Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday Movie Spree

Black Swan My Holiday Movie Spree started on the Wednesday before Christmas when I made the decision to head over to the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema to see Black Swan. In this Darron Aronofsky flick, Natalie Portman plays Nina, a prima ballerina who is cast as the Swan Queen in a version of Swan Lake in which she is both the virginal white swan and the sinister black swan.  While this is a coup for Nina, she is increasingly tormented by paranoia that a new dancer in the company is out to take her place.  The best thing about the movie is how the action on stage mirrors Nina's life off-stage.  Sort of a play within a play.  I liked the dark edginess of the plot and there were a few well-placed chills, however I found some parts of the story to be a bit oversexed.  So, if you can get past everyone grabbing Nina's crotch, Black Swan is a pretty good movie.  

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - United Kingdom ]After all that dancing and death, I decided to check out Exit Through The Gift Shop which had been sitting in my Netflix instant queue  for about a week.  Although the film starts out as a documentary on street artists including  the infamous artist and activist Bansky, the film becomes something else.  Banksy suddenly turns the camera on the so-called "documentary maker" Thierry Guetta who transforms before our very eyes.  Guetta goes from an obsessed videographer and shopkeeper and  becomes a self-hyped million dollar selling street  "artist" calling himself Mr. Brainwash (MBW).  You are left wondering whether Bansky has created a monster, an artist, or whether we have indeed all been brain washed.

True GritOn Thursday, I did some last minute Xmas shopping done and then headed over to the multiplex to see the Coen Brothers' True Grit.  I've never seen the original, so I can't and won't make a comparison.  I enjoyed very much the dynamic between Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn and the teenage girl Mattie Ross who has enlisted him to track down the man who killed her father.  Cogburn has a hard exterior, but the girl breaks down his defenses and gets to the gooey good stuff which is still pretty gruff.  I was a bit disappointed when they did finally catch up to the killer because I didn't think there was enough of a payoff.  You spend almost 90% of the film becoming vested in avenging the death of Mattie's father and in the end there is just a boring shootout.  Still, it's a decent popcorn flick.

Only When I DanceFinally, on Sunday night, I ended up with another movie about ballet dancers.  This time the documentary Only When I Dance which follows two teenagers from the favelas of Brazil as they try to better their station life through dance.  Irlan and Isabela are worthy subjects as are their families who give up almost everything they have to support the dreams of their children.  Irlan is a prodigy and is able to gain access to a prestigious dance company. Isabela, who is black, is not quite able to overcome issues of race, poverty, and body type.  And so in life, we take the bitter with the sweet. On dvd and Netflix instant.


  1. Sounds like you picked out the best of the Christmas crop to see, at least by other's reckoning (as I have yet to drag myself to the cinema myself).

    I was rather disappointed by the lack of decent movies for younger kids this year - and not a Christmas themed movie in sight either.

  2. Thanks for reading, Dan. I don't have kids, so I do not tend to pay as much attention to what is available for them. You are right, there was a dearth of holiday-themed movies for families which is a shame. As it turns out, I had nothing else I wanted to see during the New Year's weekend, so I stayed away from the multiplex. Here's hoping the 2011 holiday season has more to offer everyone.


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