Review: Black Swan (2010)

This article was published on the original Sorry I’m Late.com on 30/01/11.

Black Swan

Director Darren Aronofsky follows up his successful 2009 picture The Wrestler with Black Swan. Both films share similar themes such as the extent performers will go through for their crafts: Black Swan in the bitchy world of ballet, The Wrestler in the underestimated and gruelling world of professional wrestling. Black Swan’s plot revolves around a new production of Swan Lake by an esteemed New York ballet company. The production requires a lead that can portray the dual role of the innocent White Swan as well as the dark, sexual Black Swan. Nina (Natalie Portman) is the ideal White Swan, innocent and faultless in technique; while newcomer Lily (Mila Kunis) has the carefree nature and sensuality ideal for the Black Swan. As the two contest the coveted role, Nina’s dark side is slowly revealed but does it come at the cost of her sanity?

Unlike The Wrestler, which was a fairly straight character profile, Aronofsky twists the narrative of Black Swan by installing various levels of psychological thriller and horror so that we gather a visual interpretation of the decline of Nina’s fragile state of mind. Aronofsky does an excellent job of keeping the ambiguity as to what we are seeing: is it reality, a dream, or perhaps an amalgamation of both? But then occasionally a character will drop a quote which makes you rethink your entire thought process and you are continually trying to decipher the goings on. He has made the kind of film that be can be interpreted entirely different depending on the viewer.

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Review: Adventureland (2009)

This article was published on the original Sorry I’m Late.com on 14/07/09.

Adventureland

Adventureland opens in the summer of 1987, where recent college grad James Brennan (an excellent Jesse Eisenberg), unable to fund his planned European trip and a future tenure at the prestigious Columbia University on the horizon, must now endure a summer slogging it out in the titular theme park – home to an assortment of rejects, outcasts and stoners. There he meets the mysterious Em (an also excellent Kristen Stewart), of whom James falls for despite her involvement with the married park maintenance man Mike (Ryan Reynolds, sans the sass talk), a serial lothario with the annual influx of younger girls at the park.

Despite being Greg Mottola’s follow up to the side-splitting Superbad – and in spite of the misleading trailer – Adventureland is not the Apatow-esque comedy that you may have been expecting, but a surprisingly charming and tender dramatic character study. This one will definitely be a crowd divider, as we have seen many a coming-of-age story before, but not one with as much heart and devotion to the confusion and inner frustrations that we all get at this age. Although being genuinely funny – all without the need to resort to cheap jokes and potty humour – Adventureland does in fact have some very dark and understated thematic elements mixed in with all the comical moments that you would expect from working at a low-rent theme park.

Don’t get me wrong, though – the movie is funny. James and Em first meet when Em saves James from getting knifed by an irate park-goer during a dispute over a Giant Ass Panda, and shenanigans ensue when angry jock-douche customers uncover one of the Adventureland’s many dubiously rigged games. Then there’s Frigo, with an affinity for punching dicks, and a fair share of boner jokes to please the masses.

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