows, watched one of his short films, or read one of his angry diatribes against law enforcement in the local paper. An enthusiastic movie-watcher, Chris' dearest love is music, and he has shown exceptional potential as a composer, both of soundtracks and music for its own sake. Chris is also a member of the National Rifle Association, though he voted for Cynthia McKinney because he found it funny. And if you're looking for someone who knows every conceivable publicly available detail about Metallica, then he's your man.

Chris' selection is "Requiem for a Dream," Darren Aronofsky's 2000 film which takes us on a harrowing journey through the lives of substance abusers.

When you hook up any video device, you plug in something for the sound and the picture. “Requiem for a Dream” is a perfect example of how great care can be taken for these elements to make a beautiful movie.

The subject of addiction is something we all have to deal with. All of us have dreams of being something more than what we are and yet there are so many distractions/road blocks that get in our way. “Requiem for a Dream” shows how a majority of us deal with addiction and its devastating effects. My favorite shot in the movie is when Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) is cleaning her apartment in a time lapse fashion, brilliantly revealing how the character’s decisions have resulted in their downfall. It took roughly 30 minutes for director Darren Aronofsky to get that shot. It also took timed lighting to give the effect of a day going by, which on every viewing caused me to consider how the medium can be cleverly manipulated to craft a story.

For years films have mercilessly overused MTV-style cuts for a shallow effect. Yet Aronofksy employs them to devastating effect, combing them with a jarring soundtrack that plunges the viewer into the world of addiction. Combined with countless bizarre sound effects, Clint Mansell’s score makes you feel like you’re on these drugs the characters are using. The complexity and variety of this soundtrack is stunning, as we go anywhere from the Kronos Quartet wailing out the powerful main theme to floating on a simple cello line to the shirking notes of the tragic ending.

The reason I watch it over and over is not just for the fact that it’s a marvelous piece of art but to remind myself to keep my own impulses in check, living life carefully in order to avoid these drug-addled people’s grisly fate. It reminds me how powerful movies are, and with every viewing the impact grows. - Chris Youde


Bossom said...

Chris Youde is a local celebrity? Are you out of your fukkking mind?

James said...

Rather than explain hyperbole, I will point out that the guy is known around here. Countless letters to the paper, an idiosyncratic appearance that makes him easy to spot and remember, a perpetual presence at various local hotspots (Toad's, the CF library), and a surprisngly wide network range have ensured that he knows a lot more people around here than do most his age.

Anonymous said...

The guys a creep and a freak, and that's the bottom line. End of story. Nothing celebrity about it.

Anonymous said...

Furthermore, have you ever actually read his stuff? He hardly appears literate, and his rants remind you of something Mark David Chapman or the "Smiley Face" bomber would write. Nonsensical, rambling paragraphs of segmented jibberish from the pen of a self-important, pseudo-intelligent jerkoff.

You're really doing the world a disservice by speaking his name.

James said...

Yikes! And I thought I got frustrated with Chris.

Not sure what caused your grievance with him (or why you choose to remain anonymous as if he had any retaliatory power at all), but whatever it is I feel compelled to throw in my two cents of defense, cause hopefully he'd do the same for me.

For Play It Again, I asked a large number of people I know with a greater than average interest in film to contribute. As you certainly know (at least I hope so if you feel like you know him well enough to talk trash), he fancies himself a bit of a cinephile, and despite your assertion to the contrary, I have seen Chris write fairly well before (his random Myspace postings and letters to The Courier notwithstanding). I look at this piece on "Requiem" and see a perfectly reasonable reflection on his love for the film (I received essays from other writers far worse).

I'm not certain what the intent of your post was other than to reprimand me for lending Chris the very minor publicity of having his name mentioned on this blog, but if you intended for him to see it, you'll have to send it to him on Facebook, because I doubt he ever checked this.