Saturday, 24 November 2012

5 Interesting Facts About Requiem For A Dream


We all have some sort addiction in our lives that fuels us, motivates us, gets us moving. There's always something that we seem to lack that can't be fixed without getting dependent on a drug that will send us twisting and turning through a hallway unsure of what is real and what is not. We may eventually get what we want, but it may not ever matter anymore, we have crossed a point of no return and we have ventured into a realm that we may have not wished to enter in the first place. That's what Requiem of A Dream delves into, our insatiable urges to continue with an out-of-reach goal. With a matter such as this, Darren Aronofsky managed to create one of the most disturbing, twisted scenes ever to be placed in cinema. You feel uneasy as you would watch this movie, yet you find yourself drawn into it by how it portrays madness in such a beautiful way. What you end up seeing is a masterpiece made by skulls and covered in human entrails.

What makes this so evident is that you can tell that the film is stylized by someone. It's not a film that you could assume that someone else made, this is a true work of Aronofsky's desensitized mind. From the frenetic and chaotic cutting style to having Clint Mansell's chilling soundtrack to the performances given by each of the actors, every piece is put into motion properly. I had to find out more about everything, I needed to feed myself with more information on how this film would come to be. I found myself searching through website upon website, typing intensely on the keyboard, staring at the computer screen for hours. My body would sometimes quit on me and even hurt, but the drive kept pushing me forward to see what more was hidden about this movie. Soon, I had everything that I needed to know, and rested for the first time in two days. Now that I am well awake and feeling fine, I can shed some light on some of the more interesting aspects involved in the production of Requiem For A Dream.

5. Tappy's Third Thing

One of the three main stories of the movie revolves around Sara Goldfarb (played by Ellen Burstyn) and her desire to be on the show Juice hosted by Tappy Tibbons (played by Christopher McDonald, who I could have sworn was the host in The Wizard...). Once her desire seems to be fulfilled by a call she gets from the show, she decided that she's going to get thin in order to fit into an old red dress of hers. As she's trying to get into her diet, she finds herself getting tempted constantly by the refrigerator. It doesn't necessarily help that Tappy keeps talking about things that she would love to have right now such as red meat and sugar. Yet every time the third thing is going to be mentioned, we are somehow thrown somewhere else, never to know what else Tappy is talking about.

While it isn't really relevant to the what occurs in the story, it turns out that Tappy was actually going to mention three things. It turned out that the last thing Tappy was going to mention was removing pharmaceuticals from the equation. See, Darren had the idea that Tappy would later attack Sara for betraying his words and cheating her way through meeting her goal of getting thinner in the hallucination that she endures. The third message was meant to be the final snap that indicated that she had made a huge mistake with taking pills from a doctor she had little to no information on. The problem with this though is that he felt that pharmacies would be enraged by this comment towards them and that people would misconstrue his message as though people shouldn't take medication. Due to this, Darren had to cut out the footage of Tappy's third topic and also a chunk of the film itself and edit it in a way that the third thing wasn't really anything to take note of.

4. The Ages Of The Other Protagonists

As we all know, the film deals with a lot of heavy materials, especially since it revolves around drugs. Harry (Jared Leto) finds himself getting damaged by shooting up too much and ends up with his arm getting amputated, Tyrone C. Love (Marlon Wayans) find himself constantly in trouble and thrown in prison twice and Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly) has to end up doing sexual favors to feed her drug-related appetite. As the whole film progresses, you see just how damaging and sordid all of these events become to the characters and when you see it all in succession, it makes you cringe at the sight of all this torment colliding at once.

Now, imagine if all this happened to a more younger set of people. Darren felt that in order to drive the point home, he should have made this characters younger, around 14-16 years old to be exact. That way when the  audience would see what sort of catastrophe would follow to all of them, they would not only be more shocked, but more aware of the horrors that addiction beholds. While this wasn't the intent of Selby's story, the author agreed that perhaps making these characters younger would have made their point stronger. Naturally, having such awful acts be done to this age group would have caused people (especially parents) to go insane. In fact, when pitching to the producers, both of them told the two that they had to make the characters older so that the film could be show in theaters. Selby understood the argument against this choice, but Darren was a little hesitant to go through with it. Nonetheless, he eventually agreed to go along with this.

3. The Rapid Cuts

As I mentioned before, one of the greatest things about Requiem For A Dream is its style. The film is packed with fast paced cuts here and there. These cuts fit perfectly to how people get so swept up in everything when their addiction starts to kick in. It also just shows how quick the change happens when you're involved with your addiction. The fast speed of the film oddly enough plays itself really well when you see how it changes the characters, and that's usually just sped up footage of them doing something while under the influence of the drugs. Regardless, they still serve to establish how the film plays out and it works so well to the construction of the film.

What's weird though is that this wasn't originally the way the film was going to progress. There was more footage that was going to be added into the film during some of the later scenes, that would possibly hint to a greater breakdown according to Matthew Libatique, the cinematographer. He goes on to say that the film would have been much more warped and surreal if the footage was implemented into the final cut. So, why isn't this the case? Apparently, a large amount of this aforementioned footage was lost or unusable. This set back the production of the film as it was near impossible to re-shoot the scenes again and they were closer to having to get a final cut out. So the editing room as well as Darren came up with the brilliant idea of re-using some of the old footage and cutting it up rapidly. At first I thought this was intentional that they would re-use some of the old footage, but it seems that what they were really trying to do was cut corners.

2. A Winter Worry

When the film gets into the final act (aka Winter), it's when you see the whole slew of events in the wolrd finally crash down on all of the characters. Their addiction finally gets the better of them and they find themselves at a point that they did not want to end up in the first place. Sara is now in a mental institute for not taking into account the words of her son, and still living in delusion, Tyrone is in jail again, possibly for life,  Harry has lost not only one of his arms but the love of his life and Marion has sold her body in order to continue clinging to her addiction. My favorite part of the end is how they have each of the characters crawl into a fetal position, showing how distraught they are and how they wished that things would have gone for the better for them.

While there were two main problems that came about getting together the final part of the film, I'll be talking about the scenes that led up to Sara's breakdown in this entry. Ellen Burstyn not only was working on another film (The Yards) during Requiem but also had came down with a bit of a cold when they were about to get to this portion of the film. There were very little times that the crew could use her in the end, and they had a lot more that they needed to put out into the film. As expected, this made the director panic. He was lost with one of the main characters being out of the picture. Selby had pitched to Darren that perhaps he could have a double of Sara come around the end and make her endure electroshock. All they needed was to apply make-up to the double to make her seem all worn out and troubled and have her only speak in mumbles and muffled screams. Darren loved the idea so much that he figured that when he had Burstyn for filming that all she would do is the scenes leading up to her ending up in the ward and the final final scene.

1. The Filming Of The Sex Show

Now we come to the most insane part of the film, and also the most disturbing scenes. Sure, it seems like something to expect out of a porno and admittedly the extras sure are lucky to be up and close into the action, but when you know the characters lead-up to this and notices what is being juxtaposed with these scenes, that arousal just turns to internal confusion and makes you uncomfortable. The way she stares blankly into space and is looking with "tired" eyes that she's disappointed being her. The loud chants of the men screaming the uproar of the hormones further emphasizes the utter filth that surrounds the room. There is no turning back by this point, she has crossed the line and will now have to live the rest of her life shrouded in shame and misery.

The filming of this particular portion was a complicated one. At first, Jennifer Connelly was fine with being part of this scene. As the days would lead up to having to film this part, she asked the director if perhaps there was a way that she could still do the scene but not have a ton of eyes leering on her as it made her feel uneasy. Aronofsky, a little upset of this change of mind, figured that he could film the scenes with the guys themselves doing their shouting and then film the sex show afterwards and then blend them together in the editing room. After completing the first part of the filming which was just the guys hollering, it came time to film the other half. Connelly again was reluctant in going through with this, as she still wasn't able to debase herself for the sake of the scene. This annoyed Aronofsky, but he went through with her request and shot the scene in a way that it would seem as though she was involved in the events that followed. Also, as a side note, the line "Ass to ass" was actually improvised by Stanley B. Herman. Just thought I let you know.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Breaking The Bits - Similar Sides Of Two Different Coins - A Look At Vaervaf And Orangy

You ever listened to two artists and believe that they're the same person? I'm sure you could think of a ton of bland pop songs or rave tunes that have made you think that. It's alright to think that, because music is an ever-expanding medium. There are bound to be copycats and coincidental sound-alikes to emerge from this process. Now, we usually just leave it at that and simply assume that whoever made song A probably made song B. That's fine, but when listening to these two artists, I felt the need to separate the two. It's hard to tell at times because they have moments where the both of them seem to be a mirror image of each other, but at other times, you can tell the difference without knowing anything about their location or personality. There was something in the way they made their music that would show me what defines their style. Before we can do that though, we must know a little more about what makes Vaervaf and Orangy seem the same.

Their Similarities

- High-pitched vocals
- Repeat small bits of a track a lot
- Chop tracks constantly
- Have moments where the song is interrupted by talking audio or put dialogue/odd noises over a loop
- Use samples
- Partake in loud, obnoxious noise-heavy tracks

Orangy: The Camouflaged Urban Surrealist Who Sees The World As Erratically As He Is

For those of you who don't know what I mean by urban surrealism, it basically boils down to viewing the contemporary world in a distorted light. It combines the typical metropolitan world and its pop culture with the haphazard vision of a heroin addict watching cartoons. What can come out of it could range from eerily plausible to as far-fetched as anything Dali has made in his life. A few of the Breakbit artists (DR777, glue70) have skimmed this idea with their works, but Orangy seems to live it in his music. In fact, he defines this concept much better than I have.

First, let's look at DIDNT CAR. The whole feel of the album plays off as if you're living in an awry neighbourhood near the city . "Burgers Out" and "Relax" make it evident with their chill progression and the beat that is behind the tracks. It's a fairly standard level-headed tune, with the occasional parts that can make you venture a little more into the outlandish. It's especially clear with the vocals in "Burgers Out" that something is heading a different path. You then take a song like "lets caw someone" that sounds like someone is waking up from a clock radio on a Latino station, getting a fuzzy call that progresses into a warped slowed-down tune creeping from the clock radio. It then starts to slide a little more off the normal scale when you venture into "LONG LINE OF GERMAN DOCTORS" which starts to play off a frantic clash of your subconscious deceiving your senses to a point where you're unsure of what is going on in your neighbour's house. Then "A CAT NAMED KITTY" comes by to transport you aware from the world for a few seconds, almost as if it was a dream day. Other parts of the album (most notably "Frank's Discount Sets (I Like Me)") serve to give a seemingly light-hearted tint of the bizarre nature that is to be expected from him, while still having enough to consider itself a part of the standard.

Afterwards, we have STILL DONT CAR, where these ideas are taken to a greater extreme. It's also ties more themetically, as all the music is based around cars and driving. Aside from the ever-so-catchy "Drivin'", the whole album makes sure that the average listener considers it weird. Songs like "Windshieldlicker" and "Gastastion Bathroom Boogie" tackle the idea of a car-centered song in such a unique and unexpected way, with one song talking about having sex with the car and the other one making jokes about a gas station bathroom. While the latter's subject does not sound too odd, the way the song progresses with it's fast pace and high-pitched vocals chopped up constantly blends in a way that the noise that comes out is unlike anything else you've heard. The rest of the tracks manage to set a platform that starts to show how Orangy is at the point where he's about to fall into a place where nonsense is the only thing that makes sense.

Now we have Mr. OJ, where he has become jeri, which is his declaration of embracing that he is insane and that the world is too. Some songs create an atmosphere that can range to being very calm and somewhat happy ("My Cat Is Asthmathmatic", "Mr. OJ") to almost at the brink of self-destruction ("Try Numeral", "That Was Fun..."). Some songs even switch in the middle of the song ("Slav Disco Dove"), while others act on delusions ("Secretly We Are Gods"). The song that summarizes the whole feel of this album is "Cyber Load", as it shows the twitch from incredibly furious to delightfully crazy. You can feel the parts that make the music seem like it could be played on the radio ad nauseum, but it's shrowded by a vision of warping the norm for the sake of conveying a mangled and confusing reality. It is the human mind lost in thought, exaggerated to such lengths that it would seem like you're hearing the creation of a child with ADHD and dementia.

The music of Orangy sees the same world that you and I do, but it perceives it in a manner that it seems as though what he's seeing is something completely alien to what we're seeing. It has rhythms and melodies that you could hear in other songs, but it also has sounds and transitions that are more twisted, abrasive, absurd and/or violent. While he has his moments where he simply gives into his imagination and lets it run free, there are also moments where the tune can be constructed in ways that it could one day end up becoming something relatable with a larger, "mainstream" audience. It doesn't really matter to him whether he can be accepted to the masses or not, he simply enjoys what he says and find a special way to laugh at the world with his music. 

Vaervaf: A Passionate Man Talking In A Constantly Changing Code That Is Not Meant To Be Deciphered

There are people out there that are relatively normal people that have very little about them that make them stand out. That is until you find more about them personally. They think about things in a very different way, they solve problems from another perspective, they even communicate in ways that are vaguely understandable and possibly cryptic. Their message may be simple but the form they choose to express it becomes more complex and convoluted. Even though you don't comprehend them completely, you still find yourself engaged by what they have to say. As you can imagine, Vaervaf is one of those folk.

While Orangy has 5 albums (2 of which I did not discuss), Vaervaf has 10 albums (3 of which I will not discuss), so Vaervaf seems to work at a somewhat faster rate. Also, Vaervaf's album don't completely show him slowly going from subtle to very blunt like Orangy does, but rather capture Vaervaf in phases whilst he starts to find his style. Let's take Splitgut and Weaveknee for example. For the most part, the tracks in these two albums have a soft, pleasant sound ("SUPPORT IRAN MAKE A FACEBOOK GROUP" from Splitgut and "AMEN BREAK AND FRIENDS" from Weaveknee being the most notable of this). Splitgut is a little louder in some of it's tracks (mostly with the tracks that are capitalized), with "IN THE BASEMENT MAKING A SERIOUS DECISION" having the most "obnoxious" rhythm. For the most part, the album has a vibe having fun with others where the more frantic-rhythm songs like "FORGET THIS TEEN ANGST BULLSHIT LET'S KILL ZOMBIES" play out like you're messing around with friends while tracks like "Fair Function" seem more fit for having a good time with your family. Weaveknee, on the other hand has a feeling of being lost in thought with tunes either taking in the thought and trying to think it through ("Prophet for Profit", "Escape Rope"), switching halfway through to another idea ("World Boss March", "SPOOK ROB DO YOU UH"), imagining something in a different light ("You Awake"), or simply enjoying the thought ("Sent Home", "Oh Sandpaper", "EndOfTheSlicks"). There are still some frantic rhythms in Weaveknee, but they're less accentuated.

Whilst the first two albums mentioned present his style and show that he tackles a way to express a mood differently than other artists, it isn't fully present in the work. FlarehandCorkvein and Spinefold come along and push his style further by basing tracks around his style rather than the track have his style in the background ("Meansleeves" from Flarehand, "Drywire Augment" from Corkvein and "chewing the witness" from Spinefold show this perfectly). Flarehand and Corkvein showed more of his willingness to try an array of different sounds whilst still keeping his style present whilst Spinefold became his signature album showing his style in all it's glory and creating a sound that is almost his own ("comic sans gravestone", "mat_fullbright 1", "summer roll"). Flarehand feels more like a spitballing of ways to incorporate his style into a different sound, with a lot of the tracks being short and having a drive to go somewhere further ("AKIMBO RIOT SHEILD", "I won't admit it but", "Knuckle Drag Racing"). It still has tracks that play on the concept longer and finish better ("Blastola", "Peck", "Real and Straight") but it has a tendency to feel more like a good ramble rather than a good point. Corkvein rather has ever single one of its songs at a decent length and plays on their ideas very well with "Wristband Gait", "Sig Varsette" and "The Bloke Machine (Vaervaf Remix)" being my favorites.

Finally we come to Hipcatch and Greengums where he decides to rebel against something by creating a more aggressive, unique sound that seems to cling to his older style by a few threads ("siamese cat" from Hipcatch and "relmfu" from Greegums embody this). Hipcatch feels more a mutation of his sound, as you can still sense his previous style in Spinefold shining through, but being covered by racket-like rhythms and incredibly altered vocals ("this is why", "jux"). It's almost uncomfortable hearing some of the tracks like "harpy", "forth dead" and "demon piss" because you find yourself very confused at what you're hearing. At the same time, it still draws you in and you try to wonder what's going on. Greengums emphasizes this even more by having more of the songs have incomprehensible lyrics ("brik", "laodl") and an alternate-universe version of his music ("alliex", "try it with blood"). It seems like there's something beneath what you're listening to, but you're not sure because it's so garbled, twisted and "annoying" that you don't bother to find it or simply assume that Vaervaf is just messing with you.

Vaervaf is possibly one of the most interesting artists that I've come across. While other artists dabble in experimentation or experiment a lot, Vaervaf is simply an experiment of his own. His approach to a new track is to tackle it from an angle that he has not yet done before. If he has done it before, then he tries to bend it enough so that the same message is delivered in a new type of package. For him to adhere to the same approach of a previous work in a recent creation of his would be incredibly peculiar. I don't know if what he is trying to invoke from me with his music is positive, negative, thought-provoking or trivial gibberish, but it is irrelevant  His songs have a great sense of emotion in them and have some vision in them that you can't help but wonder what it is.


Both of these artists have times where they're indistinguishable from each other. When you hear one of them remix something from each other in one of these albums, you could easily believe that it's just another track from the same artist. Orangy even managed to fool me into thinking he was Vaervaf with some of the tracks in Spinefold. Take away the times that they do sound exactly like each other and you'll see that they have something that shows that they are not the same person. Orangy tackles the alteration of certain genres of electronic music while Vaervaf tackles the alteration of the idea of genres in general. Orangy has a similar way to communicate but a different message while Vaervaf has a different way to communicate a diiferent message. Perhaps I'm simply looking too deeply into their music and perhaps there is nothing else on the surface of their music. That is most certainly a possibility. What I do know, is that they each have their own sound to them and they make good use of their different attributes.