Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Conversations #22 (part 2): Black Swan

Jason Bellamy and I have now posted part II of our conversation about Darren Aronofsky. In part I, from a couple of weeks ago, we talked about Aronofsky's first four films, and now we've turned our attention to his fifth and latest, Black Swan. We talk about the film's psychosexual underpinnings, its lurid aesthetics, its genre references, its links to the films of Powell and Pressburger and others, and its ideas about female sexuality and identity. We hope you'll join us in discussing this very provocative film. We have a feeling that lots of people have strong opinions about Aronofsky in general and this film in particular, so please let us know what you think in the comments section at the House Next Door.

Continue reading at The House Next Door


Sam Juliano said...

Well, I read your typically massive conversation at a prep in school today, and again both of you have made readers (or at least me) feel grossly ill-equipped and insufficient. That's what happens when you are in the shadow of writing and perceptions on this level. I am no fan of this film, but this unintentional rhetorical intimidation has persuaded me to see the film a second time this week. There is no question that the "Conversations" series is the finest ongoing project in the entire blogosphere. But you certainly don't need me to tell you that.

I went in armed with the following:

I adore Aronofsky
I regard THE FOUNTAIN as a masterpiece.
I adore Tchaikovsky.
I venerate Powell and Pressberger.
I greatly respect Natalie Portman
I am ravished by Clint Mantsell
I generally love films about dancers
I enjoy being with the majority when I can
I had almost made my mind up before entering the theatre

But then something happened that left me aghast and unable to react. The film left me cold, and failed to resonate like his other films, due to careless narrative structure, unconsumated metaphorical underpinnings, and a mean-spirited examination of character that rang as false as disposable slasher films. So what are all this dazzling insights and a rare conformidity of opinion by two of the net's heaviest hitters? Yeah there are a few dissenters like the great Jon Lanthier,(and to a lesser extent the multi-talented Marilyn Ferdinand) but by and large those who dislike this film seem to have watched something completely different from those who are clearly ravished on a number of levels.

I am perplexed and even maybe disappointed with my own stand here, but this Conversations installment has done something that no one or nothing else can.

It has convinced me to return to the theatre pronto.


Ed Howard said...

Sam, thanks a lot for the kind words! I'm glad we could at least convince you to take another look at this film, despite your obviously strong negative feelings about it. I thought it was really exciting filmmaking, but of course it doesn't resonate with everyone, and there are plenty of people who feel just as strongly in the opposite direction. It seems to be a real love-it-or-hate-it film, and with its go-for-broke melodramatics and wild aesthetics, it's not hard to see why.