Tag Archives: ballet

Black Swan: I Kinda Laughed.

People may get pissed off at me for this one. I… laughed quite a bit at Black Swan. It wasn’t a bad movie overall, but the things I found strange or wrong with this movie made me laugh out loud, kinda like watching a dark comedy. Although this movie wasn’t a comedy. Oh well, it can’t be helped. I hope Natalie Portman never sees this post and hates me for the rest of eternity if some infinitesimal chance allows me to meet her. Let’s just keep this post a secret.

What a beautiful pout. Still in love with her since I was 9.

So this is a movie about the ballet Swan Lake. The twist? The ballet she is performing is Swan Lake and she is living out the events of Swan Lake. Oh the twist! Other than the WTF middle section of the film, yeah, it follows it pretty closely. Prince has party, Prince meets White Swan, fall in love, Black Swan tricks Prince, Prince and White Swan commit suicide for love. The end. I think it’s the liberties that Darren Aronofsky took at assuming ballet is synonymous with sex. I would sayyyyyyy… No. That is an artistic leap and assumption I wouldn’t necessarily associate.

So… plot now. Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is an up and coming ballerina at her dance studio. She’s nice and quiet and just hopes to make a bigger name for herself. And then her dance director Mr. French McCreepy Bastard, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) announces they’ll be having a Swan Lake run at their production company. He, like every other pompous director who thinks they’re a visionary, says they’ll be doing it differently than ever before. I guess he was going for more rape and sexy. Alright there Leroy, that’s your own choice.

Ah yes, the creepy mother.

Nina begs for the position and gets mouth fondled by Cassel, because for some reason in 2011, it’s still shocking for a director/boss to take advantage of his cast/employees. With all that said and done, Nina takes on the lead role of the White and Black Swan. From this point on comes some “messed up” and thriller like elements that push the boundaries of what’s real and what’s not. The arty version of The Matrix, if you will. And don’t call me sexist or naive or ignorant at this point. People can have their opinions about a film, negative or not. I can say these ignorant things because from what I’ve seen of the hundreds of movies I’ve seen before, this movie isn’t necessarily anything impressive in the way of

Vincent Cassel, crossing toolish lines since… this movie.

groundbreaking. It seems more important for me, at this point, to say how disappointed I was with this film. Because, as serious and mentally disturbing as it was supposed to be, I still laughed.

Should I talk about my problems with this film? Let’s go. I knew there was going to be a conflict when Nina’s mother Erica (Barbara Hershey) flips out. She’s bought Nina this nice big cake for getting the part and Nina simply says no, I can’t eat right now, my stomache is upset. Reasonable reason right? “Well that’s fine, don’t have any.” The music becomes serious and tension filled, she heads towards the can with the cake. A simple pleading no from Nina and you see the smile instantly and bizarrely  return to her face. I laughed. Hard. Yes, this was supposed to point out the stressed and overprotective relationship that sparks Nina’s problems in the film. But it was campishly delivered and I enjoyed it. For any Tim and Eric fans out there, this scene may tickle your fancy.

I wanted to put this next to the word “lesbian”.

All the lesbian/finger banging scenes in this film feel out of place. That’s probably because I don’t make an automatic connection in my mind between ballet and sex. For me, ballet in particular, is a purist sport. It has a set amount of moves that allow you to express a gamut of emotions. Other forms of dance, sure, why not? There’s sex everywhere at a high school dance. Just not with ballet. Nina is exploring her sexuality and, for the whole film, until she said it, I thought she was 18, maybe 21 at most. Living with her mother threw off my radar on her age and calling her Mommy (with her room and clothing choices) I assumed 18. Why would a 28 year old dancer be attempting to get big in dance? Her prime is gone. Error right there.

I disliked Vincent Cassel in this movie. I think you’re supposed to. To the extent I did, maybe was a bit extreme. Not death threat level, I’m talking more ruined any scene he was in for me. As a sex icon in the movie? Didn’t really believe it. Mila Kunis though? She was her normal, old relaxed That 70’s Show self in this one. Typical Mila out for a good time, who just happens to be a diabolical dancer. I did love

You made this movie better Winona.

Natalie Portman’s performance in the film. She did have to do a lot of things you never typically see her do in this film. And I was IN LOVE with Winona Ryder’s performance in this film. The fallen dancer and raging spurned lover? That was a convincing and devastating performance for her.

Let the weird begin.

Other than that, I don’t really wanna shit on this movie too much. I just didn’t like it. It wasn’t my cup of tea. I do see how this movie didn’t beat The King’s Speech for best film. It was too edgy for the Oscar community. But it was a well done film itself. The cinematography was jarring and uncommon, something I just can’t stand. Watch this movie again and see if the still shots outweigh the fluid and nauseating moving shots. You’d be surprised. The acting for the most part is what you would expect from a movie with Oscar buzz and all that good stuff. Just not my film. And because I’m the one rating for my own interest, I have to give this movie a 4 out of 10.

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Princess Tutu: Girly Manly Girl Anime

So most people may be thinking, “I need to check this guy’s man card. He’s reviewing an anime about pretty girls and boys performing ballet.” True. But I can assure you I have all the paperwork, sir. Princess Tutu, as the title suggests, may sound like one of the most girly animes on the planet. But, as I came to find, this show is wayyy more than that. This show, if you watch a few episodes, is quite good overall, with no gender barriers attached.

This is a show about a Duck (Ahiru) who is given the power of a necklace to

Princess Tutu (Duck after transformation)

transform into a girl and, once a girl, she can transform into Princess Tutu, the ballerina wonder. She is given this power by the writer and omnipresent Drosselmeyer (Nutcracker, anyone?) who controls and creates the story. The story within a story, so it seems, is that of a raven who battles a prince, and in order to save the prince, a knight shatters the prince’s heart to save him and protect the town against the evil raven.

Princess Tutu is in the story, and for her part, she is meant to recover those lost shards of the prince’s heart for him to recover his true self. Duck (Princess Tutu) attends the ballet school which Prince Mytho attends and searches all over the town for his heart. Meanwhile, Fakir (the knight) does not want Tutu to recover the heart shards and tries to thwart her, thinking of the prince and what is best for him. Also introduced into the story is the dancer Rue, the beautiful and elegant ballet student who holds a love interest for Mytho. With the plot swirling around these characters, we go along for the ride in discovering exactly what this little town holds.

Besides these four, this story holds host to a great number of smaller characters that really spice up the story. At first through the anime, we’re introduced to those characters who hold heart shards, so, of course, they all have something wrong with them. There’s always a ballet student or two who are animals pretending to be humans, which no one at all finds strange. This is probably some comment on how Duck hides the fact that she’s a duck through her magical necklace. But, either way, this anime has one of the best characters you will ever meet. Mr. Cat. This ballet instructor cat-man

MR. CAT

instructs all the classes and efficiently attempts to marry anyone who fails.

I watched the sub, but that shouldn’t deter anyone from watching the dubbed version, because most of the voices are done quite well (Guest star Vic Mignogna) but it will throw you off if you start watching one way and then another. Mytho switches from a girly voice to one quite more sexual, and Fakir goes the other way around. (Quite sad) The art of the anime is quite good, but always felt a little blurry around the edges to me. I like my anime to be sharp and flow with almost 3-D like quality (not 3-D movie crap) and to seem almost brand new. I know that’s a lot to ask from anime, but those are the ones that pop out to me (usually mecha anime, I find).

The plot, at times, is quite repetitive. Almost too repetitive. The first half of the show is all about finding Mytho’s heart shards and the second half is all about saving girls from the raven. It isn’t until the last episodes that a story is really fleshed out into its full scope. You are given little hints here and there along the way, but the basic format is the same. That includes the 17 second transformation sequence which I found out recently is pretty standard in these anime. There’s no such thing as a suggested action cut in anime. (Just made that phrase up.)

The characters really are great though and the anime rarely drags at any point. You watch as all the characters attempt to fight fate and the story that was written for them, with a great comment on the interaction of characters and author towards the end. Fan fiction (which was thrown around a lot while watching) slightly confused me, but I kind of get now once I’ve been told what it is. (For those who don’t know, fan fiction is fan created stories made using the characters already present in whatever the fan is interested in.) Usually used as a joke, I can definitely understand the appeal of using already created characters to bring about a story you envision yourself.

The characters are good, the art is quite good, and the plot really moves along. You usually find a favorite character (Mr. Cat) and jump along for the ride in all its ballet glory. Yes, I didn’t say anything in this review about ballet itself, but it is quite prominent in this anime. The characters don’t necessarily break out into dance, but they use dance to express, fight, and fix what is wrong. It’s all surprisingly accurate in form and referral, and I actually found myself not bored to tears when it came to the actual dancing. Every anime had its own theme and opening which gave it a unique flavor every time. I would definitely recommend this anime for the not faint of heart who can enjoy the alternative to most anime. 7.2 out of 10.