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‘Black Swan’ Review

Black and white represent nearly every set piece or costume in “Black Swan”, except the numerous shots of bloody feet, hands and well, other things. In fact, black and white could go a long way describing the plot of this movie, a symbolic good versus evil war within one’s own heart.

Director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain and The Wrestler) starts off with a shadowy dark picture of a single ballerina bathed in ivory spinning slowly and precise.  But from there, he throws viewers into the helter-skelter underground world of ballet, filled with fierce competition, grueling training and a vile instructor who takes advantage of his pupils.

Natalie Portman, in what is easily her strongest and bravest work to date, stars as Nina Sayers. A repressed, twenty-something dancer dying for the lead of Swan Queen in her company’s latest production of “Swan Lake.” Right from the get-go there is something noticeably off about this girl. And I do mean girl, although in her twenties, she comes off as a teen trying desperately to become a woman (she still has stuffed teddy bears in her pink room.) Standing in her way, Nina’s overbearing mother played chillingly by Barbara Hershey. See, mommy used to be a dancer too and wants to see her “sweet little girl” succeed where mommy never did. Dear mother also has an unsettling obsession with painting young Nina in various stylized portraits.

Aside from manic mommy, Nina must battle rival dancers, her overtly sexual ballet master and her own fraying psyche. Her main nemesis may also be her closest friend, Lily played by Mila Kunis. Lily embodies many qualities Nina so greatly desires. A care-free, do-what-I-please “Black Swan.”

One of the biggest stories surrounding this film is the overly-hype lesbian sex scene between Kunis and Portman. Going in, I was worried it would be a distraction. For me, many movies contain unnecessary nudity and sex that take away rather than add. However, this scene supports the plot and even moves it forward. Perhaps even giving the audience a Freudian reference to what is actually going on inside Nina’s head. I won’t go into detail on my theory.

As Nina’s life begins to unravel, Portman’s performance becomes even stronger. A beautiful actress forced into the hard rigors of daily ballet, Portman shows all the wear. Her face more contoured and determined along with her bony and barely there body. She portrays Nina as a whirlwind of emotions, going from a  frail and sheepish girl to a woman willing to win at any cost.

The end of “Black Swan” may not please everyone. But it’s open for interpretation, as are most of Aronofsky’s films. The director takes viewers outside themselves and their perfectly-wrapped Hollywood endings and gives people something to ponder after leaving the theater instead of looking for the nearest TGI Friday’s. Has Nina gone off the deep-end? Was it all a dream? Were portions all in her head? Or was the film a mirror of “Swan Lake” itself?

Some of the best things in life are not always black and white.

Check out the trailer below if you haven’t seen it already:

posted by Seth Szilagyi in Black Swan and have Comment (1)

Help Wanted: Batman Seeks Leading Ladies

Deadline.com is reporting that director Christopher Nolan is interviewing six high-profile actresses for two big parts in the third “Batman” movie, titled “The Dark Knight Rises.” One role is a love interest, the other a villain. So who’s on the short list? Let’s take a look.

1. Natalie Portman


With roles in “Black Swan”, “No Strings Attached” and “Thor” all being released within the next year, Portman has blasted back onto the movie scene after staying out of the limelight for quite some time. While, I’m excited about Portman’s potentially Oscar-winning role in “Black Swan”, I feel like she fits best in art-house films. One only needs to look at her horrible performances in all three “Star Wars” prequels to see that she does not do blockbusters well. Plus, she’s already starring in “Thor” another superhero movie. But, the thought of her as Harley Quinn (the Joker’s girl)…may work.


2. Blake Lively


Lively is coming off a fairly strong performance in Ben Affleck’s “The Town” and is also starring alongside Ryan Reynolds in next year’s “The Green Lantern.” So, she is also a hot commodity in Hollywood. However, Lively seems a bit young to be a love interest for Christian Bale or the rumored villain of Catwoman. But, could she be playing Talia al Ghul, the daughter of the first movie’s villain Ra’s al Ghul? This comic book version of Talia from DC Comics looks an awful lot like Lively, so maybe.

3. Anne Hathaway

Hathaway doesn’t have too much in the pipeline right now, so this could be a good fit for her. I’ve really enjoyed both Batman films in this series, but both incarnations of Rachel Dawes, I could take or leave. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Katie Holmes were mostly filler. I think Hathaway might be able to bring something to the table. She would be a little foolish in the Catwoman role, but I could see her as a love interest.

4. Keira Knightley


Knightley is obviously good-looking and talented, as are all the women on this list, but of the six, this seems like the worst fit. I really hope it doesn’t happen.

5. Naomi Watts


I’ve never been a fan of the Catwoman character, but this seems like it could work. Watts is probably the strongest actress on this list and can play “dark.” She played a delusional actress in “Mulholland Dr.”, a drug addicted mother in “21 Grams” and an upper-class wife tortured by insane teens in “Funny Games.” (If you haven’t seen the “Funny Games”…don’t. Way too disturbing.) So, I could see her as a criminal. She is actually older than Christian Bale, so for her to be cast alongside a younger man in Hollywood would be rather unprecedented and frankly, refreshing.

6. Rachel Weisz


Weisz is in one of my favorite movies “The Fountain”, so automatic points there. Her other work is a tad more spotty ranging from the good “About a Boy” to the bad “The Mummy Returns.” That being said, I could see her in the world of “Batman” maybe as Poison Ivy? Another rather goofy female villain in the Batman comics. It should also being noted that Weisz does have several projects lined up right now, meaning contractually she may not even be able to fit it in.

So, with two spots available and these being the apparent choices, I vote for Naomi Watts as Catwoman and Anne Hathaway as his love interest. Although, the storyline I like the most would Ra’s al Guhl’s daughter Talia. Just makes sense to connect the first film with the last one, instead of having another random villain pop up.

posted by Seth Szilagyi in Batman,Comic Book Movies and have Comment (1)

Return of the Jedis?, ‘The Hobbit’ & ‘Black Swan’

The last time a new Star Wars trilogy was announced, I was still in college and could not be more happy for its return. But just a short time later, the absurdly bad “The Phantom Menace” was released and my disappointment could not have been measured. Yet, I was still confident the prequel trilogy could be rescued by the next two films. I was wrong. Although, a bit better “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith” both featured muddled plots and hollow, lifeless acting.


Now, there’s a report from IESB.net that Lucasfilm is planning another Star Wars trilogy. The series would apparently fit some time after “Return of the Jedi”, but would not focus on anyone in the Skywalker clan. Instead, it would be a whole new set of characters that would not have to “fit” with the current mythology. According to the report, the new movies would not come out until after ALL of the 3D re-releases were completed. That puts the release date around 2017/2018 if the 3D re-releases come out one a year as previously announced. So, not any time soon. And all that being said, Lucasfilm has denied the report. But that doesn’t really mean anything.


Since, the prequel trilogy has left me extremely skeptical, I’m not super-excited at the prospect of a new set of films. Sometimes less is more and this pony has already trotted out some pretty good tricks. However, if the concept is right, I may jump on the bandwagon.

A few suggestions: Make it less about special effects and more about the characters. It can’t be another Rebellion versus Empire film. Maybe the Jedis take a back seat to another idea. What if it focused on the Sith? Just throwing out a couple of thoughts. Lucasfilm if you are looking for a writer, you know where to find me.

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The fate of where they will film “The Hobbit” could be decided this week. Warner Bros. executives will travel to New Zealand to discuss the current standoff between the actors’ union and director Peter Jackson. Essentially, the union wants the actors to get a bigger piece of the pie. But Jackson feels they are being compensated fairly. Most film workers in the country want the enormous production to stay in New Zealand since it will infuse millions and millions of dollars into its economy. Thousands rallied this past weekend to lobby for the film and made this video. Check it out below and here’s hoping for the people of New Zealand they can work things out.

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I’m still desperate to see what Darren Aronofsky has done with “Black Swan” and if this new viral site is any indication, it’s going to be a pretty good trip. Ijustwantobeperfect.com reveals snippets of the upcoming film. I don’t really understand what it means, but it’s interesting nonetheless. You can also follow Natalie Portman’s ballerina character on twitter @theswanqueen and go to the IJWTBP Facebook page.

The film goes wide on December 3rd.

posted by Seth Szilagyi in 3D,Star Wars,The Hobbit and have No Comments