It’s amazing, but Darren Aronofsky has managed to create a ballet movie AIMED AT MEN! “Black Swan” has none of the characteristics a woman would look forward to in a ballet movie – exquisite music and dance sequences, hard working young women with a spirit of camaraderie, the excitement of living in New York as a ballerina, gay male dancers as best friends, a peek inside the world of ballet. What Aronofsky DOES provide is a nightmarish group of backstabbing neurotic (but beautiful and vulnerable) dancers leading dark and dreary lives. With some lesbian sex thrown in “for the boys.” Natalie Portman’s character is on the edge of madness and her self-mutilation sequences are nauseating. Barbara Hershey is photographed in such gruesome unflattering close-ups that she should sue the director. The males in the movie are older and lascivious and in charge. It’s not a pretty picture and it makes one wonder if Aronofsky secretly hates women.


  1. didnt see the film..yet.. but I plan to. I went to see TBS last Friday and the showtimes were sold out. That photo is of Miss Portman and Vincent Cassell, an actor who plays a manipulative dance director in the black swan.

  2. That’s interesting because you are the second person that has mad a similar comment about him.

  3. What is the movie based on? Someone’s true life story, or a screenplay someone wrote out of nowhere just to make a hopefully good movie? I did hear that the two main actresses had to lose scary weight to look like “real” ballerinas.
    I’m pretty much against the trend in gaining or losing huge amounts of weight just for a role. It’s dangerous and very unhealthy, and later in life they may find themselves in real trouble. I don’t consider that “acting”.

  4. Oh, for Pete’s sake, Janet, you really can be ridiculous. “Black Swan” is a thriller, NOT a movie aimed at balletomanes. Read a synopsis or a review before you go to a movie, then you won’t be disappointed–or feel the need to malign the director! (Who, by the way, has created a masterful film.)

  5. Reta: Some have suggested that Aronofsky “borrowed liberally” from the 1999 Japanese Anime feature film “Perfect Blue” in order to make this movie.

    Oh, and this ain’t the best picture we’ve seen of Mr. Cassell, but we’ll take him any way we can get him (along with a generous helping of frenchies Olivier Martinez and Lambert Wilson)!

  6. That’s really sad that that’s what you think women want from that movie. A gay best friend and some dance numbers?!

  7. Geez…now I’m really baffled as to whether I’m even interested in seeing this movie. I think I need to read some reviews first cause so far the discussion is leaving me in limbo.

  8. Go or don’t go but the whining sounds like advance ammunition from some of the female stars who didnt like the result but were happy w/ the paycheck.

    JC has moved from a Kardashian and J Lo publicity machine to becoming a film critic and promoter.

  9. I couldn’t agree more with the comment regarding Barbara Hershey. In the trailer it looks like she’s lit with a bare fluorescent bulb hanging directly above her head; she looks awful.

    But just a few days ago pix were published in one of the Brit papers of Barbara at the London premiere—where she looked AMAZING and virtually all of the comments were people marveling over the fact that she is in her ’60’s!

    Other reader comments were generated because Mila Kunis and Natalie Portland were both dressed in formal dresses, while Winona Ryder was wearing a somewhat severe and unflattering black suit.

    One wag—and it wasn’t me, but jayzus was it funny!—wrote: “Actually, Winona had a dress all picked out but was disrupted while removing the store security tag.” LOL


  11. Hurray for Aronofsy, for blowing up such a stupid female fantasy. Life in the arts — whatever the art is — is tough and unpleasant much of the time, and, as high brow as ballet is, it is still the entertainment business, BUSINESS being the key word, with all the meanness and nastiness that entails.

  12. Janet i love your column, but i find this post offensive as a woman! I think it’s empowering that these actresses (portman, hershey) allowed themselves to be portrayed in a less than flattering light, instead of as delicate little flowers, and props to Aronofsky for not feeling the need to keep them as beautiful as possible at all times, unlike most men! As a former ballerina, I can assure you the physical and psychological demands of the art are brutal and there’s not much “sense of camaraderie” in this competitive world. If you want to see the fantasy you speak of, go rent CENTER STAGE. It’s fantastic, but these are very different movies!

  13. I dont see what’s empowering about two women sexually exploiting themselves on film for the titillation of MEN. The Turning Point was a much better movie about the same subject matter.

    When is Hollywood going to stop with the gratuitous gay sex already? It’s cheap.

  14. I just think you aren’t giving women enough credit here, and you’re again treating us like delicate flowers. We could probably debate this for hours, but I think it boils down to the fact that you consider woman on woman sex in a film that is almost universally seen as a masterpiece as women “exploiting themselves,” and I don’t. I think the fact that people continue to label woman on woman sex as simply “titillating for men” is the only thing that makes it feel dirty somehow. And to be fair to the gay community (btw, i am not gay), i think you’d have to label ALL sex as titillating and unnecessary.

  15. I see it as pretty simple: If whatever the detail is — a gay encounter (male or female), violence, blasphemy, etc. — has real context and is done appropriately it is legitimate. If is it done for sensationalism or titillation, it is gratuitous and manipulative.

    I do not appreciate being manipulated, and resent movies that feature gratuitous detail (most commonly lesbian encounters, shoot ’em up violence, unnecessary cruelty to children or animals).

  16. My sentiments exactly Sebastian. Lauren seems to be really angry and likes to project her own issues on others. Old movies didn’t have sex, they didn’t need it because they were so well written that they could leave something to the imagination. but if you are going to do explicit sex on camera it should be done tastefully and do something to move the story along. When you just fling a couple of pretty girls together and have them get dirty for no real reason it’s just sleazy and insulting to the audience.

  17. haha, I’m not angry at all or projecting any issues on to you, Barnacle. No need to get personal, just stating my opinion. Sounds like this might be a generational thing. In my opinion, having read the script, and seen the film, it was not gratuitous. I’m not clear if you’ve seen the film, but if you have and disagree, then let’s agree to disagree!

  18. and by the way Sebastian, if you don’t appreciate being manipulated, you must hate movies in general!

  19. Hey Lauren, I do not necessarily share the sentiments last expressed by Barnacle, though we obviously agree on at least some points.

    I supposed manipulation is a matter of degree, so you have a point. At the same time, I think your last comment is rather cynical.

    With Barnacle’s and your last comments in mind, I would say, yes you are correct, it is a generational thing. It seem Barnacle and I are older and remember the times when movies were not made by cynical manipulators FOR a cynical audience that figured the way it is is the way it is, and we cannot, and do not deserve to, expect anything better.

  20. Love his movies, but that’s not him in the photo, he’s way hotter than that guy. You sound like a mincing prisspot, Janet. Movie looks terrific. Can’t wait to see it.

  21. Truth be told, JC, the ballet world is painful (literally & figuratively) and every bit as cutthroat as yours. All of that daintiness gets shunted aside when finances & competition come into play. So, just maybe Aronofsky’s purpose was to deliberately remove “the amazing, technicolor dreamcoat” much in the way that gossip columnists have succeeded in doing for celebrities.

  22. Brava, Lauren and Phoebe for giving us the facts.

    I studies Visual Art in uni, and after leaving, kept in touch with friends who wanted to be in the Art world. It is cut throat and nasty, and not generally regulated by labor law, HR policy that protects people in normal jobs.

    I think that there is a tendency of people who work at “real” jobs, particularly when they are in the private sector, to be condescending toward people in the Arts. They think that it is all about dancing merrily or drawing pretty pictures all day, and that artists are special, and incapable of dealing with the real world. Truth is, being in the Arts is ten times tougher than a regular job, and — all too often — offers less than a quarter of the return on investment.

  23. You may be right, Janet. There were lots of scenes in the Wrestler that I couldn’t even watch because of the violence. But I thought the story was well written. Maybe his troubled marriage to Rachel Weiss made him extra narley to work with on this film. I want to see it to decide. I think Aronofsky is a good director.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *