Director: Darren Aronofsky, Rated MA, 108 Minutes
This disturbingly dark psychological drama from Darren Aronofsky (whose previous movie The Wrestler resulted in a Best ActorAward for its lead star Mickey Rourke) is not your usual ballet story even though it is set within the ballet world and focuses on a ballerina who is desperate to play the principal part in the company’s new season of Swan Lake.
Natalie Portman (who appeared in The Other Boleyn Girl) and won a recent Golden Globe Award for her role, delivers a powerful performance as Nina Sayers, a young but uncertain ballerina living with her obsessive and overbearing mother Erica (Barbara Hershey) whose life is totally consumed with reaching the top of her profession.
With the (forced) retirement of prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder from The Dilemma) by ballet director Thomas Leroy (played by French actor Vincent Cassel), Nina is chosen ahead of her main rival Lily (Mila Kunis from The Book of Eli) to play the key role of the pure White Swan despite Leroy’s reservations that Nina (who hides a horrible secret) can also perform the sensual and wily part of the Black Swan.
With his production of Black Swan, Aronofsky has again turned his cameras onto another profession (just as he did in The Wrestler)showing through the character of Nina the brutal side of a paranoid ballerina, especially the hallucinations she experiences, the pain that she must endure as a ballet dancer and her character’s own failing such as her participation in a love scene with her main rival Lily.
Against Tchaikovsky’s brilliant musical score of Swan Lake, Aronofsky pulls no punches with his bleak but well acted production (especially from Portman), using black and white colours to great effect and demonstrating the tragic consequences of the same dancer performing both roles of White and Black Swan alike.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 ½ Rubber Stamps
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Rated M, 103 Minutes
In the fine tradition of the Alfred Hitchcock movies comes German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s wonderful thriller featuring two of the world’s biggest film stars-Johnny Depp (Public Enemies) as The Tourist Frank Tupelo and Angelina Jolie (SALT) as the enigmatic Elise Clifton-Ward whose alleged lover is Alexander Pearce a fugitive who has stolen some two billion dollars from Russian mafia boss Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff).
Besides being chased by Shaw and his henchman there is also the ever present Scotland Yard led by Inspector John Acheson (Paul Bettany from Legion) who wants to capture the mysterious Pearce for unpaid taxes but doesn’t know what he looks like.
By tailing Elise, Acheson believes that she will ultimately lead him to Pearce. Instead Elise deliberately meets up with tourist Frank on a train in the hope of throwing Acheson off the track.
Thus begins an entertaining “cat and mouse” game that sees Elise and Frank becoming romantically involved at the same time as escaping from their adversaries though a series of amusing action sequences shot in the waterways of Venice.
Despite some flaws in the script, von Donnersmarck has adopted a Hitchcockian approach to this delightful movie through his picturesque settings in Paris and Venice as well as having the talented Depp and Jolie play the lead characters in some respects similar to those portrayed by Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in Hitchcock’s classic To Catch a Thief but with a comical twist at the conclusion to his movie.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 ½ Rubber Stamps
DVD REVIEW (Disney)
Fantasia and Fantasia 2000
Release Date 2 February
Walt Disney Pictures, Rated G, 125 Minutes and 75 Minutes
To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Disney’s timeless musical classic Fantasia, Disney is releasing from its vault for the first time in high definition the Blu-ray transformations of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 asa 2 Disc Special Edition Blu-ray Value Pack and DVD on 2 February.
Both have a variety of extraordinary bonus features and for the first time ever on Fantasia 2000 Blu-ray the highly requested Academy Award nominated short Destino. The animated musical masterpiece and remastered contemporary classic comes to life revealing a fantastic feast of music and animated images and featuring, most importantly, Disney’s enhanced high-definition picture and sound
Surpassing the limits of brilliance and imagination, Fantasia reveals the memorable music and magic in never-before-experienced high definition.
Using the latest animation techniques, Walt Disney’s original inspiration of eight animated sequences is recaptured in an unforgettable journey of masterful imagery and breathtaking animation.
The acclaimed and treasured experience includes the highlights of Mickey Mouse (voiced by Walt Disney himself) in The Sorcerer's Apprentice, the flying hippos and alligators in Dance of the Hours, the rise and fall of the dinosaurs, the dancing mushrooms of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite and Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain, with its winged demon snapping at the heavens.
The magical journey continues with a fascinating array of bonus features in the 2 Disc Special Edition Blu-ray Value Pack for both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 including an exploration of the Disney Family Museum, The Schultheis Notebook-A Disney Treasure, an Interactive Art Gallery, Musicano, and Dali & Disney-A Date with Destino, not to mention the interesting audio commentaries.
The highly anticipated Disney release of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 which is guaranteed to bring magic and pleasure for the whole family is an opportunity not to be missed with both 2 Disc Special Edition Blu-ray Value Packs a definite must to own and have in every home movie collection.
VIC'S VERDICT: 5 Rubber Stamps
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