Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Black Swan or Not?

(I realize this is a year late and probably not helpful if you are looking to me for movie reviews. I tend to view movies at least 1 to 10 years after they are released.)

Count me in as someone that believes “Black Swan” should have won the Oscar for best picture. Why? Because it very cleverly used ballet to demonstrate why so many people hate ballet.

The film is advertised as a psychological thriller which usually translates to blood, violence, and nudity. It does contain blood and violence except when it doesn’t. That’s because we can’t tell what is really happening versus nightmares, wet dreams, and hallucinations. So just like the real ballet, we have no idea what is going on.

I can imagine the initial pitch meeting from the screenwriter to a Hollywood producer who looks a lot like Family Guy’s Peter Griffin:

Screenwriter: I’ve got this psychological thriller revolving around the ballet. It will give a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the ballet and showcase some marvelous dancing. We can bill it as “Footloose for snobby rich people.”

Producer: Um, yeah. [Slides a finger across his desk toward a “security” button.]

Screenwriter: But wait! Did I mention there’s violence? You know, calloused dancers’ feet and broken toenails. Sprained ankles!

Producer: Oka-a-a-y. [Finger moves faster toward the security button.]

Screenwriter: And stabbings! People hit by cars!

Producer: [Finger hesitates.]. Hmm, sounds a little more interesting. You know what, throw in a girl-on-girl sex scene and I’ll give you $30 mill!

And really, that pretty much sums up the movie. The story revolves around a ballet featuring the white swan, the kind of swan you’d take home to your mother, and her friend the black swan, a hard-partying, whiskey swilling swan that has a lot of sex (and apparently swings both ways. Unless she doesn’t . . . because we have no idea what reality is in this movie).

The swans don’t much like each other until they have coffee, then bourbon, then drugs, and finally, sex. Unless they didn’t . . . because the black swan denies it, and we later see her getting cozy with the director which of course leads to the director giving her more stage time. Naturally, this enrages the innocent white swan and turns her into a killer swan. Maybe.

Eventually the white swan kills the black swan. Unless she doesn’t, because thirty seconds after the black swan’s carcass is stashed into a bathroom, she re-appears alive and with nary a scratch on her. Finally, we find out that not only did the white swan not kill the black swan, but in a magical sleight of hand, she actually stabs herself to death. But not before she gets a standing ovation. Unless of course that didn’t actually happen either.

So it is a psychological thriller because it leaves you wondering what kind of nut would want to watch this, much less a ballet, which is equally hard to understand but costs a lot more money.

After watching the movie, St. Pauli Girl said, “Wow. I really loved the dancing. What did you think?”

“I don’t know. It had some good parts.” I paused. “So did the black swan and white swan actually have sex?”

Tune in next year when I review “The Artist,” the silent French film that won Best Picture recently.

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