Rewind Review- Black Swan

As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!

Black Swan

There is a lot to really like about Black Swan, not the least of which is that it is a film that openly delves into the psyche of its protagonist from the start, as it is about with a dancer dealing with the stress and pressure of dancing a dual-lead in Swan Lake, and it toys with reality with demented glee. Some things left me wanting but let me focus on the positives first.

There is, of course, the performance of the cast. Starting with Natalie Portman she is what people likely will first think of when they think of this film. It is true of any film but more true of others, that the equation of this film truly changes with anyone else in the lead. The scene-stealer in this film though is Barbara Hershey. I say this not only because it is so great to see her in a prominent role again, but also because she slowly and surely builds from a caring, over-bearing mother to a frightening entity in this film and she delivers most of the wallop.

Mila Kunis, best known either from That 70s Show or as Meg on Family Guy take your pick, does very well in this film, however, I feel her character is not quite the mental parasite that even Hershey’s is. For Hershey’s character made Nina’s (Portman) mind a fertile ground for paranoia.

This film is edited with great panache and stitched together with a robust score, it truly sets a tone and creates a self-regulating tempo. The story certainly accelerates at a palatable pace, it’s just that on occasion some of the jumps could be larger but that is truly not a big grudge.

What does create my only true issue with the film occurs in the third act, which is unfortunate because it sails through the most difficult portion of the film to navigate rather easily. In the third act a fractured chronology is created and reality is truly blurred to the extent that its difficult to know what’s real and what isn’t when you are watching it. Upon a re-viewing it would likely become clear and what the true chronology is will likely reveal itself. What I take issue with is the decision itself of how to end it and I will skirt it as best as possible but…spoiler alert.

What made this a truly a riveting watch for two-thirds of it was watching these characters, particularly Nina, in their own universe. Granted most, if not all of this tale is from Nina’s perspective but as a story I was watching something original that decides to turn itself in the into something derivative or at the very least something of a re-invention. Granted the bones were there but it seems like in many cases a reflexive allusion to another tale within your own is more effective, such as Pinocchio in A.I. or even Swan Lake itself in Billy Elliot

It’s jarring because around many of the corners in the tale you didn’t quite know what to expect then you’re hit with an ending and you’re like “Oh, that’s it?” It seems as if things are lining up for something much more earth-shattering than what is delivered and it’s just a bit of a let down, not that it taints the whole movie. This is a twist unlike that in Shutter Island. This is still a fine film that could’ve been even better than it is.

Without question Black Swan is a film that will benefit from a second viewing and it is the kind of film that will get people talking, however, I feel a miscalculation in the handling of the story cost it.


61 Days of Halloween: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment, I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

NOTE: This post was written originally for the Site Which Shall Not Be Named. It was my 2nd Installment in the series. I have decided to preserve the text as originally written.

Friday the 13th, Part 2 (1980)

In selecting my second film for 61 Days of Halloween I wanted to select something a little safer than what I chose yesterday (The Prowler). I managed to succeed in that task by selecting, of all things, a sequel.

The sequel is Friday the 13th: Part 2 (1981). It is a film that succeeds in spite of how much of the original is quite literally rehashed at the start and spliced in. It’s a great piece of myth-building that without having to backpedal introduces a new villain into the franchise, eventually the face thereof. There’s a great scene where the counselors are at the bar and speculation starts about how he could’ve been spurned to kill based on what he’d been through.

These films took the time to develop their maniac and because we as an audience became ensconced in this knowledge the makers of the remake needed to eliminate things and rush to create their tale. Keep in mind that the hockey mask, with which he is so synonymous, isn’t in this film.

Unlike The Prowler this film catapults after its teaser and the teaser kill at the beginning is very important as it directly ties into the original. However, this group of people who are going to be in the vicinity of Camp Crystal Lake are drawn out and we do get to know them to at least an extent, so it never really quite becomes a body count film, in which you not only await the next kill but also want it to happen.

It is a film that also uses the false alarm scare very well because the timing is impeccable and on occasion when you think the danger’s gone…here it comes.

Some of the kills are rather brutal, and as became usual, Jason spices it up. This is the film that propelled the film into franchise mode because here’s where the frontman comes into play. As great a shock as the end of the original was you couldn’t build a franchise around Missus Vorhees but Jason fit perfectly into the prototype created by Halloween in 1978.

More scares are sure to abound. Hopefully good ones. Stick around for the upcoming days.