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Skippy Goes To The Movies!: “Black Swan” January 23, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Movies, Popular Culture.
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Verdict: Holy fuck, what the hell was that?

I had seen the commercials for this critically-acclaimed movie and had heard that pretty much everyone who has seen this movie raves about it, and decided that I’d probably find this movie to be quite good.

While I found it to be…well, good (I guess), but I swear, I don’t know what the fuck I was watching.

The plot—inasmuch as I can retell it—is this: Nina (Natalie Portman) is a ballet dancer for a company that is apparently in its death throes. The director of the ballet (whose name I forget) has come up with an idea to do a different take on “Swan Lake” (having never seen “Swan Lake,” I cannot understand how his take is “different,” but apparently that really is neither here nor there). Nina wants the lead as the Swan Queen, but is rather mousey. According to the ballet director, she’d make a great White Swan, but not a Black Swan—apparently, she doesn’t have the heat.

Fig. 2: How about Nomi? Nomi’s got heat!

Complicating matters is Nina’s overbearing maternal unit, who also used to be a ballerina (of only middling success). Played by Barbara Hershey, Nina’s mother might as well be called smother, because Spock almighty, is she up Nina’s ass all. the. time. When Nina comes home with the good news that she has gotten the coveted role of the Swan Queen, her mother brings home a cake (vanilla with strawberry filling, if you were wondering) and, after Nina says she doesn’t want any, threatens to throw the whole damn thing in the trash. Holy overreaction, Batman!

Anyway, enter Mila Kunis as Lily. She’s the complete opposite of Nina. Whereas Nina’s frigid and aloof, Lily is warm and down to earth…well, as down to earth as a cigarette-alcohol-and drug habit can make you. Suffice it to say that she’s a breath of fresh air in what feels like an extremely claustrophobic movie. She draws Nina out of her shell…so much so that Nina has a masturbatory fantasy about her. And let me tell you children, that scene was one of the most disturbing scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie. Let’s put it this way—if you ever decide to pleasure yourself, just make sure your mother isn’t in the room.

So, as we descend into Nina’s crazytown, we see that she’s convinced that Lily covets her newfound lead role, which leads Nina to go even more crazy. And by the end of the movie, her crazy culminates in an imagined murder and a real suicide.

This movie confused me. It was very well-written, it had top-notch acting. The cinematography and art direction was virtually perfect. I could feel Nina’s cramped and isolated world. I could feel the decay around everyone—this ballet company seemed to be limping along, and every scene reinforced that feeling. That said, I walked away thinking, “What the hell did I just see, and why was this movie made?” What was it supposed to say? Was there something I was supposed to have taken away from this movie—and if there was, what the hell was it? How was I to be entertained by this? While I hate obvious Oscar-bait movies like “The Fighter,” I at least know that this movie has got “Inspirational Oscar Bait And Last Chance For Mark Wahlberg To Be Taken Seriously As An Actor” written all over it. This? This movie felt like a movie that was a bit too clever and mind-fuckish for its own good.

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