Saturday, December 18, 2010

IT'S HERE, YOU CANTANKEROUS BITCHES! (Thoughts on Black Swan)

-So, you know the story, right? Emotionally constipated woman--living at home with her overbearing mother, living every little girl's dream profession, ballerina--slowly goes mad as she prepares for the lead role in Swan Lake.

-Natalie Portman is the shit. I mean, she deserves all the praise she's getting. Spending the better part of the movie (which never leaves her, not for a minute) with a brow furrowed in worry, eyes wide and fragile and pathetic. But then, as she becomes the Black Swan, she becomes the Black Swan--aggressive and vicious and, let's face it, rather slutty. Nothing here is gratuitous, there for the sake of titillation. It's all to do with her unraveling. She peels back skin on her fingers, a rash forms on her shoulder blades, her feet, of, darling, her feet.

-Vincent Cassel is all molesty as her fervent director, criticizing her in the same breath her sticks his tongue down her throat. Mila Kunis stays to the side, watching and waiting, imitating Natalie Portman's moves (fine, Lily and Nina), but with a dash more playfulness, no worry or cares, mysterious. Barbara Hershey, with her Glasgow grin and her half-mad motherly gaze, vicariously living through her daughter in the most terrifying way, deserves an Oscar, I tell you.

-And Winona Ryder. Making the most of her 5 minutes, she, the fallen star, chews every line with enough bitter fury to crack the champagne glass she wields like a gun.

-And yet, there's a deliciously campy humor about it, best exemplified as Nina is haunted by the wizard dude--the swan, the black, feathery, tarred thing that chases her nightmares grotesquely--and on opening night, he breezes past her in the crowded backstage with a noncommittal 'Hey'.

-Darren Aronofsky is king of operatic deterioration.

-The camerawork is lovely. This frantic jumping about, always keeping Portman in focus, following her from back of the head or tightly closing in on her panicked face, is a sick combination of Gaspar Noe and David Lynch styles. The music, groaning strings that are lovely and despairing at the same time, is epic. I tip my fedora to Clint Mansell and Matthew Libatique.

-The last shot is haunting. The first shot is haunting. Every shot is haunting.

-Not to discredit the supporting-supporting players, other dancers at the company, who make remarks and feud and gossip and bicker and stare daggers at Nina, or dance with her, side with Cassel, everyone being such glorious bitches, but sympathetique bitches, but bitches, all of them, Benjamin Millepied and company.

-Portman and Kunis did most of their own dancing.

-This is a psychological horror, ignore the pretentious dicks who try to call it a thriller. This. Is. A. Horror. Movie.

-I wrote this awhile ago, about Black Swan, kind of.

-Remember when I said I didn't want to hear no damn reviews of Black Swan? I want to now. Lay 'em on me.