Black Swan: Two Beaks Up

Natalie Portman as the titular Black Swan

I’m sure you’ve heard all the buzz surrounding this movie for months now. It just opened nationwide over the weekend after spending a couple of weeks in limited release. I saw it 2 weeks ago because I was pressed. So for those of you that have been wanting to see it and haven’t yet, and for those that have seen it and want to compare opinions, hopefully my thoughts will help either side. Well, I gotta say…I loved it. I would see it again actually. If you’re not into the “arthouse” type of film, then maybe it might not be for you. There are elements thrown in there that may be too farfetched for someone who takes movies too seriously. A quick synopsis: Nina (Natalie Portman) is a technically brilliant dancer who gets the much coveted part as the Swan Queen in her ballet company’s production of Swan Lake. However, she struggles with the charisma that she needs to pull off the other half of the role as the sexy and mysterious Black Swan. Enter Lily (Mila Kunis). A natural talent who excels in the areas that Nina lacks, but isn’t as technically sound. Nina’s obsession with perfection takes a turn when she becomes obsessed with Lily. Competition, janked up ballerina feet, and breakdowns ensue.

I’m coming from the mindset of a person who wants to be entertained, but not insulted by a film. I don’t know a whole lot about ballet, or cinematography, or direction or anything like that so I can’t speak to any technical aspects of the film or the dancing. And who cares?

Did it look cool? Hell yes. Every visual element seemed intentional and worked with the feel of the movie.

Was the acting great? Definitely. Natalie Portman nailed this role. I wouldn’t be surprised if/when she starts winning awards. Mila Kunis was great, and was able to pull off sexy without that “cute” undertone that she seems to carry in most of the other roles I’ve seen her in. The woman that played Nina’s mom was a little bit Mommie Dearest which added a creepy tone to the mother/daughter dynamic. It really worked.

Did the plot make sense? Yes, but you have to resist the urge to compare it to movies that probably do “psycho-thriller” much better than this film. Some things about the movie may seem ridiculous if you think about it, but just go with it. Ride it out. You really don’t have to go too deep or get too intellectual with this one. It was mostly believable to me. Anything that can successfully combine ballet, dopplegangers, and sexuality in one movie deserves SOME sort of award. If they somehow threw a kraken in there I would rate it the best movie of the year. As usual, I found myself laughing at parts that probably weren’t supposed to be funny. At this point I’m not sure if it’s the scripts, the acting or just me. Anyway…The only thing that sort of bothered me about the movie was the suggestion that the only way Nina could “loosen up” and be “find herself” was by masturbating and experimenting with drugs/alcohol. Huh!? That was an after-school special that I missed. Whatever happened to “learning to laugh at yourself”? Or going to a comedy night? Or maybe, I don’t know, try a new haircolor? But I suppose if she did all that then the movie would be hella boring. Imagine that montage. Or at the very least, there’d be no room to fit in Natalie/Mila lezzy action. Oh, but I digress…

Was there nudity? Nah, but there is a LOT of sexuality drizzled in it. Mostly girl-on-girl (shocker!). **Kanye shrug** Meh, I’ll take it. It wasn’t gratuitous, I mean, there was definitely a point to it. It’s just that I have to wonder if THAT is really the reason why there is so much hype surrounding the movie…

Overall, I think that this is a film that people are either really going to love or really going to hate. I can’t see there being an in-between, but I definitely think that it’s worth checking out. If you’re not a ballet buff, you can still appreciate the training that the actors went through to become believable dancers. If you’re a film buff, but not uptight, you’ll probably enjoy the stuff that counts…the acting, the visuals, and the story. Probably one of the most memorable moments for me (without spoiling too much) is the bathroom scene when Nina discovers a hangnail. I still cringe when I think about it.

For Colored Girls: Sad ass women, fine ass men (except for the old guy)

Not pictured: Low-down, dirty, fine brothas

So, I saw this a couple of weeks ago with a few women from a Bible study group so immediately I had a different expectation of what this movie was going to be about. An uplifting, empowering movie geared towards black women, right? Wrong…so wrong. I found out pretty quickly that this wasn’t appropriate for a Bible study group at all, and that I was the only one who wanted to laugh at parts that probably weren’t supposed to be funny (but that’s another story). After a while all the drama and tragedy became so much that it was hard to take it seriously anymore, there weren’t many breaks from it. It made me much more aware of the fact that it was a movie. This was a movie that was adapted from what I assume to be a very powerful play. Although I never read the play, and I’m not really a Tyler Perry fan, it was obvious that he wanted to preserve some of the dialogue and impact…most notably during the times when any of the women used the word “colored”. I wasn’t offended at the usage at all, it just felt unnatural…anachronistic maybe? The movie definitely took place in present day America. I don’t know, I mean, when was the last time you heard someone say “colored”? (The NAACP doesn’t count) I’ve never even heard my grandparents say that. Or is the term making a comeback and I just didn’t know? I guess I was just bothered by it because it felt soooo out of place, and it’s soooo easy to make that change in the script. Right?
Well, anyway here are just a few points that stood out to me about the film:
1) It’s a bit abstract. – Poetry from the original piece is interwoven with the dialogue. In some places it worked really well, but in most parts it was pretty confusing (to me anyway). I applaud that Perry tried to take some risks with this movie though. I see he tried to do something a bit more creative with his direction of the film, so that was cool in itself. I doubt that means we’ve seen the last of Medea or stuff like that, but at least he tried.
2) Black men get a baaaaaad rap in this one. I can’t think of one guy that redeemed it for ya’ll. Remember Lenny Kravitz in Precious, as that sexy beam of kindness in his role as the hospital nurse? Yeah…that guy is not in this movie. If he is in there, I easily forgot him because of all the devastation surrounding the main characters. So Fellas, don’t take your insecure, impressionable girlfriend or side-piece to see this if you are suspect…in ANYthing that you do.
2b) On the upside though, just about all of the men were fine. Plenty of eye candy in this one…except for the old guy I mentioned in the title of this post.
3) The acting was much better than I thought it would be…and I guess that’s saying a lot for a Tyler Perry movie. However, prepare for LOTS of close ups and crying. 
4) Loretta Divine in a rare role where she’s not playing, as my friend calls it, “Somebody’s Mama.”
5) This movie is sad. Extremely sad. There was so much sadness going on that I couldn’t even get emotional. That statement doesn’t even make sense, and I know that. That’s how ridiculous it was. The movie kind of sets you up to expect things to be bad. I don’t remember much levity in the film at all. It was so sad that I had to TRY to find funny things…hence me being the only one snickering at inappropriate parts. I watch movies to be entertained and escape my own hum-drum events in life; I don’t want to watch movies so I can be depressed. I was too overwhelmed by the sad visuals, sad dialogue, and sad events to become emotionally attached. That much drama turns me off in real life, I’m surprised I made it through a whole movie of it. Again, I was expecting an overall uplifting message…so I guess that’s the only reason my reaction was like that. My expectations were just different. If there was an overall uplifting message I completely missed it. 
My bet is that this movie will be destined to play over and over again on BET, Lifetime and WeTV (as in “we” hate men). If you see it, you’ll know what I mean. Not worth a movie ticket, but maybe a netflix night from someone else’s queue. For Colored Girls is not a terrible movie, but it also wasn’t worth the hype that surrounded it. I’d give it a solid C. Tell me what you think.