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Monday, December 20, 2010

Black Swan

Some people don’t trust movie critics. We’ve heard movie critics called too liberal, elitist, too existentialist, snobby, artsy, and boring. But you have to give them one thing: most of them have seen a lot of movies. Sure, sometimes we think they are wrong, but most critics’ tastes have been refined through lots of exposure. We don’t know that we are as good in that area. One of us only has 1,578 movies rated on Netflix. But we love movies, so we’ll give some commentary a try.

Last night we saw Black Swan, a movie lauded by most professional critics everywhere. Well, they are right this time. If the type of movie is your cup of tea, it’s really good, and all our friends thought so too (if that means anything to you). One of us was always unsure about Natalie Portman’s natural abilities as an actress, but she won us both over in this. She needs to win something for Black Swan. She did most of the dancing, according to cast, crew, and director. We don’t see how that role could have been embodied better. Also, we like that Natalie is smart (she went to Harvard) and secure. She picked her friend Mila Kunis to be in the movie with her. Natalie is gorgeous, but Mila’s face is a little less harsh, so Mila turns out prettier. We like that this didn’t bother Natalie enough to exclude her friend.

If you like horror films in general but feel that most of them are poor quality, this is the movie for you. We wouldn’t call it scary, just intense and creepy. One of us had a bad reaction to Shutter Island (even though we both thought it was pretty good). If sort of left you in a foul mood. We were afraid this would be the case with Black Swan, but we walked out happy and laughing. We don’t like the demonic feel of horror movies to leave the theatre with us, we just want to walk out having enjoyed it and remember feeling scared.

And talk about enjoying it. The movie was long, but it didn’t feel long. It was entertaining and dramatic the whole way through. Darren Aronofsky is one of those directors who likes to make a weird movie, a movie you’ve never seen before (like The Fountain), and that’s what he did here. Remember his Requiem for a Dream? This is comparable to that in tone, only more fast-paced, and it doesn't make you want to blow your head off when it's over like RfaD. The music serves to get you inside the main character’s head and force you to feel some of the tension she was feeling. We think that’s a strong point, because the music was consuming enough to make you feel like you were connected with the movie, rather than detached and laughing at the craziness (Splice, anyone?).

Warning to some: This movie is dark, and it features some girl-on-girl oral sex. Mila Kunis had her dad leave for that scene. Also, the camera work is distracting in the beginning and sort of makes you dizzy. Don’t let that worry you though; it calms down as the movie goes on. Overall, Black Swan is a well-made thriller and a good time at the theatre.

Movie Grade: A


  1. I've seen the previews and read some reviews and I still haven't figured out exactly what this movie is about. It looks captivating, though. Thanks for the warning about the sex; was that just for me? :D

    I'm surprised you doubted Natalie Portman's natural abilities as an actress. I think she's phenomenal (not to mention gorgeous, sophisticated, intelligent, and respectable). Have you seen V for Vendetta?

    I only have 960 movies rated on netflix. :*(

  2. YES! It was just for you. Although, we've just thought: there is no nudity in the movie, even in that scene (they film it from a certain angle). Also, it's good that we keep you in mind, because there are probably other, less vocal readers worried about those things.

    What it's about: It's not something you describe to give it away. We can easily tell you that it's about a prima ballerina who is very dedicated to her art, but she doesn't have passion when she dances, because she is looking for technical perfection. Then another dancer comes along who has the passion, and it's threatening. The situation sort of spirals out of control.

    We HAVE seen V for Vendetta. She was ok. We didn't like her in The Other Boleyn Girl, and she whispers too much.

    960 is respectable.

  3. The Other Boleyn Girl was a stupid movie, indeed. I still like Natalie Portman, though.

  4. Just saw this film yesterday, and was blown away by it! Aronofsky is frighteningly talented. I could have lived without the oral sex scene, as I don't think it was totally necessary to develop the character or plot, but all in all I thought the moral and spiritual complexities of the film well outweighed some of its semi-pornographic impulse--if that makes any sense. I mean, seriously, the main character's "innocence" is called into question in the opening frames, and we're given a disturbingly complex exploration of humanity's darkness. Unbelievable film!

  5. We thought the oral sex sort of emphasized her battle with her own ego. Her partner turned into herself. We definitely think the rest of the movie overpowered the sex scene

  6. Ah, that's good. I'm going to use that. I think her desire for control was indeed related to her narcissism, which manifested itself in the doppelganger fantasies.

    I read that Aronofsky saw this as a companion piece to "The Wrestler", which I now have to watch again with this film in mind. Any thoughts?

  7. Never saw The Wrestler, but one of us has a cousin who really wants us to. We might cave, and we will ponder that when we see it. The sad true reason we didn't watch it? Mickey Roarke (sp?) Is an uggo.

  8. He has what my sister calls "meat face".