Sunday, February 20, 2011

Black Swan, Crazy Hen

Much has been made about the brilliance of Natalie Portman's role in Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan. True, it does not take much to excel beyond the limited offerings of a George Lucas script in the first three episodes of Star Wars. "Be careful, Annie." "I'll be here, Annie." (Is it a little disturbing that the dark force of Darth Vader shares the same name as a little red headed orphan in New York in the 30s who believes that the sun will come out tomorrow?)

And yet, in Black Swan I found Natalie Portman to be the least interesting thing. I mean, c'mon. How often do I need to see her cry? And boy, does she cry a lot in the film. In addition, her character is almost entirely internalized. True, transferring an internal character to the visual nature of the screen is a difficult thing to do (Portman does well with her facial expressions, when she isn't looking like a doe before a grizzly bear), but there is no growth there and no interest in her character.

Instead, what is so appealing about the film is its incredible visual flair. There are some really cool, brief moments of uncertainty that creep across the screen. There are moments of shock (some a bit overdone with the ubiquitous musical cue). The color pallet is controlled nicely as whites, blacks and grays dominate the film. Barbara Hershey as the mother from hell is precisely that. I think she could give Joan Crawford a run for her money.

However, ultimately, one leaves the film, despite the visual flair, asking why does madness always have to be the excuse? Aren't there other means to explore the psyche of a young woman?

Friday, February 11, 2011

A great website to check out for reviews

Roger Ebert is the only film critic to ever win the Pulitzer Prize.

Check out his website and all the associated links to explore film reviews.

Click here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Insomnia made me do it

Christopher Nolan, with his foray into the DC world of Batman and the dream world of Inception, has become a top notch, internationally known name, joining the ranks of Spielberg, Lucas, Burton and others who have imprinted their distinct style on film audiences.

However, before Batman, before Inception, there were other films--Following, his student film, Memento, co-written with his brother, The Prestige, a really well done movie about not just magic but narrative disruption, and Insomnia, perhaps one of his most unsuccessful films.

Is there anything distinctively Nolan about it?

Not really, and that may be the issue here. All of the other films have been written or co-written by Nolan. This film was written by someone else and an remake of a French film. So in this case Nolan is just a director for hire. The mind twists of his other pieces are missing here. However, visually you can see some of Nolan's influence, especially in regard to the editing of the film as Al Pacino's character begins to fall more and more into a state of insomniac craziness. Images flit before his eyes, light plays tricks, morals come into question.

Some clips to help you out>

The first one is probably the coolest cinematic aspect of the film as a bust goes wrong and all of a sudden fog descends on the cops who are seeking the bad guy.

The second clip has the bad guy call the cop. Yes, we have seen this before. In many movies. It still works, kind of. The issue--well, see if you can identify who is talking to him on the phone.

If you are a Christopher Nolan fan, then definitely give it a watch so you have the whole canon of his work. However, enter the film realizing this is a Nolan who is still developing as a filmmaker.