Book Review: Film: Black Swan

Book Review: Books: Hilary Mantel: The Culture Show/Bring Up The Bodies

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Sep 25, 2014
I bought a DVD double dose of director Darren Aronovsky, all new to me. I'd read how he was like Kubrick but better. I settled to watch with Drama student daughter Ariane. Good for her acting eddication, don't cha know.

First was Black Swan. Classified as a thriller/horror, yes it was. Bit of a downer, that girl was definitely a white swan. She couldn't do shades of grey, never mind 50 (I haven't read that book, maybe I should, at least for purposes of market research, but I've read the reviews and the prospect is too much of a yawn)

For the young prima donna, pushed by a loving but frustrated mother, intent on vicarious success and thus, a personal vindication, performing the black swan meant becoming the black swan.

The ballet's director, an actor with a very strange, Pan like face, challenged her sexually. The black swan was not afraid of anything, let alone her own sexuality. He was not evil, he was not good. he was ambivalent, he represented the force of Pan, and clearly, whilst without petty spite, was a power operator ie manager? plus had more than a whiff of goat about him.

But the poor girl was not sufficiently emotionally or imaginatively sinuous. The act of becoming liberated then killed her, I could see it coming, anyone could, as we watched her mind unravelling, saw her losing her way between realities. As a parent of two young women I twitched anxiously, then snivelled afterwards while thinking how the lass lacked all sense of humour, and that really is a massive problem, in life as well as in art.

How else does one maintain a sense of perspective?

Cinematically successful? This pleb would say so. A good film, I'd say, I'm not sure it's a great film. I cared for the heroine, was worried for her, whilst also getting a bit fed up with her. I'd like to know your thoughts.

I got the film's message, I think and I don't regret having watched it, I made a measure of emotional investment there, clearly, it horrified me, so it met its own brief, and to arouse a visceral response is perhaps the ultimate measure of artistic or literary achievement.

I'll come back with The Fountain later.

I sat through it twice, once in the theater and once while watching the DVD copy we have, wondering what the heck was going on through most of it. Confusing, annoying, and downright bizarre at times. I'm usually pretty good at getting the point of movies, but this one had me scratching my head twice, and three times is rarely a charm for me, so I gave up on it. Adored the ballet dancing in it, and Swan Lake is one of my all time favorite ballets. I thought Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman did fabulous jobs acting in it, but I still can't figure out if some of those scenes were real, or in the head of Natalie Portman's character, and that just annoys the heck out of me.
In her head, I think, Tara, except I wasn't entirely sure about the hospital scene, where she visits the displaced prima ballerina after her traffic accident. That tune in Swan Lake always gets me, though I never cared for ballet. I went to the opera once, in Bokhara, to see Traviata, while on a Thompson tour to the USSR in 1981. That was quite an experience, but I'm not mad about opera either, in general. Black Swan was ambiguous sometimes, I think, deliberately, trying to convey her inner dislocation. Those claw marks on her shoulder for example. i) she was self harming 2) they were a metaphor. The 'black swan' was screaming for expression, was how I read the black feathers began coming out of the scratches, metaphorically forcing their way out to the light.
Thanks, Tara, never saw this film (but wanted to) so the review is very helpful. I’m interested in Aronovsky – saw Noah, which was... strange...
I haven't seen Noah, yet, but next on my review list is Aronovsky's The Fountain.

It came in a box set with Black Swan.

I don't mind odd, at all, but I read in the reviews about Noah, that the story didn't address the logistics of the animal care on board the Ark and that would really, really interest me.
They used anaesthetic. Bit of a cop-out.

Aronovsky is vegan – he wouldn’t have meat on set – so I’m sure there was no ill-treatment... and most of the creatures were CGI, in any case.
Anaesthetic, Pete? Re: animals, I assumed CGI, what I meant was, I'd love to see in a film about the Ark. how they housed and fed and mucked out all the animals, and what they did when the cobras escaped :)
No, really! Noah and crew put the animals to sleep in the film for the duration! Neat solution to a difficult logistics question... although not, er, exactly, what the Bible says, methinks...
Aha...I geddit, hehe. Well, how ingenious, and what a cop -out! Talk about deus ex machina...:rolleyes:
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Book Review: Books: Hilary Mantel: The Culture Show/Bring Up The Bodies

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