Black Swan

Black Swan. This was ultimately a bit disappointing. Great performances from Portman, Cassel, et al. Once I got used to it, I liked the use of the up-close, claustrophobic, over-the-shoulder stalker cam. A lot of the camerawork struck me as pretty impressive. Great moments in cramped interiors and the rhapsodic, choreographed dances. There’s also the nice bonus that the movie draws from a kickass soundtrack that’s long been one of my favorites.

The trouble with this movie is that once you go the fantasy/hallucination/supernatural route, it’s very, very hard to do it in a fresh way. This is how we end up repeating clichés like mysterious bleeding, reflections in the mirror moving without the character moving, painted portraits coming to life, mysterious whispers of sound, the epileptic-ecstatic flashing lights drugged-up dance club scene, sightings of people who look like certain people but actually aren’t when you get up close, etc. I loved seeing the strain of dancers seeking physical perfection; the consumptive effects of artistic striving; and the psycho-sexual power games among family, rivals, mentors. That was mostly excellent. My groans started with how these things were visually manifested on-screen–it seems like a pile-on. I think it would have been a more engaging film without the fantasy.

Atlanta Ballet Orchestra Given the Pink Slip

Some sad news for Atlanta arts today: the Atlanta Ballet will no longer perform with live music. They have decided not to renew the musicians’ contracts for the 2006-2007 season, so all performances will be done with recorded music. I’m guessing the musician’s union wouldn’t budge, and there just ain’t that much free money for the arts laying around.
It’s kind of a bummer. There’s always that intangible ‘something’ that live music brings. Whether it’s just the little humming and tooting before the show, or appreciating the not-so-simple act of coordinating dancers and musicians–the orchestra adds a lot to the productions. Two productions I really liked, Dracula and Hamlet [music by Philip Glass] wouldn’t have been nearly the same without the live music. It really felt like something special, an Event.

Surely there’s another way? I’ll bet there are some highly-qualified college students and highly qualified amateurs in the Atlanta area that would be glad to play for much lower fees. Heck, I would have played for free when I was doing percussion back in college. Some of my favorite concerts were the dual-department music/ dance productions. Hopefully, the orchestra will have only a brief absence. Or perhaps it will free the ballet to collaborate with other, smaller ensembles. We shall see. I’m still a bit bummed, though.