By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood January 7, 2011 at 8:20AM
- It was inevitable that Black Swan would be divisive inside the ballet community. The Guardian pre-screened Black Swan for some of Britain's finest dancers. Here's a taste of their reactions:
Tamara Rojo, The Royal Ballet: "I really have a problem with this film using an actress, not a dancer, to play Nina: the director seems to think that, in a few months, you can learn a profession that it takes years just to understand, let alone be good at. And in the film, Nina is supposed to be awesome."
Lauren Cuthbertson, The Royal Ballet: "The film makes ballet look as though it's all blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice. Of course, that's suitable subject matter for a horror movie, but it doesn't show any of the pleasure."
Edward Watson, The Royal Ballet: "The one cliche they didn't go for so much was the bitching. I thought there would be much more of it. I thought there would be dancers pushing each other down the stairs."
Elena Glurdjidze, The English National Ballet: "I was quite shocked by this; it wasn't at all what I expected. I thought Portman did quite well for someone who wasn't trained."
Cassa Pancho, Artistic director of Ballet Black: "I hated the ballet director. He was ridiculously patronising and bullying. That scene when he comes into the class and starts telling the story of Swan Lake, then taps the shoulders of the dancers he doesn't want to use – if I tried that, my company would tackle me to the ground and send me to the hospital…There's been incredible feedback on Twitter, but what most people are saying is: don't worry about the ballet – go for the great lesbian action and the horror."
- The Fighter has inspired much debate, but is it the right kind? Slate's Movie Club critic Matt Zoller Seitz defends the film, arguing that critics need to consider "feelings," not just the way a film looks or its technical successes or failures. But many critics are uncomfortable with discussing emotions, which are:
"not scholarly or contextual and lack the pretense of detachment, and hence cannot be 'real' criticism, and if you do it, you're not writing about movies, you're writing about your feelings. 'Bullshit.' [Critics] can talk about composition and cutting and long takes vs. short takes and video vs. film endlessly...And we should...But it's also important for critics to remind themselves daily of the fact—the fact! not opinion, fact!—that most viewers don't give one-hundredth a damn about any of that stuff."
Many mainstream movies are mediocre, Seitz thinks, because moviegoers' ability to "read images is only slightly better than their ability to read text." He is convinced that most audiences won't care about all the visual, social and political contexts of a film, "if we don't open the door of personal response—emotion, minus the whithers and wherefores and qualifiers, the wearily above-it-all routine—to lead them to a consideration of films outside their comfort zones." He concludes: "emotion is the gateway drug to all cinephilia…people fall in love with movies because they speak to them honestly and directly and with eccentric conviction."
- Critically-hailed Exit Through The Gift Shop, which made the Oscar doc feature short list, continues to provoke debate about its authenticity. Banksy denies accusations that the film is a prank, and the editor of the movie-within-the-movie (Joachim Levy edited Thierry Guetta's own schizo Life Remote Control) complains that his work was used without receiving credit in the film. The doc raises valid questions, argues The Carpetbagger:
"How much is authenticity worth, what constitutes authorship, is there as much value in a personality as in his works? [The questions] are as germane to worlds of street art and high art as they are to film. In fact pondering these issues may be what makes this film a good documentary, regardless of its relationship to veracity."