Sunday, 5 June 2011

Black Swan

You'd think that bloody great crack would tip
some people off that this would be a little mad...
Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan was released last year to very strong reviews. It even collected Academy, BAFTA and Golden Globe awards for Natalie Portman's excellent central performance, as well nominations in many of the other major categories. The film depicts a young ballerina who has to get in touch with her darker side to succeed as the lead in a production of Tchaikovsky's  Swan Lake. I shan't spoil it, but anyone going to the cinema expecting a modern retelling of Swan Lake or a nice story about ballet performers would be disappointed and surprised...  But the reviewers have no such qualms, so tread carefully. Speaking of the reviewers, here is some from
This film is a travesty and an insult to hard working ballet dancers, ballet teachers and musiscians (How? It doesn't say all people involved in ballet are nuts, just that it can be incredibly tough to reach the top. Which is certainly true. I haven't heard of any ballet performers complain about their depiction in the film.). It traduces (Who the fuck actually uses the word 'traduce'? How pretentious are you?) an honorouble art and profession (It doesn't attack ballet. It comments on the lengths performers [of any dramatic profession] will go to for their roles. That is it.) and will undermine the teaching and practise of ballet for a generation of young hopefuls (Your 'young hopefuls' shouldn't see this film on account of it being handed a 15 certificate by the BBFC for 'strong sex, strong language and bloody injury'. Any ballet hopefuls should not see the film until they are 15. Well after they would have started ballet. Your point is stupid.). I found the film ludicrous (Well it is a bit. It's an homage of sorts to the horror films of Dario Argento [particularly Suspiria] which were also mad. But the madness was pretty clear from the trailers, if you thought you were getting something else then that's your problem.) with childish computer generated effects (They were pretty good. Certainly they were not 'childish' in any way.) and exagerated psychological problems as if audiences are so stupid they need have to have each point underlined, printed in CAPITALS, and hammered into their heads or they wont understand (Actually the psychological angle was exaggerated to make the film exciting, visceral and Argento-ish. In real life, most psychological breakdowns aren't really that exciting though...). The film dwells on sexual deviation (Being a lesbian, or exploring those avenues, is not 'sexual deviation' you homophobic piece of shit cunt. The term 'deviation' is used when talking about paedophilia, voyeurism or sadomasochism, that sort of thing. Not homosexuality.) and gratuitous self harm (The self-harm was pretty important to the plot really, taking it out would have vastly reduced the impact of the picture.) with all the gory details in a way that is more in keeping with third rate pornography (What pornography have you been watching to have gory self harm in it? Maybe it's you who's the sexual deviant...). I would not encourage any child to watch it (Well, once again I will divert your attention to the 15 certificate. In the UK it is illegal to supply a film to anyone under the age of the certificate. So what precisely is your point?) and would rate it lemon of the year (Really? You feel this was worse than drivel like Sex and the City 2 or The Last Airbender?) and possibly the least deserving Acadamy Award winner of all time! (First of all, Portman deserved her award. Second of all, I would like to draw your attention to Braveheart which is by far the least deserving Academy Award winner I can think of. As it's a racist piece of trash.) I hated the film (Really? I hadn't noticed. Thanks for pointing that out...) and would ask for my money back if I could. The film is mis-sold not clearly pointing out the inapropriate nature of the content (IT WAS GIVEN A 15 CERTIFICATE how much clearer could it be? I suggest you either stick to films with U or PG ratings in future, or check the BBFC website where they say precisely why they have handed out the certificate they have.) and relying on the Swan Lake reputation to entice the unwary (Look, don't blame the film because you are an idiot. It merely makes you seem an even bigger idiot.). The acting was ordinary and certainly not worthy of an Acadamy Award (Really? So you know better than pretty much every major critic in the field then do you? And most of the voters for the various academies etc. that gave her awards? Because I doubt that very much. Hell, even my ego isn't that big.). Two big thumbs down from me.
Having taken a minute to calm down, here's the next one:
I have given it one star because I had no choice (I think you have to click at least one). (You had a choice. You could have chosen to not review it at all. That would have saved me from feeling obliged to write this too...)
The ballet scenes should upset real ballet dancers (And yet... They don't. They were generally praised as being pretty good for a film.). Natalie Portman flaps her arms about, I don't really call it dancing. (Well that's ballet for you...)
The story is so pretentious it is laughable (When, precisely, is it pretentious? It's a horror/thriller film. A genre film. Pretension is not a part of it.). I think those who loved the movie perhaps liked a bit of voyeurism (e.g. the gratuitous lesbian sex scene). (I see. So everyone who enjoyed it [an awful lot of people lets not forget] are all peeping toms? It certainly couldn't be because of the exciting story, excellent acting and beautiful cinematography could it...)
Don't waste your money. (It wouldn't be a waste.)
And another:
In contrast to other reviews here, I will give an unpretentious and honest assessment of Black Swan (I think all the reviews on amazon will be honest, misguided or flat-out wrong sometimes, but honest. Well except for the trolls, obviously, but I can't see any for Black Swan. And just because someone likes a film you don't, and can quantify why they like it by citing cinematography etc, that doesn't make them pretentious.). It should have been more accurately entitled 'The Emperor's New Clothes' (How very droll and original. How many times have I seen that sort of phrase since I started doing this blog...), since it is devoid of any meaningful content and has been feted by reviewers who really ought to know better (Maybe, and I know this is a far-out suggestion, but maybe they do know better. And it's you who's wrong?). True, it looks stylish (It is indeed) (though the insistence on using hand-held camera for long periods has a tendency to make the user feel seasick (The user?)), but is essentially meaningless tosh (Not really. As I said earlier, it comments on the search for perfection by the extremely driven.). Worse than that, at key moments it is laughably awful (Name one such moment, and explain precisely why it is laughable, then we can talk.). Portman emotes like her life depends on it (She does a little more than that...), but she can't help the stilted script (When is it stilted? I found it all flowed quite nicely) or the director's clumsy handling of his denouement (Excuse me? How was it clumsy?), which in turn says nothing and was foreseeable through the entire film. (It says plenty, and perhaps it wasn't overly difficult to predict, but what ever happened to just enjoying the ride? Even when the end is a foregone conclusion?)

Ignore the accolades (Or don't. They are well deserved, and awarded by more intelligent and cineliterate people than this chump. Or even me.). This is truly a movie worthy of the Razzies (No. Just... No.). Please, please do not buy it on DVD (Since it would clearly cause you much pain I'm going to buy it as soon as I can afford it.) and if you were thinking of venturing out to the cinema, stay home and watch Polanski's Repulsion (Repulsion is indeed a superb film. But Black Swan has just as much right to exist. It tells a different, though in some ways similar in other ways very different, story in an entirely different way.). Now there was a director who knew how to hit nerve endings and portray a descent into madness credibly and scare the audience witless (Polanski is a very good director. But, despite your inferred accusation, so is Aronofsky. As you would know if you'd seen Requiem For A Dream). So in short, there are no redeeming features (None at all? Really?) - this really is a film that could have been decent in the right hands but which has been sabotaged (It could have been more than decent in the right hands. Fortunately, it was placed in the right hands, so it turned out very well.). Please save your hard-earned cash! (What if your cash isn't hard-earned?)
I think that'll do for now, but I may well tackle some reviews from America at some point in the future so keep your eyes peeled!

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