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“Requiem For A Dream” kicks off Cinesthesia’s 2020 season

Thursday, January 2, 6:30 p.m., Central Library, free. More info

Darren Aronofsky’s filmography is consistently controversial and consistently hailed as disturbing. It’s a quality that some directors have to work their entire careers to get just right. More often than not, they miss the mark, leaving behind a string of films that are less jarring than they are just a little bit hokey. But Aronofsky has been hitting the sweet spot every time since his very first films, including his sophomore feature Requiem For A Dream, released in 2000 and screening here as part of the Madison Public Library’s monthly Cinesthesia series.

In this adaptation of Hubert Selby Jr’s novel, Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), his friends, and his mother Sara (Ellen Burstyn) discover that dealing and using substances can help them realize their dreams of fame, fortune, and better lives. It isn’t long before they find themselves ricocheting between desire and addiction. As the characters begin oscillating between previously unknown highs and lows, the film gears up to a fever pitch, gracefully splattering shots across the screen at breakneck speed until everything, inevitably, crashes and plummets. To say it’s a difficult film to watch would be, of course, putting it mildly. But it’s worth a watch for those up for the challenge and those who want to remember what it was like to see Jared Leto as an actor greater than the sum of his infamous off-screen antics.

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