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By DP30

Black Swan, director Darren Aronofsky

SPOILER WARNING… We discuss the end of the film late in the conversation, just after the 30 minute mark.

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23 Responses to “Black Swan, director Darren Aronofsky”

  1. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Are there any Black Swan spoilers in the conversation? Just want to make sure before I listen.

  2. Keil Shults says:

    Yeah, I’d like to know that too. I should be seeing the film this Sunday, but I’m really bored at work today and would love to listen to this.

  3. Alejandro says:

    Yes, there is. Right at minute 32, they talk about the ending of the movie.

    This guy is so charming¡ I thought he’d be kind of a freak, I’m pleseantly surprised.

  4. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Thank you Alejandro.

  5. David Poland says:

    Thank you, Alejandro. I just added a note on the entry.

  6. Barry S. says:

    It’s phony and disingenuous for Aronofsky to claim the late Stuart Rosenberg as his “mentor.” The man was embarrassed to have Aronofsky as a student. After seeing Requiem For a Dream Rosenberg was famously quoted as saying, “Will that idiot ever grow up and make a film without his over-the-top performances and cheap visual gimmicks?”

  7. Keil Shults says:

    I don’t know the specifics of this situation, but even if a teacher was embarassed of me, it wouldn’t change the fact that they were my teacher.

  8. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Also, isn’t the general consensus that Requiem for a Dream is a pretty good movie?

  9. Keil Shults says:

    Yes, it has widespread acclaim, with many people (myself included) considering it to be far better than simply “good.”

  10. Nick Sullivan says:

    Everything in this film is a cut and paste job from “The Red Shoes” to “Repulsion” to Georges Franju to Hitchcock to even some formalist technique in “Citizen Kane.” But, that’s not the problem. The problem – or maybe the solution – is that filmmakers like Aronofsky have become critic proof by riffing off (ripping off?) the cinephilia so fetishized by American film critics that they can smuggle their vacuous experiments in style into the good graces of reviewers. Sure, the deadpan minimalism of a Romanian film like “Police Adjective” has its influences, but Corneliu Poromboiu actually has something to say. See the difference? This is vacuous nonsense so well disguised by formal plagiarism that it is a worrisome thing. There is a difference between reinvigorating genre (see Coen Bros.) and showing your Cinema Studies professor how well you can film it.

  11. David Poland says:

    I don’t know, Nick. Sounds like you are overanalyzing.

    The movie works because it is fundamentally sound. This character’s journey is loaded with unexpected twists that all come together to make perfect sense. You don’t think the story of coming of age, as a woman and as an artist, is a worthy story… okay. But invoking Poromboiu, whom I would guess will be a Black Swan fan, is a mirror to the lazy pretension that you claim causes critics to embrace this film. No? My suffering is worse than your suffering… my love of cinema is more valuable than your love of cinema… etc.

  12. Nick Sullivan says:

    My point, David, is that Darren Aronofsky has the originality of a knock-off Rolex. His execution betrays the fact that he has absolutely nothing meaningful to say and so he throws anything and everything up on the screen hoping and praying something will stick. SAW is a more honest film and better made. The only pretension here is the delusion of people giving a standing ovation at the end of a mediocre performance because they are desperate to believe they’ve not wasted their time sitting in the theatre watching complete dreck… etc.

  13. Not David Bordwell says:

    Did anyone notice that Aronofsky looks like Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda on the left… and like Charles Grodin in King Kong on the right?

    What’s up with that?

  14. Not David Bordwell says:

    I’m not afraid to say it… there’s a really good piece on Mickey Rourke in the latest issue of Critical Inquiry:

    Just a taste:

    “Mickey Rourke loved to tell the story of his degradation at the hands of Darren Aronofsky while making The Wrestler (2008). He left no doubt that he was the bottom, there to be beaten up, stapled, gigged, and sent to the hospital between takes. The dynamic was captured in Annie Leibovitz’s portrait of the sadistic director and his battered muse, Aronofsky bursting from his cheap-looking suit, his close-cropped hair and mustache that screamed masculinity crisis, his confrontation with the camera, and Rourke crouching in the background-half-naked, long-haired, smoking, bruised, and tattooed-as though there was nothing left to do to him.”

    Had to run out and rent Pope of Greenwich Village and Iron Man 2 after I read it. Rourke is amazing.

  15. IOv3 says:

    When did Sam Rockwell gain weight and start wearing scarves?

  16. Keil Shults says:

    There is nothing “honest” about most cinema, if you really wish to nitpick. Is Black Swan the greatest film of the year? Probably not. Is it a delirious mixture of Repulsion and The Red Shoes, perhaps with a dose of In My Skin? Probably. Would I rather watch Black Swan than most films that are given wide release? Certainly.

    First of all, I don’t agree with you when you state that Aronofsky has nothing to say in his films. That’s either ignorance talking, or jealousy at the critical accolades he’s been handed over the years (although I’d say he’s less critic-proof than you claim…The Fountain, anyone?). I think that many cinephiles don’t care if people rip off movies or filmmakers until they start ripping off movies and filmmakers that they really love. And even then, said film buffs tend to jump on phrases like “ripping off,” when in reality they may have simply been influenced by them. I love Repulsion and The Red Shoes, both of which are better than Black Swan. But I have room enough in my heart and mind to appreciate all three without throwing a fit or dropping references to obscure films like Police, Adjective in a vain effort to make a point.

  17. Nick Sullivan says:

    First off, read my post. I didn’t write, ‘Aronofsky has nothing to say.” I wrote, “he has absolutely nothing meaningful to say.” Okay, sure one man’s meat and all that. However, in the first 5 minutes of the film everything that Aronofsky has to say has been said: Scared ballerina, over-the-top impresario who says things like, “Just let go Luke – trust the force.” Sybil/Carrie Mommie, weird things in mirrors, and four-walled important classical music. That’s kind of it. I suppose it doesn’t have to add up to anything if you go in for hokey visuals, cringe-worthy dialogue and pretend that the value lies in its’ camp. The problem is it doesn’t feel like the people making this film landed on camp as an adjective until others served it up to them. The entire enterprise is a mess. Of course Repulsion and The Red Shoes are better films, and whether or not Aronofsky has tipped or ripped his hat off to them doesn’t make his film take a place in their class – it’s just something to say to sound smart. Granted, referencing Police Adjective may be entirely beside the point – it’s just strange to see something so monumentally bad be taken seriously by intelligent people.

  18. Joe Straatmann says:

    I’ve always wanted to respect Aronofsky more than I’ve valued his movies. His two breakout movies from the 90s, Pi and Requiem for a Dream, were definitely made with skill, but on the other hand, there’s something about them that comes off as obnoxious. Pi has that first picture, main character talks in a subtle-as-a-sledgehammer voice over that over underlines every damn point in movie, as well as the over-emphasis on the “patterns of the universe.” Maybe it does fit the character’s madness, but with the fourth shot of a spiral or the third “Press return…” moment, ENOUGH. I get it. I hate it when smart cinema treats me like I’m stupid. But then again, the man does a hell of a lot with the budget he has and the soundtrack is awesome.

    And Requiem for a Dream, about the only drama is in Ellen Burstyn’s character (And Burstyn deserved the nomination and maybe the win). The rest…. I pretty much know what’s going to happen to the characters. Hell, you take one look at Jennifer Connelly, and you know what she’s going to have to do later on to get drugs. I know Traffic likes to get bagged on as the overrated film from the year while Requiem is that “art” that was too much for the prudes at the Academy, but for my money, the scene where Michael Douglas goes to where his daughter is getting her drugs has a whole lot more tension and drama than anything in Requiem for a Dream when he finds out just out of his depth he is.

    Still, Aronofsky’s got skills and even if I skipped on The Wrestler, I’m always interested in what he’s doing, and he seems a decent enough fellow when he’s not directing Mickey Rourke.

  19. Keil Shults says:

    There is no way Black Swan is horribly bad. If Black Swan were being released from out of nowhere, by an unkown director, it would be lauded and promoted by the same kinds of people who now seem upset that such an over-the-top film is being given serious awards consideration. I don’t see how, with all the horrible films and filmmakers out there, people can seriously whine about Aronofsky. There is so much out there that is so much worse! Yes, I knew what paths the primary characters from Requiem and Swan would take, but I didn’t know what twists would occur along the way, or how fascinating the path itself would look, sound, etc. I suppose I should just say to each his own and move on, but it just seems that once a heralded indie filmmaker gets a name for himself, the inevitable backlash ensues. It’s tiresome and rather detrimental to people like me, who don’t want an army of Michael Bays and Tony Scotts dominating multiplexes for the next 30 years.

  20. Nick Sullivan says:

    ” … don’t want an army of Michael Bays and Tony Scotts dominating multiplexes for the next 30 years.”

    Nor do I, Keil. However 180 degrees from sick is still sick. There are plenty of “heralded indie filmmakers” who have earned their stripes and continue to do so, but Aronofsky – to me – is not one of them.

    To each his, or her, own… etc.

  21. Don R. Lewis says:

    do you like Brian DePalma? Do you feel he’s a better than good filmmaker? What about Tarantino?

    Why can’t Aronofsky do a post-modern/pastiche and still have a POV? Are you really going tom try and say THE WRESTLER was a cinefiliac jerk off session? Yes, I just made up the word cinefiliac.

  22. Nick Sullivan says:

    Yes, to DePalma & Quentin.

    Aronofsky CAN do a post-modern/pastiche AND have a POV. That is if the POV of someone who has no identity of their own and the displayed intellectual curiosity and complexity of a single-celled virus living in a very small petrie dish is what makes you go to the movies. As for your question regarding whether or not I regard THE WRESTLER as a cinefilliac jerk off session – I would say, no. It had a strong script by Bob Siegel, and two very good performances by Rourke & Tomei. But I seem to recall it being directed by the Dardenne brothers.

  23. Jordan Gerner says:

    Nick, I would love to have a debate stating why I think you’re wrong. But you posted that SAW is a better made film than Black Swan, clearly you’re just ignorant and no nothing of what you speak.

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