The film that seems to have begun the trend of Natalie Portman starring in every movie ever made. Rising star ballerina (Portman) is hit by pressure after snagging the lead role in Swan Lake, her director (Cassel) chastises her for not being dark enough to play the Black Swan which soon leads to her losing her mind. The film is a wonderful story about the pressures and expectations we put upon ourselves and how we struggle to go through life with these. Darren Aronofsky keeps the film largely in the horror genre and this works well, presenting one of the smartest and most intriguing horrors in years. Portman’s performance is spectacular, she pushes herself to the very limit and comes out with an incredibly interesting and striking character without which the movie would collapse. The film loses very little in its transition to the small screen (apart from maybe the grandeur of the ballet scenes) and in fact the grain from shooting on digital video is far less noticeable on home video.
Anne Hathaway is the big saving grace for this film, she offers a performance that outshines the film in everyway, and it’s because of her performance that the film can be watchable. Gyllenhall stars as a young pharmaceutical rep wheeling and dealing a new drug called Viagra (it’s a 90s period piece) and life is all going well until he falls in love with a woman (Hathaway) who is in the early stages of developing Parkinson’s disease. The film jumps around wildly in tone from boisterous comedy (usually whenever Josh Gad is on screen) to disease of the week drama. It’s a messy movie, not really having much to say and at under 2 hours it still feels long but it’s not all bad, Gyllenhaal and Hathaway have good chemistry and when the film is looking at their relationship it’s good, it’s just when we are dealing with all the extra padding that the film loses its way and becomes dull. You can do far worse with a date movie though and there is a surprising amount of nudity in the flick, guess you can’t go wrong with that.
Archer follows in the footsteps of the popular adult animation powerhouse [adult swim] who are known for producing adult animated comedy with a flare for the bizarre, Archer offers a slightly restrained version of that comedy but still works very well. The season contains 10 episodes that all contain various laughs, it’s a strong opening season. The show follows the adventures of Sterling Archer (Benjamin), a suave secret agent with the mouth of a sailor and the brain of a flea, he is far more interested in the sex part of being a spy than the saving the world part, but it seems he is the best ISIS (the agency he works for) has to offer. The comedy ranges from smart and witty dialogue to bizarre visuals and plots, it has no real consistency for where the laughs come from but this isn’t a negative as it does keep the laughs coming. The animation is an interesting style of mix of rotoscoping and CGI, though not the most attractive form of animation it works to evoke a 60s spy theme which the show lavishes itself in. It’s definitely worth a watch especially if you’ve found things like Home Movies or Aqua Teen Hunger Force funny in the past.
Sadly for such a funny show the extras are a bit of a let down, there are deleted scenes and an unaired pilot that offer up a few chuckles and an unaired network promo which is more gross than funny. The real let down here is the making of, with 2 brief interviews most of the time is spent with long sections of text appearing on screen explaining how the animation technique is completed, this is very informative but is a completely dull way of relaying information, not so much a documentary as much as it is a PowerPoint presentation.