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Black Swan - Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) Blu Ray

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Feverish worlds such as espionage and warfare have nothing on the hothouse realm of ballet, as director Darren Aronofsky makes clear in Black Swan, his over-the-top delve into a particularly fraught production of Swan Lake. At the very moment hard-working ballerina Nina (Natalie Portman) lands the plum role of the White Swan, her company director (Vincent Cassel) informs her that she'll also play the Black Swan--and while Nina's precise, almost virginal technique will serve her well in the former role, the latter will require a looser, lustier attack. The strain of reaching within herself for these feelings, along with nattering comments from her mother (Barbara Hershey) and the perceived rivalry from a new dancer (Mila Kunis), are enough to make anybody crack? and tracing out the fault lines of Nina's breakdown is right in Aronofsky's wheelhouse. Those cracks are broad indeed, as Nina's psychological instability is telegraphed with blunt-force emphasis in this neurotic roller-coaster ride. The characters are stick figures--literally, in the case of the dancers, but also as single-note stereotypes in the horror show: witchy bad mummy, sexually intimidating male boss, wacko diva (Winona Ryder, as the prima ballerina Nina is replacing). Yet the film does work up some crazed momentum (and undeniably earned its share of critical raves), and the final sequence is one juicy curtain-dropper. A good part of the reason for this is the superbly all-or-nothing performance by Natalie Portman, who packs an enormous amount of ferocity into her small body. Kudos, too, to Tchaikovsky's incredibly durable music, which has meshed well with psychological horror at least since being excerpted for the memorably moody opening credits of the 1931 Dracula, another pirouette through the dark side. --Robert Horton

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Psychological thriller set in the American ballet world starring Natalie Portman in an award-winning performance. Nina (Portman) is a dancer in a New York City ballet company. Still living with her domineering and obsessive mother Erica (Barbara Hershey), a former ballerina herself, Nina barely has a life outside her dancing. When the company's artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) for a major new production of Swan Lake, Nina finds herself losing sight of her own identity as she becomes caught up in a twisted competitive friendship with her rival Lily (Mila Kunis). Portman won the 2011 Golden Globe, BAFTA and Academy Award for Best Actress.

  • Average Rating for Black Swan - Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) [2010] - 5 out of 5


    (based on 2 user reviews)
  • Black Swan - Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) [2010]
    David Bedwell

    The highest compliment that I can give to Black Swan is that it's unforgettable. No movie in quite some time has stuck with me like Darren Aronofsky's tortured tale of dance and death. Like his earlier movie Requiem For A Dream, or even going back further to Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, Black Swan managed to pierce the heart of the viewer and steal your thoughts for many a sleepless night afterwards.

    On the surface a simple tale, Black Swan presents Nina, a ballerina looking to triumph in the ever-popular Swan Lake production, a quintessential highlight of the dance season. But delve deeper as Aronofsky does, and the tale becomes less about the dance itself, and more about the human psyche. Ambition becomes torment, and dedication becomes danger, with Nina spiralling out of control unable to cope with the pressures of home and work. The audience gets lost in a maze of confusion, not knowing what to see as truth or fiction, much like the central character herself. We see glimpses of the unthinkable, yet maybe they're real. The director does a fantastic job of blending all realities, whether it's our own or Nina's, so we go along for the ride completely oblivious to the truth. Maybe that's why it has stuck with me for so long - I still find myself questioning what really happened and what didn't, and that's a testament to the writers and the director.

    Natalie Portman, in an Oscar-winning performance, delivers an exceptionally polished act to the point where you truly believe she's a professional ballerina. Portman brings a believability to the role in every area - dedication, passion, innocence and a tragic mental breakdown that drives the story to a memorable end. She steals every scene she is in, managing to draw sympathy from the audience as she pushes herself too far to obtain her dream. That sympathy is mixed with fear, as we recognise what is happening to her, and almost wish we could stop it. There's a tragic happiness to her achievements, seeing her on the dual path to fulfilment and self-destruction. Pushed by her director Thomas Leroy (played to a confusingly creepy degree by Vincent Cassel), Nina wants to play both the Black Swan AND the White Swan, a mixture of darkness and light.

    A new dancer, Lily (Mila Kunis), joins the company and optimizes the Black Swan and represents the biggest threat to Nina's dream of both roles. Their mixture of friendship and rivalry is as complicated as Nina's clear psychological issues. She struggles with not only the pressure from the director and her rival, but the supportive yet dominating mother (Barbara Hershey) she has at home. The realism of a parent who wants you to do well is all too close to home, especially the feeling of never wanting to disappoint them. Nina cracks under this pressure, and Aronofsky captures this perfectly.

    Without giving away the ending, it's both perfect and tragic in equal measures. The reflection of Swan Lake echoed in Black Swan's story is so accomplished and exact that it could almost convince any audience member to go and see ballet. Amongst all the creepyness and disgust, there's a clear professionalism and dedication that is completely admirable. Aronofsky has stated this is somewhat of a companion piece to his earlier movie The Wrestler, and I certainly believe that also has the same qualities of showing a talent many may never have seen before. Black Swan made me feel many emotions, as any good movie should do, but in the end it was memorable - just like any ballerina wants to be.

    The transfer to Blu-ray disc is flawless, capturing the visual flair and creative costumes to a stunning degree. Clint Mansell's soundtrack, as with many of his works, fits perfectly with every moment. He delivers sombre when he needs to envoke sadness, and captures a frenzy as Nina spirals out of control. Mixed with Tchaikovsky's familiar pieces from Swan Lake, the score only emphasises every emotion we're made to feel. Watch the movie in a dark room by yourself and you'll soon be on the edge of your seat. A psychological thriller at heart, Black Swan packs a punch and follows up with numerous other hits when you least expect them. Portman puts in the performance of a lifetime, and Aronofsky proves once again why he's one of the most-wanted directors in the industry today. The movie earned a well deserved nomination for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, but as we learn in the story itself, it's not always winning that is the most important thing. Sometimes you can go too far.

  • Black Swan - Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) [2010]
    Yuji Lloyd

    Never before has such beauty been fused with such darkness. Black Swan is the utterly captivating tale of a young prodigious ballet dancer who has her eye firmly set on the lead in her company's upcoming production of Tchaicovsky's timeless Swan Lake.

    The film won Natalie Portman a very much deserved Academy Award for Best Actress, because her performance is remarkable. It has been lauded by a wealth of critics, and justifiably so; it is arguably her best performance yet. The role her character wishes to play in Swan Lake is both that of the White Swan and the Black Swan. Because of this, Portman is demanded to act in two diametrically opposed ways, and her ability to do so is incredibly impressive. The perfection and purity necessitated by the White Swan is contrasted by the passion of the Black Swan, and to be able to perform both so convincingly is phenomenal.

    The film is one of those genuinely brilliant stories that has a story within it that illuminates the whole. In literature and art, this is termed as 'mise en abime', and can be seen from Shakespeare's momentous play Hamlet through to Christopher Nolan's incredible Inception last year, with its notions of a dream within a dream. Just like these, Black Swan's version of Swan Lake similarly casts light upon the film as a whole, and what we see in the two swans, we can see spiral outwards into Portman's own character outside the ballet.

    The film is directed by Darren Aronofsky, and is an extraordinary achievement that shows his true talents as a director. With a budget of $13 million, no longer that substantial in Hollywood these days, many expected Black Swan to be something of an art house movie that would find but a small niche in the market. Its reception, however, has been beyond all expectations, and has made the film close to $300 million since its release last year.

    That it has become such a success is a true testament to its brilliance. What Aronofsky and Portman have created together is a masterpiece, a film with beauty and darkness at its core, and that is something incredibly difficult to do. There are few films capable of occupying such contrasting positions, both dark and beautiful, but Black Swan is absolutely one of them. It draws you on a path with unexpected turns that you never see coming, always driving you forwards, heightening the pace and the drama, relentlessly pushing you towards its climactic closing scenes. What Aronofsky and Portman have achieved is perfection, in its sincerest and most beautiful form.

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