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Aronofsky’s febrile debut, Pi, featured a protagonist obsessed with finding the origin of life, and the obsession was right there—organically—in the filmmaking, in the fractured montage and the flurries of talismanic signs. His Requiem for a Dream attempted to induce a drug state, too—although (as the new film Candy proves) addict movies (like addictions) are more alike than unalike. In The Fountain, Aronofsky is mad about mandalas, and even madder about golden orbs, which you spot in Mayan caves, in the candles in the home of the doomed wife, and in falling stars in the astral heavens of the Lotus Man. I think I finally understand what George H.W. Bush meant by “a thousand points of light.” The movie would be more bearable without the unyielding score by Clint Mansell, which somehow melds the worst of Minimalism, art rock, and New Age music. It’s what you’d hear if your massage therapist wanted to induce a stroke.

Emilio Estevez’s Bobby is an obsessive work, too, although far more earnest. Set in 1968 in the Ambassador Hotel, it features multiple movie stars in multiple story lines, and plays like The Poseidon Adventure with Sirhan Sirhan instead of a tidal wave. Despite the clunkiness, Estevez’s commitment to his father’s generation’s idealism (and its murder) commands respect. After the terrible, tragic climax (which mixes in actual newsreel footage), Robert F. Kennedy delivers a speech on the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination that reminds you—as little has since the Gettysburg Address—of a great orator’s capacity to heal. In this context, it is cruel beyond words.

The History Boys
Directed by Nicholas Hytner. Fox Searchlight. R.

The Fountain
Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Warner Bros. R.

Bobby
Directed by Emilio Estevez. Weinstein Company. R.

E-mail: filmcritic@newyorkmag.com.


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