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Black Swan [Blu-ray]
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Academy Award® and BAFTA® winner Natalie Portman stars in the award-winning and critically acclaimed Black Swan.Nina (Portman) is a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her obsessive former ballerina mother Erica (Hershey) who exerts a suffocating control over her. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Ryder) for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily (Kunis), who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side--a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.
- Metamorphosis: A Three-Part Series--A behind the scenes look at the filmmaking process from Darren Aronofsky’s visionary directing, to the physically-demanding acting, to the stunning special effects.
- Behind the Curtain--An inside look at the film’s costume and production design.
- Ten Years in the Making--Natalie Portman and Darren Aronofsky discuss their creative journey, from “preparing for the role” to “dancing with the camera.
- Cast Profiles: Roles of a Lifetime--Presented by Fox Movie Channel, the stars reflect on their challenging and rewarding characters.
"Masterpiece" ***** News of the World
"Ravishing" ***** Daily Mirror
Feverish worlds such as espionage and warfare have nothing on the hothouse realm of ballet, as director Darren Aronofsky makes clear in Black Swan, his over-the-top delve into a particularly fraught production of Swan Lake. At the very moment hard-working ballerina Nina (Natalie Portman) lands the plum role of the White Swan, her company director (Vincent Cassel) informs her that she'll also play the Black Swan--and while Nina's precise, almost virginal technique will serve her well in the former role, the latter will require a looser, lustier attack. The strain of reaching within herself for these feelings, along with nattering comments from her mother (Barbara Hershey) and the perceived rivalry from a new dancer (Mila Kunis), are enough to make anybody crack… and tracing out the fault lines of Nina's breakdown is right in Aronofsky's wheelhouse. Those cracks are broad indeed, as Nina's psychological instability is telegraphed with blunt-force emphasis in this neurotic roller-coaster ride. The characters are stick figures--literally, in the case of the dancers, but also as single-note stereotypes in the horror show: witchy bad mummy, sexually intimidating male boss, wacko diva (Winona Ryder, as the prima ballerina Nina is replacing). Yet the film does work up some crazed momentum (and undeniably earned its share of critical raves), and the final sequence is one juicy curtain-dropper. A good part of the reason for this is the superbly all-or-nothing performance by Natalie Portman, who packs an enormous amount of ferocity into her small body. Kudos, too, to Tchaikovsky's incredibly durable music, which has meshed well with psychological horror at least since being excerpted for the memorably moody opening credits of the 1931 Dracula, another pirouette through the dark side. --Robert Horton
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I found the acting, photography and audio to be above the norm with some good special effects thrown in, but the script held no surprises as it was obvious Nina is a schizophrenic self harmer on the verge of a breakdown from the start, all we see in the first half is her gradual decline under pressure [lose a *]. The reality is, this documents a breakdown under stress and insecurity in the workplace, which many people can identify with, which explains its success, but the start is too drawn out although the last quarter is action packed and intense [regain a *]. The story simply reflects the ballet itself, so holds no real surprises.
The disc goes to a main menu offering play, set-up [English, English audio descriptive, subtitles; English Hoh, Portugues, Suomi, off, more= Scandinavian and east European], scenes and extras [black swan metamorphosis; chapters 1, 2 & 3]. Rated 15 this uses the F word, contains ‘adult’ sexual conversation, has temperamental violence, self harm, masturbation, partial nudity, graphic groping, oral sex, drug taking and some intense scenes, it’s not really family viewing. A phenomenal box office success and strangely voted number 1 in Cosmopolitans most erotic film scenes list, its really the final quarter that lifts this above the dross gaining a grudging *****.and I believe if the cast had been unknown, this would have been an 18 rating and much derided.
Portman, who appears in every scene, is fantastic in the role and it is a stylish and involving film with a real feeling of claustrophobia. But there is a strange uneven tone in that it starts as a drama and then melds into horror (albeit with some very unnerving images - particularly the reflection in the costume-measuring scene). The script makes some big jumps - and while I appreciate it is hard to dramatise something internal like mental instability, it felt a bit of a rushed journey from shy, uptight Nina to full-on hallucinating Nina. But it's worth it for Portman's performance.
The story starts with Nina, a dancer with a ballet company trying out to be the Swan Queen, as the company plan to put 'Swan Lake' on for the upcoming season.
Nina, wants the part but she is not the only one and struggles to show that she can be both the White and Black Swan. As the film goes on you see that it is this struggle that ends up affecting Nina more than she thinks.
After watching this I will say that I still love this film. The story is dark and has many strange parts in it that I didn't understand the first time I watched it but I do now.
The acting was good in this film and I liked most of the characters. Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis stood out the most to me because I thought that they played their parts very well. I would recommend this to people who like watching films that are dark or even to people who like ballet.
The one where his often overwhelming and a little self-pleasing style finds an appropriate story and content to be accomplished at its best.
It is in fact a dark and morbid version (but also unusually elegant and not so "punkish" or extreme) of the Swan Lake, talking about ambition, sexual fears and a very problematic path to artistic and personal maturity which never turns into the usual cliché of the rebellious and reckless young woman at the edge of normality.
The ballet POV and some smart editing ideas (mixing different levels of reality and imagination) are quite effective and they prove that Aronofsky, if channeled in a well-scripted and structured story, can use his talent not just to show off.
The blu ray is pretty remarkable and Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis give maybe their best performance so far.
Portman was excellent as is expected and the character she played was so humanly fragile and tough at the same time. Hence the brilliant artwork of the movie poster. some aspects were scary in the sense of one could well relate to the anxiety of such a situation.
Story line was nicely pieced together and well edited.
Great effects of the character changes - and as I come from a theatrical background on the technical side it was very interesting to see the unfolding of the main character as I recognized this tough/fragility in many of the Ballet people I have met.
Would have loved to have seen more of Winona Ryder in this production, however.
Brilliant subject matter.
Everything is *perfect* - the acting, story, cinematography, soundtrack.
Natalie Portman's performance deservedly received the Academy Award.
I also have the soundtrack on CD and film posters :)
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