14 December, 2010
I'm saving the substantive stuff regarding Black Swan for a podcast that I'm doing with my friend Joe (titled "White Guys, Square Glasses," and I wish I came up with that title, thanks for asking). I'll try to be as brief as I can:
Black Swan is my favorite film of 2010. I almost loath to say it like that or even say it at all, because I kind of feel like I'm elevating it to an Important Picture as opposed to a good, fucking movie. I think part of the reason I don't take to some pictures is because They're Really Very Important and Touch Upon the Human Condition and that's a terribly obnoxious way to sell a movie. Black Swan is good. What's more is it's fun. After walking out of the movie, I realized something, which is that if Hitchcock were alive, instead of making half-assed thriller copycats, he'd probably end up making a movie like this. So, when I say fun, I do mean fun in the I'm-going-to-kill-my-wife-and-use-a-psycho-body-double kind of a way.
Which is a very specific kind of a fun, rarely found in nature.
Despite the risks of all three of you readers being sold a bad bill of goods, I'll keep on typing, because I'm pretty decent at it and Black Swan is worth sounding like a blowhard over.
I saw about six movies in theaters this year, so saying that it was my favorite doesn't count for a whole lot. Off the top of my head they were (in reverse chronological order) The Social Network, The Girl Who Played with Fire, Inception, Micmacs, and Avatar (in 3d!). They were all pretty good movies for wildly different reasons, ranging from wanton taser-centric violence to amazing feats of quantum cross-cutting to me not having to pay to see it (and in some cases, more than one of these reasons apply). So, for what it's worth Black Swan is better than Avatar.
Getting back to my concerns about over-hyping the movie and why I'm only just writing about it now is that I think one of the reasons I didn't like The Wrestler quite as much as everyone else seemed to (which is another discussion for another day) is that I had to hear people blabbering about how The Wrestler is the greatest movie of the decade and will redefine how I look at the wrastlin' circuit. I'm allergic to that kind of hyperbole. I think like most people I'm about as apt to avoid something or not like it because of the hype train driving it as I am to give an underdog a chance when everyone maligns it.
I can't say that was my entire reasoning for not being a huge fan of The Wrestler, but it's something that's been in the back of my mind for quite some time. It's not something that I want to happen to Black Swan, because I really do feel strongly about it. It deserves the chance to be great on its own without being obscured by public opinion one way or the other.
I think my experience with Black Swan definitely benefited from going into it with a completely blank slate. I knew what the basic premise was and I had seen the first trailer, but other than that, this movie was completely off of my radar. I honestly think this is the best way to see a movie, so the best thing I can say about the movie is this: Stop faffing about and go and see it post-fucking-haste. You won't be sorry.
And if you are, fuck you.
WA few last points before I shut the fuck up:
Black Swan isn't a perfect film, by any means. It's got a few hiccups along the road and some very questionable bits of dialogue, along with one of the most poorly judged jump scares of all time (send me a message if you can guess the exact scene I'm talking about). Though the movie, like all movies, I guess, is bigger than the sums of its parts and overcomes all of the small problems to create a surprisingly compelling story about Padme going cookoobananas.
Yes, it is better than The Wrestler. While it can be said that the two are companion pieces (at best) or "the same story, but with tutus" (at worst), it really is more than that. If you liked The Wrestler, you'll like this movie, and if you hated The Wrestler, that's cool, I won't judge you, you should still like Black Swan.
No, you don't need to give a shit about ballet to like it. I went with three other guys to go see it and we all had a pretty good time, despite knowing about as much about ballet as I know about baseball. The mere spectacle of ballet is entertaining enough for a non-dance fan to appreciate it and the drama isn't limited to backstage bitchfests (though there is plenty of that). I'm sure most people who saw The Wrestler don't care about wrestling at all, but still enjoyed it (or, in Pi's case, give a damn about Hasidic math). I imagine the same would hold true for this picture, with the added benefit of ballet being a much sexier subject.
I gotta say, I don't like either of the posters for different reasons. I thought the first one was a teaser poster because of the fact that Natalie Portman wasn't in it. I thought they were just using a stand-in to get the basic tone across (which is done for a lot of movies). Then I realized no, wait, that is her, how fucking weird is that? I mean, if you have one of the most beautiful women on screen in your movie, don't you want people to recognize that's her? I don't like the second poster because it's just kind of bleh. It's the one you see above, but I put it up because, I guess, it does get the basic premise across better than the abstract boner-killer that the last one was.
And, finally, yes, I do realize that my opinion is not significant enough to ruin Black Swan in your mind, but I want to be seen as a Negative Nancy about as much as the "Oh My God, You Gotta Listen to This Band" Guy. Those people are terrible.