Tag: The Wrestler

Black Swan

by on Dec.13, 2010, under Movies

Black Swan is a stunning, harrowing story of the demands we make on performers’ bodies and souls. It’s almost impossible not to compare it to Aronofsky’s last film, The Wrestler, and while it’s a more exciting and contained work in some ways, I think it’s a slightly less interesting engagement with those issues.

For me, one of the remarkable aspects of The Wrestler was how it showed Mickey Rourke’s character as feminized — his body as much the property of his audience as Marisa Tomei’s pole dancer. On this level, Natalie Portman’s vomiting ballerina Nina Sayres is a more familiar figure. Perhaps aware of this, Aronofsky goes to great lengths to show us just how unfamiliarized this body is becoming, using sly, shifting CGI to portray her creeping body horror.

Heightening the tragedy for Rourke’s wrestler was the way the movie dangled the possibility of human connection in front of him, either with his daughter or Tomei’s character. In Black Swan, it’s pretty clear from the beginning that Nina has nowhere to turn and no means of connecting with the compromised lifelines in front of her. She lives in a claustrophobic Manhattan apartment with a domineering mother. Her director regards it as a high priority to toy with her sexually. The film makes it pretty clear that both of these aspects of Nina’s life are in her favor as an artist. Mila Kunis as a sometime-fellow, sometime-rival dancer makes overtures of friendship, and while Nina can use her to rouse her dark urges from within her repressed shell, she can never spin together enough strands of connection to grow as an artist and a human.

I enjoyed Jason Bellamy‘s take on Black Swan’s themes of repression and sexuality. They are familiar territory covered with frightening, high-test surrealism. Again, though, sex as women’s main problem is well-trod ground. Black Swan is an engrossing, terrifying psychosexual thriller, but The Wrestler felt newer to me.

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Big Fan

by on Feb.13, 2010, under Movies, Sports

We live in a Golden Age of sports revisionism movies. 2008 brought Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Sugar, a tender hymn to washouts, and Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, the athlete as sex worker, a body for sale. 2009 brought Wrestler writer Robert Siegel’s Big Fan (which the former Onion writer–who claims responsibility for the ‘Area Man’ trope–wrote and directed), which finds the serious fan on a perpetual seesaw of striving and emasculation. Some spoilers after the jump.

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