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Empire Admin -> Black Swan (31/12/2010 7:09:30 PM)

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chambanzi -> RE: Incredible (6/1/2011 9:37:50 PM)

I thought this film was fantastic and Aronofsky's best film yet (I think he just gets better and better.)
Natalie Portman gave the performance of her career and one of the strongest female performances I have seen in a film before. Cassell delivered as always and Kunis was well suited to her role.
The sound in the film was haunting and gave a constant feel of tension, the whole thing was so eerie that it reminded me a lot of The Shining.
The final performance gave me chills.

One of the oddest yet most rewarding films you will see this year and completely gripping.
9/10

I never give anything a 10/10 straight away, I have to give the film a few days to settle in but 9 will be the minimum mark I will give this film and the mark I am giving it now.




demoncleaner -> RE: Black Swan (21/1/2011 5:44:51 PM)

Not quite the poetic and impenetrable riddle I was hoping, but a good approximation of.

Once you realise that the story fits the fairy tale requirements that might underpin your standard ballet, or opera for that matter, then the story is as recognisably trite as a fairy tale ought to be. The fundamentals are the same as Hans Christian Anderson's Red Shoes for instance. A cautionary tale warning against the getting of what you wished for. Both heroines want to dance and they pay a price for the granting of that wish. Instead of enchanted loafers, Natalie Portman's Nina fashions herself instead, a dangerous "Method" fantasy enabling her to master the requisite schizophrenia to dance both the White and Black Swan parts. (So it's basically a warning against the dangers of method acting, and that's probably just one more reason why Portman deserves the Oscar!)

Once it's fundamentally agreed (and let's be honest Cassel's unsubtle character is there to assure it's bleedin' agreed) that the White Swan embodies stricture and purity - and the Black, the lascivious opposite - then the whole film becomes a fairly decipherable Freudian milieu of psycho-sexuality.

So far so standard. With narrow hand-held shots Aronofsky does make us wary of what's perpetually on the border of the frame. Every time Portman turns around (a real-world parody of the many pirouettes?) she is sure to bump into someone/something she wasn't expecting. But this is no Rosemary's Baby and he doesn't quite achieve the intimidation that Polanski managed in vast wide-angled shots. I also felt that while the dance sequences thrill it's a bit of a cheat on opulence to do it hand-held. Aronosky chooses to deny, at this point, the director his role as choreographer and opts instead to be our voyeur. Sometimes it really works. Other times it just functions.

Aside from these rather snippy concerns I do believe that Portman and the Ballet (rehearsing or the polished article) make the film the worthwhile watch it definitely is. The twinning of ambition and desperation absolutely takes place on Nat's face, and her transformation into a believable ballerina manque (the "chick" equivalent of Raging Bull) is undeniable.

So in the end, it's a curiousity. A merely decent film with a rock solid central performance and a stage production that thrills your exit from the cinema. Without these two things Black Swan might suck very heavily. It doesn't. But does the fact that it doesn't have anything to do with Darren Aronfsky or the script-writers? Hmmm...not sure.

4/5




R W -> RE: Black Swan (21/1/2011 8:16:37 PM)

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Screenwriters: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, John McLaughlin
Starring: Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder

Synopsis
Ballet dancer Nina Sayers (Portman) wins the lead in Swan Lake and is perfect for the role of the delicate White Swan but slowly loses her mind as she becomes more and more like the Black Swan.

Review
First it was wrestling, now it is ballet: subjects that this critic has no proper interest in. However, they are in the hands of director Darren Aronofsky, except he returns to the intensity from his earlier work.

If you have seen the director’s previous work The Wrestler (featuring Mickey Rourke’s big comeback), you will see similarities with Black Swan which is considered a companion piece to Aronofsky’s previous flick: aging, body structure and determination. Although The Wrestler had its soft moments (not least a blonde-haired Mickey Rourke crying), the content in Black Swan is up to eleven.

This is as close to Aronofsky getting to make a horror as a lot of the film seems to be referencing works by David Lynch, David Cronenberg and Dario Argento. The Cronenberg-like aspects are the most noticeable as the theme of identity is what defines the character of Nina as her delicateness makes her the perfect White Swan, but she must unleash her dark side if she is to play the Black Swan.

Like many of Lynch’s work, the film jumps into different directions without feeling baggy and all over the place. For example in the early stages, we see a transformation movie and suddenly there is a lesbian subplot in which Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis snog one another (which has been much discussed in the film’s publicity). When it gets to the long climax, horror becomes as surreal and extreme as the best of Dario Argento as a number of female characters really show their violent side.

As I have mentioned before, this critic hasn’t the foggiest idea about the art of ballet, but after its extraordinary opening sequence (in the form of Nina’s dream), I was immediately hooked. The dancing that must have been a physical challenge for the actors is beautifully presented as the handheld camerawork jumps right into the action. On the technical side, the little details is what gives the film a strong tone, such as the creepy sound effects involving cracking bones and echoing voices, as well as the cleverly presented visual effects.

There is a possibility that Clint Mansell’s score will be ignored at this year’s Oscars, which is a shame because it’s one of the best scores this year. Using the music from Tchaikovsky’s ballet, Mansell’s instruments works with the psychological aspect of the film, along with high-pumping tracks by The Chemical Brothers.

Since Leon, Natalie Portman has not done a performance to match her iconic role as Mathilda… until now. This is Portman at her most physical and emotional as she has to transform herself, in terms of becoming a determined dancer and eventually into a seductive and sinister swan. She may be the voice of Meg from Family Guy, Mila Kunis seems to enjoy herself as the black swan to Portman’s white.

As for the supporting players, they are playing rather clichéd characters which they seem to enjoy playing. Vincent Cassel is terrific as always as the ballet director who sexually takes advantage of his actors, particularly his swan queen. Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder play the most pantomime characters as the wicked career mother and the deranged star that gets replaced.

Verdict
Sublime, surreal and completely bonkers, Aronofsky brings his best work since Requiem for a Dream, as well as an Oscar-promising performance from Natalie Portman.




hairymonster11 -> RE: Black Swan (21/1/2011 10:31:27 PM)

So worth going to see then? It's the last film on tonight and it's either watch that or Neds...




Scruff -> RE: More horror than Oscar.... (23/1/2011 12:11:17 AM)

Sheepy i think we could've seen the same screening. I'd predicted the ending and grew bored before the first fifteen minutes. And the audience laughed in a few places where they really weren't supposed to yet most of them walked out marvelling at the complex psychodrama they'd just witnesses. I felt like I was on crazy pills.




Qwerty Norris -> RE: a terrible movie - ignore the hype (23/1/2011 12:26:54 AM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Scruff

I'm with you on this. Actually a big fan of The Fountain was this was B-movie horror fare. Massively over-hyped and in need of some subtlety.


Subtlety in the world of theatrics? NAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A little review coming later, but needless to say it blew me away....




Qwerty Norris -> RE: Awlful, awful movie (23/1/2011 4:41:23 PM)

Where on earth do you start? To try and comprehend all the thoughts and feelings I experienced whilst watching 'Black Swan' is a difficult feat to say the least, but it goes without saying that it's been a very long time since I've had a contemporary cinematic experience that has been so electrifying. Darren Aronofsky, for me, in his previous four features has shown elements and examples of masterful ability, but it's in his fifth where he has reached the level where you can legitimately consider the term 'masterpiece' to be used.

Many have pointed to Powell & Pressburger's 'The Red Shoes' as its fundamental source of inspiration, but aside from being set amongst the world of ballet that's where the comparisons end. Aside from various little bits and bobs of genre-film making, 'Black Swan' echoes many of the strong aspects contained in Aronofsky's previous works. The paranoia border lining on anxiety and obsession in 'Pi.'The Docu-led emotional rawness of 'the Wrestler' capturing the physical strain of an intense performance. The escaping into the fantastical of 'The Fountain'; and in particular, the relentlessly-paced assault on the senses of 'Requiem For A Dream' (particularly in the film's final half hour – as you pointed out Spider). It's an extraordinary example of directorial ability and whilst David Fincher will walk away with the golden statue for the Social Network – it is the work here that is far more deserving.

The technical construction however would be nothing without a central performance to rival it, and boy does Natalie Portman deliver in abundance. Her journey from a technically gifted but sickly innocent and shy girl into a dangerously passionate and obsessive creation on the verge of insanity (which is on display in virtually every frame of the running time) is nothing short of spellbinding. Needless to say it would be a complete embarrassment on the Academy's part should anyone other than her scoop the best actress award. She isn't alone however in delivering strong turns. Vincent Cassell (a long time favourite of mine in vastly different things such as 'La Haine', 'Read My Lips', 'Irreversible' and 'Mesrine') convinces as the dominating artistic director willing to push the boundaries of acceptability in order to draw out the performances in his production. Winona Ryder (unfairly criticised in Empire's review) captures the cynicism and depression of a previous starlet fading into the background. Mila Kunis provides a sassy and enigmatic figure to perfectly counteract Portman's frightened and suspicious character arc. While Barbara Hershsey chews up the screen with a loving but overbearing mother-figure that tiptoes on the side of sinister for the films duration.

Some will inevitably continue their loathing of Aronofksy's work whilst others will claim 'Black Swan' is in desperate need of some subtly, but in reality that's missing the point. Whilst it's true that his films have frequently lurched into the realm of becoming over-dramatic, in this however it is entirely appropriate and justified. It is a film about delivering the ultimate performance and the lengths people will go to achieving it– even if it costs you your sanity and your well-being in the process. A spectacular achievement that already looks a certainty to feature very highly on my 'films of 2011' list at the end of this year.


5/5




greyan -> RE: A BIT QUACKERS (24/1/2011 12:38:00 PM)

I ahve seen this movie and i really enjoy myself. Natalie Portman has done superb performance and Darren Aronofsky directed very brilliantly.




Dr Leo Marvin -> RE: A BIT QUACKERS (24/1/2011 1:27:44 PM)

A wonderfully intense experience.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this, I've not been entirely been convinced of Aronofsky's 'genius' so far. I found Requiem for a Dream a dark mess and The Fountain ridiculous while Pi and The Wrestler were very good. The story had me engaged from the very first minute and the performance from Portman is great, I did think the mother and teacher were a little over the top but it did suit the story. The film felt like a real performance from start to finish which left me exhausted by the end.

I'd definitely recommend seeing this one on the big screen.




demoncleaner -> RE: Awlful, awful movie (24/1/2011 2:12:01 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Qwerty Norris

It's an extraordinary example of directorial ability and whilst David Fincher will walk away with the golden statue for the Social Network – it is the work here that is far more deserving.



Really? Really?   I thought Darren just followed the actors around?  I really think he deferred on the opportunity to be either discerning or choice about composing his shots.  I'd be happy if Fincher "walked away" with the Oscar, I'm sure he would be equally as competent just running after the actors with a camcorder.  Perhaps you're crediting Aronofsky with choreographing either the dancing or the stage production, because I'm pretty sure he hadn't a lot to do with it.  Aside from the pre-fab spectacle there's not much of a "vision" being captured here at all. 




horribleives -> RE: Awlful, awful movie (24/1/2011 2:37:37 PM)

Brilliant, electrifying, intense, etc, etc. Never been much of an Aranofsky fan but this is something of a masterpiece.
Also features the most eerily convincing ecstacy sequence I've ever seen.




Qwerty Norris -> RE: Awlful, awful movie (24/1/2011 6:52:20 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: demoncleaner

quote:

ORIGINAL: Qwerty Norris

It's an extraordinary example of directorial ability and whilst David Fincher will walk away with the golden statue for the Social Network – it is the work here that is far more deserving.



Really? Really?   I thought Darren just followed the actors around?  I really think he deferred on the opportunity to be either discerning or choice about composing his shots.  I'd be happy if Fincher "walked away" with the Oscar, I'm sure he would be equally as competent just running after the actors with a camcorder.  Perhaps you're crediting Aronofsky with choreographing either the dancing or the stage production, because I'm pretty sure he hadn't a lot to do with it.  Aside from the pre-fab spectacle there's not much of a "vision" being captured here at all. 



Absolute nonsense. Just following the actors around? I think you're doing Aronofsky and the whole concept of direction a disservice.

Sure he didn't do the choreography of the dancers, but it was he that went for the look of capturing the movement of those dancing on stage and moulding the sequences together in the manner you see. The first two minutes and the final thirty are breathless, beautiful, dramatic and completely immersive in capturing the delirium and intensity of the performance.

And I never said Fincher wouldn't be able to "run after the actors with a camcorder" in the same manner.  I just felt Aronofsky executed a more impressive creative vision than the critical darling of 2010 - which admittedly is a completely different film, but one I clearly warmed to less than yourself. Fincher is of course a terrific film-maker and the Social Network is a very well-made film, but I do feel its main selling point (or shall we say, main award contender) is Sorkin's screenplay rather than his direction.

Do remember, this a subjective viewpoint rather than fact - I still remember your debate regarding Winter's Bone and don't fancy a thread long debate based on a difference of opinion.[:D]






Edward Nygma -> RE: Awlful, awful movie (24/1/2011 9:23:06 PM)

Ok, haven't been on here for a while but thought I'd check out what you guys made of Aronofsky's latest.

Let me just say I loved The Wrestler and thought The Fountain was...interesting if overblown, pretentious and redundant. At least it looked and sounded amazing. Pi and Requiem, good, strong, depressing, heavygoing.

Black Swan takes the look of The Wrestler, adds the pretentiousness of The Fountain and the darkness of older efforts to create a sub-Haneke/Cronenberg hybrid. It wants to be The Fly crossed with The Piano Teacher, basically. And it succeeds. But does the result cut it?

Not for me I'm afraid. This was just way too silly to take seriously. Sorry. The film makes the subtle as obvious as is humanely possible. So she scratches her back early on, could she by any chance be turning into a swan? Cassel's director announces he's making a "real" and "visceral" version of Swan Lake, could he by any chance be talking about Aronofsky's film? Portman starts seeing a double of herself, any gratuitous lesbian sex scene on the way? Ughnnn...

The film looks pretty good and the Portman/Kunis/Cassel trio are all fine, well, when they're not saying lines like: "I have some homework for you: go home and touch yourself. Live a little" lol.

It's like, I get what the movie's doing in the first act and then I'm made to sit through a vulgar, silly "I Know What You Did Last Summer" version of Swan Lake?

The whole thing is pretty entertaining and the dance scenes look great. The funniest bits include the old man who touches himself on the tube (amaaaazing), Winona Ryder's knife freakout (note: it's a skull, not butter) and Portman's very own version of "I'm Batman": "I'm the Swan Queen!".

I like Aronofsky and parts of Black Swan were genuinely good but on the whole...oh dear. Way too hilarious for its own good. And the horror film stuff...well made, kind of, but it just doesn't work for me.

3 Stars...and I'm being nice.




Deviation -> RE: a terrible movie - ignore the hype (24/1/2011 11:15:19 PM)

quote:

I saw this on Saturday & both myself & my friend HATED it.  Everyone in our cinema looked uncomfortable & approx 7 people walked out the screening, so can already see the divide between critical acclaim & general public


I don't know about the divide between critical and general public, but it sure did great business and had an exceptional word of mouth for a film that seems to be detested by the general public.




bamba -> RE: a terrible movie - ignore the hype (24/1/2011 11:23:48 PM)

Where did I say detested by general public?  I just said there was some divide, as have not read a single bad review about this film - yet 7 people walked out of my screening, the 2 people besides us hated it & we hated it.  So thats 11 people that is disagreeing with critical acclaim in one screening.  Usually I read reviews & some are bad & some are good.  This is not the case with Black Swan at all.  Its got universally good reviews.  This threw me.  Thats all.  I never said detested by general public.




Qwerty Norris -> RE: a terrible movie - ignore the hype (24/1/2011 11:30:35 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: bamba

Where did I say detested by general public?  I just said there was some divide, as have not read a single bad review about this film - yet 7 people walked out of my screening, the 2 people besides us hated it & we hated it.  So thats 11 people that is disagreeing with critical acclaim in one screening.  Usually I read reviews & some are bad & some are good.  This is not the case with Black Swan at all.  Its got universally good reviews.  This threw me.  Thats all.  I never said detested by general public.


Apparently whoever did the review for Film 2011 despised it too. As usual with Aronofsky's films this is very much in the "love it" or "hate it" camp.




bamba -> RE: a terrible movie - ignore the hype (24/1/2011 11:39:37 PM)

Cool thanks, will have a look




Deviation -> RE: a terrible movie - ignore the hype (24/1/2011 11:40:31 PM)

In the bit where you talk about the divide between critical accliam and general public becuase you and 10 others hated it? The paragraph I quoted? I could have misread but it implied that.

Also, I remember reading negative reviews about it being hammy, preposterous and overplayed by The Hollywood Reporter, but considering this a film about theater and directed by the man who made the most OTT tragedy ever (beating even von Trier) with Requiem for a Dream I find this expected.




bamba -> RE: a terrible movie - ignore the hype (24/1/2011 11:54:29 PM)

Ah okay, no worries.  Yeah in my mind - there is a big jump from the word divide to detested.  I certainly never meant detested.  I personally hated it, but maybe the people who left were just bored or squeamish or fed up?!!

Its only my  opinion, I completely understand if you feel passionately about this film, but I have not seen the bad reviews so it came as a complete surprise to me that I hated it.  I wanted to like it, I just didn't.

I don't really know Darren A's work - and had not realised he was the wrestler's director - else maybe I would have been better prepared.  Natlie won the golden globe, I love Natalie Portman hence wanted to see it.  Thats as far as my thoughts went.  Plus backed up was as far as I could see pure love by critics!




Qwerty Norris -> RE: a terrible movie - ignore the hype (25/1/2011 12:31:57 AM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation


Also, I remember reading negative reviews about it being hammy, preposterous and overplayed by The Hollywood Reporter, but considering this a film about theater and directed by the man who made the most OTT tragedy ever (beating even von Trier) with Requiem for a Dream I find this expected.



Spot on.





demoncleaner -> RE: Awlful, awful movie (25/1/2011 12:18:15 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Qwerty Norris
Absolute nonsense. Just following the actors around? I think you're doing Aronofsky and the whole concept of direction a disservice.

Sure he didn't do the choreography of the dancers, but it was he that went for the look of capturing the movement of those dancing on stage and moulding the sequences together in the manner you see. The first two minutes and the final thirty are breathless, beautiful, dramatic and completely immersive in capturing the delirium and intensity of the performance.

And I never said Fincher wouldn't be able to "run after the actors with a camcorder" in the same manner.  I just felt Aronofsky executed a more impressive creative vision than the critical darling of 2010 - which admittedly is a completely different film, but one I clearly warmed to less than yourself. Fincher is of course a terrific film-maker and the Social Network is a very well-made film, but I do feel its main selling point (or shall we say, main award contender) is Sorkin's screenplay rather than his direction.

Do remember, this a subjective viewpoint rather than fact - I still remember your debate regarding Winter's Bone and don't fancy a thread long debate based on a difference of opinion.[:D]



Well I’m sorry that particular lucid exchange makes me look like some sort of compulsive arguer. [;)]

That’s fair enough Qwerty but I just don’t think it’s that subjective.    The greater part of a director’s vocation is for them to be very much a choreographer, and I think, based on the onscreen evidence, Aronofsky has abandoned that in favour of “filmed choreography”.  Does that spoil the film?  No.  And it is a film I really like.  But it’s not a sin to admit the film does not excel in every department, and the director’s chair is one area where it just doesn’t.  Invoking pre-sumptive sour grapes against Fincher is all well and good, but for me, it doesn’t hold up specifically in regard to this film.  Away from the ballet it’s a very meagre and undeveloped piece.  You wouldn’t necessarily know it was set in New York and the peripheral characters are allowed to be simple and recognisable types. All this and the intimacy of hand-held might commit more the central character’s headspace, but what does that do, other than give the audience the all too easy option to view it as “just being in her head”.  One of the reasons why it isn't the lingering effective piece it could have been.

I don’t think any of that is necessarily opinion, it’s very much evidenced on the screen. I think.




Qwerty Norris -> RE: Awlful, awful movie (25/1/2011 4:00:53 PM)

Well to coin a useful phrase, that's your opinion.....[:D]

I should point out that I'm not the only one that thinks the same, but hey, different strokes and all that...[;)]




Rgirvan44 -> RE: Awlful, awful movie (26/1/2011 12:03:12 AM)

Black Swan is a great horror film. Yes, I am sure critics, maybe even the director, like to tell themselves that it is a thriller, but at its core, Black Swan is about horror. The horror of perfection, the horror of emotion, the horror of passion, and the horror of ego. Darren Aronofsky has forged film about art and the obsession that consumes those who seek to create it.

There are some notable connections with The Wrestler and Black Swan is very much a companion piece. But while The Wrestler is drenched in cold hard reality, Black Swan takes the viewer on a journey that delves into those dark places of the mind.

Dario Argento and Suspriria are of course the obvious place to locate the roots of Black Swan, and indeed there are one or two choices in the lighting that suggest a small tribute to that film.

Anchoring all of this is Natalie Portman giving an amazing performance. The sort of performance that, if given by a man, would be heralded as a film classic. Let's put it this way, Portman may have got Oscar nominated, but Mickey Rourke was getting far more attention and plaudits, and she frankly has given the performance of the year. No argument.

Her essay of Nina is of fragile creature, vulnerable and remote. Her journey in the film is intense and should leave audiences shell shocked. Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder are all GREAT, but much like Swan Lake itself, their roles are pretty straightforward in the context of the film, and are characters that we have seen before. No, we are in the cinema to see Portman, and she delivers like you wouldn't believe.

The film is horror, and that should not be forgotten. It is the sort of horror film Hollywood doesn't make anymore. The sort of A-List stuff that vanished in the 70s. The Don't Look Now's, the Rosemary's Baby's of the world.  Maybe that is why so many do not wish to call it horror. It is not that they are embarrassed - they have simply forgotten what it was like to see horror done in such a magnificent and classical manner.

Black Swan demands a big screen, and everyone should go and support this film. It is tremendous.




muchobenny -> (26/1/2011 1:54:31 AM)

Apart from being acted superbly, this film was as subtle as a brick and I felt like I was being beaten to death with it.




horribleives -> RE: (26/1/2011 2:56:38 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: muchobenny

Apart from being acted superbly, this film was as subtle as a brick and I felt like I was being beaten to death with it.


Dunno if this is a favourable review or not but that pretty much sums up why I loved it.
Subtlety's over-rated.




Ambition -> LOVED IT (26/1/2011 5:18:52 PM)

Gripping. So intense. It soars. Deliciously Delirious!




skeletonjack -> (26/1/2011 6:03:31 PM)

Just stunning. A superb movie.
A full on 5 stars from me




skeletonjack -> (26/1/2011 6:03:32 PM)

Just stunning. A superb movie.
A full on 5 stars from me




drew42 -> Incredible (26/1/2011 11:13:57 PM)

Show stopping performance from Natalie Portman, Fantastic cinematography and loved all the doppleganger moments and smart use of mirrors. Of all the supposedly scary/'make you jump' moments for it had to be when Beth grabs Nina's hand when she's putting the nail file back on the table - several people in the cinema yelped!
Awesome.




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