Black Swan stinks. Black Swan is one of the worst films I have seen in ages. Renee made me sit down and watch it with her and I found it mostly laughable, obvious in its' influences but nowhere near reaching those predecessors' dizzy heights. I do not care about the awards and the nominations. The Academy recognizes crappy films all the time. Big deal. But I would like to say that Ms Portman's performance was nothing special to this writer. And it certainly comes nowhere near to Catherine Deneuve's performance in Repulsion, that is for sure. In fact, I did not really like any performance in this film. And, good grief, Ms Ryder's performance was particularly awful, not hysterical in a good way, just hysterical and phony.
Mr Aronofsky's influences for Black Swan were laid plain for all to see. The biggest debt is owed to Polanski's twisted Swinging London psycho-horror masterpiece, Repulsion. The female protagonists for both films are arrested-development, practically infantile, sexual repressives. Ms Deneuve in Repulsion, I suspect, has Daddy issues and she responds by killing men. Ms Portman oh-so-obviously has Mommy issues and she resolves them by destroying herself by suicide. Both are repulsed by men and sex in general. One (Ms Portman) "dabbles" with gay sex in a completely gratuitous, insulting "madness/fantasy of the id" scene. Because we all know that hot, straight-identified ballerinas would rather fuck each other.
The other two influences are Kubrick and Nic Roeg, both of whom have made horror masterpieces, themselves. The Shining and Don't Look Now, respectively. Kubrick's stock, to me, has fallen probably just as much as Roeg's has risen, lately. Having said that, let us not kid ourselves, even Roeg's best work (and much of Kubrick's, too) is manifestly uneven; even in the same picture much less his entire career. But even in a flawed Roeg or Kubrick film you will still be left with moments in their films that will stay with you forever. There are no such moments in Black Swan.
I liked exactly two sequences in Black Swan. The first is the subway scene in which Ms Portman is wearing a stunning pinkish pea-coat. The first shot of this sequence appears to reveal Ms Portman sitting on a subway train by herself seen as through a bevelled mirror. The next shot is of an older gentleman making kissy-faces at her, lewdly, whereupon he begins to "masturbate", much to Ms Portman's obvious disgust. The other sequence I liked was the very short sequence after Ms Portman has taken ecstasy. I thought Mr Aronofsky did a very fine job of depicting what it feels like right when that drug hits you for the first time. (I also liked Ms Portman trying feebly to get her "date" and his buddy excited about ballet, "I can comp you for the show!")
Unfortunately for me the credits ran after the film concluded. Unfortunate because my Mum and I have come up with a near foolproof rule for determining whether a film is going to be a stinker before the film even starts. The rule is thus: if there are more than two credited screenwriters for the film it is most likely going to be a dud. There are three screenwriters for Black Swan and one of those writers also gets another credit for "story".
Finally, here are three questions/issues I have for Black Swan:
- What top-notch NYC ballet company would rehearse in a subterranean concrete jungle like that?
- We see exactly one ballerina smoke a cigarette, Ms Portman, and she is "stressed." Ballerinas are notorious chain-smokers.
- Why do we not see one single gay man in this film?
Black Swan is a stinker. See Repulsion instead. And Polanski did Repulsion with probably a hundredth of the amount money spent on producing Black Swan.
Last night when Chris Day was driving me home after inventory (on my birthday! yuk!) we saw a baby coyote ever so politely cross the street before we turned.
Since I have moved here last year I have seen deer, dead and alive but mostly dead; lizards; possums; ducks; and turkeys. The turkeys crossed Ygnacio, as well, during daylight hours, three of them, with the light, and they all stayed in the crosswalk the entire time.
Here is a quote from some joker on the best Texas Rangers website/blog, BBTiA: