Ari Aster's 'Beau is Afraid' and the fears of facing yourself (2023)

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TCM Classic Film Festival. This event is an annual treat. This year’s edition opened Thursday with a new restoration of Howard Hawks’ “Rio Bravo” — plus a talk featuring Steven Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson and David Zaslav on film preservation — and continues all weekend long. What I have grown to appreciate about the festival is how the idea of “classic film” can now include movies such as 1983’s “Risky Business” right alongside 1941’s “Unfinished Business.” The chance to see these titles in a theater with a deeply engaged audience and often with special Q&A guests is just such a thrill.

‘Flashdance’ at 40. The movie that made Jennifer Beals a star celebrated that milestone this week, and with a new 4K home video release I had the opportunity to talk to the film’s director, Adrian Lyne. He has an astonishingly tight and impactful filmography that also includes “Foxes,” “9 ½ Weeks,” “Fatal Attraction,” “Indecent Proposal” and last year’s “Deep Water.”

Lyne spoke about why he wanted to create such a dynamic visual style for “Flashdance,” with its sparks and smoke and electrifying cabaret dance numbers, all of which had an impact on the emergent platform of MTV and gave many people their first glimpses of breakdancing. As he said, “I guess I knew that the story was thin. And I just wanted to make it look good. And I sort of chose a stylized route, obviously. … So that was just a flight of fancy. As I say, I think people take movies a little bit too seriously sometimes. It’s just a choice.”


‘The Doom Generation’ lives on. Speaking of new classic cinema, a 4K restoration of Gregg Araki’s 1995 film “The Doom Generation,” starring Rose McGowan, James Duval and Jonathan Schaech, hits L.A. this week. An event next Thursday at the American Cinematheque with Araki and Duval is already sold out (though there will be a standby line), but the film is also playing at the Alamo Drafthouse. With its pop-savvy cameos from the likes of Heidi Fleiss and Perry Farrell, the movie captures the knowing irony of the ‘90s like few others, skirting between cynicism, transgression and a youthful sense of energy and momentum that keeps things moving. Having the film back in a glowing restoration in Araki’s preferred cut is cause for celebration.

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‘Beau is Afraid’

The new film from writer-director Ari Aster, “Beau Is Afaid” finds the maker of “Hereditary” and “Midsommar” exploring a new kind of horror. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Beau Wassermann, a middle-aged man struggling to make sense of himself and his relationship to his mother amid a phantasmagoria of experiences and memories. The cast also includes Patti Lupone, Zoe Lister-Jones, Parker Posey, Amy Ryan and Nathan Lane. The movie is in theaters now.

For The Times, Justin Chang wrote, “Aster has always had a weakness for treating his characters like chess pieces, moving them toward their grim fates with breathtaking, sometimes agonizing deliberation. That approach worked brilliantly in ‘Hereditary,’ which turned its protagonist’s dollhouse dioramas into a startling visual conceit and a hell of a satanic metaphor. It’s far less effective in an ostensibly more unhinged, unbridled work like ‘Beau Is Afraid,’ where even the most surreal intrusion and the nuttiest non sequitur feels calculated to within an inch of its life. Aster may ultimately be too much the formalist control freak to achieve the crazy, let-it-all-hang-out catharsis he’s chasing, and the elaborate trap he’s engineered for Beau seems to close, finally, on himself. He’s made a guilt trip to nowhere.”

For the New York Times, Manohla Dargis wrote, “‘Beau Is Afraid’ has been built for maximum admiration. And certainly there’s much to respect about Aster’s filmmaking and how he coordinates the movie’s many fast-whirring parts to make another horror show with inner and outer head trauma — one that owes something to Charlie Kaufman’s ‘Synecdoche, New York’ and a great deal to Aster’s regular cinematographer, Pawel Pogorzelski, as well as to some vivid supporting performances. … Yet despite these attractions and in spite of Phoenix’s aura and his focus — and how he plays with the character, opening Beau up a wee bit with flickers of yearning and teasingly humanizing fissures — it is tough to care about a mouse who matters so much less to the filmmaker than the shiny mousetrap where he’s imprisoned you both.

For IndieWire, David Ehrlich wrote, “But the most significant departure from Aster’s earlier stuff can be found in how ‘Beau Is Afraid’ frames its relationship with fear. Here is a movie that defaults to being tense in the service of being funny, as opposed to being funny in the service of creating tension. This thing is only a few seconds old before it invites us to laugh at the perverse understatement of its title, just as Beau himself is only a few seconds old before his terror begins to seep out of the screen even more powerfully than it pulls us toward it. … while Beau himself may not prove to be all that memorable, his fear is foisted upon us in a way that makes it impossible to forget. Few movies have ever so boldly explored how fraught the safety of unconditional love can be in such a cruel world, and even fewer — including Aster’s own ‘Hereditary’ — have been so willing to sit with the irreconcilable horrors of trying to share that love with someone else.

Ari Aster's 'Beau is Afraid' and the fears of facing yourself (1)

Joaquin Phoenix in the movie “Beau Is Afraid.”

(Takashi Seida/A24 Films)

‘Mafia Mamma’

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, the lighthearted comedy “Mafia Mamma” stars Toni Collette as Kristin, a middle-aged suburban mom feeling stuck in a rut. That is until she is summoned to Italy for the funeral of her estranged grandfather and finds out she is to take over as boss of a powerful Italian crime family, sending her on a journey of self-discovery sort of like “Under the Tuscan Sun” with guns. Monica Bellucci also appears and the movie is in theaters now.

For The Times, Michael Rechtshaffen wrote, “While the fish-out-of-water story might suggest a harmless goof on the sharp 1988 Michelle Pfeiffer comedy ‘Married to the Mob,’ with a more contemporary infusion of female empowerment, the execution struggles from the outset to find a sustainable comedic pitch. … Working from a caricature-leaden script credited to J. Michael Feldman and Debbie Jhoon, Hardwicke continually mistakes shrill slapstick for the type of light, playful satire required of the high-concept set-up. As a result, even though filming took place entirely on location in Italy, the production, complete with its ‘Godfather-esque’ musical cues, somehow ends up packing all the convincing cultural authenticity of Hot Pockets.”

Times columnist Mary McNamara spoke to Hardwicke about her career, from her directing debut on “Thirteen” to making the first “Twilight” film and on to “Mafia Mamma.” As Hardwicke said, “Of course, I could relate to the message of a woman not being as respected as we want to be in our jobs. She’s been people-pleasing all her life when she starts realizing, ‘I’m going to give the orders — that’s an order.’ I loved that arc.”

For the New York Times, Jeannette Catsoulis wrote, “Trite, charmless and entirely without grace, ‘Mafia Mamma’ weaves a wearying string of Mob chestnuts into a shallow empowerment narrative. … Vacillating mainly between randy-tourist energy and “Eek! Blood!” reaction shots, Collette — despite a proven gift for comedy — must serve as the sole load-bearing wall in a house of cards. Mouth and eyes agape, Kristin spends much of the movie gasping variations on ‘Oh my god!,’ whether it’s to note the untimely expiration of a prospective lover or to salute a particularly generous plate of pasta. Filmed in Italy with a mostly Italian cast (including Monica Bellucci as a slinky consiglieri), the story stumbles from one tired setup, one ludicrous shootout, one hackneyed line to another.”

For The Wrap, Tomris Laffly wrote, “It’s not quite the simplicity of the plot that continually weighs ‘Mafia Mamma’ down. At its core it’s a 101-level feminist tale about a woman finally finding herself in the most unexpected of places. On the contrary, there are brief instances in this ‘Baby Boom’ of mob comedies when Collette wins you over despite the odds, reinforcing her knack in fast-paced action and physical comedy with her supple timing. … But the film still can’t rise above its worst instincts on the page, causing one to cringe often.”

Ari Aster's 'Beau is Afraid' and the fears of facing yourself (2)

Toni Collette and Monica Bellucci in “Mafia Mamma.”

(Fabrizio Di Giulio/Bleecker Street)


Directed by Chris McKay from a screenplay by Ryan Ridley, the blood-soaked comedy “Renfield” tells the story of Count Dracula (Nicolas Cage) and his familiar and confidant Renfield (Nicholas Hoult), that is until Renfield decides he wants out of their codependent relationship. The movie is in theaters now.

For Tribune News Service, Katie Walsh wrote, “The plot may be flimsy and disposable, but ‘Renfield’ is gleefully gory and goofy, the kind of movie where a charmingly floppy-haired Hoult jumps on an assassin’s head, exploding his body like a blood-filled water balloon, while cheerily waving at his new friend Rebecca. The red stuff doesn’t so much flow as it projects, geyser-like, from dismembered limbs, our hero wielding severed arms like clubs. … The stylish ‘Renfield’ is a bit of frothy fun. It may be too flip for some, but flippancy isn’t the issue — it’s the flimsiness. Hoult and Cage sell the toxic odd-couple dynamic well, but a sturdier story is required to fully support their performances, especially Cage’s operatic Dracula, who delights in terrorizing his foppish familiar. ‘Renfield’ dutifully delivers the goods — and a few therapist-approved lessons about codependent relationships too — but unfortunately, it’s lacking a bit of bite.”

For the New Yorker, Richard Brody wrote, “As logically as ‘Renfield’ is assembled, it also feels backfilled, built not as a story that contains its own mainspring of dramatic necessity but in the conditional tense, suggesting what kind of movie based on its one-line premise might be or could be made. Its tentativeness is palpable from the very start: an extended montage that piles up backstory and introduces Dracula — or, rather, Cage — and which comes off as a film-editing rescue mission, one that can jump-start the movie with a bang of action and a blast of star power.”

For the Washington Post, Ann Hornaday wrote, “It’s all an extravagant, occasionally amusing jape, and perfectly suited to Cage’s acting style, which has always been more suited to old-school German expressionism than the subtleties of American naturalism. Cheesy, strident, ridiculous and sometimes disarmingly, stupidly funny, ‘Renfield’ doesn’t go for the jugular as much as give it a playful and quickly forgotten love bite.”

For IndieWire, Kate Erbland wrote, “It’s all an approximation of fun, mirth in tiny portions, amusement of the thinnest variety. Is Cage having fun? Yes. Does Hoult deserve a more meaty script? Definitely. Is it fun to cheer when heads explode and Hoult beats multiple men to death with a pair of arms he ripped off one dude? Absolutely! But that’s all stuff that sounds fun on paper, but is utterly limp in execution. There’s nothing juicy here, nothing really new, a bloodless spin on what should have been a tasty new take.”

Ari Aster's 'Beau is Afraid' and the fears of facing yourself (3)

Nicolas Cage, left, and Nicholas Hoult in the movie “Renfield.”

(Michele K. Short/Universal Pictures)


Ari Aster's 'Beau is Afraid' and the fears of facing yourself? ›

Writer-director Ari Aster describes his latest as a “comedy.”

What will Beau is afraid about? ›

How can I watch Beau is afraid? ›

  1. Peacock.
  2. Vudu.
  3. Netflix streaming.
  4. Amazon and amazon prime.
  5. Most popular streaming movies.
  6. Certified fresh movies.
  7. Browse all.

Is Beau is afraid a comedy? ›

Writer-director Ari Aster describes his latest as a “comedy.”

Why is Beau Is Afraid Rated R? ›

Twisted horror has full-frontal nudity, disturbing themes.

What happens at the end of Beau Geste? ›

And Beau died in his brother John's arms after giving him two pieces of paper: (1) the note publically confessing that he had stolen the "Blue Water" sapphire - a note that was to be put in Sgt. Markoff's hands, and (2) a letter to Lady Brandon explaining his actions - this letter is read at the film's conclusion.

Is Freaks of Nature on Hulu? ›

Watch Freaks of Nature Streaming Online | Hulu (Free Trial)

Why is A24 so successful? ›

Being auteur-driven, A24 supports independent filmmakers and independent cinema by believing in them and giving them a platform to be seen by the world. Some filmmakers A24 has successfully given a break to include - Robert Eggers, Daniels, Ari Aster, David Lowery and many others.

Where can i stream Beau Geste? ›

Beau Geste, an adventure movie starring Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, and Robert Preston is available to stream now. Watch it on Prime Video on your Roku device.

Is Beau is afraid a horror movie? ›

Ari Aster's Oedipal horror, starring Joaquin Phoenix, is filled with nervous wreckage, and leaves the unsettling sense of having stumbled upon an extended therapy session rather than a film. With a muffled howl and a dull boom, “Beau Is Afraid” gets under way.

What is the movie Beau Geste about? ›

Who is this horror movie villain he really doesn t like camp counselors and often wears a hockey mask? ›

The trademark hockey goalie mask did not appear until Friday the 13th Part III. Since Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, filmmakers have given Jason superhuman strength, regenerative powers, and near invulnerability.

Is Fear Street appropriate for 13 year olds? ›

According to the MPAA's rating, Fear Street: Part One 1994 earned its R rating “for strong bloody violence, drug content, language, and some sexual content.” There are plenty of stabbings, blood, and other gory scenes — it's a horror film, after all. The film frequently uses profanity.

Does fear of rain have inappropriate scenes? ›

Fear of Rain is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for mature thematic content, violence/terror, disturbing images and some strong language.

What age rating is Camp Nightwing? ›

Camp Nightwing starts off well but the festivities quickly become a fight to the death for the campers. Why is Fear Street Part 2: 1978 rated R? The MPAA rated Fear Street Part 2: 1978 R for bloody horror violence, sexual content, nudity, drug use, and language throughout.

Who stole the sapphire in Beau Geste? ›

In the British soldier's hand is a signed confession stating that he, Michael Geste, stole the legendary Blue Water sapphire from his aunt, Lady Brandon.

What color is Beau Geste? ›

Beau Geste is a modern take on a classic beige. Along with beige and yellow, there is a slight grey undertone, making this is a very versatile, warm neutral. Beau Geste was named after an adventure novel by P.C. Wren about three English brothers who joined the French foreign legion.

What does beau geste translate to? ›

Beau geste is a phrase borrowed from French; the literal translation is "beautiful gesture." Beau Geste is also the title of a 1924 novel by Percival Christopher Wren, featuring three English brothers who join the French Foreign Legion to repair their family honor.

Is freaks the movie Netflix? ›

Hidden away by her eccentric father, a mysterious young girl uncovers frightening truths when she starts to make contact with the outside world. Watch all you want.

How much did freaks of nature make? ›

What app is freaks on? ›

You are able to stream Freaks by renting or purchasing on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu.

What does A24 stand for? ›

The name "A24" was inspired by the Italian A24 motorway Katz was driving on when he decided to found the company; coincidentally, the motorway is also renowned in Italian film history as the setting of many small Abruzzan towns and rural landscapes employed in the films of neorealist and surrealist masters.

Who is A24 target audience? › Audience Demographics's audience is 58.10% male and 41.90% female. The largest age group of visitors are 25 - 34 year olds (Desktop).

What is A24 highest-grossing film? ›

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) is A24's highest-grossing film with over $100 million in box office earnings; the film is also the recipient of various accolades and seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

What is the Netflix show with Beau Bridges? ›

Recently widowed mom Brenda fights to protect her family during a harrowing road trip when a murder and a missing bag of cash plunge them into danger. Watch all you want. Queen Latifah detours into danger with Chris “Ludacris” Bridges in this thriller co-starring Beau Bridges.

How many times has Beau Geste been made? ›

The three versions of "Beau Geste", of which this movie specifically spoofed, were Beau Geste (1926), Beau Geste (1939), and Beau Geste (1966).

What sitcom did Beau Bridges play in? ›

In 1998, he starred as Judge Bob Gibbs in the one-season Maximum Bob on ABC. He had a recurring role in the Showtime series Beggars and Choosers (1999–2000). In 2001, he guest-starred as Daniel McFarland, the stepfather of Jack McFarland, in two episodes of the NBC sitcom Will & Grace.

What is midsommar in real life? ›

The Midsummer Festival, which was officially established in 1952 by the Swedish Parliament, celebrates the beginning of summer. It takes place between June 19 and June 25, and relates to the Summer Solstice.

What is Ari Aster known for? ›

He is known for writing and directing the A24 horror films Hereditary (2018) and Midsommar (2019). Aster was born into a Jewish family in New York City on July 15, 1986, the son of a poet mother and musician father. He has a younger brother.

What is the meaning of Beau Geste? ›

Beau geste is a phrase borrowed from French; the literal translation is "beautiful gesture." Beau Geste is also the title of a 1924 novel by Percival Christopher Wren, featuring three English brothers who join the French Foreign Legion to repair their family honor.

What happened to the jewel in Beau Geste? ›

They learn that Sir Hector intends to sell the "Blue Water", leaving nothing of value for Lady Brandon. At Beau's request, the gem is brought out for one last look when suddenly the lights go out and it is stolen.

What movies is Beau Garrett in? ›

Where can I watch Beau Geste 1939? ›

Beau Geste, an adventure movie starring Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, and Robert Preston is available to stream now. Watch it on Prime Video on your Roku device.

What movie did Beau Bridges play in? ›

What religion is Midsommar based on? ›

Midsommar is a 2019 folk horror film written and directed by Ari Aster. The film stars Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor as a dysfunctional couple who travel to Sweden with a group of friends for a midsummer festival, only to find themselves in the clutches of a sinister cult practicing Scandinavian paganism.

Is Midsommar traumatizing? ›

Parents need to know that Midsommar is an extremely violent horror movie from the maker of Hereditary. It involves a sinister, ages-old ceremony that includes disturbing rituals. Characters are beaten and smashed, and bodies are cut up and burned (in some cases, alive).

What God is in Midsommar? ›

The symbol is named for the Norse god Týr, who sacrifices his hand to the wolf Fenrir for the greater good. Considering Christian's dramatic turn as a physical sacrifice during a final, fiery ceremony, the rune makes perfect sense.

Is Hereditary and Midsommar connected? ›

Hereditary Was More Connected To Midsommar Than Even Ari Aster Realized. On the surface, Ari Aster's follow-up to his absolutely chilling debut "Hereditary" seems like it exists in stark contrast to the haunted family portrait of that first film.

How does Ari Aster pronounce Midsommar? ›

As exacting and detailed as Ari Aster is as a filmmaker, he's surprisingly low-key about how to pronounce the title of his new film, “Midsommar.” While he, as many do, says “mid-so-mar,” others are going with “mid-summer.” “That's fine as well,” he said. “Either way.”

How tall does Aster get? ›

Growth Habit: Asters grow 1 to 6 feet tall and 1 to 4 feet wide depending on the types and variety. The plants are upright and bushy with hairy or smooth leaves and daisy-like flowers.

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