Daily archives "July 5, 2011"

Black Swan *****

Running time: 100 mins  Certificate: 15

Synopsis: A fragile ballet dancer Nina (Portman) is promoted to central role in Swan Lake. Her director Thomas (Cassel), urges her to explore her dark side so that she can better embody the dual role of the Swan Queen and the Black Swan. This along with a new arrival appearing at the company, Lily (Kunis), pushes Nina towards breaking point.

 

Darren Aronofsky over the years has been making films all about the human psyche. Whether it has been in the dull Pi, the intriguing Requiem for a Drea, the over-bloated The Fountain or the overrated The Wrestler. But now the auteur has made his masterpiece. But a word of warning this movie is not for the faint hearted.

He has been clearly influenced by the works of DePalma, Cronenberg and Polanski. In fact the best way to describe the movie is if Dario Argento were to remake The Red Shoes this would possibly be would audiences would encounter. A mixture of body horror, suspenseful scares and artistic dancing.

The story revolves very much like the film’s palette, which is kept to blacks and whites with very little colour shown throughout. The plot goes through the familiar structures of black versus white or good versus evil.

The cast is extraordinary with Portman in particular in true form. She not only makes a believable dancer ( in both ballet and looks), but also gives a multi layer performance which hinders from vulnerability to dominance with the viewer never knowing which version of Nina is going to appear next. Barbara Hershey’s mother is absolutely terrifying, while Cassel and Kunis are given light hearted moments within the story.

The only piece of the puzzle that slightly lets down the whole drama is Winona Ryder who seems to be overacting like a pantomime dame in her role as the jilted  retired dancer.

While the film is absurd, over the top and lacks originality, it is incredibly enjoyable. The movie is also one that will attack every one of the viewer’s senses. In some essence it is an indescribable cinematic experience.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

The King’s Speech ***

Running time: 118 mins  Certificate: 12A

Synopsis: Prince George (Firth), known as Bertie trust overcome his stammer, when his brother abdicates the throne and war looms. He reluctantly turns to Aussie speech therapist Lionel Logue (Rush), whose methods are unconventional.

 

After much hype and glowing reviews the biggest question is, does it live up to the hype. Unfortunately the answer is a resounding no. While there is some things that work very well within the piece. THe film suffers from the same problems that made The Queen a dull run of the mill biopic.

The performances are good, but not outstanding, Colin Firth who seems to be a shoe in for the Best Actor Oscar gives a sympathetic performance, although he appears to have copied Michael Palin’s role in A Fish Called Wanda. Bonham Carter tries her best with what has been given to her. While Geoffrey Rush is the best thing in this film. He is given the best funny lines and makes more of a screen impact than Firth. If there were any justice he would be the one winning the Oscar.

The script is comprised of two way conversations and mini scenes that are linked together. If the film were thirty minutes shorter this may have been a powerful drama. But it feels like something that would have worked better on stage rather than in the cinema.

If it were not for Rush this would be an average TV movie of the week, instead of a good TV movie of the week.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan