Belated Thoughts on BLACK SWAN from Someone Who Was Unable to Forget that Darren Aronofsky Will Direct WOLVERINE 2 While Watching It

Minor spoilers included

* From Requiem to The Wrestler to Black Swan, a person’s destruction of his/her own body is maybe the most common motif throughout Darren Aronofsky‘s films. So in one sense, Wolverine, with his ability to heal at a superhuman pace, is a counter-intuitive choice for Aronofsky. But accompanying the healing factor is Wolverine’s ability to endure more physical abuse than most other people on the planet, which, thirty-something years past the character’s introduction, is still a perverse defining attribute for a figure featured on notebooks and lunchboxes across the country. The healing factor tends to be explored in a pretty surface-level manner in most Marvel books, more a deus ex machina than a guiding concept, the element that allows readers to suspend disbelief as Wolverine plows through a hundred Hand ninjas or Hydra agents and then goes out for a beer. (Which, you also need to suspend disbelief about the mutant-gene superpower thing, but if you can’t do that, Philip Roth is always there to explain how awful it is when you get old and your peen stops working. Enjoy the stark realism.) Aronofsky’s The Wolverine, then: potentially a big-budget summer action movie about one person’s incredible tolerance for pain, a film that is to humanity/suffering what Inception was to reality/perception. Is this a good thing? Could be! The movie could also be dour, humorless, and unsexy, a superhero movie that ignores what’s fun about superheroes, or for that matter, a hunk ‘a junk micro-managed by film executives like X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

* OR—and this is actually about Black Swam now—The Wolverine could be like the final third of Black Swan, an insane, near-camp mess that’s beyond good or bad. Following the moment in which fallen ballerina Winona Ryder stabs herself in the face with a nail file, I conceded to myself that I was not watching a great movie and began to have a great time. Natalie Portman’s hyper-compressed descent into psychotic avian performance mode (mostly imagined? but still–), complete with a stop inside a room full of talking paintings of Natalie Portman, is bold, tacky, manic, delightful filmmaking. These are the only moments in which Black Swan exhibits a sense of humor too, including Portman’s darkly funny closings lines. The Wolverine, ideally, would be 120 minutes worth of what we saw throughout the last half-hour of Black Swan.

* Also, if Black Swan is any indication, The Wolverine will probably have lots of shots of people’s back muscles. So many back muscles in Black Swan!

* . . . Shaky cam too. So much shaky cam. The back of Natalie Portman’s head should have received its own credit, because seemingly every other scene in Black Swan features Portman filmed being from behind in an unsteady handheld shot.

* On the subject of Natalie Portman: I am so down for Thor you have no idea. It could be the stupidest movie in the world, doesn’t matter.

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