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Double Feature! The King’s Speech and Black Swan

January 7, 2011

Greetings CBC readers! It’s a CBC Double Feature! I went to the movies twice this week, which is totally awesome as I haven’t been to the movies on forever.

Monday night I went with a fellow English Monarchy nerd to see The King’s Speech. If you haven’t seen the amazing trailer, take a peak here:

The film was really quite wonderful. Diving deeper into the life of the man who would become King George VI was a nice change from my usual obsessions with the Tudors or the Rose Wars. As I’m not quite familiar with the English monarchs outside of the ones represented in Shakespeare, this was a great story to have been introduced.  The performances were outstanding as well. Geoffrey Rush was his usual delightful self, Helena Bonham Carter giddily proper, and Colin Firth was… effing hell man Colin Firth was b-b-bloody b-b-brilliant. All jokes aside, that was a freaking difficult role to pull off, and should really grab that Oscar this year. I kind of don’t want anyone ripping it away from him (even Javier Bardem and his one woman campaign).

The only negativity I’m hearing about this film is a few bloggers and posters commenting on our recent cinematic obsession with the royals. First there was The Queen, then The Young Victoria, now The King’s Speech.  Lots of people, both American and British seem to have their opinions on the usefulness/uselessness of the Monarchy and their spending of tax payer’s money to…do what exactly? (Pros argue the charity, figure head status is important, cons argue they earn millions to socialize.) Regardless of ones opinion (and I tend to be in the Con group) history is unchangeable, these events still happened, these people still existed and the stories are bloody interesting. I mean, sure the Queen Mum was a spendy brat and kind of a Nazi sympathizer. But Helena Bonham Carter made her charming and hilarious! The fact that the King of England, inflicted with a speech impediment, was at war against one of the most rousing public speakers of all time? You can’t make that ish up! Great film, I highly recommend it.

Wednesday night I went with another friend (also appropriately complimentary to the film) to see Black Swan. Take a gander (hayuck hayuck).

Now, there’s a lot of praise and press going on out there about Black Swan. Critics seem to love it, especially Natalie Portman’s crazytown performance. Now I have to give the girl credit, she looks scary thin, pulled off the dancing (to my only slightly trained eye) and actually acted the balls off of that role. She was brilliant. The movie on the other hand, I only liked about 80% when I left the theater. Yet, the more I think about it and analyze it, I start liking it a lot more and more. I don’t want to give spoilers away, but just understand that the girl is crazy and the film is entirely in her POV, so ladies and gentlemen, you’re being lied to. Just as Nina, Portman’s character, doesn’t know what’s real, neither do you, the audience.

This initially frustrated the hell out of me. I love Aronofsky’s films (especially The Fountain) but if I can’t believe anything I’m seeing, I’m not sure of the point. I mean, who’s to say crazy Nina wasn’t sleeping/hallucinating the whole thing from her pink bedroom? Nina is an incredibly unreliable narrator, and I needed a little bit more of an objective point of view. The only time we were ever given a hint of proof that Nina was batty was in as she completed her Black Swan Coda: SPOILERS! Nina dances the coda furiously and brilliantly as thick, black feathers sprout out of her arms. When she lands in her final pose, wings stretched out, we cut to the view from the audience to see only Nina’s bare, delicate arms. YET, even then the feathers are still reflected in the shadows behind her. How are we meant to view that reflection? As being still in Nina’s mind? Is it an actual piece of the ballet’s lighting design? We may never know, but Black Swan would have been perfect for a “Psychology on Film” course I took one year in college. Liiiike… did everyone else notice that there is a mirror in about every single scene of the film? And that there’s usually something distorted or wrong within that mirror? You could write papers out the wazoo asking yourself if the mother actually existed (I’m on the fence on that one.) Take for example how Nina never answers her phone when her mother calls, or how she hides in the bathroom to call her about the role. How Mom didn’t attend the fund raising party, or never seems to leave the house. How about if Lilly actually existed? (I believe so yes). In the end, I do think it was a beautiful film, and Portman did a beautiful job (Mila Kunis was really just Mila Kunis; I’m not really sure how she got a GG Nod). I think what it was lacking was empathy for Portman’s character. I didn’t feel anything for her, or feel sorry for her. I pretty much just said to myself, “Wooah that’s one crazy ballerina.”

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