“Black Swan” (movie, 2010)

I like Darren Aronofsky’s movies, including pi, Requiem for a Dream, and even his relatively obscure “flop,” The Fountain. The Wrestler was a much more mainstream type of thing.

Black Swan strikes an effective middle-ground between arty and commercial. Natalie Portman is quite good with the material, including channeling her actual childhood ballet experience.  However, the character goes quite easily off the deep end, with “body”-obsessed fantasies, etc. (including what her rival, played by Mila Kunis, calls a “lesbo wet dream”) that seem inspired by David Cronenberg’s more bizarre things of the 1980s, but without the movie really ever providing an explanation (other than the character having an unpleasant mother, played by Barbara Hershey) for why or how she may be mentally ill in the first place.

I actually thought that the director’s space- and time-shifting meditation on life and love, The Fountain, was great, even though it failed commercially and had a very difficult production life (e.g., a drastically-slashed budget and Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz replacing Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett).

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