As I wrote, it's a tradition in our house to go out to see an inappropriate movie on Christmas. By "inappropriate," I mean something that's kind of the antithesis of the Christmas spirit or which in some way just doesn't fit Christmas. Years ago, we saw Boys Don't Cry, which was pretty darned depressing. I know, some people get depressed on Christmas, but you're not supposed to, so that qualifies as inappropriate. Another year, it was Robert Altman's Pret à Porter, which features a very funny Isaac Mizrahi (the only really good thing about the movie) and ends with a catwalk parade of bony naked fashion models. And last year, we went to see Precious, which was pretty relentlessly depressing, although also brilliant, and with at least a few signs of hope.
This year, we decided on Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, the story of a ballet dancer who wins the role of the Swan Queen in Swan Lake but descends into a spiral of madness in the process of finding her inner Black Swan. There was Oscar buzz about the film and about its star Natalie Portman even before it was released. Seemed like it would fit our requirements.
Here's what happened to me. I could see where the story was going. I knew there was some over-the-top cheese. If I were in a certain mood, it would be easy to make fun of (I think Holly did a brilliant job of that with the trailer). But that's not how I felt. I let the cheese melt away, and I allowed the film to take over. I became very emotionally wrapped up in it. I was crying by the end, not because it was sad, but because it was so intense, so passionate. It was similar to the way I felt after seeing The Piano years ago. When we left the theatre, I was disturbed, wrung-out, and rather disoriented.
I had an unusual rescuer—Japadog. We had seen the cart on our way into the theatre, and we thought, oh, too bad, it will probably be closed by the time we get out of the movie. But it was still going strong! Since it was Christmas, there wasn't the usual lineup to order, but there were still several people getting their Japanese-style hotdog fix. We had planned to make lasagna this evening, but it would have been awfully late by the time we got home. And really, you can't do much better than Japadog for Christmas dinner. One Terimayo (for Sweetie) and one Okonomi (for me) later, and I felt renewed and refreshed. I'm usually a semi-vegetarian, but today I had bacon for brunch, a Japanese pork hotdog for supper, and far too many Christmas cookies in between. Om nom nom nom! Back to the gym on Monday.
We discussed the film all the way home, but I no longer felt disoriented. Even though the film is pure melodrama, I thought it was engrossing. In the midst of the over-the-top nature of the story, I found some surprising subtlety, such as the way Nina's mother (Barbara Hershey) says, upon hearing from Nina that she would be the Swan Queen, "You've been with the company long enough" (the sense of the sentence changes depending on which word you stress). Or the way that Thomas, the company director, tells Nina, "I don't want any boundaries between us." It sounds like something he would say in the situation, but you know it's trouble. Some things were telegraphed, but there was still plenty to keep my brain working and my emotions at full tilt.
By the way, it seems we're not the only people who go for inappropriate movies on Christmas. The theatre was almost full. We were almost late, thanks to buses not coming, so we had to sit way in the front and to the left. But at least I didn't hear any talking or spot any mobile phones.
Before the movie, we saw a few trailers. One was for 127 Hours, the film based on the story of the guy out wilderness hiking whose arm got stuck under a boulder. I had thought that might have been an inappropriate choice, since the guy hacked his arm off in order to survive. And I thought I didn't want to see it anyway, since I get squeamish about cutting and hacking of human limbs. But it seems from the trailer that there might not be much about the arm thing and a lot that might be very engaging and uplifting. Makes sense, really, since you have to lead up to his self-rescue. So it would not have been inappropriate, by our standards, but maybe I will want to see it after all. James Franco is awfully tasty. ;-)