Tuesday, August 17, 2010

YES, No, Maybe So: Black Swan

The gorgeous Black Swan trailer has arrived in glorious quicktime. But here it is in YouTube though, really, go watch it at Apple Trailers where you can blow it up big and be amaze-ed.

I can barely type from the shaking. I'd like to do a yes, no, maybe so but I am only yes. Or rather, a GOD YES.

Though I am not generally prone to visually vomiting out trailer screencaps, I make an exception today since I love the work of DP Matthew Libatique (still awaiting an Oscar nom. grrrrr) and the movie looks dark, dangerous and all around delicious. And I don't even like ballet!*

Here are twelve shots** in chronological order.

pretty princess ballerina all by her lonesome

Strained Natalie Portman, adult sized with a little girl voice.

Barbara f'in Hershey in a role that might be worthy of her?
I dare not hope.

ballerina so sad -- hey, what's that on my back?

Bitchy carefree sexy rival Mila Kunis. Boo! Hiss! Yum!?!

Ballerina Doubled = Self Loathing Metaphor???
These shots FREAK ME OUT.

Natalie watching her Star Wars performance on perma-loop.

A little 'me' time. Wait, isn't she getting plenty of me time by
seeing herself everywhere she goes? She'll go blind!

At this point I was totally scared for my/her life.

holy. shit.

Alternate Title: MUST SEE


Especially once Natalie Portman's ballerina starts splintering. I can only pray that along with the disintegration of her psyche -- I assume that's why she's turning against herself, is it a self haunting? -- she lies to herself since Women Who Lie To Themselves™ is the greatest of film genres.

Director Darren Aronofsky has yet to make anything less than a must see. Even his weakest effort Pi, was a pretty stunning calling card. Though I suppose if I had to nitpick to try and smother excitement so it stays at normal levels rather than fanboy droolings, three things that are bugging me about this here Black Swan.
  1. I already wish it were shot on celluloid and... (well perhaps it is but it doesn't look it to me exactly)
  2. The nearest film I can think of as a reference point for girlie supernatural terror is Rosemary's Baby and the nearest reference point for girl who seems to be multiple girls at once is Mulholland Dr and few films are ever as good as either of those so... uh... good luck with the company you keep.
  3. I hate that Barbara Hershey isn't named. She's a f**king Oscar nominee and she's f**king great in certain roles. I hope this is one of them.
*Isn't that weird. Because I love dance in general. But ballet. Something stops me from loving it.
** Can you believe I didn't screencap the lesbian makeout between Mila Kunis and Natalie? What's wrong with me.


Jorge Rodrigues said...

My thoughts exactly. LOVE IT.

Seeking Amy said...

Yes, yes and yes. I can't believe you didn't mention Winona Ryder's very brief appearance in the trailer! Word is she has a small but pivotal role.

Also, what happened to Mila Kunis voice? Loving the huskiness in it, but I could barely tell it was 'Meg'.

FrenchGirl said...


Ben said...

SO excited for this. I read an earlyish iteration of the script (it looks like there are three credited writers now and the one I read had only one), and the best way I could describe it is Mulholland Drive meets The Company. It's awesome, and it looks like the film's gonna deliver. Are we ready for a second Portman nomination? She looks like she delivers in spades.

Murtada said...

fantastic trailer, can't wait for the movie.

And as usual great analysis, Nathaniel. I was surprised you didn't capture the blink and you miss her Winona Ryder. She's looking good in what I assume must be a tiny part. And Mila Kunis looks to be in completely new territory. And I hope Hershey is Hannah good here.

This was not on my radar mainly because I never cared for Portman. He filmography is thin on good movies with exception of The Professional (Leon).But this trailer sold me big time.

Danielle said...

Looks so freaky, I love the way it's shot and edited. I thought Hershey completely stole the trailer... I can definitely see a nomination coming her way.

Anonymous said...

Persona meets The Red Shoes with a hint of Suspiria, no?

This is such a relief after Portman's Dragon Tattoo snub. Get that second Oscar nod, baby!

Jason Adams said...

Until you capped it I totally didn't notice those GIANT TERRIFYING STUFFED ANIMALS that are in the windows int hat scene where Nat's having her me-time in bed. ACK!

Anyway this one's slowly but surely becoming my most excited about flick of the Fall. I want it so now that now has turned into a diamond from the pressure I'm impressing upon it.

Agustin said...

Women Who Lie To Themselves™ is DEFINITELY the greatest of film genres

cinema adventures said...

I can finally say that I am legitimately excited for the Fall 2010 moviegoing season.

Winona Ryder looks batshit crazy and I'm behind her 100%.


@Seeking Amy -- i didn't actually notice Noni the first three times. I thought it was Hershey with a different hairdo because it's like .02 seconds long.

@Ben -- since i love both those movies, YAY

@JA -- RE: the stuffed animals. I almost actually wrote an entire paragraph about them -- I kid you not. But then I began to worry that I was going as crazy as the ballerina.

@cinemadventurer -- i dare not hope that Noni gives the juice here. All my hope is going to Hershey & Portman. They MUST pull this off... whatever Aronofsky has asked them to pull off i mean.

@Agustin -- Nick and I welcome you to our tiny club that thinks so.

OtherRobert said...

Can a thriller set in a ballet company win best picture? I sure hope this film delivers.

And by this film, I mean Mila Kunis. Bring it.

Glenn said...

Okay, that looks incredible. And hopefully this will separate the true fans (and bring in new ones) from those who jumped on the Aronofsky train purely because of the quite rough and tumble Wrestler.

Cannot wait.

Anonymous said...

single white showgirl, nat?


Kim said...

Between this and Love and Other Drugs it has been a big couple day for actressy trailers :-) Love it, and can't wait to see this one.

Anonymous said...

I soooooo cannot wait for this! I love these kinds of movies ("women who lie to themselves") and I adore Aronofsky and pretty much the entire cast. I'm excited for everyone involved.

Henry said...

Not Natalie at her prettiest, but DAMNED IF I REALLY WANT TO SEE THIS!

The "holy. shit." screenshot made me say to no one in particular, "EWWWWWW! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?"

adam k. said...

I was totally getting a Carrie vibe from this (supernatural horror with f***ed up mother/daughter relationship at its core), but that one's right up there with Mulholland and Rosemary, so yeah, good luck Black Swan.

It was a stroke of genius to cast Portman in this role. Not only is she 100% believable as a prima ballerina (I'm sure she's had training), but she's an actress who's beautiful and talented but often saddled with the label of "overly studied" or "too nice" or "not raw enough" (criticisms I myself think have merit in her case) - this is the perfect showcase role for a meta-artistic unraveling of the Portman persona. I sense a career best coming on.

Is that the Kronos Quartet again on the strings? Beautiful score.

dri said...

Red Shoes + Black Narcissus = Black Swan

Simone said...

I will be going to TIFF and this is currently my MUST SEE out of the 20 films I have listed thus far. Can't wait to see it!

jbaker475 said...

Exactly my reaction. I sat there increasingly mesmerized and then when it got to the "feather" bit and Portman's red eyes I flipped out in the best sense. MUST SEE. NOW.

verninino said...


Quelle horreur!

Years after we broke up my first love was diagnosed with schizo-effective disorder (essentially schizophrenia-lite). I really didn't get it until I experienced Aronofsky's Pi. To a lessor extent I had the same eureka with addiction through Requieum and epiphany by virtue of The Fountain.

His films emanate empathy. I can't wait to experience this next malady. Note to self: schedule post-filmic therapy.

Anonymous said...

So, do you think this will be the film that gets multiple women Oscar noms for Supporting Actress? (A la Babel, Up in the Air, etc etc etc). I could see Hershey or Winona for sure -- and Mila is pretty evil, so perhaps she will be the Anna Kendrick of the lot (young actress who does a career about-face).

And I'm hoping (wishing/praying/dying for) an Oscar season where it's Portman vs. Hathaway. (I love me some Bening, but I worry she comes with Swank these days. I need a new pairing.)

Danielle said...

"this is the perfect showcase role for a meta-artistic unraveling of the Portman persona. I sense a career best coming on."

Adam, you couldn't have said it better. She's almost always appeared "overly studied" to me, so I don't think the first "half" of her character will be much of a stretch, but I'm so anxious to see when she lets loose and completely unravels towards the end.

Philip said...

Wow, looks awesome.
I think it looks like Natalie Portman gives a great performance.

When she pulled that thing (feather?) out of her skin, that part was disgusting though. Haha.

I'm a yes.

Anonymous said...

That is some spoileriffic trailer.

This is a definite yes, so much that I'm contemplating on spending the entire $21 on the TIFF voucher instead of $12 on December.

/3rtfu11 said...


Black Swan is shot on celluloid – Super 16mm to be precise for 35mm blow-up via digital intermediate. Same format used for The Wrestler.

I’m so excited for this. God this is so needs to be seen in a movie theater with an enthusiastic packed house either at a midnight screening or simply at night.

Mike F said...

I've read the shooting script, the mother daughter relationship is in fact remonstrant of Carrie.

As far as Oscars go in regards to the actors...

I'd really only count on Portman. It is really totally her story, most of the supporting roles are fairly thin. Think Inception. Hersey would be the most likely though.

Lewis Bostock said...

Mila Kunis - Best Supporting Actress FTW.

LeighWill said...

Cannot Wait for this
Academy Award Winner NATALIE PORTMAN

Oh and check out 1:30, the image from the poster appears...freaky

bethany said...

would be a more appropriate title

Lara said...

A Yes on all counts except for Natalie Portman. I just cannot warm up to her. She's pretty but also like the blandest type of oatmeal out there and in the movies I've seen her in she's usually the weakest link.
But Barabara Hershey and Mila Kunis look great. Especially Mila Kunis.

Mierzwiak said...

Simply STUNNING. About Mila Kunis character - I hope there will be no twist à la Fight Club.

PS. You should do "The Fountain" in "Hit Me With Your Best Shots", that's one one of the most beautiful movies ever.

oinone said...

Amazing trailer and amazing music. Don't forget Clint Mansell!

chris na Taraja said...

You are so excited that you might be turning into a Black Swan at this very moment. It's the first movie to catch my interest like that in a long time.

Andrew R. said...

Actually, The Fountain was Aronofsky's weakest...still good.

Funny you mentioned Rosemary's Baby...I watched it last night.

But anyway...YES.

Volvagia said...

The comment was that The Fountain was beautiful, not a great movie. Reqiuem and The Wrestler are pretty freaking ugly. Not that they could be any other way and be great, but they aren't films for "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."

Andrew R. said...

Volvagia, I was referring to the article saying that Pi was Aronofsky's weakest (I disagreed), not the comment made by Vertigo.

Robert said...

Me experiencing big dumb Aronofsky fanboy happiness now!

Volvagia said...

Oh, sorry. And:

Yes: The visual aestethic, the fact that someone's finally doing a Once Upon a Time in the West for horror films.

No: Nothing outright turned me off.

Maybe So: The last shot. It looks exactly like an anime "she's evil now" moment. Which could be good or bad, depending on how well they articulate her becoming evil.

Sawyer said...


If nothing else, the trailer is a masterpiece. Please God let the actual film live up to these incredible expectations.

step said...

Am I the only one who found it underwhelming? It can't make up its mind as to what kind of film it wants to be, Natalie's dancing is laughable, and they seem to be playing up the Odette/Odile aspects but Natalie is so far removed from Odette it isn't even funny. Meh.

Sara said...

step: I disagree entirely. "It can't make up it's mind what kind of film it wants to be". Um, how about AWESOME?

I've been waiting for this trailer for weeks and it was exactly what I was hoping for. Is it just me or is there a bit of Perfect Blue about this?


step -- i'm assuming you're coming from a dance background? this is one of hte problems i have with ballet i guess. It's too "military" for me. people get very fussy about exact lines and quality of points and all of these things. it's hard to find a way in.

i *think* that's why i can't love ballet and why i so prefer other more fluid types of dance when I'm watching.

but then on the other hand i totally understand why someone would demand perfect technique because nothing makes me crazier than half assed vocals in musicals ;)

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

Winona Ryder doing the Grace Zabriskie thing? Yeah I'll accept that. :)

Robert said...

I've been watching this secretly all morning at work.

Can't wait until I get home and can view it with sound.

Anonymous said...

Mike F - What do you mean by thin roles? Thin as in little screen time or thin as in little chance for an awe-inspiring performance?

Because if it's just about screen time, then I don't think we need to worry. Oscar loves rewarding people who do so much in so little time (Viola Davis in Doubt, Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love)

aclp said...

Both Portman and Kunis have doubles who are real life ABT dancers. It is one thing for you to be a life long dance student or someone who takes ballet classes for the fun of it or to exercise- it is an entirely diferent thing to be a top dancer - in this case, prima ballerina-in one of the biggest and most important companies in the world.

Someone with a dancing background can easily tell that Natalie Portman is not a professional dancer- Mila Kunis had no training whatsoever, she had never taken a single ballet class in her entire life.

Dancing nitpicks aside, I reeeeally want to see this. I watch pretty much any movie involving ballet, but ballet and Aronofsky is a killer combination for me.

Volvagia said...

By "A Once Upon a Time in the West" I mean that I see influences from:

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
Anime Horror (The Red eyes)

And that's just in the trailer, and limiting to pure horror. Add in thrillers and you have to add:

Black Narcissus (sex panic)
The Red Shoes (ballet pressures)


volvagia -- i just don't follow you. what does "once upon a time in the west" have to do with "carrie" or "suspiria" ???

jaded -- right?

Connor said...

Few words: I'm going the day it's put into a wider release.

Quick question: Was anyone else freaked out by the trailer?

Clarence said...

Gorgeous!!! I can't wait~!

Volvagia said...

Well, there's influences from 50+ westerns in that movie, so maybe we'll see influences from a similar amount of horror/thriller films here?

mrripley said...

lovin' hershey from the trailer!!!

josiane said...

I don't get that weird fetish about ballet school. As if it was a place filled with lesbian psychopaths or a front for mossad activity.

Trevor said...

Can't see YouTube at work, but those screencaps are delicious. Can Natalie Portman get nominated for this? THAT'S ALL I CARE ABOUT!!!!

But yes, the cast seems awesome, and even though I was cold on "The Wrestler" and "The Fountain," I'm always curious about what Darren A. (or Mr. Weisz) is working, and from what I'm hearing, this one is a keeper.

Mila Kunis and Barbara Hershey in supporting actress?

The film's not shot in celluloid? It's digital video then?

This was always a "YES" for me, but now even more so.


Trevor -- according to /3rtfull it is shot on celluloid. He wrote "Black Swan is shot on celluloid – Super 16mm to be precise for 35mm blow-up via digital intermediate. Same format used for The Wrestler. "

but it looked like digital to me which is why i said that.

Janice said...

@Amy and Murtada - Noni was in the trailer? Had no idea - but I'm not sure if I can sit through the trailer again to find out (and I mean that in a good way "damn that was some creepy shit".)

I do wonder why it is, though, that in the movies "lesbianism" is usually meant to denote sickness/perversity. Gets tiresome, that.

Hershey's name is not up front? Someone should be flogged for that sin.

Janice said...

The other things I do like is how it seems (from the trailer) to address/unravel the "perfection" demanded of women, the lengths they go to achieve it, to please their (male) mentors, the ways they mutilate themselves, etc in ballet of course, but you could extend the metaphor to modeling, acting, etc.

Janice said...

Ok, I did manage to watch it again - saw Noni (yeah, that is blink and you miss her) but anyway - DAMN. Cannot remember the last time a trailer gave me the shakes from pure dread.

Anonymous said...

I seriously cannot stop thinking about this movie/trailer! It's just so wonderfully edited and enticing as all heck! It's even got me going on a "women who lie to themselves" movie watching spree (at least I think...I started off with Repulsion, does that count?).

Mike F said...

Thin as in both. Ryder probably has 10-15 minutes of screen time tops and Kunis has a decent amount of screen time, but she doesn't really have a that much to do. The whole movie really is about Nina's(Portman) decent into madness, everyone else is just kind of there to either push that further or react to it.

Mike F said...


That isn't really a spoiler either, I'm pretty sure you could pick up as much from the trailer. It isn't a big "twist" or anything.

Peggy Sue said...

I also wanna be a member in Women Who Lie To Themselves™ is the greatest of film genres Club!
Please let me in!
OMG I love you just for the thought of it!