Never marry someone who doesn’t love the movies you love. Sooner or later, that person will not love you.” —~ Roger Ebert
Somebody get Chris Nolan on the phone: I have a new Inception-inspired screenplay idea. We could call it “The Twitter Movie” and get David Fincher to direct.
I currently live in Edinburgh, Scotland. That’s almost as far away from Hollywood, California you can get. And with no TV, slow internetz, and a live start time of 1:30am GMT, it was doubtful that I would be able to find anywhere to watch the 2011 Academy Awards.
But as a media blogger and future Master of Film Studies student, it is rather unacceptable to miss the Oscars, wouldn’t you agree?
So, armed with two live blogs, a red carpet live stream, my facebook news feed, trusty-rusty twitter home page, and a 7pm catnap, I arose groggily at 12:30am, semi-prepared for a night of live tweeting. After spending an hour frustratedly waiting on a slow buffering and stuttery live red carpet feed (where I did more hits of the “refresh page” button than James Franco did of his pre-show bong…), I settled into bed, laptop open, ready to observe the Oscars for the very first time via tweets, updates, and online commentary.
I had the craziest dream last night about a girl who has turned into a swan, but her prince falls for the wrong girl… and she kills herself.
Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, 2010): a hauntingly beautiful ballet thriller that highlights Natalie Portman (Nina Sayers) in the performance of a lifetime. The opening duet leaves you breathless: the camerawork is fluid yet disorienting as it dances around Nina; the grainy texture of the film itself hinting at the twisted grittiness of this ballet world. The film deals with self-mutilation, disordered eating, and the psychological turmoil that is inextricably bound up with the pursuit of perfection.
It was director Aronofsky’s idea to make this film, with its focus on the pressures of a troubled ballerina (and obsessive understudy), as a sort of high-art companion piece to the tacky world of pro-wrestling he created in 2008’s The Wrestler. However, where Mickey Rourke’s underrated comeback performance leaves everything out in the ring, the devastation and psychological exhaustion of Nina in Black Swan is obstructed and diminished by the film’s overreliance on shock tactics and “pop-out” horror to create audience discomfort. I would like to have seen a slightly more complex plot, with Mila Kunis (Lily) playing a more prominent role in the ballet’s “reality” rather than mainly a nightmarish fragment of Nina’s psychosis.
Black Swan is over the top, too pretentious for Aronofsky, and maybe even overrated. But it is also stunningly beautiful and one of the most unique and thrilling films you will see this year. While the story is strikingly one-dimensional, it is also refreshingly simplistic, using the Black vs. White swan motif effectively (almost exhaustively). The art direction is fantastic and the ballet performance scenes in particular are truly spectacular. Portman should have no problem picking up an Oscar for her role.