Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ten Statements About....BLACK SWAN (2010)

Yes..I'm using this picture to get you to read this review...
1) Gee....give it to Darren Aronofsky to take something beautiful, elegant and eloquent and turn it into something dark, twisted and disturbing.

2) My best friend Derrick Ferguson has been quite outspoken about how cold and robotic he finds Natalie Portman. But here, Portman's admittedly chilly looks and presence works for fact, I'd posit that the film needs someone with that lack of surface work for it to work at all.

3) Even though there are some digital effects utilized to reflect the changes that are being wrought by Portman's Nina, the best effect in the whole movie is her ragged breathing, which acts as a sort of Greek Chorus the deeper the character spirals into a darker place.

4) Aronofsky effectively demonstrates the punishment a ballerina puts herself through in the early part...which gives the later moments of body-horror-esque transformation an air of naturalness.

5) The thing that makes casting Mila Kunis as Lily so genius is that at certain angles she does look very, very similar to Portman, but a much warmer version of her...and it makes the moment where Aronofsky seems to want us to question whether Lily is real or an aspect of Portman's splintery personality truly effective. The same goes for the casting of Barbara Hershey as Nina's mom.

"...wouldn't you like to find out how someone as gross as I
got to bag Monica Belluci?"
6) Boy, does Victor Cassel look like a thorough freak, no matter how many times Kunis purrs about Portman being 'hot for teacher'...but then, he goes home every night to fuck Monica Bellucci, so he's got something going for him.

7) There's something truly disturbing about watching Winona Ryder, whose Beth can be seen as a reflection of her own crazy behavior in the past, screeching at Portman--and later stabbing herself in the cheek repeatedly with a letter opener.

8) I have to wonder if Aronofsky had seen Roman Polanski's Repulsion and The Tenant before writing this script, as there are some faint echoes in the story, and in Portman's performance.

9) The film seems to be shot on a grainier film stock. Hell; I swore some scenes were shot in 16mm. It gives the movie a sombre, groggy feel that emphasizes the weirdness when things go out of control.

I didn't know Gene Simmons was playing the, wait...
10) It does help greatly that both Portman and Kunis have a dance background, and that they're friends in real life. It makes their interaction, both antagonistic and otherwise, ring true, and the fact that they did many of their own dance scenes add to creating a world that feels right.

In short...this was a really freaky film, one that actually kept me speculating until the end about the nature of the people interacting with Portman. A recommended film for someone interested in psychological horror that doesn't descend into knifeplay.

I saw this at the AMC Kips Bay as a break from finalizing my Christmas shopping--including gift cards for my mom and a pair of navy New Balances for myself. The trailers were mainly of the higher-end stuff, and featured some more creative handling of things. I admit to being somewhat intrigued by Water for Elephants, if only because I can't imagine Robert Pattison and Christoph Waltz existing in the same universe, let alone in the same circus, and The Tree of Life because it's the latest Terrance Malick. Oh, and they led off with another Sucker Punch trailer, which continues to get my blood pumping with its bizarre otaku wet dream feel.

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