Holiday Flicks: Black Swan & The Tourist

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We had thought Narnia would beat out Tangled this weekend at the box office, and it did, but not by much. Did you see any movies over the last few days or were you too busy being responsible, thoughtful and selfless, taking care of shopping and prepping for the holiday onslaught? I’m one of those people who invariably flies several thousand miles for Christmas but this year will stay put. And the less travel, the more flicks. Saw two of them this weekend, in fact. One of them was Black Swan, the highly-touted new movie from Darren Aronofsky about ballet that has all but guaranteed Natalie Portman a Best Actress Oscar nomination. They’re calling it a psychosexual thriller and while that’s absolutely the case, I could have done with a little more sexual and a little less psycho. Portman is indeed wildly compelling – here she does frail, crazy ballerina like nobody’s business. Vincent Cassel is wonderfully icky as a predatory ballet master and Mila Kunis offers lots of relief as a free spirit with a creepy dark side and an even creepier tattoo. The film however, scared the unsuspecting daylights out of me so I left the theater profoundly disturbed. Turns out, I had thought we were going to be immersed in the intense and sometimes brutal world of ballet. I was sure we’d learn powerful lessons about professional artists, but I also thought that in the end we’d see how skill, perseverance and pluck conquer all once the curtain goes up. I was sure there would be a triumph thing happening. Maybe even with a love story thrown in. Here? Not so much. The film will delight many, I am sure, but it was way too scary and too violent for me. I am however glad I saw it, and over the last two days I’ve seen just exactly how polarizing a film it is – I’ve yet to encounter anyone who thought it was so-so.  Nor am I at all surprised by the attention Portman’s getting. She was quite brave to do the film, and I suspect she’ll be rewarded with lots more singling out. The other movie I saw was The Tourist. Which is silly and delightful fun. This will not win any awards, and it shouldn’t necessarily (although wardrobe and musical score nods wouldn’t be undeserved). But not only will you forget where you are for two hours you’ll probably wish you were in Venice, Italy, where the thing is set. Bottom line, if you like Johnny Depp or Angelina Jolie and you want to catch a thriller that’s neither psycho nor sexual, this is the movie for you. It’s espionage and mistaken identities and Jolie’s absolutely breathtaking (in much the same way that she elevated Salt – which I thought was a pretty ordinary film – to an entirely different level). Of the two movies, I preferred The Tourist but I tend to like the more straightforward, mainstream stuff. Don’t forget to let us know what you think of these films if you get a chance to see them. In the meantime let’s take a closer look at Black Swan. Voice your choice in today’s featured poll and tell us which of these Black Swan beauties is your favorite:

1)   Barbara Hershey

2)   Mila Kunis

3)   Natalie Portman

4)   Winona Ryder

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