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Overstreet

Black Swan (2010)

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Aw, that's a bit cheap. At its best, ballet is an extraordinarily beautiful, engaging art form.

If it weren't high-handedly and unreasonably dismissive, it wouldn't be funny.

Sure. And I got more than a bit of a chuckle out of it. But still, it's a bit cheap. :P

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This will not make my Top 10 of the year. I actually got bored while watching it, even during the sex scenes. And that isn't like me. It was the closest Aronofsky has come to Pi, but not nearly as intriguing.

I can, however, understand it if Portman gets nominated.

Now I'm going to finally go back and read this thread...

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I think I like it more than most here seem to. I doubt it will make my year end list, but it is a great id/superego battle that draws us in not just to watch the battle, but in a lesser way to take part in it.

I keep thinking I should try Pi again. But about the time I think that I remember how often I've convinced my self to watch one more Tarkovski.

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I thought this film served as a handy cautionary tale of how not to pursue a career in the arts. From the direction of the ballet, to the way Natalie Portman tries to draw out her sensuality, to her mother's reaction. If you want to become an artist or nurture one, then do the opposite of everything you see in this film.

I was impressed with Natalie Portman's performance, but the performance that really stayed with me, in her few brief scenes, was Winona Ryder. She played someone so broken, so used, that she was terrifying to watch.

Edited by Crow

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MrZoom wrote:

: How do you deal with topics that cover several films currently in theaters?

In this case, we've already got a thread on the Oscar nominations for Best Original Score, and the disqualifications have already been mentioned there.

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I have serious problems with both films, but when it comes to 2010 movies about young women who are pursuing futures as dancers, suffering from overbearing mothers, seducing the wrong men, and trying to breathe in a suffocating existence... I think Fish Tank is a better movie than Black Swan.

Edited by Overstreet

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Interesting connection. Hadn't thought of it, but I'd be torn between the two. You know how I mercilessly picked on Fish Tank, but in that film there was at least an interesting story that kept moving forward in a sort of narrative progress. Black Swan kind of gets stuck from the get-go: How will she become the black swan? How will she become the black swan?? But the choreographing of the large cast, the way the camera moved through and fully into those dance scenes, actually becoming a member of the troupe, makes me really, really like the style of Black Swan, not to mention Aronofsky's frenetic style even earlier in the film (like when Portman was going down the stairs to the subway, or on the subway itself).

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FWIW, Fish Tank may have received a limited release in North America in January 2010, but it played at several festivals in 2009 (and of course it was released in its native Britain that year, too).

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S. Brent Plate @ Journal of Religion and Film:

The French cultural critic Roland Barthes once wrote about "The Face of Garbo." Greta Garbo's countenance was a prime metonymic image of a time "when the face represented a kind of absolute state of the flesh, which could be neither reached nor renounced... Garbo offered to one's gaze a sort of Platonic Idea of the human creature." The larger-than-life face on screen confronts viewers as its gazes down, showing deeper versions of reality, loftier forms, new worlds. Viewers sit, returning the gaze, and become transported into Ideal life, transcending this-world reality.

The cinematic age of Garbo's face, with its otherworldly, mystical revelations, evolves in Darren Aronofsky's latest film, Black Swan. This is the age of Natalie's neck.

Sinewy and elongated, sternomastoid muscles strained, Natalie Portman's neck too represents a particular state of the flesh, but what it ultimately brings to light are not metaphysical Platonic Ideas. There are no hierophanies coming down from above. Instead, Portman's visceral performance as ballerina Nina Sayers begins with toes on a wood floor, cracking from the weight of her body. Metaphorically, and sometimes explicitly, the camera works its way up her body to her neck, the meeting point between the mind and body, between physics and metaphysics. . . .

FWIW, as of this past weekend, this film has already beaten The Wrestler to become Darren Aronofsky's top-grossing film ever, at least domestically. (Has it even been released overseas yet?)

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Natalie Portman Is Engaged and Pregnant!

Natalie Portman and choreographer Benjamin Millepied are engaged and expecting their first child, her reps confirm to PEOPLE exclusively.

The couple met during the production of Black Swan. . . .

People, December 27

- - -

So... will we be watching any of the dancing scenes differently, now? :)

And hey, doesn't the guy's surname mean "thousand feet" in French? That's kind of an appropriate name for a guy who works with teams of dancers, no?

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So... will we be watching any of the dancing scenes differently, now? :)

You mean the training-and-groping scenes?

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So... will we be watching any of the dancing scenes differently, now? :)

You mean the training-and-groping scenes?

There was already plenty of "is this roman-a-clef" moments in the film -- the castings of Hershey, Ryder, Portman and Kunis in roles that mirrored their career stages; the way all four women were dressed and made up to resemble each other as much as possible; the fact the "director" in the film was a womanizer who hits on Portman for the role's sake (Aronofsky cast then-girlfriend Rachel Weisz in one of his earlier films and apparently was separated from her while this film was being made with the divorce being announced pre-release)

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Anyone know when/if the Catholic News Service is going to review Black Swan? A lady on the Catholic Match message boards complained today that she found the film "morally offensive" and would like to have been warned. This was in the midst of a thread calling for a boycott on the Coen Brothers' remake of True Grit (started several months ago by another lady who describes herself as a die-hard John Wayne fan; and who subsequently explained her thread was intended to be lighthearted).

Edited by MrZoom

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Anyone know when/if the Catholic News Service is going to review Black Swan? A lady on the Catholic Match message boards complained today that she found the film "morally offensive" and would like to have been warned. This was in the midst of a thread calling for a boycott on the Coen Brothers' remake of True Grit (started several months ago by another lady who describes herself as a die-hard John Wayne fan; and who subsequently explained her thread was intended to be lighthearted).

I think Black Swan is morally offensive too, but I can't review everything. I would not be surprised if CNS were shying away from this one. Perhaps someone might consider linking to my True Grit review in the discussion on that film.

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Finally saw this. I liked it a lot more than most here. My reaction is somewhere between Victor and Ryan's. A couple of comments.

I very much liked Natalie Portman's performance. She has lately become one of the most beautiful women in movies, and her Audrey Hepburn "updo" never calls attention away from this fact. Even when contorting her face in agony she is lovely. (Frightening to think how much she endured for this picture.)

Yes. And for me, the film calls into question the worth of the endurance. There was a point about half-way that I was about to dismiss it, but then the final flourish of the performance was enough for me. Amazing!

Sicinski gets to the main point of my ho-hum review before I can:

What I liked about BLACK SWAN: Mila Kunis. The only recognizable human being, transcending her symbolic function.

Not all films are suposed to be about psychologically real characters. I think there is value in symbolic functions. If anything, for me, it makes the Kunis character stand out more as clearly the only woman who is not psychologically unstable

and have us immediately doubt the reality of the lesbian scene

.

My other comment to those who (like Doug C) say this is nothing more than a film about the blurring of reality and fantasy, making us guess what's real and what's not, is to say that that's not what this film is about. It doesn't seem to be remotely interested in that question. It should be clear pretty quickly that we're being given a restricted narrative perspective, and that our narrator is disturbed. The film seems to be more about the psychological damage wrought by the dedication to the performance.

This is ballet. This is "operatic." Subtley isn't always a strength.

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I liked it a lot more than most here. My reaction is somewhere between Victor and Ryan's.

I sometimes feel like I'm the only one here who had a favorable reaction toward BLACK SWAN (of course, Victor is more enthusiastic than I am). Truth be told, I'm thinking about seeing it again.

Edited by Ryan H.

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Anyone know when/if the Catholic News Service is going to review Black Swan? A lady on the Catholic Match message boards complained today that she found the film "morally offensive" and would like to have been warned. This was in the midst of a thread calling for a boycott on the Coen Brothers' remake of True Grit (started several months ago by another lady who describes herself as a die-hard John Wayne fan; and who subsequently explained her thread was intended to be lighthearted).

I think Black Swan is morally offensive too, but I can't review everything. I would not be surprised if CNS were shying away from this one. Perhaps someone might consider linking to my True Grit review in the discussion on that film.

SDG, I linked to your review of True Grit in the thread and so did one other person. :)

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I liked it a lot more than most here. My reaction is somewhere between Victor and Ryan's.

I sometimes feel like I'm the only one here who had a favorable reaction toward BLACK SWAN (of course, Victor is more enthusiastic than I am). Truth be told, I'm thinking about seeing it again.

I was ambivalent, leaning a bit negative, after my first viewing, but hesitant to say so precisely because I liked some things about the film and was afraid I might change my mind with time. The discussion around the film has moved me a bit more toward "favorable," but I'm not sure I'm fully in that camp. I won't be sure until I see the film again.

But I don't really want to see this film again.

So that means ... what does that mean?

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I liked it a lot more than most here. My reaction is somewhere between Victor and Ryan's.

I sometimes feel like I'm the only one here who had a favorable reaction toward BLACK SWAN (of course, Victor is more enthusiastic than I am). Truth be told, I'm thinking about seeing it again.

I was ambivalent, leaning a bit negative, after my first viewing, but hesitant to say so precisely because I liked some things about the film and was afraid I might change my mind with time. The discussion around the film has moved me a bit more toward "favorable," but I'm not sure I'm fully in that camp. I won't be sure until I see the film again.

But I don't really want to see this film again.

So that means ... what does that mean?

You don't really like BLACK SWAN?

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I liked it a lot more than most here. My reaction is somewhere between Victor and Ryan's.

I sometimes feel like I'm the only one here who had a favorable reaction toward BLACK SWAN (of course, Victor is more enthusiastic than I am). Truth be told, I'm thinking about seeing it again.

I was ambivalent, leaning a bit negative, after my first viewing, but hesitant to say so precisely because I liked some things about the film and was afraid I might change my mind with time. The discussion around the film has moved me a bit more toward "favorable," but I'm not sure I'm fully in that camp. I won't be sure until I see the film again.

But I don't really want to see this film again.

So that means ... what does that mean?

What Ryan said. Though that doesn't discount wanting to re-experience certain elements of the film.

I wouldn't mind seeing the dance sequences again. Or even just listening to the appropriate parts of Swan Lake and remembering the accompanying visuals (much like Peter was saying in the Greystroke thread). Matthew Libatique and his camera crew are the real stars of the film, if you ask me.

But I have no interest in sitting through the rest of the film to get to those scenes. None at all.

Edited by N.W. Douglas

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Well, perhaps to my great moral shame, based on some of the comments here, I enjoyed this movie a lot - a lot more than I thought I would, and in different ways than I expected. Fairly early on, I decided it's best appreciated as a really beautifully-made and well-acted horror movie. I totally gave myself over on that level and had a blast. It was almost like a Stephen King story, you know? But more disciplined? I can't have been the only one who thought of CARRIE during the scenes with Hershey and Portman. (In fact, within hours of getting home, we dialed up DOLORES CLAIBORNE on Netflix, so long as we were in the mood...)

[edited to prove I can spell, usually]

Edited by Sara Zarr

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Dana Stevens:

In his recent consideration of Black Swan for Slate, Dennis Lim asks: Is the film intended as camp, or is it appropriating camp tropes (the victimized ballerina, the passive-aggressive stage mother, the leering Svengali ballet master) to do something different? And if so, what? For all its virtuosic technique, Black Swan seemed to flail tonally, unsure of how to combine body-horror voyeurism with an after-school-special-like focus on the travails of its virginal heroine. Natalie's artistic apotheosis at the end felt like a pure narrative contrivance. And—the one commonality tying together all of Aronofsky's films so far—so little humor! (Though I did laugh at the moment when the dancer costumed as the evil wizard Rothbart passes by an overwrought Natalie in the wings and proffers a hilariously casual, "Hey.")

Dennis Lim:

Is Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky's tawdry thriller, a work of camp?

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