ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Black Swan (2010)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Darren Aronofsky

Starring:
Natalie Portman/Nina
Mila Kunis/Lily
Vincent Cassel/Thomas
Barbara Hershey/Erica
PLOT-CRUNCH
Striving New York based ballerina Nina (Portman) gets her wish; the lead role in a rendition of Swan Lake. But the gig comes with a price; an evil doppelganger busting chops and a hopeful (Mila Kunis) that may or may not want to axe her out to get the gig. Who knew the ballet scene was this whack!
THE LOWDOWN
Darren Aronofsky. End of review.

I could stop writing now and feel that I said all I have to spit about BLACK SWAN. The man’s name tagged with his impeccable track record thus far in terms of putting out movies that blow away the norm says it all. In fact, I wish it was the end of my review; cause sometimes, specially for a film of this ilk, it would be nice for me to just see a film; be affected by it, digest it for a couple of days, relish in what I got out of it and call it a day. Alas; I got to pump this sucka out right now; pour out thoughts that are not fully formulated yet within my one brain cell. So for better and for worse, here we go! Let’s see what happens!

To say that Darren Aranofsky is one of my top modern filmmakers would be an understatement; he IS my favorite modern filmmaker. An auteur that I look up to and who’s work always moves me. PI, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, THE FOUNTAIN, THE WRESTLER…masterpieces...all of them! And now the same can be said about his latest creation, the subversive psychological thriller BLACK SWAN. So much to say, so little type space. BLACK SWAN pummeled me on so many levels that my heart and gray matter were bruised after the screening. On the surface; it gave me a glimpse of the ballet scene, one that I don’t know much about beyond the 6 months of ballet classes I had to take when I was in acting school. NOTE: I sucked at it and covering up a hard-on when wearing tights was quite the challenge. END OF NOTE. Although the flick did give me the 411 on just how physically and psychologically demanding being a ballet dancer is; the whole was truly about Nina (Portman) as an individual, her journey in “making it” and more importantly her journey within. Yeah bitches! Take that to the bank and cash it!

Shacked up with an overbearing mother (brilliantly played by Barbara Hershey) that would make Margaret White from CARRIE blush and carrying enough repression filled hand-grenades to fill up five lifetimes; following Nina around and watching her go through her ordeal made for a mucho compelling and often cringe inducing watch. I was so rooting for her; but yet circumstances and her own warped state of mind played against her constantly. That resulted in me groaning in discomfort many o times, poor girl…. come here and give me a hug. At the end of the neck snap and dumpster dump though; this bitter pill was all about (for me that is) repressed feelings and them boiling up to the surface. We all have a dark side, we all have primal impulses and lots of us bury them down at the bottom f our core (sadly for me I don’t... why I always get in trouble lol). BLACK SWAN was all about Nina losing grip on the control she had on herself hence discovering that sexy, dangerous and violent side. Like Mickey Rourke wisely said in Wild Orchid: Sometimes you have lose yourself to find yourself. That saying WAS this movie for me. And as communicated by Mr Aronofsky; Nina’s adventures in the gay old time of self discovery and letting go, wound up flirting with Polanski, Cronenberg and Lynch tendencies. The paranoia and the psychological breakdown Nina gradually went through screamed Polanski’s early work (like Repulsion and The Tenant). The many moments of body horror, i.e. Aronofsky using physical ailments to parallel the psychological turmoil of the lead gal brought to mind Cronenberg circa Videodrome, and The Fly. And the doppelganger jive, the eroticism (this movie was so sexy) and the mind-f*ck approach reminded me of  LOST HIGHWAY. That's the biggest compliment I can give the film by the way.

Moreover; now that I think of it; the ballet show (Swan Lake) within the film slyly mirrored the happenings as to Nina’s trek as well hence jacking up the impact of the whole. Portman’s character was the White Swan; Mila Kunis was her Black Swan and also Nina's guide as to discovering the Black Swan within. Visually; it's Aronofsky; what do you think? Powerful slow motion, brilliant framing, a club scene that murdered me in its authenticity (yup I felt like I was on E at a club) and  in a bold move; lots of over the shoulder/cinema verite shots. Not an obvious choice for a psychological thriller... and ya know what? It worked like a charm! It added intimacy to the affair while the sometimes dizzying camera work echoed the lead’s mind frame and upped the tension of the happenings. Needles to shout that none of it would have mattered without bang on actors in the house and Black Swan had no worries in that department; Natalie Portman gave the showcase of her career as Nina; a multi layered, emotionally damaged/driven and uber brave display. Vincent Cassel took a role that could have been one dimensional and gave it nuances. He’s also such a charismatic mofo; so he had my points! Winona Ryder reminded us why she is the SHITE, Mila Kunis was ideal as the easy going, live to the fullest ying to Nina’s yang while Barbara Hershey was mucho effective as the "smother to death" mother. Tag to all that gold an evocative score by Clint Mansell, one that deviated from his usual vibe but that stayed true to the heart of the film (am listening to his Abandon score as I write this BTW), gorgeous cinematography,  moments of pure suspense and editing that every Hollywood hopeful should take notes on and you get a cinematic masterpiece, a work of art in motion that blew my mind, touched my heart and burned my soul.

Any complaints? NO! NONE! NADA! ZILCH! BLACK SWAN was tops all around. I came out of that theater drained and also inspired. So much so, that once I am done with this blasted review; I’m gonna pull an all nighter on my script. Thank you Darren Aronofsky for ONE AGAIN moving me, making me cringe, making me think and making me feel. So you wanna dance with the devil?

GORE
We get a couple of cringe inducing bits like skin ripped off, cuts in one’s back, a stabbing, toes glued together and a pinch more. Not a gorefest but when the nasty kicked in, it hurt.
T & A
Although the flick didn’t fully show anything; what it implied was hot enough to get one's juices flowing. Hard nips through shirt, girl on girl kissing, simulated oral, masturbation and Portman’s round bootie filling up a pair of undies to a T.
BOTTOM LINE
If Cronenberg, Lynch and Polanski would team up on a movie; Black Swan would be the result. Yup, Aronofsky did it again in what may be his best film yet! Talk about a full dish! Am talking a gripping and challenging storyline, actors on top of their craft and then some, suspense, chills, heart, soul, sexiness and a deliciously morose streak. The score (Mansell = genius), editing, cinematography and dialogue were aces as well! Any questions!?! If BLACK SWAN doesn't clean house at The Oscars; I will lose what faith I have left in Hollywood. All of you who love cinema beyond the mold and the mainstream BLACK SWAN should be for you. Support it on the big screen! I will DEFINITELY go see it again, again and again.
BULL'S EYE
Darren Aronofsky pitched Mila Kunis the role on Skype, without an audition. She said yes.

The first draft of the script was called "The Understudy" and unraveled within the world of New York theater. Darren Aronofsky changed it to the ballet scene.

Meryl Streep was considered to play Nina's mother.
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12:49AM on 03/19/2011

An near masterpiece of psychological horror.

Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler) certainly hits the bull's eye with this psychological thriller with some very amusing dark comedy.

Natalie Portman is certainly very effective in her Oscar-Winning performance as Nina. The movie has strong supporting performances from Vincent Cassel as the sometimes sympathic but mostly sleazy ballet director, Mila Kunis is great as the girl who tries to be Nina's friend but Barbara Hershey is creepy as Nina's demanding mother.

Some of
Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler) certainly hits the bull's eye with this psychological thriller with some very amusing dark comedy.

Natalie Portman is certainly very effective in her Oscar-Winning performance as Nina. The movie has strong supporting performances from Vincent Cassel as the sometimes sympathic but mostly sleazy ballet director, Mila Kunis is great as the girl who tries to be Nina's friend but Barbara Hershey is creepy as Nina's demanding mother.

Some of the Widescreen cinematography was excellent and the movie does have an different kind of happy ending, if u do truly think about it. "Black Swan" is one of a kind movie that should not be missed. Certainly worth buying on Blu-ray.
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-1
5:53AM on 01/28/2011

Black Swan

loe this movie
loe this movie
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9:27PM on 01/14/2011
I remember leaving Requiem for a Dream feeling bummed, yet I saw awesome performance. The Wrestler, depressing yet awesome and Roarke should have won last year. Enter this monster which feels like a bad trip but the ride is something you'll never forget. The merging of the style of the Wrestler with body horror and slight of hand takes you places you never thought a film with ballet would ever take you. After seeing this you'll never see ballet, Swan Lake, or its impressive cast the same
I remember leaving Requiem for a Dream feeling bummed, yet I saw awesome performance. The Wrestler, depressing yet awesome and Roarke should have won last year. Enter this monster which feels like a bad trip but the ride is something you'll never forget. The merging of the style of the Wrestler with body horror and slight of hand takes you places you never thought a film with ballet would ever take you. After seeing this you'll never see ballet, Swan Lake, or its impressive cast the same way again.
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-1
10:20PM on 01/12/2011

'' BLACK BEAUTY ''

I wasn't really digging the Year in this beloved Genre WE LOVE, sure ,there was certainly lots of interesting fare out there, '' HUMAN CENTIPEDE '', '' A SERBIAN FILM '', '' I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE ''but nothing really captivating , and then BOOM left hook to the cranium , and I'm down for the count!!In a span of 2 or 3 months , I'VE been witness to Genre magic in the form of '' THE LOVED ONES '', '' FROZEN '','' I SAW THE DEVIL '' and now, ''BLACK SWAN ''the latest masterpiece , and possible BEST
I wasn't really digging the Year in this beloved Genre WE LOVE, sure ,there was certainly lots of interesting fare out there, '' HUMAN CENTIPEDE '', '' A SERBIAN FILM '', '' I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE ''but nothing really captivating , and then BOOM left hook to the cranium , and I'm down for the count!!In a span of 2 or 3 months , I'VE been witness to Genre magic in the form of '' THE LOVED ONES '', '' FROZEN '','' I SAW THE DEVIL '' and now, ''BLACK SWAN ''the latest masterpiece , and possible BEST PICTURE , from The Man , DARREN ARONOFSKY !!While each of the Flicks I just mentioned , at one time, I considered to be possible BEST o' the year possibilities, I have to give the nod , without much trepidation ,sorry, ' LOVED ONES ', This bitch owns on so many different levels , it would be impossible to give the hardware to anyone else !! ONCE AGAIN, THE ARROW OWNS, great job , GOOD SIR !!
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1:03PM on 12/26/2010
This really was a masterpiece. Everything about this film was damn brilliant and those last 20 minutes of the movie were astounding and was TRUE film making at its finest. Natalie Portman gave an oscar worthy performance and if she doesn't get at LEAST a nomination, I will murder the oscar committee. If it wasn't for The Loved Ones (still my favorite film of the year), this would be my #1 of 2010.
This really was a masterpiece. Everything about this film was damn brilliant and those last 20 minutes of the movie were astounding and was TRUE film making at its finest. Natalie Portman gave an oscar worthy performance and if she doesn't get at LEAST a nomination, I will murder the oscar committee. If it wasn't for The Loved Ones (still my favorite film of the year), this would be my #1 of 2010.
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12:08PM on 12/23/2010

Carrie

Glad you mentioned Carrie. That was the vibe that was strongest for me. Highly recommended.
Glad you mentioned Carrie. That was the vibe that was strongest for me. Highly recommended.
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9:34AM on 12/23/2010
I give it 4 now because of you guys' awesome feedback. The movie is nowhere near my country just yet but I absolutely can't wait to see the movie. Arrow's review is like reading an essay which makes me feels even more excited!
I give it 4 now because of you guys' awesome feedback. The movie is nowhere near my country just yet but I absolutely can't wait to see the movie. Arrow's review is like reading an essay which makes me feels even more excited!
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-2
1:07PM on 12/22/2010

Lucky Me

This film FINALLY made it to my town (yeah I am impatient and thought that it would have been here in early December) and it is SOLID. I see nothing wrong in Arrow's review and I do feel that Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, and The Fountain cannot be compared to each other. I would watch any of these movies again on any given day (unless I am very depressed already).

This film was the total package of incomparable acting, screenplay, visuals, and the whole enchilada. Thanks again,
This film FINALLY made it to my town (yeah I am impatient and thought that it would have been here in early December) and it is SOLID. I see nothing wrong in Arrow's review and I do feel that Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, and The Fountain cannot be compared to each other. I would watch any of these movies again on any given day (unless I am very depressed already).

This film was the total package of incomparable acting, screenplay, visuals, and the whole enchilada. Thanks again, Darren. I now forgive you for taking Rachel off the market ;)
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3:28PM on 12/18/2010

Loved it!

Excellent film, Arnofsky's "The Wrestler" has good company. One of 2010's must-see films.
Excellent film, Arnofsky's "The Wrestler" has good company. One of 2010's must-see films.
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8:59PM on 12/06/2010
Absolutely spectacular movie.
Erotic, intense and very trippy. Just a wonderful film.
Portman deserves every ounce of praise she's receiving. The Academy should just give her the Oscar right now.
Absolutely spectacular movie.
Erotic, intense and very trippy. Just a wonderful film.
Portman deserves every ounce of praise she's receiving. The Academy should just give her the Oscar right now.
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