Since awards season is underway with the announcement of the Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations, that means I'm spending more time at a theater near me.
After having to wait out the less-than-worthy movies, and still regretting not seeing Toy Story 3 when I had the chance, I'm starting to put together a list of which ones to see.
As usual, I go to the bargain matinees. I'm cheap and proud of it. So what if I have to wade through semi-flooded streets to save a few bucks. So be it. That's what I did to see The Black Swan.
At least one person has said this movie is The Wrestler in a tutu, or something like that. In this case, it's a bade of honor. It's directed by Darren Aronofsky, who shows us the ugly side of stardom and what one has to do to keep up.
Remember Randy the Ram? He relied on steroids and very unhealthy habits to stay in the pro wrestling game, even if he was way past his prime.
What has that got to do with up-and-coming ballerina Nina Sayers, played by Natalie Portman? Actually, a lot. Even if she is moving up the ranks of her ballet company, she has to undergo a punishing physical process to stay in shape and do the routines over and over. She's up for the Swan Queen in Swan Lake, even though director Thomas Leroy, played by Seymour Cassel, isn't sure she can do it. He wants someone who can be pure and then seductive. She does get the role, but now she has to fight to keep it.
Her rival is Lily, played by Mila Kunis. Lily is a free spirit, and the first ballet dancer I've seen with a tattoo of swan feathers. It's no coincidence.
Looking at this movie, you have to see Nina's life. She may be an adult, but inside there's a scared little girl who wants to be perfect. Technique she can handle, but trying to be the white and dark swan may be too much for her. It may also be a metaphor for trying to achieve emotional maturity.
Her family life is a little scary, too. She lives with her mom Erica (Barbara Hershey) who was a dancer until she gave it up to raise Nina. She keeps Nina in a little girl world. Compare that to Randy the Ram's attempts to reconnect with his daughter. While that relationship fell apart, Nina is way too close to her mom. Both extremes wind up hurting the main characters.
When Leroy explains to his cast how his version of Swan Lake will end, I had a flashback to how The Wrestler ended. Let's just say both involve a leap of faith.
I'm trying to keep spoilers to a minimum, but I can Natalie Portman is incredible as Nina, the ballerina who gives everything, and maybe to much, for her career and her role as the Swan Queen. Unfortunately, it's a little too similar to how much Randy the Ram gave to wrestling, right down to the cheering of the crowd.
I also liked Kunis as Lily, She's also believable as a ballerina, as she represents the darkness Nina wishes she could embrace, but also fears.
Meanwhile, I also decided to use up a Crest Theater movie card by seeing The Fighter, about boxer Micky Ward and his brother Dicky. I'll make this short by saying Christan Bale is fantastic as Dicky, a former boxer who trains brother Mickey. Much of the drama centers around the Ward family, and how mother Alice manages Micky's career. Melissa Leo is great as Alice, but Amy Adams is a big surprise as Charlene, Micky's love interest who the family doesn't trust because she thinks Micky should take career in a new direction. This is especially true when Dicky winds up in prison. Forget Gisele or the nun she played in Doubt. Adams has real edge as Charlene. She and Leo may wind up competing for Best Supporting Actress several times this winter.
So, what's next? True Grit, for one. I'd like to see how his Rooster Cogburn matches up with John Wayne. I already think Hailee Steinfeld will be much better than Kim Darby.
But, I have a lot of over cash I have to spend: three AMC passes, 25 dollars in Fandango cash gotten at a 50 percent discount, and two e-Movie Cash tickets. The toughest part will be using the AMC passes (provided by Coke Rewards, by the way) because I live in a Cinemark town. I can use them in L-A and San Francisco, and they won't expire. I hope to use two of the AMC passes, if the Citywalk Cinema has the right movies there. Of course, that means True Grit, Tangled and (if necessary) Tron Legacy.
I'll also be in L-A when they announce the Oscar nominations. That will also influence my choices. Of course, I could also go to a DVD kiosk to get Winter's Bone, which may play a big role in the final results.
If nothing else, I'll be a more informed Oscar viewer.