Sunday, January 2, 2011

Review: Black Swan

Fun trivia: I studied ballet in High School.  Seriously.  Not for super long, maybe half a semester out of two semesters of dance class, but there you go. I wasn’t very good at it and it was pretty uncomfortable but I will always be one of those guys who did that when I was a kid.  And yes I wore tights and I looked damn good in them.
Anyway Black Swan is the latest film by Darren Aronofsky and probably has the most Oscar buzz of any flick to come out during the 2010 Oscar Bait Season.  You may remember Aronofsky from such films as Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain.  Not me though; to me he’s the guy that made The Wrestler and being a fan of pro wrestling I certainly felt a notable connection to it.  If you ask him he’ll say this new movie is a companion piece to that one but really that only makes sense if you know about how those two films were originally one long flick…and I only know because Wikipedia told me.   On the nerdy side of things Aronofsky is also set to direct the next Wolverine movie currently titled “The Wolverine” which is a title that somehow sounds incredibly pretentious.
Anyway this is my first review of 2011 so it seems appropriate to write about yet another Mila Kunis film since my first  review of last year (i.e. Ever) was The Book of Eli.
Yeah, that's a pretty good indicator of what happens
Nina (Natalie Portman) is an uptight and apparently sheltered/over protected dancer working for a New York ballet company.  The first production of the season will be Swan Lake and Nina wins the lead.  However Lily (Kunis) a new dancer to the company shows up and then things start getting freaky.  I’m pretty sure if I say anymore I’ll spoil the movie.
Actual there’s not a lot I can say about this flick since if I go into any good detail I’ll likely ruin the movie for anyone foolish enough to check out this blog.  I’ll try to touch on things as best I can.  For one Natalie Portman once again demonstrates that she has solid acting ability and that her performances in the second Stars Wars trilogy was obviously just a fluke and/or bad writing and/or bad directing (Add Garden State to that as well.  Yuck).   Her character needs to be both a timid/shy as well as intense due to the nature of the role.  She totally nails it.  If she’s not at least nominated for an Oscar I may suspect foul play.  Speaking of Portman she’s a beautiful woman, something that has become more apparent as she’s gotten older.  Time to revisit the Hottest Women in Hollywood List.  Because I’m a pig.
#5: Natalie Portman
#4: Amy Acker
#3: Kat Dennings
#2: Anne Hathaway
#1: Michelle Trachtenberg
Get a load of that Harvard degree, bro.  Hot!
(Note that if this were a point system scale Anne Hathaway would have about 100 points give or take and Michelle Trachtenberg would have 859, 488 points)
As I mentioned Mila Kunis is in this movie.  She’s okay mainly because her character is very simple and doesn’t call for any real range.  I still maintain that her biggest weakness as an actress is her inability to sincerely emote but luckily the role doesn’t seem to call for much of that so good for her.  The rest of the cast are sufficiently intense, but I kind of don’t want to go into detail about it.
This is a trippy movie, but it’s a psychological thriller so guess I shouldn’t’ be surprised.  Even the trailers basically tell you the type of flick this likely going to be.  It’s a bit hard to explain what goes on but it’s one of those films where the protagonist, and therefore the audience, can’t be 100% sure what is and is not real.  It’s effective though it really Portman’s performance that makes it work.  The problem really is that at the end of the day these type of movies aren’t my cup of tea.  I’ve never been all that interested in them before and the surrealistic elements tended to take me out of the story.  However I’m fairly certain that this is my problem and not the film’s.  I was still able to appreciate and (More or less) understand things so it is successful in that regard.
In lieu of spoilers please enjoy this soothing picture of a Black Swan
Really the only real problem I had with this movie was that I felt like I pretty much figured out the ending before it happened and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had seen this film before, though admittedly the sequence of events certainly weren’t familiar.  Also between this and Love and Other Drugs I’m starting to wonder if I’m becoming too much of a prude to go see movies as I get older.
It’s very hard to review a movie like this.  It’s like trying to tell someone how good Fight Club or The Matrix (The first one, obviously) is while trying to avoid ruining the experience for them.  This movie is very good; artistically speaking this could very well be the best film of the year.  If you’re okay with using you brain in the theater than this will likely be a worthwhile visit, but if your more like a “Turn the old brain off and enjoy a popcorn flick” kind of fellow than you may be better off watching something else.  Personal I think this film really good, but unfortunately it’s not my type of film.  I don’t mind cerebral movies or anything like that but really the sequence of events…aw hell, just go see the movie for yourself.
I’m giving Black Swan a mysterious 4 Adorable Pandas out of 5.  However if Darren Aronofsky ever mans up and makes his Wrestler/Ballerina epic that movie will likely get 17 out of 5.
-Great acting from Portman and (Most of) the supporting cast
- A great character study of a very complex person
-Great music from Swan Lake throughout
-It feels a bit too familiar
-Perhaps a teeny  tiny bit too "Art House" for Beta.  Maybe

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