Black Swan

So over the holidays I was at a party and some chick there was talking about how she super hated Black Swan. (I hadn't seen it yet). She thought it was simply 'bad art' and said Natalie Portman was terrible. She ranted about how the movie was cheesy and cheap with lame special effects and artistic crap. She rolled her eyes at the horror 101 stuff. And she felt people who "liked it" were kinda frauds. Afraid to call a movie like this out for what it is. Highbrow artistic garbage. I could see how she felt that way. For me, the trailer came off as a movie gone awkwardly sideways. But I knew no matter what-- this was either an ugly or a beautiful trainwreck I had to see for myself.

I headed to the local theater with the gf and got there in plenty of time to pick my favorite seats. Slightly close. Mid. The gf sat in the aisle seat. I sat one in. The theater was maybe half filled. At some point a plump-ish woman asked to sit in our row. The gf stepped into the aisle and I was left with the awkward decision of accessing this woman's weight to see if I should stand-up in my folded up seat-- or make the effort to step out into the aisle to give her plenty of room. If the person was skinny I'd just to the standup. This woman was borderline big. I didn't want to be offensive by the snap judgement of implying that she wouldn't fit so I decided to standup as flat as possible-- and the woman swished by without issue or touching. I felt I made the right decision. But soon after the woman's mom appeared with popcorn tub and soda-- and I immediately stepped into the aisle to let her pass.

Gah! Then this movie starts up and ALL I hear is the mom CHOMPING on her popcorn. Like almost intentionally loud. CRUNCHCRUNCHsmacksmackCRUNCH. She's two seats over from me and I've never heard anything like it! I look over and see her mouth just opening and closing like a marionette and it seems as if she's intentionally chewing obnoxiously loud. The woman is probably like 60 years old or whatever and I'm like, 'Nobody in your lifetime has shamed you bad enough about your chewing that it permanently fixed the problem?!' (I wondered if I was going to be the one to do so). The gf whispered to me that it was like sitting next to some kind of creature from the woods. Mercifully, I found out that if I put a finger in my left ear I muted out her chewing. And double mercifully she was a relatively fast eater and chomped down that popcorn superfast. But for the first 10-15 minutes of the movie I simply couldn't even fully focus on the screen. I just struggled to maintain the plot and character. The chewing was my own obsession. Yeah I know, I should be better about saying stuff like, 'Hey can you stop with the chewing?' But I'm apparently not there yet...

Anyway, once I was able to focus on this movie-- for a good chunk of it.... I was stunned.  I totally loved parts of this movie.

I'm a mild fan of the director's work. Like, The Wrestler was ok pretty good. Requiem was ok pretty good meh.. The Fountain... was--n't ok pretty good etc. Black Swan? The best movie he's ever made. Easily. I was all sorts of deep into this flick. I thought Natalie Portman was excellent along with her mom. I liked the what's real/what's not real playfulness. Yadda some of the special effects were way over the top-- but at worst I thought they were funny. I think the breaking point for most people was when her legs snapped into place. I get the feeling that at that moment anyone on the fence was shoved into, 'Omg this is a disaster!' Others fell more into the, 'Yeah! Bring it on!' And I took its prickly hand and let it lead.

In the end, when a stray tear went down my face as our girl had her moment-- I dabbled in the idea that I was watching a masterpiece. But unfortunately this movie carried too much baggage to be close to 'perfect'. There were un-bye-able issues. Alot of the crazy-outs felt simply like random 'filler' rather than important or necessary. Also toward the end with the lines of reality getting blurred so badly-- it felt like a cheat. And cheap. It took a lower road than I had hoped. And for all the dramatic crescendo-- the very ending landed with a bit of a thud for me. Simply because reality got in the way of the impact. I'd rather if it somehow just spun off into oblivion-- a tiny dancer trapped inside a skull filled with shattered glass.

Three Good Things About this Movie

- I dug all the little insights into ballet. (and the girlgirl scene uh huh huh)
- I thought Natalie Portman emotionally did a great job working the her face.
- That wing!

Three Bad Things About this Movie

- The mirror stuff was cheapshot shoddy.
- The Winona stuff was fun but really neither here nor there.
- The superhuman quality at the end didn't fly for me.

All in all, from what I can tell this movie has a very harsh split and I'm not sure what's causing it. I walked out giddy and bubbleheaded wondering about what the hell I just witnessed-- meanwhile the gf was bubbling over with issues she had with this movie. She assumed we were both on the same page as the girl at the party. Bad art. Bad acting. Bad horror. The movie she saw was a wipeout disaster. After she was done with her rant I said, 'I got news for you. I liked that movie alot.' She gave me a gaspy look like, 'What? You're one of them.??.'  I am one of them. I stand by* this deranged transcendental arthouse flick.

(admittedly with a *).