I Love Your Nails
by MOLLY LAMBERT
I was told we needed more Black Swantent on This Recording. Surely you read Durga's review. What about Elizabeth Gumport on Wild Things or when I did Basic Instinct? As with Inception, I joked about Black Swan forever before I finally saw it, and then it shut me up completely with all the subtlety and charm of Mila Kunis sitting on my face.
The erotic thriller genre is never dead because it has enduring core appeal. Despite the abundance of porn on the internet, there's no substitute for the speedball of narrative pleasure and filmic sex. Audiences are voyeurs by definition. Sitting in a dark movie theater surrounded by strangers is the exemplary mundane sensual experience. Sitting in bed alone with your computer is the black swan of mundane sensual experiences.
Inception and Black Swan would make good partners for a double bill; one glassy and phallic, the other wet and feathery. Architecture and Ballet are the barely disguised stand-ins for Film Direction. Both men take on their rivals and fatherpigs (Kubrick, Hitchcock, Lynch, De Palma). Both are meditations on control and release. Is any profession more like being the Old Testament God than directing movies? Blogging?
David Fincher made The Social Network into a movie about how we use the internet to create and control our images. Life is the contrast between perception and truth. Nina Sayers looks like Natalie Portman, but that doesn't help her with dancing or fucking. Winona Ryder and Jennifer Connelly are cast as the spouses of Vince Vaughn and Kevin James and we are somehow supposed to ignore the cognitive dissonance that follows.
Women especially are told not to talk about or ask what is going on, to trust men and male decision making abilities without question. It's the cornerstone of horror and basis of the "final girl" trope. It is what makes Rosemary's Baby, Alien, Carrie and Halloween, the ultimate horror films about being a woman, so insanely effective.
Natalie Portman is great. She does the thing in the movie that the movie is about. Mila Kunis, girl honestly if you get google name search alerts and you see this, I just wanna go half on some weed brownies with you and Miley Cyrus and Macauley and some internet Mollys. Seriously Mila is so cool, and part of it is that you know if you saw her and American Psycho 2 somehow came up she'd be the first person to laugh about it.
Every time Vincent Cassel talked about "doing the black swan" I thought of that thing from The Game about subliminal seduction cues like saying "below me" to get a girl to think you're saying "blow me." When you are a girl most of culture is not addressed to you but you are supposed to act as interested in it as if it were. Would men rather see The A Team or an erotic thriller about competitive ballet? Why can't it just be both?
The best thing is that Black Swan passes the Bechdel test with flying colors, was made for cheap, and is doing really well, going against the horribly off-base yet oft-repeated conventional studio wisdom that men won't see a movie with a majority of female characters, whereas women will still have to go see crap like the The Hangover.
Black Swan's box office isn't all dudes being dragged by their girlfriends. Nor is it all perverts in raincoats. Men are able to enjoy movies about women just as much as I am able to enjoy Caddyshack (and I really enjoy Caddyshack). Don't believe me? Just ask the people who watch Mean Girls whenever it's on TBS because that's EVERYBODY.
I mean thank god Aronofsky and Portman both went all the way, as promised. All of the tropes: the heavyhanded symbolism, the mirror scares, the crazy night out at the club from Blade. Without camp it would just be cold. Aronofsky embarrasses himself constantly in this movie, but that's why it works. He stops caring about cool because coolness is detachment, and this is a movie about getting wired into your damn self.
What if There Will Be Blood had closed with Daniel Day Plainview making Paul Dano suck his cock in the basement bowling alley? If instead of bashing his head in, he had forced him to fuck? What's the difference? Mentorship and rivalry are poorly disguised metaphors for sexual roles. Why is it only in movies about females that these tensions are ever noticed or played upon? If True Grit doesn't end with a gangbang, I'm out.
Kill your idols, kill your rivals. David Mamet is my Winona (forever) and Aaron Sorkin is my Mila Kunis. Let's be real, I am my own Mila, tacky backpiece and all. I'm from Hollywood. Ask me about the time I successfully Buellered my way through improvising my final solo project for a modern dance class in college. It was my Opening Night.
Stay tuned for Blog Swan, wherein the many Mollys of the internet get locked inside a library and have to read our way out like a flock of little literary Nomi Malones. "Publish or perish" is taken to the limits of seriousness as we are stalked down giallo lit hallways by the subway poltergeists that leave spam comments on squarespace.
Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She took dance classes in school for so much longer than you might imagine.
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