Black mark on ‘Black Swan’?

Black Swan

Natalie Portman (or Sarah Lane?) in 'Black Swan'.

Quelle horreur! Natalie Portman didn’t do all of her own dancing on Black Swan? *dramatic gasp*

Oh wait, we knew that already. And even if we didn’t know it, we should have guessed. After all, the 32 fouettés that Odile (the “black” swan) performs in the coda are hardly something even your most talented amateur dancer would be able to perform.*

The issue at hand, however, is how much of the dancing Natalie did herself. Benjamin Millepied (Black Swan choreographer and Natalie’s fiance and the father of her baby) claimed that Natalie did 85 percent of the dancing. After reviewing all his footage, Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky believes its closer to 90 percent.

But Sarah Lane reckons that’s all a load of rubbish. She claims that she did 90 percent of the dancing, and that only around 5 percent of the full-body shots were Natalie.

Now, if you had to ask who Sarah Lane was, you’re probably like everybody else on the planet not closely related to her. Sarah Lane is Natalie’s body double – who went largely unnoticed during the hoorah of awards season and *gasp* didn’t get a mention in Natalie’s Oscar acceptance speech. She was apparently only listed as an extra in the credits, too. And now she’s determined to make everybody aware that Natalie is no prima ballerina.

It smacks of attention-seeking behaviour… And Lane has admitted that yes, she was peeved by the lack of recognition. But what else did she expect? Her career to suddenly take off, offers to join other ballet companies to start piling up at her doorstep? Instead of being gracious about it, going “well done, Natalie” and moving on, she’s caused a massive spat.

But, she says, she’s only talking about because she feels so personally insulted that we think that Natalie could possibly be a real ballerina.

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Oscar nominees… In LEGO!

I saw this a couple weeks back and I simply can’t resist posting… It’s the Academy Award best picture nominees, built out of Lego!

The artist, Alex Eylar, has a super-cool flickr page where you can trawl through some more of the creations. In no particular order (other than alphabetical), the best picture nominees are…

127 Hours

127 Hours

Black Swan

Black Swan

Inception

Inception

More after the jump…

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Reviewed: ‘Black Swan’

Black Swan movie posterOriginally published on iafrica.com.

Natalie Portman delivers the stand-out female performance of 2010 in the breathtaking psychological thriller Black Swan – a film which is at once wickedly sexy and deeply disturbing.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan is set against the backdrop of a prestigious New York dance company and their performance of the classic ballet Swan Lake. It is, as Vincent Cassell’s character says, a ballet that has been “done to death … but not like this”. Not like this indeed. It is the intention of Cassell’s character – sexy, ruthless dance director Thomas – to strip the ballet and make it more visceral, and it’s something that Aronofsky parallels in his direction of the film.

Black Swan tells the story of Nina Sayers, an immensely fragile ballerina with only one goal – absolute perfection. She spends hours alone in the studio and in front of the mirror at home, refining her technique. The only world she knows outside of the studio is the cramped apartment she shares with her proud and overprotective mother, played by Barbara Hershey. When Thomas announces that Nina will be the ballet’s Swan Queen – and will dance the demanding dual role of the Black and White Swans – we watch her already fragile state of mind begin to fracture further. She is constantly reminded that she is too innocent, too uptight to successfully dance the Black Swan – despite Thomas’ attempts to seduce her and his encouragement that she explores her as yet untapped sexuality. The presence of the free-spirited and wildly sexy Lily (Mila Kunis in a charged performance) only pushes Nina further over the edge, as she convinces herself that Lily is out to steal her role.

Superbly cast, intensely filmed and set to an exquisite score by Clint Mansell, Aronofsky has pulled together a powerhouse of talent to produce Black Swan. The outstanding supporting performances by Kunis, Cassell and Hershey and a brief but terrifyingly memorable appearance by Winona Ryder make this one of the best cast films of 2010. Aronofsky and his cinematographer, Matthew Libatique – who worked with Aronofsky on Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain – combine uncomfortable close-ups, shaky hand-held shots and epic wide-screen shots to create a charged atmosphere that doesn’t relax for even a frame.

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It’s that time of year again…

Black Swan

Natalie Portman in 'Black Swan'

The nominations for the 83rd annual Academy Awards have been announced – and let’s be honest, there weren’t that many surprises. But there were one or two…

Most noticeably absent in the Best Director category was Inception helmsman Christopher Nolan. He was bumped out of the category by the much more Academy-friendly Coen Brothers (No Country for Old Men, anyone?). Yup, it seems the Academy is allergic to all things science-fiction, and while Inception picked up eight nominations it’s hardly the runaway favourite in any of its categories.

Also absent – which was, in my opinion, a travesty – was a supporting actor nomination for The Social Network star Andrew Garfield. His on-screen chemistry with Jesse Eisenberg produced one of the stand-out partnerships of the year – and while Jesse scored the nod for his role as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg, Andrew was absent. [Note: My huge crush on Andrew Garfield aside, he’s ridiculously talented. Go rent Boy A. Now.]

I still think it’s a little too earlier in the season to start accurately predicting the winners, but I think Colin Firth has the best actor award in the bag. He’s simply astounding in The King’s Speech ­– which itself is nominated for 12 Oscars, despite its made-for-BBC feel.

Natalie Portman for Black Swan also seems a sure thing – I haven’t seen the film yet (our press preview is only tomorrow) but I’m chomping at the bit. She’s hands-down the strongest contender in the best actress category – Annette Bening was fabulous in The Kids Are All Right but the Academy tends to prefer darker roles for their leading ladies.

Best Picture I think is a clear three-horse race between The King’s Speech, The Social Network and True Grit. I haven’t seen True Grit yet (that preview is only in February) but the critics are simply raving about it – as well as 14-year-old star Hailee Steinfeld , who picked up a nod in the best supporting actress category.

My other, less certain predictions? Christian Bale for best supporting actor in The Fighter – he was sensational.  Best supporting actress nominees Melissa Leo and Amy Adams – Bale’s The Fighter co-stars – were fabulous, though everybody’s going crazy about Steinfeld’s performance – so I think this category’s pretty open, with Leo leading by a hair. In fact, the only person who wasn’t nominated in The Fighter was its leading man – Mark Wahlberg. I’m not Wahlberg’s biggest fan – I find him terribly bland at times – but he does play the unlikely hero so, so well.

And if Toy Story 3 doesn’t win the best animated feature film Oscar, I’ll march down to the Kodak Theatre with a pitchfork myself.

See the nominees in the other, more technical categories here.