Friday, January 21, 2011

Swans, Kings, and Networks - Three Movies

We saw Black Swan in LA and then The King's Speech and The Social Network when we got back. Two very good films and one ugly duckling. 

Black Swan

The people in front of us giggled during the serious parts. And I couldn't fault them. We should have listened to a friend who didn't like it. The ballet was uninspired and while all the ballet stories about controlling parents, rivalries for parts, sleeping with the director, etc. may be true, this film's attempt to put everything into one ballerina with special effects didn't work for me. It all fell into place when someone said they'd heard it was like a horror ballet flick. Of course. It was Friday the 13th in tutus. (Or maybe a ballet movie with a touch of horror movie.)  But horror movies don't do much for me.  I'm truly baffled at the people who think this is a great movie or that Natalie Portman was great in this part. We walked out feeling we'd been conned by the movie marketers. 

If you want to see a good ballet movie - with many of the same cliche subplots - get Mao's Last Dancer. A much better movie. Proof once more that marketing determines the success of a movie.

The King's Speech

On the other hand, people will still be admiring The King's Speech in 30 years. Who would have thought a movie about a speech therapist could be so gripping. It just proves that it's all about how you tell the story. Just a terrific movie.

The Social Network

And I think this one was even better. How did I conclude that? Because the film was so densely packed that I want to see it again. The movie, for me at least, was done well enough that I concluded they were all right. Zuckerman was just so far ahead of everyone - his vision, his understanding of the concept, of the technology, and mostly of the new reality - that even if he stole the basic idea, where he took it no one else could have taken it. And the only person in the movie who was at his level was Sean Parker, the creator of Napster, who got it immediately, and shared what he had learned with Zuckerman. The others weren't wrong either - they weren't treated right, but they were still in a previous century frame of mind.  And they got paid off in the settlement. 

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