my monkied brain (katekat1010) wrote,
my monkied brain

movies - they're cool

My thoughts on three films that I managed to actually see this winter.  Films!  They are good!  And more fun than a bag of bricks!

Visually, this was a particularly appealing film - I loved all of the dancing, the transformations that Natalie P went through were really lovely in their horror (particularly when she pulls her fingernails off - I had to cover my eyes with my hands because of that one, bit I peaked through  my fingers).  Ballet is particularly beautiful, and those bodies, while I'm freaked out by the methods used to get them, are amazingly lithe and graceful when dancing.  The flicker-flash of the extacy scenes, and the eroticism of the growing relationship between Natalie & her protege/changeling was particularly well done -  Mila K's beauty was alluring and deeply hot. I thought Natalie's Black swan dance was an emotional triumph - when her wings unfurled I think I literally gasped because it was so appropriate.

That being said, I was utterly disappointed by the ending.  While intellectually I understand why it ended with Natalie P dying just as she completes the final dance of the white swan, emotionally it was a total let down.  It rendered all of the psychotic drama of Natalie's transformation completely safe because it was an hallucination.  The creepy question of if it was actually happening to her that persists throughout the film was transformed into something flat - it felt a bit like a big 'don't worry folks, this is just what it takes to be great as a dancer, you won't ever suffer it' kind of way.  And perhaps I didn't see it coming because I didn't *want* to see it coming - because I prefer my mysteries of the psyche to be mysteries, not to be all in the poor woman's head.

Additionally, though, it felt like an extremely dated film.  What do I mean by this?  It's not like it was set in the 80s, or that no one had cell phones, but simply that the themes it explored, and the way it explored them, were INCREDIBLY dated. 

First, the whole artist suffering for their work thing - do we really really have this kind of paradigm still?  That the artist must suffer a psychotic break in order to fully realize art?  Why is that important to us - haven't we found ways to make art that is compelling and beautiful without turning ourselves inside out? WHY do we need this paradigm - didn't we pull down the walls sitting artists in ivory towers and somehow valorizing them so that art was no longer this remote unintelligible thing that can only be comprehended and created by a few?

Second, it's dated in that it creates an entirely sexist and 1950s way of seeing women - there's the virginal, stiff, intellecutalized and somehow cut-off/sheltered woman on one side that we're supposed to empathize with (and who HAS to confront and harness her own 'dangerous' sexuality in order to succeed) and the brimming pot of sexy that is Mila K who doesn't do everything technically right but who works on instinct and is oh so frigging alluring because she lives in the world and enjoys it and her own body blah blah blah.  Because of course we can't have a more nuanced depiction of women in this day and age, can we?  There are no roles for women but the ingenue and the harlot.  And OF COURSE the Natalie character has a psychotic break trying to be all sexual, because she's so frigid because of her life and the influence of her mother, and oh, yay, there's the complete bastard of a theatre director there to push her into that break.  And sure you might say that it's an indictment of that kind of binary, because after all she does have a psychotic break and it's based on him forcing her into a role she's not comfortable with, but WHY THE HELL DO WE NEED THAT BINARY ANYWAY?  And the dictator/man as the catalyst to it?  Can't we get away sometime of THAT being the only interesting question for women?  That art is always bound up with sexuality and self knowledge?

Finally, the race and class thing - Aronofsky had to make a movie about ballet dancers?? Really?  Could he be any more fascinated with the problems of art in the modern day - is the ballet arena really the place where these things happen? Which, no matter how it has changed over the years, remains an upper class white kind of form ... and no, Natalie isn't so much shown as being upper class, but she and her mom, who has the time to be an overbearing theatre mom, have the trappings of upper-middle-class whiteness stamped all over them.  The entire movie does.  Additionally, did you know that Black Swan is actually the term for an African-American ballet dancer?  Once again it's a movie about what basically adds up to a white people problem and there's no acknowledgment ANYWHERE that there's a kind of racial issue automatically being called up with this scenario. 

I just can't actually forget this kind of stuff - i think in other movies i might be willing to enjoy them without pointing out the problems like this, but with this one, the hype and the recognition in both a casual setting and in the press seems out of control compared to how annoyed I was when i watched it, and afterwards when i thought about it.

Tron - oh the trony-ness

Now, I just got through bitching and moaning about how problematic Black Swan was and then I went and saw Tron twice even though quite frankly it gender fails worse.  But I wasn't actually holding Tron to any standards other than 'is it pretty'?  And it pretty much fails in all other respects but that one.  But it was pretty!  The actors were pretty! The colors were pretty!  The battles were pretty!  Especially the light-jets (light-planes, i dunno, whatever they were).  Garrett H & Olivia W are pretty!!!  I liked looking at them! I wasn't disappointed because I wasn't expecting it to have a good story line ... and it lived up to that - it was completely banal!

True Grit - westerny westernness

I was told this was a 'straight' western by my housemate (meaning it wasn't sarcastic, or self reflexive, or at all self aware), and really, it wasn't at all.  I mean, it was a straight film in that all the characters took themselves at face value, but really, it was funny (and intentionally so).  It was very much a cohen brothers film.  Besides the really creepy sexual tension going between Matt D & Hailee (i mean really he has to sexually threaten her verbally even though he's shown up in her room already threatening her?), I adored it in all of it's straightfoward, unrepentant cookyness.  And Hailee was simply excellent!  Of all the movies I saw this one was definitely my favorite, even though it was the one I was least excited about going to in the first place.

also posted to dreamwidth | you can reply here or there | um, but don't worry, i'm still an lj girl
Tags: review

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