Tuesday, January 04, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: "Black Swan"

I saw "Black Swan" over the holidays. Although an (overly) well-thought-out, beautifully mounted film, I grew strangely unattached emotionally as I watched it. In fact, rather than being mesmerized by the story and characters, I took notes during most of the film. Perhaps it was a feeling that the film was made to appreciate its art and artistry, its brilliant insights and industry, more than being an attempt to sweep an audience away emotionally. Perhaps it was my initial and early rejection of storytelling 'cleverness'--I could see what was coming plot-wise and character-wise from the very beginning; or perhaps it was because I felt I was being 'intellectualized' to death; or perhaps after a lifetime of immersion, practically and theoretically in the art and craft of acting, and with all due modesty, functioning albeit intermittently as an "artist", I rebelled at being TOLD what my artist's art was. I'm old fashioned. I heed a lesson Billy Wilder gave me on screenwriting: "Don't illustrate; dramatize." I like my thematic/artistic truth revealed in story and drama, not having it somewhat gratuitously illustrated for me as if in a pictorial essay.

Whatever the reason--or for all the above reasons--I took notes. I share them with you now in the sporadic form I wrote them down.

"Overwrought..." "Pretentious..." "Hyper meaningful..."
"Basic question: Why is the main character so driven (and please don't let it turn out to be that 'Mommy made her do it')...
"Too many close-ups..."
"A psychiatric case study in illness..."
"A study in masochism and obsession..."
"A fascination with sickness..."
"How a young girl lost her virginity and found the joy of sex!..."
"A tone poem of neuroses..." "A clinical study of artistic obsession..."
"The lesson of the film: Mamas: Don't send your daughters to ballet school!!!..."
"A real harsh case of opening-night jitters..." "A Freudian case study in opening night jitters..."
"How to 'lose yourself' into destruction..."
"Sex = sickness..."
"TITLE OF FILM: "An essay on the destructive possibilities of creativity; OR 'It's All Mama's Fault; OR 'The Life of Mickey Roarke on Point-Toe'..."
"Creativity is self-destruction without any nobler purpose..,OR The Story of Good Friday without Easter; OR Mel Gibson's 'The Passion' all over again..."
"Sex, Drugs and Tchaikovsky..."
"Creativity is self-mutilation..."
"The Life and Times of Marilyn Monroe..."
The Romantic vision of art (Verlaine, Rimbaud, etc.)..."
"Talk about narcissism: making love to (or killing) another woman turns out to be making love to (or killing) yourself..." What a disappointment...Interesting thought: I'm afraid I just don't like myself enough to do either one (at least to myself)!"

The acting was fine. The photography was fine. The editing was fine. The music was phenomenal. A predictable, obvious movie done very well. A film done by a precocious film grad student with an open-ended budget.


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