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Showing posts from December, 2010

Black Swan

I waited to blog about Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan after discovering that there were a couple of other ballet themed films that I had not yet seen and wanted to be well versed before tackling this project. Having a personal interest in ballet and more then casual acquaintance with that world, it seemed that any attempt at criticism should come from a place that is well versed on the cinematic history of ballet in cinema.

But on further reflection, there is no reason to look to dance cinema before a discussion of Black Swan. Despite it being about a young dancer, Nina (Natalie Portman) getting the lead role in Swan Lake. Her attention to perfection and reticent character makes her an obvious choice for dancing the White Swan, but the lead in Swan Lake must also perform her seductive twin, the Black Swan, which is an uphill battle for the virginal Nina. Knowing that Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis trained with the New York City Ballet for a year in preparation for this part, one wo…

Araki's New Queer Cinema

People come to the cinema with very different motivations. For some, a movie is pure escapism. Some are looking for intellectual stimulation, or maybe to get caught up in an emotional experience. The reason I keep returning to the theater is to catch brief glimpses of my personal realities on screen. In college, I went to nearly every movie with a gay character or a queer subplot. I was searching desperately for a glimpse of the future I wanted for myself, before I even had a fully formed notion of my adult identity. I only knew that the path that most people take in life was not the road I was traveling. I always knew that I wouldn't be a wife, a home-maker, a mother... And it was through my worshiping at the alter of the cinematograph that I occasionally glimpsed images of alternative lives.

In all of this searching, there is one filmmaker that I feel a strong kinship with, Gregg Araki. I had read of Araki and his cinema long before I had seen or even heard a plot outline for a…

127 Hours

Everyone knows the story. Aron Ralston was hiking when he is pinned by a falling boulder and cut off his own arm to escape. But how would one make a film about an ordeal that everyone already knows how it ends? This story poses some serious challenges for a feature length film as it is asking an audience to be trapped in a canyon with Ralston as he ponders his predicament, for 5 days, until he finally decides to cut his way free. One could decide to approach it as a horror film, using the viewer's dread and claustrophobia to build to the final gruesome scenes when cutting occurs. It could also explore the territory of so many other man versus nature films, and use Ralston's days of isolation for internal exploration. So it was a bit of a surprise that filmmaker, Danny Boyle, decided to conquer this project as his films are about as far from interspective as it gets and it is hard to imagine him attracted to a project that puts it's sole character beneath a rock for i…