‘Black Swan‘. The film that everyone was waiting for, the one that they’re all taking about. The one that so many people have called masterpiece and that so many people keep on praising on Twitter and Facebook and blogs.
And I wonder… really?
I wanted to see ‘Black Swan’ very badly: it had a great trailer, greater posters, and the plot seemed fascinating. However, when I left the cinema last Saturday after finally seeing it, I felt disappointed.
Here are the reasons why…
I guess that the ‘Black Swan‘s target audience is not the same one that goes to the ballet, so the fact that what the movie tells about ‘Swan Lake’ is half invented is probably unknown to most of those who’ve seen it. Unfortunately for me (at least in this case) I’ve always been a ‘Swan Lake’ fan: I love the music, I love the story, I love the ballet. Which is why I know that the black swan is not the evil twin of the white swan as the film kind of suggests. Nor that the white swan is such a fragile character. It’s true that the white swan is a Princess (Odette) that’s been transformed into a swan by an evil wizard (Rothbart), but that’s about it. On the other side, the black swan (Odile) is the daughter of Rothbart who is transformed into a white swan lookalike to fool Siegfried (the Prince) so that Odette’s spell is not broken. Both parts are played by the same dancer, yes, but they’re different characters. And the black swan only appears on Act III of a four act ballet.
While watching the film, I found it very hard to engage with it. For some reason, I had a constant feeling that every single thing that happens in it happens for the sole reason that it’s cool, scary or shocking. I didn’t really see any logic behind it, just a collection of moments that suited Aronofky’s desires. For him, characters and emotions are disposable. One moment they’re here, the next they’ve gone. There are too many things in this film that could’ve been explored so much more but remain simple, flat and empty stereotypes (the character of the mother, for instance).
I know that Aronofsky’s never really been into subtlety but… this was a little too much.
I don’ think we needed every single detail in the movie to be black or white (the clothes, the decoration in Vincent Cassel’s apartment and studio,…) to understand what this film is about. The same way that we don’t need the Swan Lake music everywhere (jewellery box? mobile phone tone?).
Aronofsky makes such an effort in turning everything ‘Swan Lake’ that it gets to a point where it seems that there was/won’t be any life in any of those characters before/after what the movie tells. And that takes a lot of humanity off them.
Is it me or every time he opened his mouth it was to make a huge statement that, deep down, was pure cliche? His character’s so over the top that it’s almost a caricature…
*THE SOUNDTRACK (well, not the music itself)*
I find slightly embarrassing the fact that the credits of the film say ‘Original Score by Clint Mansell’. I do love Clint Mansell, but half of the tracks of this soundtrack are (beautiful, that’s for sure) arrangements of Swan Lake. Surely Tchaikovsky deserved a mention?
* * *
Still, I don’t think the movie is a complete disaster. It is true that Natalie Portman is amazing as Nina, that it’s visually stunning, that it’s shot beautifully and that the last 30 mins are quite breathtaking. But for me, it’s not the masterpiece everyone’s talking about…
I went to see I’m Still Here tonight and it was ace. I’d been wanting to see it for ages, not only because I think that Joaquin Phoenix is one of the best actors in the world, but also because I’m completely sure Casey Affleck is one of the coolest dudes ever (warning: this opinion might have a lot to do with the fact that I was blown away by his performance in The Killer Inside Me).
There’s been a lot of buzz around this title since Phoenix and Affleck started working on it, and even though now everybody knows that the whole thing was fake, you still kind of buy it. I mean, it’s SO real, it feels SO real, he IS so real.
As someone who’s followed Phoenix career, I remember when he said he wasn’t going to act anymore, and when he said that he was going to become a hip hop artist, and when he fell off that stage (I mean, that was all over YouTube), and that David Letterman show,… And seeing all those things again tonight, from another point of view, was quite an interesting experience.
But even more interesting is the fact that not everything in here is fake. I mean, yes, he was faking, Affleck was faking, their friends were faking,… but what about the press? The audiences? Those scenes of JP (yes, that was his rapper name) watching the news or reading on the internet really horrible things about him… that’s just hard. I always tend to have mixed feelings when I watch documentaries, and this was no exception. There’s a lot of things here that make you laugh. However, if you think properly about them, they really are sad things (even if we know they’re not true).
Still, this only makes I’m Still Here richer. In fact, I think that what I have liked the most about it is how many layers it has, how many reads you can have of it. It’s a documentary, it’s a fake documentary, it’s a film about someone’s misery, it’s a film about Hollywood. It’s just so interesting in so many different ways, so well done, so well edited and so well acted that it’s truly one of the best things one can see at the cinema right now.
<SILLY FACT THAT ONLY I CAN NOTICE> One of Joaquin’s musical/career buddies, Ant, used to play in Spacehog. His brother married Liv Tyler… whom Joaquin dated before… whooah </END OF SILLY FACT>
I’d been wanting to watch Inception pretty much since it was announced. Not only I’m a big sci-fi fan, but I also love Christopher Nolan‘s films. I think he’s one of the best directors around. I love everything about his films: the way they look, the way they feel and, most importantly, what they tell. I love how they tend to be incredibly long. Just like I love how his smart thrillers usually talk about so many more things than they seem to do. You just have to look for them.
So yeah, Inception was out today and I’ve just seen it… and I must confess I have (mild) mixed feelings about it. Personally, I have found the first 45 minutes unnecessarily confusing. It takes a while until you know what’s going on, and then it turns out to be really simple. This first part of the movie is supposed to be what sets you up, what tells you what’s going to happen, what lays the film’s universe rules so that you can understand the second part (The Dream). However, The Dream itself explains its rules better than this long introduction which just makes you feel slightly frustrated.
The good thing about this is that the film gets better (something quite unusual in Hollywood). In fact, once you’re inside The Dream, Inception becomes an amazingly fascinating and intelligent movie. It’s so well built (and arquitecture is really important in here… no matter how weak the foundations may be), so well acted, so beautifully crafted. Pure cinema magic.
I’ve always loved how Nolan’s films are photographed. They look very austere, even if they’re big on special effects. And this is no exception: the chases, the fights, the imaginary places,… they are all visually innovative, yet strangely familiar. Just like a dream.
The soundtrack also helps build the film’s tense atmosphere. Scored by Nolan’s regular Hans Zimmer (and with Johnny Marr as guest guitarist), it might resemble previous director-composer collaborations, but still works so well.
Little can be said about the cast. There are so many good actors in here that it’s ridiculous. From Nolan’s favourite Michael Caine and the gorgeous Cillian Murphy (who also repeats with the director) to indie starts Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon Lewitt. And then you have Leonardo DiCaprio, who just gets better and better.
Story-wise, the movie is full of layers. Yes, it is a sci-fi thriller that talks about stealing from dreams… and implementing ideas on dreams. But it also explores so many other things, especially feelings (guilt) and what strong power they have in our subconscious. Still, I think the first part of the script could have been resolved in a better way. Inception was written by Nolan himself and I tend to think that his best films are those written by his brother.
However, Inception is an extraordinary piece of clever filmmaking. In fact, I have the feeling that it’s the kind of movie that stays with you for a while, just like it’s the kind of movie that might need a second viewing. At least I want to see it again.
We’d been waiting to watch the movie about The Runaways since we heard about it and looks like it’s finally going to hit the UK cinemas on the 27th of August. However, and since it’s been out in the USA for a while that also means that it’s been obviously leaked on the web and ooopsie, we’ve already watched it!
I am disappointed as I probably had (too) high expectations from it; the trailer was promising (it did its job, I guess) and both Kirsten Stewart and Dakota Fanning characterizations were very close to the real Joan Jett and Cherie Currie… Just the fact of someone having decided to take the story of the first all girl rock band and shape it like a Blockbuster was exciting. However, I think the film is a very soft version of what it could have been, and it feels like a missed opportunity to portray a band that made history. The movie is dull and it lacks of a storyline to understand characters’ behaviours and their relationships. Anyway, at least it ticks all the boxes of what a rock movie should be, which is always fun. So call some friends, get some pizza and sing along.
On the other hand, if you really want to know what was going on inside The Runaways, then I’d recommend ‘Edgeplay: a film about The Runaways’, directed by Vicky Blue, who replaced Jackie Fox in bass in 1977. This documentary features all the real members of the band talking about the 5 years they were together. Joan Jett is missing but it includes Suzi Quatro and Kim Fowley, the brain that saw the potential business of an all girl band (a well creepy man!).
The documentary, although a bit too long, is a raw tale of the psychological abuse the girls suffered by the aforementioned Kim Fowley to become rock stars. They did become rock stars, but such abuse produced a big lack of self-confidence on the girls, which led to intricate relationships of camaraderie and jealousy between them. On top of that, they had to cope with a proper rock’n’roll lifestyle being just a bunch of extremely talented teenagers.