Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Sebastian Stan
Synopsis: a Black Swan dons The Red Shoes... or: a New York-set psychological drama about a veteran ballerina Nina (Portman), who has just won the lead part in Swan Lake, and her fierce competition with new rival Lilly (Kunis) - but Nina goes into downward spiral: is Lilly real or just a figment of her imagination?
Brought to you by: Luke Skywalker's & Spock's moms, Meg Griffin, Gossip Boy Carter, Mickey Rourke's wrestling coach, and a feathered wave of expectation. Oh, and a variety of production folk.
Expected release date: late 2010 - or early 2011 (the gals practiced hard - it should be worth the wait)
Craig: The buzz on this one is fast heating up and will surely build further as more details surface. Although from Thursday's Cannes announcement it appears that it doesn't feature in this year's line-up, in-competition or otherwise (a low blow for Aronofsky after his success with The Wrestler?) - a decision that may well be roundly cheered/booed in equal measure by his hardcore devotees and vehement detractors respectively. I don't know, it always feels as if Aronofsky's films simply attract fierce comment just by the fact that it's him - he pushes people's buttons in extreme ways it seems. He's one of those came-to-prominence-in-the-early-'90s directors, like Tarantino, Fincher, Wes Anderson etc, that some folk seem to love to hate and hate to love. But each of his films, so far, has had a truly distinctive and widely changeable feel to them. But I'm guessing the bigger draw will be seeing Portman take another step on the road to more adult and complex roles, and her pairing up with Kunis. Ballet is shaping up to be the cinematic in-thing this year - who knew? Is it partly due to Cate Blanchett going all plié-happy for Benjamin Button last year? So guys, does Natalie and Mila doing a Pas de deux look like a career swan dive or time for take off? I'm hoping for Fight Club meets Suspiria...
Nathaniel: I can't even imagine Fight Club fused with Suspiria.
But I guess I love any film project by a big time visionary director that one can add a semi-colon and a 'girls gone wild' to. Black Swan: Girls Gone Wild. Yes? I actually don't mean that sarcastically, just psychologically. I love films about unravelling psyches and each of Aronofsky's films have been quite adept at conjuring vivid protagonists at the end of their ropes.
I actually don't want to know more about this one than I already do. I'm just dying to see how Aronofsky uses all of the actresses. Interesting cast.
Left: Portman Swanning about the set
Jason: Since I don't think David Gordon Green's remake of Suspiria is gonna happen - one remake of a movie I adore that seemed so insane as to seem can't-miss from inception - especially since it was supposed to star Portman and I can't see her doing back-to-back ballet films, I guess I'll just get my fix here. I really do like Natalie Portman, but more off-screen than on. I keep hoping she can channel what makes her seem like an interesting person in the real world that one would want to hang out with into a movie. This might not be the movie for that, exactly, but I root for her, is my point.
What this might be a movie for, I think, is... well, up in the air like a series of changements (That's apparently a type of jump in ballet! I looked it up. Consider this your lesson for the day, if it's new to you like it was for me). But whatever weirdness Aronofsky's got in store for us - and the weirder the film keeps sounding, the more excited I grow - I just know that I have loved every single frame of film that he's shot, and I will gobble each new one up insatiably.
Also, hot lesbian sex.
Jose: I wasn't a fan of Aronofsky until The Wrestler, which technically didn't make me a fan but showed me he can be visionary without being full of himself (like he was in all his previous films). If he manages to be as visually inventive and emotionally smart as he was in that movie, we're in for something great here. Then again I will approach Black Swan with care because he might fall back into extreme self indulgence. But I'm sure it's not easy to spoil something with that cast (Hershey, Ryder and Cassel together sound orgasmic) and I'm dying to see Portman release her inner nut (even in Closer she was too restrained), I'm hoping she shows us that going insane while wearing a tutu is the most fun a girl can have with her clothes on.
Craig: Girls Gone Wild! Hot lesbian sex! This sounds like it could be Aronofsky's entry into the new wave of exploitation flicks. Forget Grindhouse - this is DanceHaus! (Something tells me Lady GaGa might dig this film). But if this turns out to be Haute tension in ballet shoes or Mulholland Dr. with LA's Hollywood of broken dreams changed for NY's ballet stage of high hopes then I'll be happy. Of course, I may have expectations for this that may well never materialise... and Jason, that'll be all-round bad news if Suspiria mark 2 doesn't get the go ahead. Ya wait for one bleak ballet-themed film to come along... could two at once be one too many?
I'm definitely angling for Aronofsky to return to the visual grittiness of Pi and Requiem for a Dream for this, more so than the golden-hued fantasyland of The Fountain. Aronofsky certainly seems to be delving into psychological and (hopefully) Gothic waters with his subject matter here, unless I'm reading the buzz all wrong, which may be the case. I mean, he's even cast a formidable quartet of raven-haired ladies in it.
Robert: Between this and The Kids are All Right, lesbians could be the theme for 2010. Hell, this could single-handedly save the movie industry. Forget 3D!
I admit that despite usually disliking overly bombastic films, I'm a maniacally proud Aronofsky fanboy. I'm glad that after the low key-ness of The Wrestler, people haven't forgotten that he's a real visual artist and I'm looking forward to whatever inventiveness he has in store for us with this one. Really, I'm giddy, especially after hearing one supposed insider describe it as "The Red Shoes meets Repulsion." (Suspiria meets Fight Club also good!) The aggressive lesbian ballerina sex is clearly what's gotten most of the attention so far and I'm not one to argue. I think if any other film were hyping up the girl-on-girl this much, I'd roll my eyes in annoyance. But in this case, whatever get's the asses in the seats and raises Mr. Aronofsky's profile. I'll be buying my ticket based on my love for Darren. The hot lesbian action will just be a bonus (though as I have 'Nam-like flashbacks to Requiem for a Dream, I wonder if we may be overestimating the eroticness of it all).
Dave: The Red Shoes instantly comes to my mind when thinking of deranged ballerinas; not that I want this to be a film they might as well have called 'The Black Shoes', I'm sure Aronofsky has something a bit different up his sleeves. (Not least the hot lesbian sex.) My mother is a ballet obsessive, so I grew up surrounded by images of ruffled tutus and pink ballet shoes round every corner. So to an extent I suppose I hope that Black Swan will unpack my childhood and reveal all the dirt and kinkiness I was too young to see. Swan Lake is the obvious reference point here, so I'm intrigued by just how strongly that story will work into what's hopefully a sea of psychological perversity.
The cast fascinates me. I look at it and it seems like such a strange collection of people; but I can see it working so, so gloriously. It seems like a cast that, for one reason or another, haven't really 'delivered' in a while, but Aronofsky showed last time around how he can boost any flagging career. Oh, and for giving Mila Kunis her first (hopefully) plum role - Darren, I salute you.
Craig: Clint Mansell is again doing the score for Aronofsky and apparently he's integrating some of the musical themes from Swan Lake into it. Music has always played a really integral part in Aronofsky's films and this has the possibility to make for their most intriguing collaboration yet. Imagine that cascading, ominous score for Requiem being woven into Swan Lake - it could be fierce...
So, who wants to see Portman pirouette into personality-shifting oblivion, or who wants to see her give Kunis the kiss-off?
"We Can't Wait: Summer and Beyond" complete series: The "orphan" picks Nathaniel (Burlesque), JA (Love and Other Drugs), Jose (You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger), Craig (What's Wrong With Virginia?), Robert (True Grit) and Dave (Brighton Rock); Team Film Experience Countdown #12 It's Kind of a Funny Story, #11 Sex & the City 2, #10 Scott Pilgrim vs the World, #9 Somewhere, #8 The Kids Are All Right, #7 The Illusionist, #6 Toy Story 3, #5 Inception, #4 Rabbit Hole, #3 Never Let Me Go, #2 Black Swan and #1 The Tree of Life.