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Black Swan (2010)

I just want to be perfect.

— Nina Sayers

The genesis of the #119 Movie of All Time on IMDB, Black Swan stemmed from a jettisoned storyline from Darren Aronofsky’s last movie, The Wrestler. It was intended to be a story about an over the hill wrestler and fading ballerina. Aronofsky wanted to explore the psyche of a ballerina further in this movie.

Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is a featured dancer in the American Ballet Company in New York City. Her overprotective mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey) gave up her dreams of being a prima ballerina to have Nina. She wants Nina to succeed in ways that she could not.

Headmaster Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) is auditioning potential dancers for his stripped down version of the classic ballet, “Swan Lake” to open up the season. The original Swan Queen, Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) is forced into an early retirement, because she is not drawing the crowds like she used to. She is embittered by this drastic action.

Seeing her chance to be the principal dancer, Nina tries out for the Swan Queen and almost loses the part due to her frigid, perfectionist style of dancing. Thomas seeing the potential in Nina when he forces himself upon her and gives her the part.

Nina’s ambition for being the best Swan Queen that ever was is consuming her when she thinks a rival dancer from San Francisco, Lily (Mila Kunis) is trying to steal her part and her life. Her paranoia over Lily, the pressures of her mother, the criticism of Thomas and the part almost consumes her as she thinks that old habits of scratching are rearing their ugly head again.

Aronofsky has a way of setting the mood of the film with a device that he did in his last film with having the camera being behind the main actor. Like the audience is falling her, going on her journey to madness. I don’t know if the notice that the color palette was mostly black and white to represent the light and the dark, good and evil, etc. I would not think that a movie about a ballerina would be Aronofsky’s plate, but I would impressed by the result.

I did find some faults with the film. It mainly deals with the supporting actresses in this film, Hershey, Ryder and Kunis. I know that Hershey wanted to be the overbearing, neurotic mother, but the scene in the kitchen with the cake. Yeah. I don’t believe for a second that Ryder would be on point in her life. Her only emotions were inebriation or anger. Nothing in between. The problem that I had with Kunis was that I didn’t believe that her character would be a rival for Natalie’s character at all. I also had an issue with the camerawork in the up-close dance sequences. It felt so jerky and weird that I could not get into the dance on an emotional level.

Judgment: It is a graceful retelling of obsession, jealousy and destruction.

Rating: ****1/2

Heathers (1989)

What is your damage, Heather?

— Veronica Sawyer

Heathers is the kind of movie that you would know a couple of lines of dialogue without watching a single frame of the movie. This was that time. I knew what the premise was all about. This movie makes Mean Girls seem like child’s play. It was so dark and twisted than I was expecting.

Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) is desperate to be part of the popular crowd that she aligns herself with the most powerful clique in Westerburg High School, the Heathers. Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) is the queen bee with her lackeys Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk) and Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty).

The problem is that Veronica despises the girls that she is associating with. She vents her frustrations against the Heathers in her diary. Her affluent life seems insignicant in comparsions to the other students in school when she meets a rebel named Jason Dean (Christian Slater) shows her the way to live life on the edge.

Heather Chandler invites Veronica to a college party at Remington University where things spiral out of control. Veronica drinks, vomits and wants to leave the party early. Heather C. is pissed at Veronica for embarrassing her that she vows to destroy her reputation at school.

Veronica doesn’t want that to happen. She confides in Jason about trying to get rid of Heather C. While Heather C. is sleeping off her alcohol induced stupor at her house, the toxic duo decides to mix drain cleaner with milk to give to her. When Heather C dies, she becomes even more popular than ever. Veronica realizes that who you associate with would change you forever.

I kinda knew that the movie was going to be dark in nature, but I didn’t know how dark it was going to get. It was jarring for me. I thought that I would end up hating it, but I didn’t. It was kind of a reminder that popularity is fleeting. People could be so consumed with it that they would kill for it. It’s really sad.

Judgment: If you don’t like this movie, what is your damage?

Rating: ****

Star Trek (2009)

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Your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes. He saved 800 lives, including yours. I dare you to do better. Enlist in Starfleet.

— Christopher Pike

I’m geeking out right now. Happy, happy, joy, joy. I was eagerly anticipating JJ Abrams’ Star Trek for some time now. When Paramount announced that the movie was going to be pushed back from December of last year to May of this year, I was afraid. Usually when a movie is pushed back, that means it is awful and in need of some changes. I was hesitant to see this movie.

Seeing the positive responses popping up. This film has a a Metacritic score of 83. That’s pretty good and it is currently by this post at #59 of Top 250 of All Time of IMDB. Being a Trekkies myself, I enjoyed myself with this movie.

Abrams does not waste any time. He gets right to the nitty-gritty with non stop action when the crew of the USS Kelvin is attacked by a Romulan vessel lead by Capt. Nero (Eric Bana), who is from the future.

The crew is evacuated when the Capt. Richard Robau (Faran Tahir) is killed and acting captain George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth) orders everyone off the ship including his pregnant wife, Winona (Jennifer Morrison) that is giving birth to James. The ship is destroyed.

A quarter of a century later, we are introduced to the cocky and rebellious Kirk (Chris Pine) and emotionally suppressed Spock (Zachary Quinto). Kirk tries to pick up Uhura (Zoe Saldana) is a Starfleet bar when he gets into a fight with other Starfleet members.

With a bloody nose, Capt. Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) urges Kirk to enlist in Starfleet to carry on the family name.

During his training at Starfleet, he meets the hypocondriac Bones (Karl Urban). They become friends.

On a simualtion, Kirk and Spock meet and a heated exchange. News comes that the planet Vulcan is under attack by Capt. Nero.

The action focuses on the crew of Enterprise that also includes; Mr. Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (Anton Yelchin).

I can’t reveal what happens after that, but it was a fun ride while it lasted.

I did have some problems with the movie.

  • It is mainly the lens flares. There must be five of them a minute. Sometimes the screen would be completely bright. It was so distracting.
  • I know that this is a re-imagining of the series, but Spock and Uhura hooking up? Fellow Trekkies help me out here.
  • I did not understand what the hell Chekov was saying half the time.
  • Some of the special were a little dodgy to me.
  • What it me or do the mention of Klingon anything raise a red flag to you?
  • The adolescent Kirk and Spock scenes did not work for me.
  • When we meet Sulu, he doesn’t know how to go into warp speed, but he could go to low impulse in the outer ring of a planet. Huh?
  • Lastly, the allegorical undertones that made the series was absent here. There was no subtext to the actions of Nero.

It was a solid movie overall. I was shocked when Winona Ryder came onscreen to play Spock’s human mother, Amanda Grayson or Tyler Perry being on of the council members of Starfleet. Also, Amanda Foreman that was on Abrams’ show Felicity played one of the crew members. The shout outs to the original series that got me gitty.

Judgment: If you want to have a total nerd-gasm in your seat, watch this movie.

Rating: ****

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