I recently saw Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, and feel like I won’t be able to fully appreciate the film until I articulate my thoughts in a post.
So, here are a few reasons I enjoyed the film (tied in also with Aronofsky’s previous film, The Wrestler):
First: the characters. There is a sense of formidable purpose and ambition that inhibit the protagonists in Black Swan and The Wrestler, and it’s something I feel I can oddly relate to.
Namely, it’s that they are in love with, live for, and revel in their craft. Natalie Portman’s Nina Sayers can’t imagine doing anything but ballet all her life, and Mickey Rourke’s Randy is wrestling (ahem) with the fact that he may not be able to carry on being a professional wrestler for the rest of his life.
They have given up everything a normal human being seeks for (healthy relationships, stability, balance) to embrace their passion, and this decision is something they are conflicted with every minute of their existence.
Second: the world. Watching The Wrestler, I felt like I was fully entranced in the world of Randy “The Ram,” despite how unfamiliar I am with the professional wrestling circuit. And likewise, the life of a New York ballet dancer is something I grasped 20 minutes into Black Swan.
Aronofsky has the ability to use very little tools at his disposal to make these worlds feel real and believable, and that’s a testament more to his directing than any writing he has to work with. Films make for a transient way to explore unknown, unseen worlds, and it’s intriguing to watch someone who has mastered this part of the craft.
Third: the reality blur. Unique to Black Swan (and not really explored in The Wrestler), this has oddly also been the central theme of so many films this year (Shutter Island, Inception, Exit Through the Gift Shop.) What is real? What am I seeing? And as long as I’m seeing it all through the character’s eyes and the writer/director’s vision, does the distinction matter in the end?
With Inception, I didn’t feel like Chris Nolan had an answer for me. But Aronofsky does — that is, if I need one. This isn’t necessarily groundbreaking territory in the history of film, but it makes for compelling watching each time it is explored.
Fourth: the performances. Mickey Rourke. Natalie Portman. Need I say anything more? If you want to watch actors truly live their characters, these two films would be a good start.
Fifth: the lovemaking. You know what I’m talking about. Ok, I’m only half kidding.
Indulged in a gripping (albeit, sad and alarming) 10,000 word New Yorker piece after a long time. If you have the time, do give it a read.
TL;DR version: Long-term solitary confinement is deadly, inhumane, and evil. The U.S. is one of the only countries which makes such profuse use of it. England does the opposite (give trouble-making prisoners more rights and opportunities) and has found much better results. It shouldn’t be put upon anyone — not even the worst of people. Such a form of social isolation ends up producing soul-drenched people rather than rehabilitated criminals, which is far from the desirable outcome of any humane justice system.
1. Start 2. Keep going. 3. You think you’re starting to get the hang of it. 4. You see someone else’s work and feel undeniable misery. 5. Keep going. 6. Keep going. 7. You feel like maybe, possibly, you kinda got it now. 8. You don’t. 9. Keep going. 10. You ask for someone else’s opinion — their response is standoffish, though polite. 11. Depression. 12. Keep going. 13. Keep going. 14. You ask someone else’s opinion — their response is favorable. 15. They have no idea what they’re talking about. 16. Keep going. 17. You feel semi-kinda favorable and maybe even a little proud of what you can do now. 18. Self-loathing chastisement. 19. Depression 20. Keep going. 21. You ask someone else’s opinion — they respond quite favorably. 22. They’re still wrong. 23. Depression. 24. Keep going though you can’t possibly imagine why. 25. Become restless. 26. Receive some measure of praise from a trustworthy opinion. 27. They’re still fucking wrong (Right?) 28. Keep going just because there’s nothing else to do. 29. Mastery arrives, you mistake it for a gust of wind. 30. Keep. Fucking. Going.
I’ve been following WikiLeaks for some time — ever since I saw the talk Julian Assange gave at Berkeley earlier in the year. Today, he was arrested on his Swedish arrest warrant, a case many claim doesn’t have any substantial grounds.
I like that a 39 year-old Australian, who was pretty much a nobody just a few years ago, has shaken up the world in such little time, and with so few resources. I like that his decisions and actions have made key authorities rise to their feet and proclaim outrage. I like that their hypocrisy and paranoia is out there for the world to see. And mostly, I like that his weapon has been information, and that the power to wield it now rests not in the hands of aristocratic forces, but anyone who seeks it.
Can you imagine a world where no key authority could keep a secret, and get away with causing any kind of malice, without having a finger pointed to it? In such a world, acting in self-interest would only be half the game. Explaining itself would be the rest — which means they would have to either bare the consequences of doing so, or simply, act in a manner in which others see fit. Everybody would be accountable.
In such an ideal world, journalism would serve its duty to the truth, and not to the attention spans and interests of its consumers. And with WikiLeaks, that ideal world is on the brim. Even if the worst happens to Assange, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t, there’s no stopping the force it has ignited from coming into fruition.
If knowledge is power, we’ve just been shown the way.
“WikiLeaks has also posted a massive, closely encrypted file, identified as “insurance” — a file Assange’s lawyer has described as a “thermonuclear device.” Assange has said that more than 100,000 people who have downloaded the file will receive the key to decoding it should anything happen to him or should the site be taken down.”—
“Creative capitalism isn’t some big new economic theory. And it isn’t a knock on capitalism itself. It is a way to answer a vital question: How can we most effectively spread the benefits of capitalism and the huge improvements in quality of life it can provide to people who have been left out?”—Making Capitalism More Creative - TIME
“If I don’t like someone, I’m the nicest to them. So they’re confused. While they’re being mean, I’m still cordial. Some of them think I take a lot of shit, others think I am spineless because I don’t react. The thing is, if I’m really nice to you, I’ve overcome you. I don’t want to deal with you in my life anymore. When you overcome someone, the desire to be angry with them doesn’t exist.”—Shah Rukh Khan - Interview