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Copernicus has some issues with Aronofsky's THE BLACK SWAN!

We learned last year at Butt-Numb-A-Thon that one of Martin Scorsese’s favorite films is THE RED SHOES. It has a fairy tale ballet-within-a-film, where, with some demon shoes as a catalyst, the dancer is ultimately consumed by her own passion -- she dances herself to death. In the outer film, the protagonist must devote her life, body and soul, to her obsessive ballet director to reach her full potential. Ultimately, her life mirrors that of the character she plays in the ballet. BLACK SWAN might as well have been called THE BLACK SHOES, because the idea is utterly identical. Sadly, the execution is not. In nearly copying a masterpiece, Darren Aronofsky is trying to steal fire from the gods, and he’s simply not up to the task. The film isn’t a disaster -- many will find plenty to like, but for me it was a spectacularly ambitious failure. Natalie Portman plays Nina Sayers, an aspiring ballet dancer with remarkable technical ability, but little passion. The ballet-within-a-film here is SWAN LAKE. Nina has no problem playing the innocent and graceful White Swan role, but she struggles with the darker side that she also must portray, that of the Black Swan. That is, until she becomes a thrall to her ballet director, played by Vincent Cassel. As she becomes jealous of a rival, Lily, played by Mila Kunis, struggles with her obsessive mother (Barbara Hershey), and has a confrontation with the dancer she replaced, Beth (Winona Ryder), the dark side of Nina emerges. Ultimately, just as in THE RED SHOES, the characters and events in the production are mirrored in the outer film. One thing I admire about Darren Aronofsky is his ambition. Anyone who will try to make a film marrying conquistadors and Hugh Jackman as Buddha on a spaceship rock at the end of time at the very least has gargantuan balls and a touch of insanity. He’s also capable of producing incredible looking films, and often of coaxing great performances out of actors. BLACK SWAN has all of these things -- it is a little crazy, has great acting all around, and it looks incredible. The problem with BLACK SWAN is the same problem that most of Aronofsky’s films have -- he’s incapable of subtlety. Well, nearly, because THE WRESTLER, Aronofsky’s best film, is not as in-your-face as it could have been -- it at least had quiet moments where Micky Rourke’s fascinatingly ruined face did most of the work. But look at THE FOUNTAIN -- it is a pastiche of bombastic moments strung together by shouts and whispers. And subtle is the last word you’d use to describe REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. In BLACK SWAN, Aronofsky’s Achilles heel is front and center. He’s the Meatloaf of directors -- when he wants to convey an emotion he spells it out exactly, festoons it with mawkish details, and cranks up the volume on the soundtrack. Rather than simply inspiring awe, which the film does in fits and starts, and confidently leaving it at that, here the score swells to a near-deafening tone to drive home what you are supposed to be feeling. For me it has the opposite effect, becoming the dramatic equivalent of a laugh track. And charters don’t just get angry, they rage. They shout, hurl projectiles, seduce, and destroy. Yes it is supposed to be operatic, but there is a fine line between opera and soap opera, and Aronofsky pushes right up to the edge and breakdances on it. Strangely, it is these operatic touches that almost work. The characters are painted on an outsize canvas, making their struggles larger than life. Natalie Portman gives the antithesis of her wooden prequel performance.. She truly undergoes a transformation, starting as one character and ending as another. Her acting is superb, made all the harder by an incredibly physically challenging role -- she has to not only nail the supremely difficult acting beats, but dance while doing it. When her character goes over the top, it isn’t her acting that takes me out of the movie -- she actually manages to pull it off -- it is the choices made by the director. A manifestation of Aronofsky’s lack of subtlety is his incessant literalism. It is almost as if he doesn’t understand that metaphors allow you to get at a point without spelling it out. Symbols are a tool for one thing standing in for something else -- they don’t actually have to become the thing, and if they do, they lose their magic, which is derived from, or at least enhanced by, obliquity. In THE FOUNTAIN, rather than using references to Buddha as a symbol or metaphor, Hugh Jackman’s character literally is Buddha in another reality, complete with a real tree of life. Similarly in THE BLACK SWAN, it is obvious that some of the essence of the character of the Black Swan from the play is going to spill over into the character Nina’s life. But in case you miss that subtlety, here Nina literally becomes the Black Swan, complete with blood-red eyes, sprouting black feathers, wings, and bird legs. Why use a paintbrush to make a point when you can use a hammer? In RAGING BULL, Scorsese used the camera as only a master at his level could. He planned each swooping shot and matched it to the fight choreography. The breathtaking effect was to make you experience every fight at a visceral level. Aronofsky is ambitious enough to try to play in this league, using audacious camera moves and staging for the ballet scenes, and while it is an admirable attempt, it doesn’t succeed in casting a spell, or selling Natalie Portman as a true dancer. What I come away with is the less appreciation at the attempt, and more evidence of the obvious gulf between Aronofsky and Scorscese. Aronofsky has outsize ambition, and shoots for the top tier but doesn’t quite have the skill to pull it off. Instead he’s more in the realm of M. Night Shyamalan or Brian De Palma -- people who have some talent, and have hit a home run before, but now keep swinging for the fences so hard that they more often strike out. Now their films are often borderline farcical, and not always so borderline. You know the uncanny valley -- the idea that computer generated cartoon characters are fine for us, but when they start getting close to, but not quite, human, they become grotesque? BLACK SWAN exists in an Oscar uncanny valley. Operatic moments, seduction, lesbian makeouts, and overdrawn life-or-death situations are all fine in exploitation films or films based on serials. But when used in a “serious” film, they can start to get silly. Pretension isn’t always their best partner -- it nearly always ruins what would otherwise be a great time.

Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:31 a.m. CST


    by snojorge


  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:40 a.m. CST

    what about Kunis?


    that casting choice surprised me. I didn't buy her at all in Book of Eli, and sheseems to forever reek of that 70's show. has she done anything of merit or played anything but 'Jackie'. does she in this? she better improve before her niche audience replaces her with the daughter on Modern Family, who is basically Kunis 2.0

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:41 a.m. CST

    Great review.

    by V'Shael

    And a very good deconstruction of his faults as a director. But this is AICN. We want to know, how hot was the lesbian action between Natalie and Mila? Is it destined to join the legions of awesome lesbianess, like the Gina Gershon/Jennifer Tilly scenes in BOUND? Or is it going to be a tame misfire, like SINGLE WHITE FEMALE?

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:41 a.m. CST

    No spoiler banner ?

    by Ashen Shugar

    Come on!

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:42 a.m. CST

    so glad to see

    by MrBurrrns

    a review that does not suck Aronofsky's cock. that guy is soooo overrated. can't wait to see the mess that will be Wolverine 2...

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:42 a.m. CST

    I only have one issue with this movie

    by Itchy

    and that is, from what I can tell, it contains something other than graphic, fully nude lovemaking scenes between Portman and Kunis. If Aronofsky doesn't have these two going ass to ass at least once in this flick, I consider it a failure.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:44 a.m. CST

    Subtlety is over rated

    by Taurasi

    A good review but if the reviewer didn't like Requiem or Pi and hated the Fountain, then I'll be looking for other reviewers opinions.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:46 a.m. CST

    Anyone else not convinced this guy's seen the film?

    by godzillaaaah

    Wow, I like Scorsese as much as the next guy but what the hell was that? This whole thing reads like the guy watched the trailer and the Winona Ryder clip and then made a bunch of assumptions of the film based on a very mediocre analysis of Aranofsky's previous movies. Way to go Ain't it cool news, yet another stellar early review.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:55 a.m. CST

    Don´t bash Aronfosky´s blackswan or there will be..... trouble (

    by organicstudios

    He Copernicus stop hating Aronofsky black swan, it's a masterpiece.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:57 a.m. CST


    by organicstudios With Darren Aronofsky's new psychological thriller, Black Swan, out in the U.S this Friday, the filmmaker has revealed that he would still like to remake 1987 classic, RoboCop. Talking to Playlist, The Wrestler director is optimistic that he'll be able to make it happen "one day." "Well, RoboCop may still happen one day, who knows?" he mused. "It's MGM and hopefully they'll clear their stuff up and I'm still interested. David Self wrote a great script, but the company went under so..." Could you get behind a remake of RoboCop with Aronofsky directing

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:57 a.m. CST

    It's not exactly a shocking revelation

    by Monkey Butler

    that Aronofsky doesn't do subtle. But every other review I've read of Black Swan has said that the bombast and overblown (melo)drama are perfectly suited to this material. And besides, lack of subtlety is just as much a directorial choice as subtlety, and Pi and Requiem (not so much The Fountain) were certainly the better for that choice, so why not this too?

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 7:03 a.m. CST

    All we really want to know is....

    by vorlonkosh

    how hot the lesbian scene was between Portman and Kunis... Why the hell else would any guy want to see this??

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 7:06 a.m. CST

    Hey, ballet is nothing to fuck around with man.

    by Mike_D

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 7:12 a.m. CST

    Oscar bait at it's worst

    by ricarleite2

    Thank you

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 7:12 a.m. CST

    Errr, wait, Portman actually turns into a Black Swan? WTF?

    by Mike_D

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 7:22 a.m. CST

    Great review Copernicus...

    by FracturedLojak

    Nice to read someone who doesn't drink the kool-aid, and can intelligently spell out why.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 7:35 a.m. CST


    by shutupfanboy

    I can't believe this entire review was to suck the dick of a movie Martin Scourse liked and not really about the movie. My question is did the movie need to do subtle things or is that something you need in your movies to make it good? Not every movie needs to be an art house film. Also, nothing about the lesbo scene which is the only reason people care about the film. Terrible review.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 7:37 a.m. CST

    She actuallly turns into The Black Swan?

    by phifty2

    Hmmm. Does Spider-Man swing into the theatre saying "Your goose is cooked Swanny."

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 7:40 a.m. CST

    Dear Copernicus:

    by Dollar Bird

    Please review more movies for this site. Thank you.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 7:53 a.m. CST


    by Bombadils_Bane10

    You lost me as soon as you compared Aronofsky to M Night. Are you kidding me?

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:05 a.m. CST

    "some issues"

    by buggerbugger

    Not enough girl-wanking, right?

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:09 a.m. CST

    nice review-- important general points

    by chifforobe

    As a long-time fan of avant garde cinema I'm endlessly irked by fans and directors who think, 'if it's weird, it's good.' Fellini, Bunuel, Lynch= good. Jodorowsky, Merhige= bad, for example. 'Requiem' was great, 'Fountain' stunk-- it sounds like this did as well. I dig the M. Night reference as well-- I think both of them are a bit too confident, and need a trip back to the drawing board.

  • I can tell that you were also not a fan of The Fountain (which is in my top 5 all-time). I think I'll still check this out.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:12 a.m. CST

    Right review. Wrong site?

    by menacingphantom

    That was a very insightful and well written review. Are you sure this is the site you meant to send it to?

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:15 a.m. CST

    To Crib a Chinatown Quote

    by Aquatarkusman

    Aronofsky must think we're dumber than we think he thinks we are.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:16 a.m. CST

    I Can't Dis Personally Subjective Top 5's

    by Aquatarkusman

    I mean, Topsy-Turvy by Mike Leigh is in my top 10, and I don't even like light operettas (that just shows you what an engrossing picture about the creative process it is).

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:21 a.m. CST

    There's a difference between symbolism and metaphor

    by Thunderbolt Ross

    You see the problem now with everything you say

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:25 a.m. CST

    Also, subtlety can be overrated

    by Thunderbolt Ross

    Some people just can't get enough. Personally, I don't mind things being unsubtle at times. It's like There Will Be Blood - Plainview vs Sunday ... Is it subtle? Fuck no. Is it awesome. Fuck yes!<p>Subtlety is not a magic bullet. The lack of subtlety is not an automatic out. I'll see this movie and see what's what for myself I think.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:25 a.m. CST

    Yes, the lesbian sex scene..

    by Judge Briggs

    Can anyone comment on it? I look forward to it.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:31 a.m. CST

    Does Kunis show her tits?

    by GetMeAn18ManFireTeamIn12Hours

    No, seriously.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:37 a.m. CST

    Thunderbolt Ross

    by WavingFlagsInSpace

    "There's a difference between symbolism and metaphor"<p>Ummm, no there isn't, not really.<p>A symbol is anything which signifies something, particularly something that has a range of meaning beyond itself.<p>M.H.Abrams defines metaphors as being a subgroup of symbols. Metaphors are often regarded as figurative tools whereby words or expressions denoting one thing literally are applied to a distinctly different kind of thing or action, without assering comparison, hence why they are regarded as symbols.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:39 a.m. CST

    Thunderbolt Ross, you are correct sir.

    by dr sauch

    I just love Arronofsky's style.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:40 a.m. CST

    But...I also really like M. Night. So take that as you will.

    by dr sauch

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:45 a.m. CST

    That is an excellent breakdown of exactly what's wrong with Aran

    by RETURN_of_FETT

    I've been saying it since Pi. He is completely pretentious and isn't satisfied unless he's puking in your face while cranking metal music, figuratively speaking.</p><p>Everything with him is WAAAAY over the top. He can't just shoot a scene so that it makes logical sense, he has to permeate every second with bullshit. Fish-eye lenses, multiple split screens, chest cam, backpack cam, nmouse-eye view, it's fucking ENDLESS!</p><p>And the plot never makes a goddamn lick of sense. It's like he spends the entire running time DARING you to hate it.</p><p>His characters are usually complete fucking assholes we'd be stupid to give a shit about. The only time this has worked is with The Wrestler because Rourke was such a pathetic asshole you just feel kinda sorry for him.</p><p>The reason The Wrestler is a good film is that he had apparently thrown all that "I'm such a freaky artist" shit away. Apparently it's back and all I can say is THANK FUCK HE DIDN'T DO ROBOCOP! Just as I said Thank fuck he didn't do Batman: Year One where Catwoman was a stripper, Gordon was a drunken philanderer, Robin was a jive-talking black kid and Batman never even wore a Batsuit, just a potato sack over his head! Yes, it was REALLY going to be that bad!</p><p>Aranofsky has talent, no question. But he really should have learned how to focus it by now.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:45 a.m. CST

    The Wrestler was crap

    by banville

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:47 a.m. CST

    Dr. Sauch: Take that as I will?

    by VylanAntagonist

    An admission of liking M. Night at this point in his career is legally grounds for involuntary admission to a psychiatric facility. Please wait at your door and put down any sharp objects.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:48 a.m. CST


    by Black Jack iii

    I don't think this guy saw the same movie that I did. Best Film of the year so far. Easily. 'The Wrestler' as DA's best? Um no...Requiem #1, Fountain #2, The Wrestler #3 and Pi #4. For me, Black Swan is #1.5 on this list.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:58 a.m. CST



    The review lost all credibility when you compared Aronofsky to Shymalan.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 9 a.m. CST

    The first rule of Black Swan Dance Club is -

    by Hiplainsdrifter

    1st RULE: You do not talk about BLACK SWAN DANCE CLUB. 2nd RULE: You DO NOT talk about BLACK SWAN DANCE CLUB. 3rd RULE: If someone says "stop" or goes limp, stabs themselves out the dance is over. 4th RULE: Only two swans to a dance. 5th RULE: One dance at a time. 6th RULE: No tutu, no codpiece. 7th RULE: Dances will go on as long as they have to. 8th RULE: If this is your first night at DANCE CLUB, you HAVE to DANCE.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 9:03 a.m. CST

    You want the film to be operatic yet subtle?

    by Chewtoy

    Okay then. Good luck with that.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 9:04 a.m. CST


    by Fawst

    Why use a paintbrush to make a point when you can use a hammer?<br><br>Yeah, there was nothing on-the-nose about your dislike for Aronofsky. Damn, dude, you flat out compare him to arguably the greatest living director of our time specifically to say "LOOK! He's not as good as THE MASTER! How DARE he take chances and be so bold?" <br><br>Please.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 9:04 a.m. CST


    by Thunderbolt Ross

    There is a difference but I'm happy to agree to disagree.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 9:08 a.m. CST

    The Wrestler

    by Thunderbolt Ross

    I enjoyed it for what it was, but if Aronofsky's going to bother making a movie, I'd rather it be chock full of all his crazy shit. There are plenty of filmmakers who DON'T go for broke cinematically, so I'm glad that he's around to at least try. <p>As for the clarity of his stories, which someone griped about above, I think you're nuts. Maybe Pi was obtuse at times but every other movie has been pretty easy to follow.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 9:11 a.m. CST

    You know what I'd like...real dancers

    by boogel

    In all the troupes across the globe he couldn't find a couple first class dancers that can act. That's lazy. It's akin to blackface. Ballet is too hard to just throw some skinny actress into and think we'll be convinced by fast edits.'s not know what it's like. It's like taking a Jackie Chan script and casting Will Ferrell and then thinking you won't notice the difference if there's a fog machine on set.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 9:13 a.m. CST

    The fact that he wants to bring us more Robocop

    by UltraTron

    makes him the greatest living director

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 9:17 a.m. CST

    After reading this I know I'll like it.

    by notcher

    It's purely a matter of one's opinion, but I like how Aronofsky doesn't do it like everyone else, including the whole "subtlety" thing. I loved both "The Fountain" and "The Wrestler," and I dug the trailer for this one. I love that guys work and I know I'll love this one too. Great thing about movies, everything has a different taste and everyone has a different palette. Bring it!

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 9:40 a.m. CST


    by thommcg

    Aronofsky makes another pretentious movie. Didn't see that coming.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 9:41 a.m. CST

    The Fountain Was a Good Film


    So, I suspect this will be good, too. Worrying over bombast in cinema seems . . . entirely misplaced. But I'm glad Copernicus fully exposes his cinematic prejudices, so I can know I don't share them. But, it's Aranofsky. I figured I'd like it.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:02 a.m. CST

    The Fountain is a masterpiece.

    by knowthyself

    How can you dog that film?

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:02 a.m. CST

    Summer Glau trained as a ballerina.

    by V'Shael

    Wouldn't you have rather seen her in this, getting her lesbian dance on? I think I would have.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:09 a.m. CST

    Agree...not everything should be subtle.

    by knowthyself

    Fuck me but 127 Hours was amazing and that ending was NOT SUBTLE. Yet you celebrate with him.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:17 a.m. CST

    Isn't lack of subtley part of DA's appeal?

    by onezeroone

    REQUIEM is one of my all time favs, even my PSN ID is based off that. It is not subtle, it hammers the point in, and then twists it, and then hammers it a bit more and twists a bit more till you can't even scream and are left with a gaping hole in your head from which oozes something green and red.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:19 a.m. CST

    This will tank, hard.

    by SmokingRobot

    Just like 'The Fountain', a movie which was much ado about nothing.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:19 a.m. CST

    This will tank, hard.

    by SmokingRobot

    Just like 'The Fountain', a movie which was much ado about nothing.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:20 a.m. CST

    Props to Aronofsky

    by BradZuhl

    At least Aronofsky has the cojones to attempt something like this. He's one of the most daring filmmakers out there and without guys like him all we'd get is garbage like Transformers LXVII

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:22 a.m. CST

    So Copernicus…

    by The Garbage Man

    If your primary beef with Aronofsky is that he lacks subtlety then you must hate every Tarantino movie, right? Because QT wouldn’t know subtle if it were dressed as a gimp with a katana lodged in its belly. Either that or your real problem isn’t with his movies as they are but what you expect them to be.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:26 a.m. CST

    Darren Aronofsky is the new David Lynch!

    by Snake Foreskin

    Completely off their nut, praised by the critics and doomed to make movies that are weird and off-putting to the masses. And you know what? If the critics weren't such pretentious jackholes, they would admit that these movies just aren't very good.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:28 a.m. CST

    Dude, Summer Glau turned into Jordana Brewster...

    by Snake Foreskin

    Did you see her on Chuck? She looks terrible. All thin-lipped and overly tan. Weird.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:42 a.m. CST

    Aranofsky 1 Copernicus 0

    by MustGoFaster

    Aranofsky gets to have unsubtle sex with Rachel Weisz each night. Copernicus gets to have subtle sex with his inflatable doll.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 11:01 a.m. CST

    Comparing "The Happening" to "The Fountain"?

    by Centauri

    Copern. Dude. Whatever your opinion on Aranosfsky's work, it is a damn sight better the M Turd Shyamalamanalamanamlamamm.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 11:07 a.m. CST

    Just a guess...

    by MPJedi2

    but I'm betting Copernicus has never performed on stage in his life. Which is not to say that his opinion is invalid, but, as a stage performer, the visual trucks that Aronofsky uses are a pretty damn clever way of making the kind of mental tricks you use to make a stage performance "real." I'm also very, very familiar with performers who have lost themselves in this process, who have gone overboard in almost the exact same way Nina does in this film. Perhaps I was completely in love with it because I felt an immediate connection to the story, but I think calling it a rip-off of "The Red Shoes" is entirely simplistic.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 11:10 a.m. CST

    Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara...

    by Damned if I can login

    The Black Swan. 'nuff said.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 11:15 a.m. CST

    This sounds pretty good.

    by Homer Sexual

    Although the review is negative, it piqued my interest inthe movie...Also, that weirdo Batman movie sounds very interesting to me. Nolans is good, but a little dull. Sorry...still good, though.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 11:17 a.m. CST


    by BringingSexyBack

    Maybe if it took place in France or Austria, but this is in New York right? Weird.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 11:29 a.m. CST

    she really turns into a swan? say whaaaat.

    by Bouncy X

    i'm not actually surprised since the trailer shows little feathers growing out of her back but just wanted to make fun of how many people made a similar comment. :)

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 11:36 a.m. CST

    I'll just rent this one...

    by Cheif Brody

    So I can whack off to Meg Griffin's tiddys in the privacy of my own home. <p> Which is all we really wanted to hear about anyways, btw. <p>

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 11:37 a.m. CST

    You simply can't compare Aranofsky to Shitmaylan

    by smackfu

    Since coming onto the scene the man has directed 5 movies, 4 of which have been generally speaking, critically acclaimed. And so far the only black spot on his career has been the Fountain. And the mere fact that there is a perpetual argument over whether Aranofsky's 'worst' film was crap or a masterpiece, means that his worst is at least on par with Shymalan's best. I guaruntee you won't find any talkback threads where posters are arguing over whether or not the Happening or Lady in the Water were misunderstood masterpieces.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 11:55 a.m. CST

    I'd also like to assert that the Fountain was indeed subtle

    by smackfu

    in that the overwhelming majority of people who saw it did not realize that there was a clear, concise and literal narrative going on in the film. I saw the film with 3 other people. At the end, they were all like 'what was the deal with Hugh Jackman in the bubble with the tree? that was just fucking weird'. And when I told them that Jackman's character had kept himself alive for probably thousands of years and the bubble scenes were us watching him thousands of years in the future fulfilling his dead wife's wish to be in a supernova, by delivering the tree that grew out of her grave to a dying star. And they looked at me like I had an arm growing out of my forehead. THAT's how I know the Fountain was subtle. Aranofsky may have been clumsily slapping us in the face with the imagery, but the actual narrative of the film was definitely subtle.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 11:55 a.m. CST

    Bring Wolverine and Robocop

    by RedLeaderStandingBy

    Enough with the Oscar crap. C'mon Darren, now it's time to let the geek in you come out and play.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 11:55 a.m. CST

    Aronofsky's The Wolverine

    by thommcg

    Spoiler Alert: Hugh Jackman literally turns into a wolverine.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 11:56 a.m. CST

    Or even better: Wolverine Vs. Robocop

    by RedLeaderStandingBy

    You heard it here first.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, noon CST


    by thommcg

    That's the problem with The Fountain - Even if you get what's going on, it's still total bullshit.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:08 p.m. CST

    haha smackfu

    by MrBurrrns

    right on! :)))

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:12 p.m. CST

    Agreed on Aronofsky

    by TheWaqman

    but still I'll take his shit over Nolan's these days. I like the Batman films but God damn Inception was a load of shit. And the best action scene only got like 10 seconds of total screentime. Way too much exposition and dream-class in that film (great cast though). <p> Darren's wolverine film will be fucking fun as hell. And I've been excited to see Black Swan for a while. It aint gonna be no Rosemary's Baby, but it should be good.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:12 p.m. CST

    Also leave Robocop alone

    by TheWaqman

    like any of these cunts can remake a Verhoeven film. Fuck that shit. It's a classic.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:16 p.m. CST

    Turning into a swan

    by smatt584

    She's losing her mind in the movie, she is obviously hallucinating, no mystery there. Why write a review where you spend the entire time comparing the director to your favorite director who obviously doesn't have the same style. News flash: Scorsese is great but has also made very unsubtle flicks. You going to say that cranking the Stones whenever he wants to portray "going out of control" every fucking movie is subtle? Or how about Shutter Island? That movie was about as subtle as a Mac truck driving through a glycerine plant and you could see that ending coming from a mile away. Also: all the little "I'm crazy" moments went clumsy at best and definitely not subtle. But who gives a shot about Scorsese, and why even mention him at all in your review? Scorsese is not the gold standard of filmmaking and just because a movie isn't shot like he would does not mean it is bad. If you wanted a Scorsese movie so bad why not just rewatch Goodfellas or Casino, two great movies without metaphor and very little subtlety.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:24 p.m. CST


    by BringingSexyBack

    Great movie. Subtle, intricate plot, well paced, extremely well acted. I think he would do better with a small budget and scope. I'm not saying TDK is ass, but it seems like Nolan's cinematic instincts aren't translating well in big budget bonanzas.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:24 p.m. CST

    Aronofsky + Jackman + Claymont/Miller Wolverine Japan arc =

    by KilliK

    AWESOMELY AWESOME AWESOMENESS.<br /> <p>you know it.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:26 p.m. CST


    by BringingSexyBack

    have a lot more to do with pacing?

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Mental Dominance

    by smatt584

    Caroenter lost his touch long ago. And Nolan may be overrated but is definitely not a hack. I'd even go as far as saying that if I didn't already know the director going into the theater I would not be able to place the directorial style, which shows that he has not yet fallen into the repetitive comfortable motions that actual hack directors fall back to when actual talent is lacking (see Shayamaladonasaurus and Michael Bay). Momento alone gives him a shitty-movie "get out of jail freecard" that he has yet to cash in. Try as hard as you can to stay out of the way of the hype-train for his movies and you'll probably end up enjoying them more, but give credit where it is due.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Natalie Portman GOTTA EAT...

    by Motoko Kusanagi

    ...more meat!

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:35 p.m. CST

    Fuck Subtle.......

    by OldDickLemon

    I can't put it any better than onezeroone did, but Requiem's brilliance lies in it's total lack of subtlty. Anyone who can make a Wayans interesting is a genius in my book. Some times it's good to have a movie slap ya around a bit. Not all the time, but if that's what he brings to the table, then I say run with it.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:35 p.m. CST


    by BringingSexyBack

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:37 p.m. CST

    Aronofsky Is A Terd

    by GWARHOL

    Whose success is based on idiotic filmgoers who don't know any better than to think that Requiem was a good movie. That this review mentioned him in the same sentence as Scorsese, as if to imply that there could be any comparison whatsoever between the two, made me throw up in my dance shoes.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:38 p.m. CST


    by BringingSexyBack

    I mean, what does Black Hawk Down have in common with Kingdom of Heaven or Alien? I just think a great director adjusts to the subject at hand and that's what he does. <P> Now, you can say Scorcese has a signature style but quite honestly I think that's mostly in the way he edits.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:43 p.m. CST

    if you think the wrestler was aronofsky's best film...

    by RedHorseVector

    i think i'll take your opinion on this film with a grain of salt. not saying it was bad, but it isn't touching requiem for a dream or the fountain.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:44 p.m. CST


    by BringingSexyBack

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:46 p.m. CST

    What I meant

    by smatt584

    Was what I typed. The fact that he has not fallen back onto a repetitive, derivative style shows a confidence in the material and a skill that is lacking with those directors just going through the motions with little consideration for what fits the story (whether the material is great is up to debate and pertains to what I was saying about avoiding the hype on his movies so as not to have unreasonably high expectations). A director's style should always fit the narrative, not the other way around. His style has always fit the story and I see that as a positive, although I do believe that a directors style, like a fingerprint, should speak to who the director is and as somebody said earlier, I also believe his style shows through better on smaller budget movie than when it's list in spectacle like in Inception and TDK (both good movies, although I was a little let down by Inception).

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:47 p.m. CST


    by BringingSexyBack

    You don't direct a crew-trapped-in-space-with-an-alien the same way you direct a movie about the Crusades. You adapt. <P>

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:49 p.m. CST


    by BringingSexyBack

    Are you crazy? The scope of that movie exceeds anything Scott has done (to my immediate recollection). The size of the cast and extras, the gigantic set pieces, no CGI assistance ... everything was accomplished with a masterful hand. And you say it's generic? Wow.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:53 p.m. CST

    ROBOCOP by Aronofsky will destroy all superheros movies

    by organicstudios

    The new ROBOCOP movie will destroy quality and money wise each superhero movie since the invention of Cinema. Darren Aronfosky is GOD Bow to Darren please

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:57 p.m. CST

    This one of those reviews...

    by Veraxus

    where it's obvious that the author has such radically different tastes than me that, while trying to be critical, has had the unintended side-effect of convincing me that this may be a movie I want to see. Really, Copernicus. You have terrible taste.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 12:59 p.m. CST

    At the very least

    by smatt584

    A director with a very strong style should choose scripts that compliment said style, (unlike Scorsese's mishandled "Shutter Island"). Haven't seen Kingdom of Heaven, although I do have to say that, stylistically, "Black Hawk Down" is nothing like "Alien", regardless of the director. The styles of both movies fit the material and were well-shot and edited, which didn't seem to sacrifice the overall quality of the flicks. Directorial style should never go above the service of the story. The story is the whole point of the fucking movie.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 1 p.m. CST

    Everything that Copernicus complains about...

    by Ironhelix

    ...are the EXACT things that I love about Aronofsky. The guy swings for the fences, and in this day of lifeless film making, I cannot understand how he can be faulted for that. For someone who writes for a film review site, you sure need some coaching on how to appreciate film.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 1:05 p.m. CST

    And I'd argue

    by smatt584

    That you would still hire a director who has made multiple movies with multiple styles if they kept turning out great, it's called "range", and it's a pro not a con.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 1:05 p.m. CST

    And another fucking thing...

    by Ironhelix the FUCK can you bash Aronofsky for his lack of subtlety, and them compare him to Scorsese, who made CAPE FEAR? Explain to me exactly what is so subtle about Cape Fear? It's about as over-the-top as you can possibly get, even crossing over into camp at times. Why don't you just admit that you hate Aronofsky, and have no business reviewing his films?

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 1:07 p.m. CST

    For those curious about the sex...

    by A Guy

    there is no real nudity in the scene... Natalie and Mila kiss and remove some clothes an then Mila pins Natalie down, takes off her panties and goes down on her. also, there is a scene with Natalie in a white tank top and panties touching herself... that it all. And I strongly disagree with Copernicus, the film was awesome and it was because of it's bold and operatic style. I thought the camerawork was one of the best parts as well.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 1:09 p.m. CST

    Thanks, A Guy

    by WriteForTheEdit

    " then Mila pins Natalie down, takes off her panties and goes down on her..."<P>Ticket sold.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 1:18 p.m. CST

    Shutter island

    by smatt584

    I thought Shutter Island, though beautifully shot, was not anywhere as cerebral and mind-bending as the movie seemed to need to pull off the actual plot. While watching it Scorsese kept throwing in little "subtle" hints that the lead character was crazy or at the very least could not be trusted as the audiences pov. The entire time I was thinking "well he's obviously crazy or not quite right in the head and he's in a mental institution for the criminally insane with a murdered wife in his past, so hes probably an inmate, ooh shocker!". They needed to have a director that could get into your head and the director was not up to the task. I suppose you could blame the script for not being engaging enough or something, but that shouldn't matter with the right filmmaker. Tonally, it was all wrong for a psychological thriller/mystery. You can't show stark reality side by side with blatant fantasy and expect it to blend together so that the audience doesn't notice unless you create the right tone from the start. For instance, "Fight Club", did you know the ending? Did you mistrust the perspective of the protagonist whom you are supposed to along with and just as shocked by the plots revelation as they are? No, that's why I say Shutter Island was mishandled. Beautifully shot, but mishandled none the less.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 1:26 p.m. CST

    Mila and Natalie

    by smatt584

    Those two going at it? Nope, nothing gay about that. Thats as hetero as Sean Connery. Killing a shark. With his bare hands. While drinking scotch. From a boars skull.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 1:31 p.m. CST

    Let me give you a couple of examples...

    by RETURN_of_FETT

    It appears that some of you still have your chins glazed with Aranofsky cum, so let me be direct....</p><p>In Pi some schlub discovers the secrets of the universe that have something to do with conch shells and the stock market. This goes absolutely NO-FUCKING-WHERE! Nothing ever comes of ANY OF IT! No manipulating the stock market, no real-world affect AT FUCKING ALL!</p><p>In an effort to understand a stream of numbers, this guy consults a group of rabbis. Well...wouldn't you? But they are CREEPY rabbis who speak cryptically about.....I don't know, holy shit.</p><p>In response to this turn of events....our hero drills a hole in his head.</p><p>END FUCKING CREDITS! Yeah, what a fucking MASTERPIECE that piece of shit is!

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 1:33 p.m. CST

    But it had a bunch of split screens and fish-eye lens shots...

    by RETURN_of_FETT

    So you simple fuckers thoguht you were watching something profound.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 1:50 p.m. CST

    Copernicus WAIT WAIT WAIT

    by D o o d

    Did you just compare Arnofsky to M Night....????? No seriously, did you just do that..???

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 1:50 p.m. CST

    Kunis is a stick figure in this role

    by spacechampion

    Why would you want to see her naked in this? She lost like 30 lbs for this when she had none to spare to begin with. You might see her naked in this, and she'll probably still be aesthetically beautiful, but unless you are into stick figures you won't be attracted.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 1:59 p.m. CST

    Not very insightful

    by angel_svn

    This is a good review. I generally appreciate it ... BUT ... It's absurd to attack the director over the premise that she actually becomes a black swan. It's called fantasy. It's a completely valid choice and isn't a weakness. But then again, I haven't seen the film ... so the way that the director uses the concept might be a failure ... but to say that using it at all is a weakness doesn't make sense.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 2:01 p.m. CST

    Figuring it out?

    by smatt584

    When the whole plot centers around the solving of the mystery and the weight of the resolution hinges on the ending being a surprise, that is exactly the point. If it wasn't the point, then they would tell you the answers at the beginning and how would that work? You just follow them around for two hours knowing everything in an exercise in dramatic irony? No. The purpose of telling the story through a fixed perspective is that we follow the protagonist and see only the things they see so that we can be surprised at the end just like the protagonist. What's a "surprise ending" that isn't a surprise? A wasted opportunity and a critical flaw in the storytelling. It was not done properly. Period.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 2:04 p.m. CST


    by smackfu

    I think you may find your life greatly improved on multiple fronts, if you were to accept the possibility that you may not be quite the authority on 'understanding film making' that you think you are. Shattering a long-standing self delusion can be an amazingly liberating thing.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 2:18 p.m. CST

    Aronofsky is a lot like..

    by DrGoodspeed

    Harold Zoid. He needs to throw more pies in his movies though.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 2:35 p.m. CST

    I only scanned this talkback

    by InActionMan

    so if someone already said this I apologize. <P> DOES THE LESBIAN SCENE INCLUDE ASS-TO-ASS!?

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 2:35 p.m. CST


    by smatt584

    Preaching to the choir my friend.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 3:24 p.m. CST

    No, she does not actually turn into a swan...

    by Raedar

    I saw the film last week and I am still thinking about it on many levels. There are going to be many discussions about the different interpretations of the layers and twists in this film, but I think Copernicus may have let his distaste for Aronofsky’s style get in the way thus causing him to chalk it up as simply an inferior retelling of The Red Shoes and missing the point entirely. While this film shares some themes with the quintessentially filmic ballet masterwork The Red Shoes, I don’t think you could call Black Swan an “utterly identical” idea. For one, in The Red Shoes Vicky is totally and completely in love with dancing and is very torn when she is made to choose between a life on the stage or one off of it. Portman’s Nina on the other hand, does not seem to have the passions for the dance, only the drive. It is strictly a pursuit of technical perfection. I also don’t get that the endings are anywhere near the same, but I can’t get into that or other differences without major spoilers, so I will go on to the other things I wanted to say. Portman gives an amazing performance both in her acting and her physicality and I would not be upset if she were nominated for acting awards this year. But let’s not forget, that as much as she trained to get her body to look like a dancer’s body there are real dancers in the picture here. For certain scenes, American Ballet Theatre soloists Sarah Lane and Maria Riccetto were "dance doubles" for Portman and Kunis. Aronofsky said during filming that Portman was, " to pull it off, except for the wide shots when she had to be en pointe for a time.” No one training for a few months would be able to convincingly dance Swan Lake at a professional level when most dancers train half of their lives to get there and still don’t always make it. Aronofsky does work around this pretty flawlessly and nothing can be taken away from Portman for her extreme dedication, but I just wanted to give the credit where credit is due in regards to the dance performances. There is more actual dancing of ballet than in most films about dance (with the exception of The Red Shoes) but not as much ballet as you might think. When there are snippets of pieces from Swan Lake performed on stage, the wide shots are done with the dance doubles and the scenes are not very long before we go backstage again. This is not to say that the whole thing is not still incredibly moving and convincing. Earlier in the film there is a lot of footage of rehearsals for the ballet. Aronofsky uses the camera to shoot things mostly from the waist up with Portman’s face front and center. This is smart for two reasons; 1) you only have to be a convincing dancer with your arms and not your feet, 2) you make the film about the dancer and not the dance thus driving home the whole “diva” and “it’s all about looking perfect” themes of the film. The idea of driving one’s self insane for some myth of perfection...that’s the point. Where’s the line? How far is too far? (Just a couple of the themes this film does indeed share with The Wrestler.) Sure Aronofsky hits this theme and many more with his trademark “hammer”, but that’s a style choice and one I think works well here because we are talking about Ballet and Opera and Theater after all. I have known those stage mothers, I have dealt with those catty corps girls, I have been yelled at by that artistic director, I have been affected by the backstabbing and jealousy and the lengths that people will go to in order to be the one in the spotlight and I have watched young ballerinas nearly kill themselves in that pursuit of perfection. The “horror” element that Aronofsky brings to this over the top drama filled world is that sense of knowing you are watching a train wreck, but not being able to look away; of being witness to the decent into insanity and wondering which parts are utterly real, which are exaggerated by paranoia and what has crossed over into the wholly demented imaginings of the unhinged mind...that’s the twisted beauty of this film. I can’t wait to see it again. (And no, she does not literally turn into a swan and start running around NYC honking all the way to Central Park. That’s just one of those consequences of the mind coming apart.)

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 3:26 p.m. CST

    When you compare a movie to another movie in a review

    by mradriano

    You've done it wrong. We're not going to start comparing True Grit to Tron are we?

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 3:49 p.m. CST

    Saw it at TIFF and totally disagree

    by jrlamps

    I've seen almost all the contenders that have been released or were at TIFF, and I'd say Black Swan is the best movie I saw this year. I have thought about it almost every day since when I saw it in September and cannot wait to see it again multiple times. It is that good

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 3:53 p.m. CST

    If trademarks are a way to gauge a director's ability...

    by twinkikabuki

    ... Then Kubrick is the greatest of all... I know people that don't even watch movies that can spot a Kubrick flick a mile away.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 4 p.m. CST

    I rather watch a spectacularly ambitious failure...

    by AsimovLives

    ... then to watch some bland or cynical commercial bullshit specifically designed to please the minimum common denominator. Do i even need to name the movies that are corssing my mind as the example sof the later? One of them I mention all the time. So, i rather like ambitious movies, even if they fail. Those have the juice. The others have shit.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 4:06 p.m. CST

    Capone complains about lack of subtlery in BLACK SWAN...

    by AsimovLives

    ... yet he loved Abrams's Trek, a movie which lacks anything that could even remotly be mistaken for subtlery. How understands this? Why the double standards?

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 4:52 p.m. CST

    I loved THE FOUNTAIN

    by AsimovLives

    People need to be pretty heartless to have major issues with that movie, or even outright hate it.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 4:55 p.m. CST


    by AsimovLives

    My interpretation of THE FOUNTAIN is this: The conquistador story is from the book the wife was writing. The scenes at the present between Tom and Lizzy and the future stuff in the bubble spaceship are real. The bubble spaceship stuff is Tom 500 years later, after he discovered the secret of eternal life. 500 years after his wife death's, he made good his promise to take her, in her forms as a tree, to the star that she was so obsessed about, before that star went nova. So, conquestador story is fiction, present day and space stuff are real.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 5:28 p.m. CST

    Except the literal story is there too

    by smatt584

    At the end, he plants the seed taken from the "tree of life" that they found in the amazon or wherever that grants life, as evidenced by it's healing of the monkey, etc (in the real present), which merges her story with reality in a very literary looping manner. Him in the bubble on the literal level takes place centuries into the future (all the present/past are told in flahback from the future) where the medicines he has developed from the tree do exactly what he said they were trying to do "stop death" and he is in a symbiotic ship which sustains him on his journey to the nebula with the "life tree" that sprouted from her grave that gives him the longevity to make it to the nebula. So not all metaphorical there, the plot still has very scifi like elements. If it was purely metaphorical, the present/"reality" would not have the miracle tree curing brain tumors in monkeys in a day.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 5:29 p.m. CST

    The Good and the bad

    by HansBubi

    Many current film geeks love directors that carefully plan every detail of every scene: Wes Anderson, P.T. Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, etc. It's a tricky balancing act making a movie that doesn't seem overcooked. However, when these movies work, this meticulous film making style really pays off. Even a movie like Scott Pilgrim, regardless of your opinion, was highly respectable simply because it seemed so inspired and thoughtfully made. I think we get too many movies these days that seem to be made by economical robots without any emotional or creative input beyond filming an already bad-to-decent script. Like a lot of film fans, I will always appreciate an ambitious misfire over a movie that feels uninspired and lifeless.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 5:32 p.m. CST

    Either way

    by smatt584

    Love that movie, and also don't get the hate and have to chalk it up to people (ironically) writing off things that confuse them as "dumb".

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 5:34 p.m. CST

    Also The Fountain is a ripoff/adaptation

    by smatt584

    Of the book "The Ragdoll Plagues" by Alejandro Morales, published in 1992.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:07 p.m. CST


    by smatt584

    Yeah, and by blending the literal and the metaphorical, it gives the movie a huge amount of depth and leaves all of the individual aspects of it open to many interpretations, which in my opinion, is what the best movies are supposed to do. I do agree with what you were saying about the symbolism, which works even alongside what I believe is literal. And by ripoff, I mean it borrows very very heavily from that book (just read the plot summary online), not like plagiarism.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:09 p.m. CST

    Geez man, is there any film you didn't compare this to?

    by Logan_1973

    How is this being objective?

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:11 p.m. CST

    Subtlety: heart attack > The Fountain

    by Flip63Hole

    Still, I'm down with DaAron.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:29 p.m. CST

    Aronofsky lacks subtlety

    by kolchak

    because someone else's script has Portman physically becoming a black swan instead of metaphorically becoming one? That doesn't hold up at all.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 6:38 p.m. CST


    by BringingSexyBack

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 7:05 p.m. CST

    Good review

    by Kammich

    Interesting to read an objective review to a film that seems to have drowned in sweltering, positive praise. I'll be seeing it irregardless. Especially since the rumor broke that Terry Malick's new film, "Tree of Life," is debuting its trailer before "Black Swan." I'd pay $10 just to see that trailer.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 7:19 p.m. CST

    Aronofsky is a pretentious filmmaker

    by Quadrillionaire

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 7:52 p.m. CST


    by uberman

    Just as Halle Berry pissed all over her oscar cred by doing the utterly retarded CATWOMAN so she could show off her T@A, Aronofsky is following what so far has been a critical hit (BLACK SWAN) with one of the bottom dwelling dregs of pop fiction, WOLVERINE. Major league bad decision.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 7:55 p.m. CST

    The hardest thing about not liking this movie?

    by MagicJesus

    Telling your parents you're gay...

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 7:57 p.m. CST


    by smatt584

    That's probably one if the saddest declines in film history. I think In The Mouth Of Madness was his last great flick.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:19 p.m. CST

    Just saw Black Swan

    by Bombadils_Bane10

    Just got back from an advanced screening of Black Swan and it was pretty good. I don't think that anyone is going to be really fooled at all. You pretty much see everything coming. That's not necessarily a bad thing's one that I definitely need to see it again.

  • That, A Guy, is the single greatest sentence in the history of No argument.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:37 p.m. CST

    Summer Glau...

    by Marduk

    In an Aronofsky film?<p>I honestly can't see the downside.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:42 p.m. CST

    review FAIL

    by Billy_D_Williams

    this idiot starts out his review by immediately comparing this to a different film? thereby saying, "it wasn't as good as the other movie, so i don't like it" before even starting the review? that's a very unfair way to review a film, which should be judged on its own merit..."what does it set out to do and does it succeed?" not, "what other film is one trying to copy and does it do it as well as that other movie". this moron has no idea where Aronofsky got the idea for Black Swan...he came up with the idea over ten years ago and had only recently seen Red Shoes.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:47 p.m. CST

    you dont go into DA's films looking for "subtlety"

    by Billy_D_Williams

    just like i'm not going to crucify Verhoven for not doing subtle in his films...directors are like fast know what you're asking for by going to see their movies, and bitching that Big Mac doesn't taste like a Filet o Fish means you're a fucking idiot for expecting that, and even judging the Big Mac in a negative light for NOT being a Filet O fish.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:52 p.m. CST

    Nice to see The Fountain get some love

    by Nerd Rage

    So trippy and breath-taking. Especially the last 20 minutes. The music and visuals punch you in the gut. Powerful stuff.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 8:58 p.m. CST

    Copernicus, any examples of great movies that are subtle?

    by Nerd Rage

    Or is subtlety something you only notice when it's gone.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 9:20 p.m. CST


    by Darth Busey

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 9:35 p.m. CST

    Perhaps Summer Glau....

    by Chief Joseph

    ...didn't want to munch on Macaulay Culkin's sloppy seconds?

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:08 p.m. CST

    Aronofsky is overpraised

    by Powers Boothe

    The Wrestler was terrific BUT have any of you watched Requiem For A Dream lately? It hasn't aged well.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:43 p.m. CST

    Yeah, too bad about Carpenter

    by Joaquin_Ondamoon

    Was one of my favorites, but he lost me when I read in an interview that he could give a shit if they remade 'Escape from NY', or any of his other films, as long as someone cut him a check. At least when they asked Kurt Russell about the possibility of Gerard Butler playing Snake, he literally said, "Fuck that guy! I'm fucking Snake Plissken!" <p> Carpenter just sits around the house, smoking cigs and playing Xbox, waiting for the next check. Sad.<p> Oh, and don't fuck with Robocop - what's the fucking point?

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:44 p.m. CST

    The Red Shoes Curse.

    by blackflowerX

    The amazing Kate Bush tried to make a film inspired by "The Red Soes" and that was (in her words) "a load of bollocks"... <br><br>I smell a Hex.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:45 p.m. CST

    *Shoes ;(

    by blackflowerX

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 10:49 p.m. CST

    this review makes it sound so good

    by ironburl

    but should have had spoiler alert

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 11:01 p.m. CST

    Capenter's made two classics

    by Billy_D_Williams

    Halloween and The Thing...that's two more than 90% of directors...if he wants to sit on his ass, smoke, play video games and collect his "fuck you" money, more power to him.

  • Dec. 1, 2010, 11:07 p.m. CST

    No one want to see ballet dancers having sex...

    by boogel

    It's like Auschwitz porn. All bones and sinew. If you get off on deflated boobs stretched across a rib cage get a job at a nursing home.

  • Dec. 2, 2010, 2:35 a.m. CST

    I stopped reading

    by Mechasheeva

    the second he compared Arnofsky to M. Night. Arnofsky's last great movie was the last one he made, 'The Wrestler'. When was M. Night's last great one? 4 or 5 turds ago?

  • Dec. 2, 2010, 3:53 a.m. CST


    by smackfu

    I agree with Asimov, I think you're mostly right but the space scenes seemed to me like literal events and the inevitable path for his character to take, given his unwillingness to let go. If my wife's dying wish was to be one with that dying star, and I had a) a way to live forever and b) a piece of her I could keep alive and c) an unwillingness to let her go, I would probably stay alive long enough for technology to advance to the point where I could do it.

  • Dec. 2, 2010, 4:01 a.m. CST

    His appearance in the 'Fountain' story at the end

    by smackfu

    is easily explained by epiphany upon completing his task...we were given no indication at any point that there was any other story being crafted except for the Mayan sequence, yet we were given many indications that the space scene was literal narrative. So it seems to be it works best, and frankly in a deeper way, if the space scene was a literal extension of his inability to let go.

  • Dec. 2, 2010, 5:40 a.m. CST

    Aronofsky is overpraised my ass

    by AsimovLives

    The man is a real talent. He is the real deal. I'm sorry if some of you guys can't appreciate his movies. Your loss, friends, really. I'd hate to live in a world where there were no Aronofsky movies. Filmmakers like him are a godsend to anybody who loves films.

  • Dec. 2, 2010, 6:24 a.m. CST

    About subtlery in movies

    by AsimovLives

    I love to see subtlery in movies. I like subtlery in movies more then the vast majority in people in here. however, there's some subjects that deserve the hammer treatment. Such subjects as drug addiction or religious funadamentalism or social intolerance. Some movies work better when the theme and subject is treated with a slegdehammer. If REQUIEM FOR A DREAM has scared anybody away from drugs, then the movie is justified in the way it treated the subject. Sometimes the hammer approach is the right way.

  • Dec. 2, 2010, 3:56 p.m. CST

    Best review I've ever read on this site

    by wierdo27

    Thanks for having the balls to go against the masses not call Aronofsky a genius, or to praise everything he's ever done. I myself Thought Requiem was severely overstated and treated the audience like children who can't make up their own minds about how they are supposed to feel. I do appreciate his adventurousness and willingness to experiment, I have actually worked with directors who take this route, and it's always a pleasure to work with them because they are interested in pushing the visual lexicon, giving future storytellers more tools to use if they are used and done well. But that can be a very fine line, and can cross over into gross grandstanding, which, IMHO, Aronofsky does, because when I leave the theater, I am thinking about Aronofsky's techniques, and not the story I was just told. And if you can't tell a story, you're not doing your job. So, kudos for a well written review. <br><br> and to those who bash anyone who dares deny that Aronofsky is a genius, I'd tell you to grow up, but I am sure it falls on deaf ears. Instead, I challenge you to retort on the merits of the movie in question, and not to try and prove WHY Aronofsky is a genius. That is thinly veiled hero worship. Which makes for mindless sheep, not individual thinkers. I trust you to be bigger than your anger and self righteousness. I know you're better and smarter than that. Peace

  • Dec. 2, 2010, 6:30 p.m. CST

    Genius? Probably not

    by smatt584

    Great director? Absolutely. If you can't look past the film techniques used in making the movie, then maybe you've become a little too jaded to enjoy the movies which employ more than a "point an shoot" method.

  • Dec. 2, 2010, 7:17 p.m. CST


    by ThroughTheBrokenWindowWithDancinDelroyLindo

    This movie fucking rocks. Just see it.

  • Dec. 2, 2010, 10:25 p.m. CST

    Realism is fine. Interesting is better

    by TheJudger

    School of Kubrick. Jacks losing it moments in The Shining. The music tempo and tone in those moments. Steve didn't fully love it at first. Kubrick called him out on it. Then Stanley asked Steve to list the best men ever of Hollywood. Steve never mentioned James Cagney. Kub told Steve, that James was in Kubs top 5. A little too Kabuki you say??? Noooo.... 25 views later the Shining is one of Stephens favorite Kubrick films. I rest my case. This whole need for restraint is only good when it is a means to an end or a stone for a mountain made or failed to be.

  • Dec. 3, 2010, 7:24 p.m. CST

    Doesn't have to be "point and shoot"

    by wierdo27

    I just don't want to see the wizard behind the curtain. I fail to see how that makes me a cynic.<br><br>just for the record, oddly enough, I think DA is an inspired choice for Wolverine, and I look forward to it; I have hopes his tone for it will be proper. So long as it's not "Darren Aronofsky's Wolverine"<br><br>believe me, the biz gives you much more to be cynical about than someone's technique. I like to have my imagination engaged and entertained, not told what to do. I prefer to be manipulated by a velvet glove rather than an Iron Fist- unless I'm at a Megadeth show or something. <br><br> all I'm saying. Right?

  • Dec. 3, 2010, 7:42 p.m. CST


    by smatt584

    I get what you're saying, sort of like how bad cgi can ruin an otherwise great flick. As for The Wolverine, i think that having Aronofsky as the director is absolutely the only thing that will get me into a theater after the balls-to-the-wall shit-fest that was XO:Wolverine. Well, played Fox, well played...

  • Dec. 31, 2010, 7:30 p.m. CST

    A film can be sensational and subtle at the same time

    by Dromosus

    There was plenty of subtlety and nuance in this film, there's a lot more going on than the leaping, groping and self harming. Here's an example [SPOILERS]: how many ballerinas would even be looked at if they had a back tattoo? How much of what is on the screen is in the protagonist's head? Is the mother the same kind of superego monster that is really at the emotional centre of the film such as the superego demon mothers in many Hitchcock films? How do the final leaps in this and The Wrestler chime with each other?[SPOILERS]