At long last, I finally caught up on some of the Oscar movies of 2011. It's been a disappointing year so far with regards to movies, as almost every 'underdog' at the box office has been plain terrible. The best of the lot so far have been either big budget movies or movies with A-list stars.
(Let me just add as an aside that, after watching "The Green Hornet", I think it's safe to assume that neither Seth Rogen or Cameron Diaz are A-listers.)
Needless to say, I was thrilled when I finally got my hands on some movies that had created a buzz at the box office recently. There was Mark Wahlberg's "The Fighter", Jason Statham's trademark action flick "The Mechanic", and Aronofsky's intense "Black Swan".
I'm not going to write a review here, because you really have to go see "Black Swan" for yourself. The thing about this movie was that it was one of those stories that somehow dragged me into it and made me feel like I was more than just a casual observer. The last time I had felt that way was during Inception and The Dark Knight. While "Black Swan" isn't a story of another fictious world, it does transport you to this other life where dance, music and the stage are all so much larger than life, and it does it so well that I am almost as anxious as Nina (Natalie Portman) regarding her role in the performance, and almost as terrified as she appears when things start spiraling out of control.
Make no mistake, this is not a 'dance movie'. It is terribly unsettling and unnervingly creepy, as the viewer is taken along this rather disturbing rollercoaster ride that climaxes in a brilliant final sequence in the movie. Natalie Portman does a great job, as does Mila Kunis, and even though I had an inkling of where the story was going, even I was not prepared for the way things turned out.
I was so enamoured with the movie that I dug up some trivia on the movie, and thought I'd share a few. Some of the facts, especially regarding Natalie Portman's injuries and preparation, lead me to believe that she was indeed a worthy winner of Best Actress at both the Golden Globes and the Oscars.
=> The script took around ten years to make it to the screen.
=> Mila Kunis was brought into the project after co-star Natalie Portman suggested her to director Darren Aronofsky. Kunis had a video chat with Aronofsky via Skype and got the role without officially auditioning.
=> Natalie Portman lost 20 pounds to look more like a ballerina.
=> The budget on this film was so tight that when star Natalie Portman had a rib dislocated during a lift and she called the producer for help. She was told that the budget was so low they had no medic. She stated that if they needed to cut items from the budget they could take away her trailer, instead of the medic. The next day her trailer was gone.
=> The soundtrack, composed by Clint Mansell is a variation on Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" ballet, but played backwards and in a distorted manner.
=> Natalie Portman hit her head during the filming of one scene, sustaining a bad concussion that required an MRI.
=> Due to a dislocated rib injury, Natalie Portman had to receive physical therapy during filming. Portman is undergoing a real therapy session in one scene with Michelle Rodriguez, an actual physical therapist brought in by choreographer Benjamin Millepied. Director Darren Aronofsky told Portman to stay in character during the appointment so he could film and include the scene into the final cut.
=> Director Darren Aronofsky originally envisioned telling this story as part of the plot of "The Wrestler" (2008) and was actually developing a project that was about a love affair between a ballet dancer and a wrestler, but he realized pretty quickly that taking two worlds like wrestling and ballet was much too much for one movie.
Here's a trailer if you haven't seen it yet. Enjoy!