Slant's Predictions

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Postby ITALIANO » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:00 pm

Big Magilla wrote:Calling Black Swan a fairy tale lets it off too easily.

I repeat: not that easily. But never mind.

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Postby Big Magilla » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:50 am

Calling Black Swan a fairy tale lets it off too easily.

The queen/wicked witch in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs didn't require a lot of explanatory detail to make the character make sense. Nor did Piper Laurie in Carrie. Her character was obviously nuts from the get-go, but even within the limitations of that persona, Laurie creates a totally believable character. Same with Mary Tyler Moore's cold mother in Ordinary People. Hershey's character is a stock figure - a single mother who obsesses about her daughter and turns viral when the daughter's success means she will be leaving the nest. Then she shows up beaming at her performance as if nothing happened. It's a poorly drawn character and Hershey's nut attack so comes out of nowhere that, as I've said before, her performance is worthy of a Razzie. It required a bit more development.

Swan Lake is a fairy tale. The Red Shoes is an exploration of what can happen when obsession with a fairy tale/myth turns deadly. Black Swan is a sloppy mix of The Red Shoes; Carrie; All About Eve and a dozen other cultural artifacts thrown in.

But I did like Natalie Portman's intensity even if I didn't like the film.




Edited By Big Magilla on 1298389869

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Postby ITALIANO » Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:30 am

It's not only a fairy tale - but then even if it was, fairy tales aren't dumb nor superficial - read Vladimir Propp and you'll know what I mean. Is the Evil Queen in Snow White a nuanced character? No, still that's probably one of the most profound, and disturbing, characters ever created. You and Ed Gonzalez treat Black Swan as if it's Ordinary People - it's not. With all due difference, it's like complaining because a painting by Klimt isn't as realistic as a Courbet or a Daumier.

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Postby Sabin » Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:39 am

I'm curious. You say "I am not sure that it's dumb - I don't think it's so easy." and then you go on to call Black Swan a fairy tale. Now, I think that calling Black Swan a fairy tale is easy. It might very well be true because it doesn't operate successfully as a psychological thriller, as a backstage look into the world of ballet, as camp. In fact, it may very well operate most successfully within the confines of a fairy tale, although I don't think it's a terribly good one.

With regards to Barbara Hershey, I don't think she is necessarily a misogynistic creation. I just think her scenes are obviously telegraphed and stupid, and it becomes incredibly hard to take her scenes with Portman seriously. There is zero nuance there. Who is this person? Who is this mother? Were there any charm to her eccentricities, I would happily be on board. Calling Hershey or this film misogynistic is the same as calling it homophobic. The thought put in to explaining why requires more thought than the creation of the characters to begin with. The film is harmless in theory. I maintain, it is a technical tour de force, never less than watchable, and if it is a fairy tale, it's a curiously voyeuristic one. It's been a while since I felt as aware of the fact that I was watching this film, almost as though I was listening in on a rape survivor's group meeting: there was a sense of privacy invaded, psychological theater, and veiled rationalization. It reminded me a bit of Tideland, where I was stunned by what I was looking at and kept thinking to myself "Whatever is happening to this character is not remotely what I am seeing."
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby ITALIANO » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:10 am

I am not sure that it's dumb - I don't think it's so easy. And sorry but I insist - in this kind of movie, a character like the one Barbara Hershey plays, obviously an "archetype", the "evil mother" of so many fairy tales and horror movies, can't be classified as mysoginistic as if this was conventionally psychological material. Political correctness has castrated American cinema - and American film criticism; let's not be emotional eunuchs (I'm not referring to you, Sabin, of course).

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Postby Sabin » Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:11 pm

Black Swan is dumb but it has conviction. It's a big hot mess of a film that for me was pretty entertaining. Darren Aronofsky is not a thinker. He's a stylist, and as is true with Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler, and Black Swan, he's most proficient when actual thought is left out of the proceedings. Black Swan is a difficult film for him because it is laden with ineffective symbolism. The misogyny is largely present within Barbara Hershey's histrionics. The film attempts to give us insight into Natalie Portman's history with disorders, but they're incredibly shallow and superficial. Moment for moment, the film is dumb. But it's also a lot of fun.

I think Zach's essay is interesting because for all the dissent wrt Black Swan, nobody can really agree what it is. I think it's going to last in some capacity due to how hot Darren Aronofsky's career is becoming (and this guy is in it for the long haul) and the degree to which Natalie Portman has become beloved regardless of how scant her output is in terms of number of films, quality, etc.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby ITALIANO » Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:12 pm

Johnny Guitar's review is, as expected, as interesting as the movie deserves. I think that Black Swan is probably more an interesting movie than a great one, but we see so few interesting movies these days that I wouldn't complain.

As for homophobic or mysoginistic... I don't know, are (some) fairy tales homophobic? Are (most) greek legends mysoginistic? Are (almost all) Italian giallos both homophobic and mysognistic? Yes, maybe - but I'm not sure that this is the point.

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Postby Sabin » Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:09 pm

I can understand misogynistic. I think Black Swan is too adorable to be considered homophobic. It's worth noting that Ed does write "casually, if cluelessly...".

Johnny Guitar/Zach Campbell wrote something incredibly compelling about Black Swan on his blog.

(Johnny Guitar/Zach Capbell @ Tuesday, January 25, 2011)
White Swan

People can't seem to agree on the basic properties of Black Swan, probably nominated for a bunch of Oscars by now. [Some general spoilers follow here.] Is it camp? (If so, what kind?) Are the laughs this movie draws intentional or symptomatic? What about people who take the quasi-high romantic markers seriously? Black Swan is what I'd call a "diffuse" film - a deliberately multi-layered construction. In the work's complexity one is invited to bask in the codified indeterminacy of the entire affair. It's like "art" (multi-faceted, mercurial, rich, impossible to pin down), and yet not. This film contains so many diverse elements in terms of plot, theme, and style ... the result isn't a new thing with a new structure, but a clever theme park ride through various codifications of genre or symbolism, and various registers. A night out on the town? It's like Gossip Girl. High-pressure dance practice? It's like Center Stage. Frightful blurrings of fantasy and reality? It's like Repulsion. This sort of contained "surfing" can make for really interesting cinema (see here). All art cannibalizes and repurposes previous cultural content; plenty of great art deliberately courts ambiguity. I wonder here about the meta-orientation of this particular expression of ambiguity.

One generic ingredient in the Black Swan stew is the horror film - suspenseful editing strategies, the intense soundtrack, the overbearing generational conflict between mother and daughter (and absent father), horrific and animalistic CGI, and horror of one's own body and its involuntary changes - changes one both anxiously awaits and dreads. (A thought that crossed my mind, but which I haven't hashed out in conversation with anyone yet: Black Swan is a film about sublimated menstruation anxiety made from a male point of view.) Horror, Richard Dyer writes in White, "is a cultural space that makes bearable for whites the exploration of the association of whiteness with death."

The horror trope of vampirism for instance - white, ghastly, consuming - is so menacing, Dyer goes on, that it is often represented by whites who are not coded or accepted as completely white (Jews, Southeastern Europeans, creoles). Unsettlingly coincidental, then, that in this film's setting of a markedly moneyed, white subculture it is Portman and Kunis (both Jewish) who embody the emergent presence of this passionate, dionysian, destructive, selfish, unchaste thing, the black swan. The "deaths" of these two characters in the film signify the pyrrhic victory of a newly tempered whiteness, which has been threatened & pushed to its limit by that evil blackness.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby ITALIANO » Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:07 pm

Sabin wrote:homophobic and misogynistic

?

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Postby Sabin » Mon Feb 21, 2011 12:32 pm

Oscar 2011 Winner Predictions: Actress in a Leading Role
BY ED GONZALEZ ON FEBRUARY 21ST, 2011 AT 10:00 AM IN AWARDS


For Annette Bening, it seemed as if the stars in the Oscar sky had finally aligned into a shape that wasn't that of Hilary Swank's face. For her fine performance in Lisa Chodolenko's Showtime-y The Kids Are All Right, the actress was a frontrunner for this award since Sundance last year, and nothing seemed capable of pussyblocking her on the way to the Oscar podium. Then came the pitter patter of Black Swan's balletic feet. Darren Aronofsky's casually, if cluelessly, homophobic and misogynistic melodrama, after receiving mixed notices at Venice and Toronto, struck a chord with American critics and audiences, and the rest was not only box office history, but a repeat of the same old Oscar story. For being young, having a nice ass, showing us every frayed nerve in her character's body, but little else, and indulging in the sort of gay sex that only a gay person could have a problem with, Natalie Portman so perfectly embodies the spirit of this award that few are entertaining the possibility of an upset at this point. I won't either, because I'm not sure Bening, for all of her class and industry cred, can complete with the sort of effusive passion chronic masturbators fans of Black Swan have for all of the blood, sweat, and tears Portman poured into the project, though if truth be told, does it really matter who gets it? Whichever way it goes, the category's best performance still gets the shaft.
Will Win: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Could Win: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Should Win: Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby Sabin » Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:28 pm

I agree with him on this one. I wish this award was between Toy Story 3 and TRON: Legacy. For my money, Inception is merely the loudest film of the year.


Oscar 2011 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing
BY ERIC HENDERSON ON FEBRUARY 20TH, 2011 AT 10:05 AM IN AWARDS


In the five years since this category, which was previous known as Best Sound Effects, was bumped up from three to five nominations, it has matched up with the Best Sound Mixing slate for four out of those five slots every year. Except this year. Only Inception and, somewhat more puzzlingly, True Grit managed nominations in both fields this year. Which either goes to show the ever-widening quality gulf between the sort of effects-laden blockbusters that get cited here and the more nuanced work that earns nominations in the other category. Yeah, yeah, Salt, which got nominated for Sound Mixing, is a dozen times worse—and noisier—than any movie nominated here this year. No one said the patterns were infallible. Especially not this year, in our confusing, post-The Hurt Locker era.
We admit we're still reeling from Avatar's shocking, albeit edifying, loss to Kathryn Bigelow's atmospheric shadings, so we're almost tempted to consider the possibility that unthinkable things can continue to happen in this category, like Pixar finally taking a second trophy after four straight losses and a 1-in-7 overall record. Toy Story 3 opens with the series's most overtly action-oriented foley work and ends with a garbage incinerator straight out of Dante's Inferno. As bad as Pixar's luck is in Sound Editing, it's no worse than Tony Scott's, no matter how much metal shrieking he throws at movie theaters' Dolby setups like Italian chefs slinging spaghetti at the kitchen wall. So call it Stoppable. The last and, to date, only time Oscar responded to electronica beats in place of crunching cogs or creaking ships was in 1999 with The Matrix, so don't bet on TRON: Legacy's corny but effective video game ambiance.
No, despite last year's compass-skewing result, we're betting that voters revert back to putting their support behind the action blockbuster most palatable to middlebrows. Because True Grit is a middlebrow action epic for all of about 45 seconds, Inception it is.
Will Win: Inception
Could Win: Toy Story 3
Should Win: TRON: Legacy
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby Sabin » Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:16 pm

Yeah, take it up with Henderson.



Oscar 2011 Winner Predictions: Animated Feature Film
BY ED GONZALEZ ON FEBRUARY 19TH, 2011 AT 10:00 AM IN AWARDS


How to explain How to Train Your Dragon winning 10 Annie awards? Maybe Pixar was right that the group's voting procedures are stacked in favor of DreamWorks Animation movies, or maybe they're not and the voting body decided to punish Pixar for not making an effusive awards push for Toy Story 3. Since the highest-grossing film of 2010 doesn't exactly need to remind anyone of its existence, or excellence for that matter, and since Kung Fu Panda inexplicably laid waste to Wall-E at the Annies two years ago, we think Pixar might have Annie's number. Whatever you think, though, it seems unlikely that How to Train Your Dragon will best Toy Story 3 at the Oscars given the larger AMPAS voting body that will dutifully null any DreamWorks-versus-Pixar drama that may carry over into the Oscar race. There's also Toy Story 3's five nominations to How to Train Your Dragon's two. In short: We don't see Oscar pulling a Grammy here. With a nomination for Best Picture, Toy Story 3 losing this award would be as much of an upset as, well, Arcade Fire winning Album of the Year.
Will Win: Toy Story 3
Could Win: How to Train Your Dragon
Should Win: Toy Story 3
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby ITALIANO » Sat Feb 19, 2011 6:39 am

Big Magilla wrote:which probably means it has the kiss of death. :;):

:) Exactly.

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Postby Big Magilla » Sat Feb 19, 2011 5:48 am

I am predicting I Am Love to win, which probably means it has the kiss of death. :;):

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Postby ITALIANO » Sat Feb 19, 2011 4:35 am

Reza wrote:
ITALIANO wrote:
Sabin wrote:there isn't a single legitimately contemporary nominee in this bunch, not even Black Swan.

When is I Am Love set then?

Maybe Sabin equates contemporary designs with something wholesome like the Americans wore in The Social Network. I Am Love is sadly set in the land of Armani and Versace......which makes the designs.............historical or period??

It's set in a country which is not America (they do exist, and not only in fantasyland) and obviously in a privileged social class, but it's certainly contemporary.


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