Tag Archives: Natalie Portman

Thor (2011)

You’re nothing but a boy, trying to prove himself a man,” says a villain in Marvel’s latest swing for the fences, Thor. It’s directed at the titular character, but actor Chris Hemsworth seems to take this challenge personally, spending most of the remaining film convincing the audience that he can be a leading man, with a substantial emphasis on the M-A-N. He growls and bellows, and furrows his impressive brow, all with the intention of out-manning whatever other men happen to be in his company. For the most part, this is what superheroes movies are about: visceral displays of machismo that make an audience want to holler and cheer. If that’s the goal, then Thor is a hearty victory.

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Black Swan (2010)

Preparing for a Darren Aronofsky feature is sort of like preparing for a break up or a funeral.  That’s not to say that every last Aronofsky tale is a saga of desolation or exhausting melancholy, but when you look at the man’s filmography, one of the common elements is a darkness that permeates.  The difference, though, between his earlier works (Pi, Requiem for a Dream) and his more recent (The Fountain, The Wrestler), is a respect for subtlety.  In Requiem, Aronofsky thrust the grotesque into the faces of his audience with an almost mean-spirited bravado.  It’s a film that, despite its high quality, is simply too awful for repeated viewings.  Lately though, Aronofsky has coupled that signature bleakness with a real human beauty.  He has found a balance in his method, and with his last three films, The Fountain, The Wrestler and now Black Swan, he has shown the kind of forward momentum that ensures real longevity.

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