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Experimental Japanese musician Tatsuya Nakatani will be playing two gigs in Houston this week. He has played in over 80 cities, collaborated with hundreds of other musicians and is a prolific recording artist with over …

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Black Swan

Submitted by admin on December 8, 2024 – 10:56 pmNo Comment

Darren Aronofsky will never be accused of making middle of the road movies, although his next project is a prequel to Wolverine and that just makes the head spin. Black Swan reverberates on so many things at once that it’s impossible to just nail it down to a specific genre. Perhaps the psycho meltdown suppressed sexuality movie: Repulsion. Or the repressed artist film with a slasher-twist: Peeping Tom. Or the dancer tormented-artist film: Red Shoes, Waterloo Bridge, Turning Point, there are others like The Company or All That Jazz. Don’t worry, it’s not just stage dancers, all artists eventually get their own flick – just look at self-loathing cellists in recent artiste-turmoil films like Hillary & Jackie or The Soloist.

Black Swan takes place on the field of the highest level of professional ballet performance, a New York Ballet production of Swan Lake. Before all is said and done Aronofsky has transformed the highest accolades of the world of ballet into the most horrific demons reserved for psychological thrillers. The Tchaikovsky music for Swan Lake is itself a transformative work of art, and the strains of its melody can be heard all through the history of cinema, like in The Mummy (1932), as well as incorporated into Clint Mansell’s Black Swan score.

Natalie Portman is the lead swan on and off the stage, with  her domineering mother (Barbara Hershey) and ballet horndog artistic director (Vincent Cassel) seeking to undermine, or maybe perfect, her career trajectory. Aronofsky keeps our expectations at bay, even while taunting us with scene after scene between Portman and fellow troupe member Mila Kunis that finally explodes into a full-on lesbian makeout session. But Aronofsky isn’t through with us just yet; there’s the actual execution of the ballet itself, seen in terrific dark interiors that heighten the performance before us even while distracting us from Aronofsky’s tragic take off the swan princess.

Black Swan will never arch the crest of common interest, BS’s too cerebral for that. But Black Swan is a film that seeks to challenge horror and art film cinephiles alike.

- Michael Bergeron

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