hopscotchee: natalie portman score: 86 rating: R time: 108 minutes
this was our very first time watching darren aronofsky's 2010 academy acclaimed hit, black swan 🦢 (if you couldn't tell from our commentary). before the endeavor, and like most people, all we knew about the film was that natalie portman was a ballerina, who becomes paranoid and convinces herself that mila kunis is the villain, and then later has a feather grow out of her shoulder blade. oh, and that there would also be some gross ballerina feet shown. if you haven't seen it and did not know some of that, we're sorry, but, in actuality, what we witnessed in black swan was nothing close to what we expected!! because, in actuality, black swan was a moderately twisty interpretive piece that leaves you wondering what you are supposed to takeaway from it. honestly, what you're supposed to do with it. meaning, if you are at all one who doesn't like things that aren't concrete, black swan isn't your movie. but, if you are up for the mind games, go ahead and throw it on. however, probably not a good thing to watch if you are traveling or in a hotel room by yourself (which is apparently what our dad did??). we wouldn't really recommend it.
the first position we'd like to take is with black swan's directing. immediately this gave us requiem of a dream vibes, which makes total sense, because they're both by the same director, but while watching we were clueless to this fact. in both cases, we idolized darren's work. partnered with matthew libatique (cinematographer/director of photography), the work in black swan was equally inventive as it is brilliant to the parallels within the story. debatably obvious-or-not to the audience, the frequent amount of mirrors that where either in the shot via its background or as the shot itself by filming the reflection, aligned with, natalie portman's character, nina's narcotic relationship with reflection and perfectionism. this on point correlation, evidently savvy on its own, brought a whole new filmic aesthetic and attitude to the screen, along with its additional signification to what the movie's left questioning: what's real and what's just nina seeing?? whoever came up with the mirror concept deserves only gold stars!!
transitioning to second position, we have the editing. our point will also extend to giving credit to the director, but mainly we have to give props to the editing team for managing all the trippiness that came with nina's unraveling. frequently throughout the movie, nina's reality is unstable, causing all sorts of crazy like (spoiler) those close to nina morphing into her, nina peeling or cutting her skin off on several occasions (may we just say adding to how she is literally pulling herself apart for the role as the black swan), and her legs snapping like twigs. because of this, we have to acknowledge the visual effects team for all their efforts to make this possible, since it really adds to the disturbing psychological horror. all in all, this department took on the heavy load, putting together the back and forth reality in an artistically seamless way. they also cleverly added the mirror effect in the christmas-colored party/club dancing scene between mila and natalie. it's one thing to sneak in (spoiler) the shot of nina in the black swan makeup, but to add in a mirrored effect to the shots is quite tasking. in other words, we have to give them props for not slipping under all the meta-ness to put together an academy spotlighted film. that said....
in third position, and the one thing we were poorly uninformed about going into this film, is how implicitly saucy it was going to be. in no way are we prudes, yet when you think of black swan, we don't think you automatically guess fingering?!?! yeah, that's right. and there is shockingly quite a lot of it - on top of it coming from a rapey ballet teacher, which obviously, OBVIOUSLY, makes it a thousand million times more disturbing to sit through. this makes us question whether the film needed to be praised so much as it was for this included behavior. surly natalie's acting, darren's directing, and the editing needed to be commended, but, truth, the story isn't much to celebrate. it literally revolves around a, quote "beautiful", play about a girl who gets screwed over by a dumb douche and then turns to killing herself, because that is the "better" solution. now, we aren't saying that the ballet has to be woke, but we can all agree that this moral doesn't hold up today....or ever!! identically, (spoiler) natalie portman has to literally sacrifice herself for the role as the white/black swan and a "perfect" performance (when, if we remember, she fell/was dropped, so it still wasn't really "perfect"). we understand that this is a film about the spiraling of a ballerina, giving a dramatized type of insight into the life and stress of ballerinas, but, at the end of the day, this really isn't anything more than a mind game. you watch it for that. and you watch it if you are like us and into film to see the creativeness of storytelling styles. but, overall, nina starts out insane and ends insane. the difference is in how that insanity intensifies, yet the end is still the same: the little character growth results in canceling out any chance for this to be a possible psa or a cautionary tale.
before closing the curtain, it's clear that black swan was huge for the time and very different from the filmmaking norm, however the overall theme left this feeling more like a mental game than a movie. it could be a fun watch like black mirror: bandersnatch but any weight-ful meaning is low. there is a high chance that many viewers mistook the film's outstanding technical factors as just being "a good movie", naming the film "scholarly" or "academy worthy". viewing it was fun to say that we'd seen it, but other than that, black swan doesn't leave you with anything else.
-- thanks, natalie xo