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December 12th, 2010

Movie Review - Black Swan

Black Swan

Staring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, Ksenia Solo, and more...

Premise: Nina finally gets her big break with the ballet troop when she is chosen to play the Swan Queen in Swan Lake. And she wants her performance to be PERFECT.

Review: I will try to review this without giving things away. First of, I will never be able to listen to the music of Swan Lake without recalling this movie! Never!

It was totally fascinating by this film on a multitude of levels. One is the look behind the curtain of the world of ballet. About the last ten years or so I've become more aware about the long term effects of doing ballet. It is a truly arduous profession that normally causes long term damage if you get good enough to go professional with it. As much or more so than expected of professional football and baseball players. You catch a tiny glimpse of that here. Of the commitment, the hours, the damage. And how catastrophic an accident could be.

Another is the pressure to succeed. The power plays, the rivalries, the politics, all the things you normally get with a group of any size where there lands a pecking order are there to be seen. Even other darker glimpses like of worship, ridicule, backstabbing, and even the force of others trying to live vicariously through their children.

The last was the complicated story of Nina herself. Someone who on the surface seems to have the talent, support, and good life, but only if you're only looking at the surface.

There were moments when the camera work options chosen were not the best in the first quarter of the film (like over the shoulder moving shots), but beside those, it just got better and better the further the film went. This is also a movie you don't expect the need for a lot of CGI or special effects work, but there is. And those were fabulous. Make sure to look at faces, at mirrors, and more. Don't blink!

The choreography and the hard work by Natalie Portman and others was outstanding. Several of the practice dance scenes have such close motion between her and her partners it was amazing to behold. Like watching jet pilots when they do their graceful weaving in the skies. Just amazing but easy to overlook or forget the amount of skill involved.

Natalie Portman deserves a nomination for an Oscar if not more. You'll see, trust me. But can't say more.

The story begins with a punch. A dream that is a harbinger of things to come in several levels. Then the film slowly, ever slowly simmers upward. Little flashes and bits get doled out and if you blink you'll miss some of them. Then the whole thing builds to a crescendo to a scene that literally had me break out in goosebumps all over. And then it swoops down for a couple of more punches in the gut. WOW! (The Black Swan sequence was beyond Superb! And then there was more!)

There is a lot of sexual matters alluded to or shown though there is no real nudity, but still not a kids' movie! The deeper aspects of it are probably not for kids either. Yet the allusions to sex and even a well dressed pervert in the subway also gave it a strange dimension of reality in a way.

The film even made fun of itself by showing some people who don't like ballet. A clash of two different worlds coming together. A definite problem that would be had by these young women if they tried to date outside their circles.

My husband came because I picked the movie and he had no better preference, but he came out of this happy that he came to see it. Yes, it was that good! (He's not into ballet at all.) It's a very visual film.

This is not a feel good movie. But it will stay with you. Perhaps even haunt you. I know it will haunt me.

Rating: 4.5 of 5

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic
Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



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The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

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The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


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It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


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Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

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“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

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Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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