Monday, January 03, 2011

They're On Their Toes While I'm Trying to Crawl Under My Seat

I admit it. When it comes to scary movies, I can be a wimp. Take Black Swan for instance. This film first got onto my radar back in November when its star Natalie Portman was a guest on Dave Letterman's show and Letterman was just beside himself raving about her performance.

With Letterman spending so much time gushing over the acting job she turned in, about all that came across about the movie was that it was about ballet. Now, I may not know a pas de deux from a menage a trois, but Natalie Portman giving an Oscar worthy performance? I'll go see it! I figured it was an updated version of The Turning Point.

As time went on though I learned more about the plot and started to experience a lot more trepidation about the prospect of going to see the movie. Turns out, it isn't a simple drama about life at the barre, but rather, it's a no holds barred look at life at the barre. And then I heard about Natalie Portman's character doing a metamorphosis into a swan, I'm thinking to myself, "No thanks. I stopped doing horror films with An American Werewolf in London."

Everyone who saw the movie seemed to have a different opinion of it. Some seemed to think it was one of the best pictures of the year. Other's thought it was absolutely awful. One of my Facebook friends gave it this pithy review: "Effed up."

Everyone seemed to agree on one thing though. Portman gives the performance of a lifetime. Her's or anyone else's.

Look, I'm at an age where I'm no longer interested in spending my hard-earned money to have the bejesus scared out of me. So Oscar winning performance or no Oscar winning performance, I had written this movie off. But I was finally persuaded to take the movie off of my no-fly list when a friend who had seen it assured me that it wasn't scary, just "creepy."

Well, I figured I've spent better part of the last three years on this blog covering Wendy McCaw, so I can handle creepy. So, yesterday, accompanied by my son who's home from college for the holidays, I went to see Black Swan.

All of the anticipation actually had me stressed out a bit. While waiting for the movie to begin I was thinking that rather than being accompanied by my son I should have hired a paramedic to go with me.

The movie is definitely an over-the-top E-ticket ride. As my son noted, there is nothing subtle in this film. And yes, there were a number of times when I chose not to look at what was up on the screen. But there is plenty of awe to go along with the shock. And even a Philistine like me could appreciate the grace in the final ballet scene.

As I walked out of the theater I was thinking to myself, "They ought to be handing out T-shirts to the audience that say, 'I survived Black Swan!'"

Well, until the Film Festival at the end of this month, it's back to Netflix for me. I think it's time to add Mary Poppins to my queue.

© 2011 by Craig Smith and