Thor – and phallic imagery

Thor (2011) by Kenneth Branagh

Okay, I should write this blog before I forget everything about the movie – because really, it is not that memorable. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: is there actually a movie I will talk well about or is this just about ranting for me? It is not, and I liked Thor, still, it is not exactly Shakespeare (although a friend said that there was something Shakespearean to it and I kind of agree).

I like Kenneth Branagh’s movies a lot. They are aesthetically impressive, all of them. One likes looking at them, they are not complicated – visually. They are beautiful and opulent – I don’t need some artsy camera shots, I am old school. Branagh certainly has a knack for stories of epic proportions , still, I was a little surprised when I read he would make a comic into a movie – without having known anything about the story. But it turned out to be a wise decision for both the director and the producers. Thor is stunning, I like pretty much everything about it.

You think: Yeah, right! Just because I think a movie is forgettable does not mean, that I consider it a bad movie. I will think about this movie at some point and remember that I liked it and maybe even watch it again – rented on dvd. But maybe I will not. I don’t think the world a worse place for forgettable movies, they give us pleasure for the time being, that is certainly a good thing. That I will not owe it on dvd at some point does not mean I did not enjoy watching it. It is like The Lord of the Rings – trilogy. I watched them, I liked them, I do not feel the need to buy any of the dvd boxes.

Still, you are right about one thing: I am going to nag about something now. It is in the title so I forwarned you. The phallic imagery in this movie is… well, it mostly is there. In one’s face, so to speak (which is a disgusting phrasing, at least for me it is). Pretty much all of Ansgard consists of phalli, then we have swords, the hammer, speers, you name it, it’s all there.

I know very little about nordic mythology – aside from the fact that Xena kicked Odin’s ass back in the days, I know pretty much nothing. I have heard about the main players and mostly laughed at some rediculous names – Frigga? Really? – but that’s about it. Yes, I was probably on some subconscious level (I don’t know much about Freud either so I don’t care what he said about the subconscious) aware that this would be a movie telling a story that is based on patriarchal ideology… but could you, Ken Branagh, have gone a little bit lighter on the phalli? I know, you could have… you chose not to.

Well, whatever. On the whole, I enjoyed the movie. As you might know, I think Natalie Portman an acting genius – or maybe an acting genius – and I enjoyed her playing a genius… so there. Of course, the acting was great. Anthony Hopkins alone would have justified that statement, but then there were Natalie Portman, Rene Russo (I love Rene Russo), Stellan Skargard, and Kat Dennings, so it was even better. And I finally had explained to me why Samuel Jackson was in that short sequence at the end… not that I am keeping up with comic book wars, and sequels, and what-nots, ’cause I am simply too poor to read that many comic books – especially comic books about male heroes which would also bore me to pieces.

So, yeah, good movie, go watch.

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Natalie Portman IS the Black Swan

Black Swan (2010) by Darren Aronofsky

When I watched V for Vendetta late last year I was quite amazed at how good Natalie Portman was in it. Not because she was good but how good. I was never a fan of hers but I always regarded her as a talented actress. Well, V for Vendetta convinced me that there was more than talent but Black Swan

Every now and then (but probably not that often) you watch a performance by an actress that just blows you away. Even an hour after leaving the theater you feel drugged and dazed and confused. Such a performance I saw in Black Swan by Natalie Portman. It was amazing, it was catching, it was sad and heart-wrenching, stunning, and, yes, sexy.

I’m still over-whelmed to tell the truth. From the first moment Natalie Portman appeared on screen she was like a force I could not look away from. And it was not just her. The female cast seemed to take their cues from her and showed amazing performances. Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, they were all brilliant. But Natalie Portman was breathtaking.

You might wonder if I did not think Vincent Cassel was good as well but honestly I did not even see him. Maybe that is because I think women are the better actors per se, or maybe I just ignore men per se, I don’t know but this movie was made by the women in it not by Vincent Cassel.

And I also don’t want to talk about the story because I would have to unearth some of the raw clichés that inhabit the movie and the fact that it bows to heteronormative standards in the end. And I don’t want to do that. It would make me cherish the movie less and nothing should lessen the joy, the enjoyment, the amusement, the horror I felt watching this movie. It was truly a pleasure.

And if you ask me what it’s about I’d say: A woman who admires another woman, wants to be like her, wants to be her, wants to be with her. Not necessarily in that order and you are never sure which woman is which and what the others have to do with it… it’s complicated and gripping and frightening.

It is almost comical how glad I am these days to see Winona Ryder again. I could almost imagine watching The Dilemma. Almost.

Well, the Oscars are coming up and, of course, there was no way around Natalie Portman and her performance and I hope everyone in the Academy will vote for her. I bow to Ms. Portman.