Knee-jerk review: "Black Swan"

1. Layered and complex. Nicely done.
2. There's a definite sense of dread hanging over the movie. You're always halfway expecting something bad to happen in even the most everyday scenes.
3. Strange fixation with injured fingernails and toenails. Discuss the significance amongst yourselves.
4. It's almost Polanskian in the way we're never sure what's really happening and what's only a fantasy. Creepy and unsettling.
5. We always respond to a movie that provides a glimpse into an exotic professional world. And this certainly feels like an authentic look at the pressure-cooker life of a prestigious ballet company.
6. Natalie Portman's getting Oscar buzz for her performance and we get that. She does a good job in the kind of showy, dynamic role (i.e. scenes where she screams in anger, scenes where she trembles in fear, scenes where she sobs in agony) that Oscar voters love. But we still find her cold and remote. Sorry.
7. Mila Kunis, on the other hand, is a knockout. She's completely magnetic and beguiling. A long way from "That 70s Show."
8. We like the way the film slowly, subtly reveals that something may not be quite right with Portman's relationship to her mother.
9. There's some very complex ideas at work here about art. What sacrifices are necessary in pursuing art? Is there more to art than just technical proficiency? Do you also need emotion and unpredictability? Are genius artists also by definition volatile and crazy? Is there such a thing as artistic perfection?
10. No, we didn't know what "Swan Lake" was about until we saw this movie.
11. Vincent Cassell is predictably oily and untrustworthy.
12. You because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not really out to get you.
13. It's good, yes. Complicated and ambitious in ways so many movies simply aren't. But The Wrestler is still our favorite Darren Aronofsky film.

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