Saturday, March 5, 2011

Best of the Week - First Week of March

Best TV show I saw: Since everything has been Charlie Sheen, the only thing that I can think about that I enjoyed was the new, disturbing episode of Eagleheart. Chris Elliot continues to be the best in idiot-humor

Best movie I saw: Saturday Night I went and saw Black Swan before the Oscars hit. I really had no expectations for this movie except that I normally like Darren Aronovsky’s directing style. For the first half of the movie I must admit I was a little confused. I couldn’t quite figure out the pacing and I think I had a slight preconceived notion of what I expected the movie to be about and since I was off it took me a while to get into the swing of the movie. About halfway through, I started to understand that the movie was really an examination of one person trying to completely change themselves in order to succeed at their given profession. Natalie Portman started out so quiet and timid that her transformation literally and figuratively into something that was so foreign to her was fun to watch.

As good as she was in the movie the real star is always Darren Aronovsky. Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Wrestler, I’ve enjoyed all of his other movies. He has a way of really making you feel uncomfortable while watching his movies. He has such a great eye, and is able to use a handheld camera in such a way that it just keeps you on edge. Black Swan especially was great because he used the edges of the frame in such a way that I was never sure if I saw something in the corner of the screen or not, but I think this was done intentionally so we understood how unnerved and uncomfortable in her own skin Natalie Portman’s character was. Lastly, the movie simply looked beautiful especially during the scenes with the character on stage. WARNING: DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE IF YOU ARE SQUEEMISH. Even I flinched a few times, and I can handle virtually anything (as I’m watching Alien while I type this)

I also enjoyed: Sugarland Express – I had never seen Steven Spielberg’s first film and thought it was a light-hearted, 1970s version of Natural Born Killers. The movie was not the greatest, but there were some hints of things to come and I’m glad I finally watched it

Best thing I read: This week I read a novel called Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro. It tells the story of an alternate reality where cloning is possible in present day England and the story of one clone and her two friends as they grow up knowing what they are and their feelings behind being less than human. The book really is about the notion of what is a human clone and if they have a soul or not. I enjoyed the novel, but the writing and its first person narration was the real highlight. Even though it was written very matter of fact and conversationally, there was a lot of depth behind it. I've also heard the film version of this book is worth seeing and I look forward to getting it from Netflix soon.

I also enjoyed: DMZ – On The Ground. This is the first five issues of a comic book that takes place in a future United States where the USA is in a civil war vs. another faction called the Free States where Manhattan Island is the No Man’s Land between the two factions. This story is told through the eyes of a slacker with little ambition who gets dropped into New York City and has to fend for himself the only way he knows how by becoming a reporter and telling the world what is going on in New York. So far, it is quite good and I can’t wait to keep reading this. I just love it when I find a good new comic book that I can catch up on.


Jenn from Much to My Delight said...

I really, really liked Black Swan too and left feeling pretty anxious and keyed up because of the building tension (and squeamy scenes) throughout. It was unnerving, but in a really good way. Especially whenever Winona Ryder was onscreen, I had to look away!

*Spoiler* don't read this comment if you haven't seen the movie***

I interpreted it a little differently though. For me, the main focus of the movie was how the intense pressure of the ballet world escalated the progression of Natalie's psychosis as she begins to distort reality. I'm pretty sure the "evening" between her and Kunis ended at the door and the sex scene was a hallucination, and she hallucinated that Kunis came to her door on opening night when she ended up stabbing herself. For a while, I sat wondering if Kunis was actually a delusion altogether and not a member of the company at all, but rather another personality Portman adopted in order to find the grit needed to play the black swan. I think all the scratching she did was self-mutilation to relieve anxiety from living with an obsessive mom and demanding director and the "wings" were another one of her hallucinations. Clearly, i could be very wrong, though!

I loved this movie. I thought it was thrilling.

MitchyMitchyMitchy said...

Jenn- I agree with everything you wrote.

I also thought Kunis was a hallucination for a while, then I even thought Kunis was the real star and Portman was in the company and she put herself into the lead only in her head.

It wasn't until it was over that I decided in my head that she really was the lead and Kunis was real too, but I saw that on opening night no one came to her door. Just the pressure of her working so hard to be something she wasn't came to a head and she went crazy (crazy enough to stab herself).

She tried to embody the Swan Queen so perfectly that she since the character kills herself, she had to as well.

I think we both are seeing it similarly but you're concentrating on the ballet aspect, and I'm making it more general about the pressure to be perfect and to become something that she's not.

Also, I wrote "literal transformation", but I know she didn't develop wings, she just saw herself like that. And I thought the effects were so amazing that they needed a shout-out.