Tag Archive: natalie portman

“Thor” – Ker-SMASH!!!

Dir. Kenneth Branagh
(2011, PG-13, 115 min)

Thor, based on the Marvel comic book series, takes itself just seriously enough to fail completely. It’s directed by Kenneth Branagh, which is sort of like asking Julia Child to prepare Ramen noodles, but it’s a nonstarter in any event because the Thor story, at its heart, doesn’t jibe with itself. On Earth, there are scientists (played by Natalie Portman and Stellan Skarsgard) and government agents studying atmospheric disturbances and wormholes with advanced equipment. But somewhere in the heavens is Asgard, where Norse gods go about the business of godliness, and the two worlds never make sense together.

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There came a moment early during the evening when I, and I’m sure many other close Oscar watchers, thought the foregone conclusion of The King’s Speech winning Best Picture might not have been so foregone after all. At the beginning of the show, Tom Hanks presented the first two categories, Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography, mentioning an odd, mostly irrelevant statistic: no film had won those two categories as well as Best Picture since Titanic. The first envelope opened and Art Direction went to Alice in Wonderland. Then Cinematography went to Inception. So much for that.

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Dir. Darren Aronofsky
(2010, R, 108 min)
★ ★ ★ ★

At its heart, the hypnotically brilliant Black Swan is about the conflict between expression and control. It stars Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers, a New York ballerina working relentlessly for her chance at stardom. She’s fanatically disciplined, and her technique is flawless, but her face is hard and tense, like a cable pulled tight and ready to snap. Ballet is an art that forgives no mistake, not a foot out of place or an ounce of fat to alter the balance of a perfect physical form. Nina has dedicated herself at the expense of all else.

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