Tag Archives: Natalie Portman

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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Brothers (2009)

So through this movie, it has come to my attention that Tobey Maguire is a good actor. Don’t get me wrong, the Spider-Man movies are fantastic. SM3 was a little off, but Sam Raimi is an amazing director, actually my favorite. Watch the Evil Dead movies and you’ll know why. But it is because of the movie Brothers that I have come to see Tobey Maguire as a respectable and capable actor.

So, this movie is about two brothers. Obviously, thus, the plural. One brother Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is a respected captain in the United States Marines, and is about to deploy on his fourth tour over in Afghanistan. His brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhall) was just released from prison a short time before Sam heads overseas. This leaves Sam’s wife, Grace (Natalie Portman) to tend to her children and keep her spirits up. Of course this can’t be the whole movie, something bad has to happen.

This comes in the form of Sam “dying.” From here Grace must deal with the pressures of life on top of the loss of her husband. And Tommy is there to pick up the pieces. But that’s not all. And I need not say anymore to ruin it.

The acting, I must say, made the movie. Good cinematography that displayed the emotions of the characters, but it really all came together in the characters in the Cahill family. Tobey Maguire was fantastic, definitely worthy of the Golden Globe he was nominated for. His performance towards the end really speaks to the brutality of war and torture and what death and violence can do to a person. Jake Gyllenhall’s performance brought the sensitive side to the movie, in complete opposition of his brother. Natalie Portman (my favorite actress, crush since Star Wars) is fantastic and really plays a mother in grief and distress well. But I’m gonna tell you who stole the movie.

Bailee Madison, Sam Cahill’s oldest daughter was a fantastic actress in this movie. (And she’s actually in a new horror movie I am interested in seeing, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark) Her performance alone was the dramatic and plot lynchpin of the entire film. When she cried because she lost the father she knew and loved, I cried too. Her anger and defiance of her father, at such a young age, and to understand what happened, was breathtaking. Along with this, the role change at the end of the movie that’s shown is worth watching. Great acting, shoddy visual work that was barely noticed, and great family dynamic brought this movie together to make for a great film about family and what it means. Definitely an 8.8 out of 10.

Here’s a clip from the movie and interview with Tobey Maguire for a sense of just what his role is and how he portrays the character he does.