Cinepub


Review: Black Swan by Jamie

There are some things in here which might, possibly be considered spoilers. Hard to tell with a movie like this.

Ballet. It’s a thing that people apparently watch and enjoy. I don’t really understand why. Seems to me that if you don’t know the story of the show you’re going to see then you’re watching a bunch of people dancing and prancing about on a stage. In essence you need to have the show spoiled in order to understand the show. Maybe that works for some people but as a movie fan it doesn’t really make much sense to me.

Still, I’m not gonna say ballet is the worst thing mankind has ever done. That is mime. Seriously, fuck mimes. No, I can see the artistry in it and understand the hard work that people put in in order to become really good at it. I’m sure the same could be said for mimes but I mean it, fuck mimes. I’m assuming that’s why people go to the ballet, to see the craft performed well by people who have worked hard to achieve that level of skill. Maybe the story doesn’t matter at all. Again, these are just my musings on why people watch it. I could be totally wrong and the story could be very important. In fact, it probably is. Hmmm, I just seem to be babbling.

So anyway, ‘Black Swan’, the latest film from Darren Aronofsky, features ballet fairly heavily. It’s the story of a young ballet dancer with an over-bearing mother, a demanding teacher and a talented understudy. Yeah, I know, it doesn’t sound that great but wait because there’s more. You see this girl, Nina (Natalie Portman), has a problem in that she’s incredibly reserved and always striving for perfection. She wants the lead in the ballet company’s latest production of ‘Swan Lake’ and whilst her reserved nature is perfect for the role of the White Swan she also needs to perform the role of the Black Swan which calls for a far more loose and sensual performance which the director, Thomas (Vincent Cassel), doesn’t feel she can pull off. Far more convincing for the role is Lily (Mila Kunis) who is exactly the kind of free spirit that Nina isn’t.

Still Nina gets the part even though she doesn’t seem to make much progress in becoming more wild and carefree. That is until Lily shows up at her door and takes her out for a night of wild abandon, much to the chagrin of Nina’s mother Erica (Barbara Hershey). They drink, they screw around, they take drugs, they apparently go back to Nina’s for a bit of girl on girl action… Yes, there’s a scene where Mila Kunis goes down on Natalie Portman. Five pints out of five. Laterz.

Ok, fine. There’s more to the story than that. Basically throughout the entire film there’s an undercurrent of a growing madness within Nina’s mind. It appears as though she’s had mental issues in the past, apparently a self-abuser in the form of scratching herself deeply on her back. This behaviour seems to manifest itself again and with it a new kind of paranoia. Is it the stress of the role playing out in her mind? Is it the dark side of her personality finally trying to break free of years of repression, finding a crack to escape through due to her trying to access it in order to successfully perform the part of the black swan? Whatever it is, the madness begins to show itself by her beginning to believe that she is physically transforming into a black swan, beginning with a rash near her scratch marks that resembles the skin of a bird, eventually growing to a point where she feels as though she’s growing feathers or her legs have bent backwards like those of a swan.

Obviously the film builds up to a massive ending that I won’t spoil here because you should probably go and see this film. I’ll say it’s a very, very good film, hell probably even a great film but it is not a perfect film. Yes, the performances are brilliant although there were times where Natalie Portman’s character was so pathetic that I found her to be a touch annoying and stretching the limits of believability. Still, the dancing is impressive as much as I, a man who knows practically nothing about ballet, can judge such a thing. It’s clear that both Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis spent a long fucking time preparing for this role.

The camera work is also incredibly impressive and features a number of techniques that you’ll probably recognise if you saw ‘The Wrestler’ and it’s clear to see that Darren Aronofsky considered making this a companion piece for that film. There are shots that follow the character from behind and there are shots that manage to focus on the character rather than the choreographed performance that they are giving (dancing in Black Swan and wrestling in ‘The Wrestler’. Yes, wrestling is largely choreographed) which gives you a sense of what the character is feeling whilst they do their thing.

And like I said as damn fucking good as the film is, it’s not perfect. There are times when it seems a bit slow, particularly to start of with, though it’s never so bad that you lose interest in what’s going on. There are also times where it pushes the boundaries of weird and yet at the same time doesn’t seem to go far enough. That may seem like a particularly odd sentence but it’s something I can’t really explain unless you’ve seen the movie. There’s also the ending which, without being spoilery, I’ll just say that I wish certain events had played out a little differently.

Finally my biggest issue with this film is a rather personal one so I’ll understand if you don’t agree with me. I have a terrible aversion to anything bad happening to finger or toe nails and fuck if there aren’t like a thousand separate occasions when horrible shit happens to nails in this movie. Ok, I may be over exaggerating that a little bit but still, there are times when I just couldn’t look at the screen. Again, I know it’s entirely my problem but I’m just saying, if you don’t like bad shit happening to nails then there are gonna be a number of times when you look away during this movie, wincing in pain and trying not to throw up.

Despite this, it is a really, really amazing film. I’m not suddenly gonna develop a deep interest in ballet or anything but I did look up black swans on Wikipedia for a bit. And seriously, if you’re a dude don’t let the fact that there’s a lot of ballet in this film. Things get seriously fucked up including a really fucking horrific scene involving Winona Ryder in a hospital. And don’t forget, Mila Kunis goes down on Natalie Portman. Still, I don’t think it’s as good as The Wrestler and I think a lot of that has to do with the main characters. Mickey Rourke’s character in that film is a genuinely likeable character who’s going through a hard time whilst Natalie Portman’s character in this is sometimes just so pathetic that I found it hard to sympathise with her. Overall four pints out of five. Laterz.



Review: The Twilight Saga: New Moon by Jamie

Spoilers ahead…

Some time last year I took a look at the first ‘Twilight’ film in a double header review with ‘Let The Right One In’. Now it seems as though I came away from that film fairly positively and, whilst I still don’t completely hate the last part of the film, it was written after the first watch and I guess I hadn’t completely taken the film in. On subsequent viewings I have to say that the films flaws stand out more and more and now I certainly wouldn’t recommend renting it like I had back then.

So when last year saw the release of the sequel ‘New Moon’ I pretty much ignored it. The film came and went as it’s defenders screamed at it’s detractors and I tried to just wash my hands of the whole thing. And so life went on New Moonless and I was relatively happy. That was until the Rifftrax crew released their new commentary track for the film. I knew I was fucked.

I love Rifftrax. I love the way they manage to make films like ‘Battlefield Earth’ and ‘Transformers 2’ a thousand times more watchable. They also manage to put me in an awkward situation because I generally like to watch the film sans-Rifftrax beforehand because otherwise you can find yourself drifting off into the admittedly generally shitty plot and missing some sweet jokes. So now I found myself in the position of having to watch ‘New Moon’. Thanks Rifftrax. Vengeance will be mine.

Now, I want to be clear that I’m not hating on Twilight just for the sake of hating on Twilight. I’ve never read the books and so I’m judging purely based on the films. The books might be fantastic, I may give them a look but the movies, in my honest and humble opinion, just aren’t very good. Now the first one still does have some redeemable features as previously stated. One of the things I did quite like was the relationship between a prey animal and predator animal and the problems that entailed. In ‘New Moon’ that’s dealt with again but to no where near the same degree. It’s just sort of there this time serving more as a plot point than contributing in any way to character development. What I’m getting at is the fact that ‘New Moon’ is essentially ‘Twilight’ with all of the redeemable features stripped from it.

There are no likeable characters in this film with the exception of Alice, the precognitive vampire, and Michael Sheen as the head of the Italian council of Vampires, the name of which escapes me. He’s just a great actor no matter what shit he appears in this and his campy, over the top performance is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the piece. The rest of the characters, on the other hand, are either unlikeable, annoying or set dressing.

The worst example of this is the main character Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart (Who by the way it was a total insult to have presenting the special tribute to horror at the Oscars)). There is absolutely nothing to like about Bella in this film. She’s a selfish, whiny bitch who spends the entire film with one expression. And then there’s the way she says her lines. For some bizarre reason she doesn’t seem capable of speaking in full sentences always leaving…… huge pauses before finishing what she was going to say. I mean for fucks sake! Am I meant to be so blown away by the sheer brilliance of the thoughts she is conveying that it takes a few seconds for me to truly think about what she said during the first part of the sentence or something? Seriously, the fact that this movie made me spend around two hours with a character so lacking in depth was like being stabbed repeatedly in the face for the same period of time.

So the other two main characters really ‘worth’ talking about are Edward and Jacob. Right so let’s just sum up Edward by saying he’s barely in this film at all and when he is he’s either a spectral image of himself warning Bella not to risk her life or he’s brooding\upset\sparkling. And that’s it. Not much else to say about him. Jacob, on the other hand, plays a much bigger role in this film and it turns out that he’s a werewolf. Well, kind of. He can just transform into something more akin to the prehistoric Dire Wolf at will. Good for him. I don’t know why these books are primarily named after phases of the night as none of the normal nocturnal rules of these monsters seem to apply in this series.

Still he’s a werewolf and he’s inexplicably attracted to Bella. Now let’s take a little moment to just talk about what werewolves traditionally represent. Now if vampires represent the suave yet dangerous and dark side of sex then werewolves are representative of the dangerous and dark side of mans own savage nature. They are monsters that are very similar in nature to Mr. Hyde or even the Incredible Hulk. They are the raw, base and animalistic side of human nature, instinct over intelligence. And this is touched upon ever so slightly in ‘New Moon’ in what seems more like a throw-away scene about what can happen to a werewolf’s loved one if a werewolf were to get angry and lose control. Meh. The werewolves really serve as nothing more than vampire hunters and I couldn’t really give a fuck about them. If you want a good werewolf film you can certainly do better. Start of with ‘An American Werewolf in London.’ Hell, if you want a good vampire versus werewolf film than the first ‘Underworld’ is better than this. Oh and the CGI werewolves look like shit. The practical werewolf in ‘An American Werewolf in London’ was far more convincing even with it’s weird shuffling method of locomotion.

Anyway Jacob. Well, now that I think about there isn’t really that much to say about him either. All he really does is walk around being brooding\upset\shirtless. Seriously, there’s more brooding in this film than on a poultry farm. HAHAHA… You see because when domesticated fowl sit on their eggs to incubate them it’s called brooding… Oh, fuck off.

So yeah, that’s the characters, if you can really call them that, so what about the plot? Well, just like the first one the plot drags along during the beginning and the middle of the film but then it kinda picks up again during the end. This time though it’s not because action starts to happen it’s purely because of the introduction of Michael Sheen. What can I say? The guy could be playing a man in a coma and I’d probably still find him entertaining.

Now I’d like to, if I may, take a personal moment here to say a massive fuck you to this film. There’s a point in the film where Bella and her friend come out of a zombie film and her stupid cunting bitch of a friend starts basically calling zombie movies shit. She bitches about the social commentary within zombie films regarding consumerism which I can only take as a slam against George A. Romero’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’. Excuse me, movie? Did you just take a shot at not only one of the greatest zombie movies of all time but one of the greatest horror films of all time? The unmitigated gall. Zombie movies have an infinite amount of depth, importance and meaning in one rotted corpse than this shite could ever hope to have. She also claims that zombies are a metaphor for leprosy. Well fuck you, you moronic bitch. Zombies are not a metaphor for leprosy, they are a metaphor for the inevitability of death. You can try and outrun them, you can try and hold up in a store against them but eventually they will get you. Just like death. If I may quote my face book status immediately after seeing this scene “So ‘New Moon’ takes a swing at zombie movies? Well, fuck you New Moon. Fuck you in your stupid, emo, mumbley, incoherent, stupid, barely emotive, pale, sparkly, whiny, bitchy, miserable, annoying, pointless, inexplicably pausey, shitty CGI werewolfy, staccato speech, unlikeable and selfish lead chacatery ass.” I realise I said stupid twice but I was pretty pissed off.

Then they took the piss out of action films and I was left pretty pissed off from there on out.

So yeah, that’s all I care to say about this stupid, stupid film. 1 pint out of 5 and that’s for Michael Sheen.

Now please enjoy this ‘New Moon’ parody and this parody of the trailer for ‘Eclipse’ that I found on YouTube. They’re by JacksFilms




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